GlamGlow's empire of "mud" (A.K.A. clay) masks have received their fair share of buzz over the years, and Flashmud Brightening Treatment continues the trend. Unfortunately, it also continues the tradition of being genuinely irritating to skin. That's a major letdown at any price point, but it's particularly disappointing for such an expensive mask!
You're instructed to massage Flashmud Brightening Treatment into skin and leave it on for a minimum of twenty minutes. According to GlamGlow, its "innovative multi-brightening complexes help to create the brightest, lightest, and most luminous skin possible." They go on to list several flashy-sounding combinations of trademarked ingredient blends, including the use of diamond powder.
Diamond powder, which is commercial grade diamond residue, does indeed help this mask leave behind a slight sparkling shine on skin, which can be perceived as "brightening," though if shimmer is the goal, it could also be accomplished with products that cost a fraction of this. As diamond powder has no benefit for skin, you could say its presence here is marketing spin to make this product seem more impressive than it really is.
Diamond dust aside, GlamGlow also boasts of "skin translucency optimizers" which is their way of saying skin-lightening ingredients. Indeed Flashmud Brightening Treatment does contain acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide among other supporting ingredients to help fade brown spots and other discolorations. The formula also contains several antioxidant-rich plant extracts to support the anti-aging claims, but then things go downhill…
The jar packaging that this mask comes in allows the beneficial light- and air-sensitive ingredients it contains to break down with each use, eventually rendering them ineffective. Given this product's cost, that's a huge waste of money. (See More Info for additional details on why jar packaging is a problem.) Adding insult to injury, the fact that this clay-based mask is fragranced strongly enough to smell for the duration of its wear is also problematic and can lead to pro-aging irritation for skin (see More Info for the full scoop).
We also need to address the exfoliation properties of Flashmud Brightening Treatment, which could actually be categorized a scrub due to its abrasive particles. While you can get some manual exfoliation by massaging the gritty mask into skin as directed, its abrasive texture can cause tiny, skin-damaging tears and if you have sensitive skin, it will definitely leave it reddened and irritated. Interestingly, the formula also contains AHA (lactic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid) which are effective chemical exfoliants, but combined with the overall irritating formula, you're mixing benefit with risk, so why bother?
In the end, despite the hype, Flashmud Brightening Treatment is yet another letdown in GlamGlow's line of irritant-loaded masks. For superior options, check out any of the skin-friendly formulas we recommend on our Best Facial Masks list.
Jar Packaging: The fact that it’s packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you’re dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients not only can help prevent free-radical damage, but also, to a fairly impressive extent, help repair that damage. Surprisingly, almost all of these ingredients are just as vulnerable to sun exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke as your skin (Pharmacognosy Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Powerful and innovative multi-brightening complexes help to create the brightest, lightest, and most luminous skin possible. The TEAOXI® technology is white birch leaf that delivers natural betulin, betulinic acid, and ellagic acid to create an improved, color-balanced skintone. WhiteEnergy™ is a brilliant fusion of powerful natural actives to create intense, bright, and even results. Flashlucent™ is a combination of skin translucency optimizers featuring three levels of exfoliation to drive ingredients into the skin for a luminous, younger-looking complexion. Reflectrum™ is a blend of brightening ingredients boosted with diamond photoluminescence to increase the reflecting level of the skin and make it appear radiant and more attractive. It’s designed for instant and extended results for men and women of all ages, skin types, and skintones.
Water, Kaolin, Synthetic Wax, Cetyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Acetyl Glucosamine, Niacinamide, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Pumice, Glyceryl Stearate, Peg-100 Stearate, Pentylene Glycol, Quartz, Betula Alba Leaf Extract, Betula Pendula Wood Powder, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Rosa Canina Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Diamond Powder, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Alcohol, Linalool, Amyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Lactic Acid, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Octyldodecyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Solidago Virgaurea (Goldenrod) Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol.
Strengths: None, unfortunately. Well, their packaging is pretty.
Weaknesses: Despite the hype, GlamGlow does not have exceptional, or even mediocre, products worth considering. Their primary two masks are overpriced and offer a mix of ordinary clays, potent fragrance and irritating plant extracts with a few beneficial antioxidants present but they are rendered useless because of the jar packaging.
Created by the husband-and-wife team of Glenn and Shannon Dellimore, the Hollywood, California-based GlamGlow line consists of several masks and cleansers. Their marketing claims may have you thinking these masks are revolutionary skin-care treatments but they are not—not even slightly. GlamGlow also claims their masks are sought out by actors and celebrities for their ability to "tighten skin and shrink pores". The celebrity allure is a good one, as most of us want to know what the stars use to get or stay gorgeous, but celebrity cache alone isn't a great reason to try any product. A lot of celebrities do things that aren't good for them, like smoke, tan, or drink too much, and they make skin care and cosmetic surgery mistakes too.
But back to the masks. The GlamGlow masks contain fragrant essential oils, irritating plant extracts and ordinary clays (despite being named "French clay", in the world of skin-care formulation, clay is just clay and being from France is as special as a French fry is to a potato).
The reality behind the ingredients used in the GlamGlow line is much less interesting than the story would lead you to believe. Aside from the mix of clay and fragrance, their "hero ingredient" is the trade-named ingredient called "Teoxi", which is just green-tea extract. While green-tea extract is an excellent antioxidant, isn’t capable of the the skin perfecting, Benjamin Button-age-reversing results promised. As the body's largest organ, your skin is far too complex to have its anti-aging needs met by one antioxidant, however good it may be. But even if green-tea extract were as amazing as GlamGlow asserts, it won’t remain stable in the jar packaging the company chose for their masks.
Aside from "Teoxi", GlamGlow uses trade names instead of using the actual ingredient name in their marketing claims, on both the box and their website. You may think "Teoxi" sounds impressive, but you're only getting standard ingredients—their use of trade names simply makes the formula seem more intriguing than it really is. For example, their "Bio-Life-Cell-Science" technology claims to be an "Advanced Scientific Skincare" blend, but in reality it's just a mix of eucalyptus, peppermint, comfrey, ivy, marigold and other standard plant extracts. It would take some advanced scientific Photoshopping to get anti-wrinkle/anti-blemish results from this cast of ordinary problematic ingredients!
If you're interested in a clay mask for absorbing excess oil or helping clogged pores, there are many alternatives which easily beat GlamGlow for a fraction of the cost. There is nothing unique about the masks this line sells.
GlamGlow also makes exfoliating claims, but these don't live up to their promise for reasons discussed in each mask's reviews. You are better off using a soft washcloth with your cleanser for physical exfoliation—you will get virtually identical results and save your skin the irritation (plus spare your bank account the wasted money). If brighter, more even-toned skin is your goal, consider any of the well-formulated AHA/BHA exfoliants recommended in the Best Products section.
In the end, despite lots of hype, GlamGlow is a disappointment that isn't worth the expense and puts your skin at risk of irritation. If only a fraction of the marketing efforts behind the brand were put into formulating their products, they might have ended up with products truly deserving of celebrity accolades!
For more information about GlamGlow, email at email@example.com or visit www.glamglowmud.com (there is no available phone number).
Note: As of January 2015, GlamGlow has been acquired by Estee Lauder.
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