I always feel so nostalgic when I see blueberries, because there were a vivid part of my childhood up in the rocky wilds of northern Canada. We would hike up the low mountains of the Canadian Shield and pick the wild blueberries that grew like weeds over the thin, scrubby soil that clung to the rocky surface, in defiance of other plants that needed more soil cover to grow.
I love blueberries, but I can't ever enjoy fresh ones anymore because the southern species you can find in stores are these bloated, tasteless globules of mush that seem to be immediate members of the cardboard family. Ugh. But trip down memory lane is over, let's see what happens when you put them on your face!
Full product name: Holika Holika Blueberry Essence Mask Sheet
Purpose: Like most sheet masks, it's a thin cotton sheet infused with a skin treatment (essence/serum/ampoule) which is meant to sit on the face for an extended length of time (often 15-30 min depending on the mask) and allow your skin to absorb a lot of moisture. Additionally, each mask is supposed to have various effects depending on what it's infused with.
According to Holika Holika's US site (which is run by prettyandcute.com last I heard) the blueberry ingredient 'violet anthocyanin' is supposed to 'counteract the hormonal conditions which encourage pimples' and 'normalize oil levels in your skin [ ... ] making it less likely to accumulate sebum' but I really can't imagine that a one-time use product is going to do much in the way of combating hormonal breakouts.
Scent: It smells like candy, and not in a good way. It's sort of sickly sweet and very artificial, and reminds me of grape jolly ranchers.
Quantity: Single use sheet mask, and a generous amount of essence left over in the package. This was a plus for me; I like masks that are generous with the essence inside and give you enough for a few topical applications afterward.
Availability: I think I got this as a freebie from prettyandcute.com along with my overall order, but I am going to be totally honest - I have so many damn sheet masks floating around I have no idea which ones are from which vendors.
Price: Single mask $2
Rating: I consider sheet masks a 3/5 at best, and at first I gave it a 2/3, but I'm upgrading it to a 3 based off my observations the morning after.
I'm actually in the process of slowly warming up to sheet masks, because this climate is so dry that I have a real issue with things evaporating off my face before my skin can absorb all the goodness. In fact, I may start using it as a late nighttime skincare routine step, so it can be layered over all my painstakingly applied essences and serums and ampoule and treatments, in the hopes that it will act as a barrier between the acrid desert air and the precious skincare I am trying to permeate into my skin.
At least, that's the idea. This may not work, but I have noticed that my skin retains hydration better overnight if I use a sheet mask instead of a sleeping pack.
Part of the issue is not only that the air is so damn dry, but also my husband can't sleep without a fan blowing on him, which means I wake up to dry, crusty eyeballs and skin flakes galore. Before anyone points out I should stop sleeping with a fan blowing ultra-dry air on me, the only way that's going to happen is if I stop sleeping in the same bed as him, because he needs it to sleep, and unfortunately I need him to sleep. :( Otherwise, I have nightmares and constantly wake up at every tiny sound, and sleeping is important for your health and sanity. Sleep > Dry eyes/skin.
Anyway, back to the blueberry mask. Blueberries are considered to be one of the 'superfoods' for their antioxidant powers in fighting free radicals, but like most skincare, manufacturers are quick to capitalize on the supposed benefits of products without any science to back up whether or not it's still effective/absorbable through the skin. Collagen is a perfect example of this. So I am skeptical of whether or not my skin is benefiting from the ~amazing powerrrrrs of blueberries~ but I certainly do believe they're an excellent thing to have in your diet.
Because I don't know Korean, I can't translate the packaging, but it does have a tiny amount of English instructions on the back, which are elaborated on the Holika Holika US site:
Holika Holika Blueberry Essence Mask Sheet contains blueberry essence that has a lot of violet anthocyanin, which helps to keep your skin fresh and young. Blueberries contain certain nutrients that can counteract the hormonal conditions which encourage pimples. Many of the vitamins in blueberries may neutralize or normalize oil levels in your skin, making it healthier and less likely to accumulate sebum.
Heee, every time I read "arrange skin texture" which is an expression I see on a few products, I always wonder what the original Korean saying is that is being translated really literally here.
As usual, now that I am writing my review after forming my own opinions, I read around a bit about the ingredients and their alleged properties. According to wikipedia, anthocyanin is a pigment responsible for creating vivid colours in plants and thus protecting them from sun damage. However, they do so by absorbing certain colours of the light spectrum, so unless you're planning on painting yourself purple, you're not going to reap a sun protection benefit here.
The reason that anthocyanin makes blueberries and other red/purple foods into healthfood buzzwords is that anthocyanin is also a potent antioxidant, although it then introduces a caveat about the effectiveness due to sciencey science, science-et-science, at which point I went cross-eyed and skipped the rest of that part. I'm reviewing a sheet mask, not debating the effectiveness of various antioxidants on culling free radicals from your body.
However, I was interested in this bit:
"According to a 2009 study: "A growing body of evidence suggests anthocyanins and anthocyanidins may possess analgesic properties in addition to neuroprotective and anti-inﬂammatory activities"."**
Anti-inflammatory, you say? Now you have my attention. I feel like part of the Asian skincare approach is an ongoing battle to reduce inflammation of the skin in general as well as acne inflammation, and whether or not slapping blueberries on your face is going to have the same benefit as eating them is unproven, it completely fits with the general skincare philosophy.
**Oooh yeah, gimme those sweet, sweet legit citations of actual scientific sources! Werk!
Also, I did feel like it soothed, and reduced inflammation on, my face as well as keeping it smooth and hydrated all night, although that could just as easily be from the moisture actually penetrating my face for once instead of being sucked into the dry desert air as soon as I slap it on.
One thing I did not like about this mask was that it did not come with a plastic backing like the My Beauty Diary masks do (reviewed here) which means that you have to patiently and delicately unfold the mask to avoid tearing it.
Once I got it unfolded, however, I was pleasantly surprised that even though it had the usual too-small, too close-set eyeholes, it had these extra side flaps that made it easier to fit the mask to my moon-round face. The nose piece was also long enough to reach almost to the end of my nose, unlike many masks where it stops on the bridge of my nose. I get a ton of dry/dead skin on my nose for some reason, like bizarre amounts, so I actually need serious hydration on my schnoz to keep them at bay.
What's your thoughts on manufacturers piggybacking on the health benefits of their ingredients; are they just ahead of the curve or guilty of claims with zero backing? Let me know in the comments below!
**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever. This blog contains both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself. Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.