What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Yeah, not this time.
I had just gotten back from a big beauty convention, and my souvenirs from weren’t just bags and bags of beauty samples and press kits — a little red bump found its way onto my face and latched on for dear life. Then this little red bump brought a friend. And another. And another. Within a week, I had a constellation on my face. To make matters worse, it was a constellation of pimples on places I had never gotten pimples before.
I don’t know if it was the stress, the hyper-air conditioning in 110+ degree heat, or the choking, smoke-filled room I first checked into before I started coughing up a lung and had to switch rooms, but I hadn’t had a breakout like this since law school. And to add insult to injury, a massive, painful cystic pimple decided to show up to join the party.
I was using everything in my arsenal — salicylic acid cleansers and serums, benzoyl peroxide treatments, acne patches, even ibuprofen, which I resort to only when I’m really desperate. Nothing seemed to stop the invasion, as I would wake up each morning only to find yet another blemish had settled on my face.
I was frantic. I’m used to battling one blemish at a time, usually once a month. I’ve never had to battle seven at one time. And that painful cystic pimple? I had no choice but to see it through as it went through its inevitable stages — an agonizing couple of weeks before the inevitable hideous scab would fall off. I had essentially consigned myself to hunkering down at home for a month while I nursed my embattled complexion.
That’s when I remembered that I had just gotten the new LJH Tea Tree Soothing Mask. Now, tea tree is new to me; it was never a part of my skin care regimen before. I had considered it one of those ingredients that granola-loving, natural-only types resorted to because they had no other alternative. No, I thought, give me the chemicals, the hardcore stuff based on science!
But after learning about tea tree’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties while researching a story on oily skin, I had incorporated the LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence into my routine. And as I eyed the Tea Tree Mask, I thought, why not? It can’t hurt. Some pampering to take my mind off of how depressing my face looks may at least quell some of my anxiety.
As I scanned the ingredient list, I was impressed. The sheet mask contains a high concentration of tea tree extract, which is less irritating than tea tree oil, and absorbs more easily into the skin. But there was also so much more —antioxidant-rich, skin brightening peony root extract; Centella asiatica extract, which has antibacterial and wound-healing properties and boosts collagen synthesis; the anti-inflammatory, anti-redness, flavonoid-rich German chamomile extract; and gingko biloba leaf extract, a potent antioxidant that’s also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-redness.
The sensorial experience of the mask itself fulfilled all my expectations of an LJH product. Made of hypoallergenic, 100% natural bamboo cellulose, the mask is extra thin and super-soaked with essence — it clings to the face far better than most paper sheet masks. It felt cool on contact (though not a menthol-type cool, which feels more hot-cool to me) and stayed cool the entire recommended 20 minutes — a welcome relief for my inflamed skin. The mask has a bit of an herbal, medicinal scent — the tea tree extract, most likely — which I liked; I felt like I was taking medicine for my skin.
I applied a second Tea Tree Mask two days later (which goes to show how desperate I was — I’m lucky if I do a sheet mask twice in a month). And the next morning, I was standing in front of my vanity mirror, absolutely agog.
Yes, the little constellation of pimples had shrunk in both size and redness. But most amazingly, the massive, deep cystic pimple — the kind that won’t stop until (warning: grossness ahead) it finishes its inevitable march to crystallizing into a painful, throbbing white head, the only remedy for which is to squeeze out the pus and the plug, and then wait for the dark, crusty scab to heal and fall off — stopped.
There’s no other way to put it — it just stopped. And that never happens. Ever.
It’s been a week since the LJH Tea Tree Soothing Mask obliterated my horrific breakout. Most of the smaller blemishes are gone, with only faint post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) a reminder of my once living skin nightmare. The one-time cystic pimple is also fading into the background, easily covered up with my usual foundation. I’m out and about again, no longer afraid to see friends, go shopping, or eat out at my favorite restaurants. Just don’t ask me to go back to Vegas.
Anna M. Park is the editor of beauty and travel blog Styleunderpressure.com.