InstaMatte Oil-Control Mask

3.40 fl. oz. for $ 38.00
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Brand Overview

InstaMatte Oil Control Mask is designed as an oil-absorbing mask for breakout-prone skin. It’s also designed to work fast; the instruction say to rinse after just three minutes. Rinsing even sooner than that would be wise, because this mask presents more problems than solutions for oily, congested skin!

The first problem is the formula’s lack of oil-absorbing ingredients. Replacing those are a rather drying detergent cleansing agents and other cleansing agents typically used to formulate classic bar soap. In high concentrations, all of these have a tendency to be drying when left on skin, even for a few minutes.

Problem two is the active ingredient, salicylic acid. While salicylic acid is ordinarily a very helpful ingredient to fight breakouts and clogged pores, here it’s amount (0.5%) is borderline low—but the bigger concern is that this mask’s pH of 6.1 is far above the ideal range of pH 3-4 salicylic acid needs to be most effective.

Problem three (as in three strikes, you’re out!) is that this mask is highly fragrant, and the scent lingers on skin long after you rinse it off. Speaking of rinsing, InstaMatte Oil Control Mask rinses perfectly, and it does leave skin feeling smooth, refreshed, and looking matte.

The positives mentioned above are helpful for oily skin, but not enough to overcome this mask’s weaknesses, none of which will do oily, breakout-prone skin any favors. In fact, routine exposure to drying, sensitizing ingredients can make oily skin worse, as we explain in the More Info section. See our list of Best Face Masks for oil-absorbing options that help improve oily, congested skin the right way—gently!


Rinses easily.

Leaves skin feeling smooth, matte, and refreshed.


Lacks ingredients to control oil beyond standard cleansing agents that just remove surface oil.

Contains somewhat drying cleansing and foaming agents.

Fragrant formula poses a risk of sensitizing skin especially because the scent lingers.

The pH of 6.1 keeps the active ingredient from exfoliating skin.

More Info:

Not being gentle to skin can increase oily skin & breakouts: Whether you can see it on the surface of skin or not, using harsh, skin-aggravating ingredients or cleansing brushes with stiff bristles, is a problem for all skin types but uniquely so for those with oily, combination, and blemish-prone skin.

Research has clearly established that when skin is aggravated the oil gland makes more oil to send to skin’s surface, creating a perfect environment for blemishes to occur.

Using any product that’s gentle and completely non-irritating is without question the only approach to taking the best care of your skin; doing otherwise hurts your skin.

It’s also vitally important to use appropriate products that research has shown are beneficial for oily skin and blemishes. The two gold standard ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

References for this information:

Journal of Dermatology, May 2012, issue 5, pages 433-438

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, issue 10, pages 821-832

European Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2002, pages 422-427

Journal of the American Medical Association, August 2004, issue 6, page 764

Dermatology, January 2003, issue 1, pages 17-23

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

This deep-cleansing, 3-minute mask is formulated to help immediately dissolve excess oil that can lead to breakouts. It helps treat and prevent breakouts while minimizing the appearance of pores. The result is a healthier-looking, matte complexion. It can also be used as a cleanser for daily oil-control.

Salicylic Acid (0.5%) Other Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Lauric Acid, Zinc Lactate, Polysorbate 60, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Synthetic Beeswax, PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Panthenol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Jojoba Esters, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Punica Granatum Extract, Capric Acid, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Betaine, Inositol, Taurine, Trehalose, Stearyl Triethoxysilane, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Murad At-A-Glance

Strengths: A few good cleansers; a selection of well-formulated AHA products centered on glycolic acid; most of Murad's top-rated products are fragrance-free; the sunscreens go beyond the basics and include several antioxidants for enhanced protection.

Weaknesses: Expensive; no other dermatologist-designed line has more problem products than Murad; irritating ingredients are peppered throughout the selection of products, keeping several of them from earning a recommendation; the skin-brighteners are not well-formulated.

Dr. Murad was one of the first doctors to appear on an infomercial selling his own line of skin-care products, and quite successfully so, at least the second time around. This was largely because the company paid for independent clinical studies to establish the efficacy of Dr. Murad's products. There's no question that AHA products, when well-formulated, can be a powerful ally to create healthier, radiant skin. But in terms of independent clinical studies, we're skeptical, given that there are countless labs that exist solely to perform such studies in strict accordance with how the company wants the results to turn out. Murad certainly wouldn't mention in an infomercial that the clinical studies for his AHA products weren't as impressive as, say, those for Neutrogena's AHA products, or any other line for that matter. And what about BHA products? Clinical studies and testimonials may have prompted consumers to order, but the results from Murad's AHA products are hardly unique to this line.

Although this is a skin-care line to consider for some good AHA options, the majority of the products are nothing more than a problem for skin. Murad may have been one of the first dermatologist-developed skin-care lines, but by today's standards his line is deplorable. This is largely due to a preponderance of irritating ingredients that show up in product after product. Any dermatologist selling products that include lavender, basil, and various citrus oils plus menthol and other irritants doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. The same goes for Murad's overuse of alcohol and his preference for treating acne with sulfur, both factors that keep some of his otherwise well-formulated, efficacious products from earning a recommendation.

Yet what is most objectionable is the endless parade of products claiming they can stop, get rid of, or reduce wrinkles and aging. Regardless of whether dermatologists know best about lotions and potions, no conscientious doctor would or should be selling products using the ludicrous claims Murad makes. Most of the anti-aging products have the same hype, the same unsubstantiated claims, and the same exaggeration about the beneficial effects of ingredients that are often present only in the tiniest amounts, without even a mention of the standard or potentially irritating ingredients that are also present. Dr. Murads skin-care philosophy, stated on his Web site, includes the following statement: "Take all the necessary steps to achieve healthy skinincluding the right products, the proper nutrients (from both food and supplements) and positive lifestyle choices." That's an excellent piece of advice; the problem is that it is contradicted by Murads own products, most of which are far from the "right" options for all skin types.

For more information about Murad, now owned by Unilever, call (888) 996-8723 or visit www.murad.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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