I’m as metro as they come, but there is something immediately emasculating about looking in the mirror and seeing some sort of greenish-grayish gunk slathered across my facade. And although I don’t want any photos of it showing up on Facebook, I’m comfortable admitting I quite enjoy my newly discovered world of facial masks, a tier of the (formerly) female-only facial regimen that most puzzled-and scared-us men. Facial masks help condition, soften, detoxify, and otherwise sweep impurities from our stressed grills, helping to undo damage caused by shaving, sliding into second base, or being on the unlucky end of a wayward bar punch. Now, I’m not suggesting everyone who pees standing up should be slapping cold cream on their face every night before bed, but hunkering down behind closed doors with these male-friendly facial masks once a week will keep your weathered visage as soft and smooth as a toddler’s tush-and won’t send anyone shrieking from your bedroom.
You gotta give it up for Kiss My Face, which isn’t the most manliest sounding product line I regularly cover, but they sure do make chemical-free cosmetics affordable…sorta. Their Potent & Pure Pore Shrink Mask is half the price of anything else here (that’s the part I like), though its lasts half as long (not a big fan of that). White bentonite clay combines with tea tree (antiseptic) and lemongrass (anti-inflammatory) essential oils to provide a tingly, smooth facial ride that I especially enjoy after a close shave. Certified organic ingredients here are abundant: rosemary leaf, lemon balm leaf, and chamomile extracts, among others. Afterward, my face indeed feels kissable. Who’s first? www.kissmyface.com
Once again, I adore Yon-Ka for Men’s Mask, merely the latest product from this French phyto-aromatic company to steal my heart (though the company’s use of parabens in other products in its line is something that doesn’t turn me on quite as much). However, the men’s mask smells divine, a combination of the “Yon-Ka Quintessence” (geranium, lavender, cypress, rosemary, and thyme) along with citrus essential oils (orange peel, grapefruit, lime, lemon), all sourced from raw ingredients that are free of pesticides or preservatives. A three-clay cocktail extracts toxins and tightens pores, all the while eliminating signs of a weekend tequila bender or being roughed up in a brawly rugby match (the French are good at rugby, right?). You can actually see your pores shrink after one use. It’s fruity, but that doesn’t make you a fruit. www.yonka.com
My favorite mask has to be Rare2B’s Detox Facial Mask. I’m not vegan-but I love the fact that Rare2B is a 100 percent vegan and organic product line. But beyond that, this is the creamiest, most pleasant mask I tried. Amazonian white clay is the cause; drawing out toxins while spreading the most evenly of the masks I tested. Elsewhere, it’s full of indigenous ingredients from South America: Aa (fights inflammation), camu-camu (potent antioxidant), and the babau palm (soothes dry skin). Larch tree extract covers exfoliation, skin cell turnover, and tightening (who needs Botox). My wife likes it, too, so we can do it together, and I get credit for coming up with the idea. Brownie points! www.rarenatural.com
Yum Gourmet Skincare’s Organic Squamosa Buffing Masque is the odd man out here, both in design and texture. It feels more like a hair gel than a mask, first acting as an exfoliant upon application, with small beads of jojoba gently removing dead surface cells and impurities. It’s designed to remain on your face for 5 to 10 minutes, the shortest timeframe here (a good thing, as we men generally lack the patience for some of this stuff). Organic Squamosa, derived from the Sugar Apple tree, rocks collagen production and improves intercellular cohesion. An anti-aging, free radical Cosmopolitan of certified organic pomegranate extract and cranberry essential oil; and vitamins C and E keep environmental aggressors at bay. And unlike the more traditional masks, it never really dries into a facial crust, but is really more of an exfoliant that you leave on for extra time. The upside to that is this made-for-men mask lacks emasculating qualities, the downside is that its lack of viscosity allows product to run into your eyes. It stings like hell. www.yumskincare.com
Not named after a dude named Ken but rather a Kanji word meaning “the embodiment of well-being,” Ken-Men is an eco-conscious, Fair-Trade company with roots in the film industry offering products designed, among other things, to reduce skin inflammation and promote healing. That I like. Their Skin Fitness Rescue Anti-Stress Mask leaves the skin the least markedly smooth among the choices here, but probably digs the deepest into your damaged appearance, working on a cellular level to battle fatigue, stress, and dehydration. Shea butter, avocado, and wheat germ oils combine with herbal extracts like thyme, sage, willow bark, blue chamomile, and calendula to go on creamy and light; it doesn’t dry particularly cakey, either, which seems more manly. It’s perfect post-Trans Atlantic flight or for simple Sunday mug maintenance. www.kenmen.net.