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February 19, 2016

Kiehl’s is starting 2016 with new tubs of all-natural good stuff for the skin, in the form of the Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque, and the Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque. We were at the Kiehl’s Asian Skincare Symposium in Tokyo, to get to know these two nutritious masks and how each serves a specific purpose (no one mask does it all, anyway).


Clean and Green

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Many of us might view the haze as an annual annoyance that leads Singaporeans to break out the N95 masks, cancel outdoor activities, and start downing antioxidants in increased amounts. As we write this, haze season is over so the air is nice and clear, and the PSI is in thankfully healthy levels. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the air does contain a certain level of harmful pollutants – yes, even here in Singapore, where we very thankfully don’t have to breathe in hazardous air on a daily basis, like in other bustling cities.

Pollution is harmful to to the body on the whole, obviously, but for now, let’s focus on the organ that’s the most exposed: the skin. Pollution comes in five forms, and they’re all nasty to the skin: particulate matter causes dark spots and wrinkles and weakens the skin barrier; volatile organic compounds lead to more allergic reactions; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are behind quicker aging and more melanin spots; oxides make skin more sensitive; and ozone is the culprit behind skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema.

It’s a mouthful, but the bottom line is: There’s lots of harmful stuff in the air, so you better protect your skin well. Enter the Kiehl’s Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque, which helps the skin fight these atmospheric enemies with a triple action formula:

  • Orange extract helps fight skin damage, by protecting it against UV-induced oxidative damage and stimulating the production of important skin barrier proteins.
  • Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant but it usually depleted when the skin is exposed to external pollutants; this mask helps top it up, so the skin is kept strong, while cilantro oil further boosts the skin barrier.
  • Pollution is further kept at bay by the formula’s anti-adhesion properties, so all those afore-mentioned things in polluted air can’t stick to your skin as well.

This mask was mainly developed to be used at night – apply a generous layer, leave it on for five minutes, then use a tissue to dab off the excess – but Roberta Weiss, Kiehl’s Senior Vice President of Innovation & Product Development, says to go ahead and use it in the day as well.

“We realised from the testing that we did that it has this incredible effect as an all-day anti-aging cream, and the best way to get that is putting it on in the morning as a morning mask,” she tells us, also advising that it’s to be applied right before sunscreen.

Anti-pollution skincare products are already becoming increasingly common on the market, and come in all forms – but this is the first one we’ve seen that comes as a leave-on mask. Weiss explains that a mask formula was chosen because it’s both general and specific: Everyone needs a mask in their regime, yet this one has that specific anti-pollution function. Also, it’s more powerful that your regular mask. “The difference between this and any other mask is it’s really a treatment product, just used three times a week instead of every day,” explains Weiss.

But of course you can use it daily should you want to keep your skin extra protected – as they say, you can never have too much of a good thing like a pollution-fighting mask.



Light Me Up

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Masks go way back in history. They are thought to have first appeared in ancient Egypt, as part of Cleopatra’s regime to maintain the beauty that she’s famous for. Marie Antoinette apparently started the egg white mask trend, using it to tighten the pores, while Yang Guifei, one of China’s “four great beauties”, is said to have relied on brightening and tightening masks as well.

Fast forward a good number of centuries, and masks of 2016 surprisingly aren’t high-tech concoctions made of carefully-engineered chemicals with names we can’t pronounce; but rather, as Kiehl’s has shown, a blend of the all-natural stuff that women have been relying on down through the ages. The Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance masque is a skin brightener that uses turmeric extract, that famous skin radiance-booster that’s already a stalwart in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Egyptian traditional medicines. Its other superpowers include detoxifying the skin of impurities, antioxidant properties, and the ability to balance sebum on the skin.

Exfoliation is a key step to brightening, because that’s what’s sloughing off the dead skin cells that are the cause of dullness; in this case, crushed cranberry seeds are the ones doing the gentle scrubbing; cranberry also happens to be a fruit that’s chock-full of antioxidants.

Feeling the cranberry seed bits exfoliating your skin might be scary to those with sensitive skin, but Kiehl’s promises it’s gentle, and if you’ve sensitive skin, you definitely shouldn’t be avoiding exfoliation completely. Dr. Geoff Genesky, Head of Kiehl’s Skincare Laboratory, explains: “Not only can (exfoliation) help improve the appearance of their skin, but in some ways it can combine other treatment steps in their routine, and help renormalise and strengthen the skin barrier. That can be important in preventing some of the sensitisation issues.”

So, get scrubbing. After cleansing, apply this mask to the entire face. Leave it on for five minutes, then gently massage the skin to get the exfoliation going, before rinsing it off. Use it a few times a week, and Weiss recommends pairing it with the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot solution if you need an extra boost of clarity, or the Daily Reviving Concentrate if you just need an overall radiance boost. 2016 looks like it’s going to be a bright year ahead already.


Kiehl’s Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque and Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque, $49 each. Available at Kiehl’s stores.