Rip open the packaging, add warm water (never hot!) and it comes to life. Small pockets full of nourishing black lava swell with H2O to form a gel as the mask heats up. "And that's made up of the 12 essential minerals in our clay water—things like copper, and iron, and magnesium, and sulfur, and zinc," says Karen Ballou, esthetician and founder of Immunocologie. All of these ingredients come together to repair, renew, and energize the cells while reducing inflammation and hydrating the skin. "It's like when you go to a spa and you have the steam put on your skin or a warm towel on the skin," says Ballou. As you wear the mask, you can pop the pockets of lava gel and massage the nutrients into the skin.
Using it's like nothing I've ever experienced. I was completely skeptical that it wouldn't get warm enough for me, someone who likes a seriously steamy shower. But Ballou assured me that warm water was enough for the mask to work its magic because it builds heat as it activates. And I can attest thatthe mask got hot quick. I applied the Immunocologies Super 7 Elixir "Snail Mucin" Serum ($195)—you can use any serum you like—and then laid down on my bed and applied the mask. After 20 minutes, I was totally Zen-ed out and my skin was left plump and hydrated.
But you know how you can hear the ocean when you put your ear to a seashell? When you apply the Immunocologie lava mask, it's like you can hear lava crackling down a volcano in the distance. That's the sound of the water activating the black lava minerals. The heat was so incredibly relaxing and comforting that I, a self-proclaimed bad meditator, actually enjoyed just closing my eyes and laying back—no phone in sight.
And sure, self-heating masks are nothing new: Brands like Caolion ($13), Bioré ($8), and Peter Thomas Roth ($48) have warming wash-off masks that hero ingredients like charcoal and mineral water to bring the heat. Kao Megurhythm ($17) carries a self-heating eye mask that works like those little hand warmers that you can toss in your pockets during cooler months. But what sets the Immunocologie lava mask apart is that it's a sheet mask. Not only does it deposit nutrients onto the skin, it can also be paired with other products of your choice (particularly serums) to help them sink a bit deeper into your heat-opened pores so that they can work a bit harder.
Initially, the Immunocologie masked was already wet when your received it, but this wasn't ideal for Balou. "What was bothering me the most was that we were shipping water overseas," she says. So she started to look for how she could reformulate the mask to make it water-activated instead. "Working with clay water is not so easy," she says. "It took us a couple of years to really find the right chemist who could work with [us] to bring this together," she says. "We finally did, and we're so excited." By sending the mask dry, the packaging is able to be smaller and lighter
A single Immunocologie lava mask costs $15 and you can get a pack of four for $55, which positions it toward the higher end of the cost range for sheet masks. But from my personal experience, it feels worth every penny for the innovation paired with the ingredient profile alone.
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