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April 13, 2018

By Amelia Tan

How much time do you spend on your face every morning? Chances are, in the whole rush from rolling out of bed to leaving the house for work, school, or your next appointment, we assume that it’s gonna be pretty dismal. Don’t worry, everyone’s like that, right? Well, even if you’re not that hardworking to indulge in a full morning beauty regime, there are skincare items that do the work for you.

Take the latest Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask. Now, these are some pretty good claims, right in its name. If we break it down, the multi-benefit mask is essentially about achieving a youthful radiance, thanks to the preserving power of the lotus plant, and is here to swiftly rescue us from daily stressors that result in less-than-perfect dull skin.

The many reviews online also claim it has “instant” effects, a phrase I tend to regard with skepticism when it comes to skincare products; more than that, it makes a bold claim of working in just 5 minutes. That’s shorter than the time we spend clicking our way through the end of Instagram Stories (just kidding — there is no end), probably faster than it takes for your Grab ride to arrive at your doorstep — so perfect for your morning regime then?

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It was also during a trip to Cambodia last year that I first heard about the mask. And in Fresh’s immersive style, this means being whisked away onto a wooden boat right in the middle of a lotus farm — to learn more about the flowers, which happen to be incredibly versatile.

Throughout the trip, we munched on fried lotus chips, had it as part of a sticky sweet dessert, indulged in a lotus petal bath, and learnt how to fold the flowers into a beautiful arrangement. So it’s no wonder that Fresh turned to the entire lotus plant for inspiration.

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“The lotus line has always been popular. Young people like it very much because it’s very effective, easy to use, it absorbs quickly and isn’t that heavy. So this is just a natural expansion of the line; we want people to experience it in all forms,” Fresh co-founder Lev Glazman tells us. Indeed, a lotus flower extract’s in there for its anti-ageing, radiant-enhancing benefits, while tiny lotus seeds help refine and exfoliate the skin.

However, he shares that the latest mask dives deeper than that — quite literally, by way of supplementing the mask with aquatic ingredients. “It gives us an opportunity to talk about what goes on underwater,” he adds, referring to the kombu seaweed flakes, red algae and sea fennel extract that’s infused into the cream too. “To me it’s a natural progression. This is a flower that grows in the water and it’s so magical, especially with what’s actually happening underwater. Seaweed is so good for you, and so is algae and sea kelp, there are just so many nutrients in all of those.”

Take a look at the experience here:


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For Fresh, the storytelling that’s built around a product is a vital part of the brand — hence the dreamy Siem Reap adventure and their travel hashtag, #FreshJourney. Each and every product feels like we’re taking a glimpse at a personal moment in the lives of founders Lev and Alina, also one of the most down-to-earth brand owners I’ve met; it could be as simple as their daily kombucha drink, now turned into a powerful facial essence.

Alina Roytberg though, has a slightly different, but still admirable, take on the stories her brand creates: “You try to document the journey, to create exciting visuals, to educate and empower our sales associates,” she starts. “For us it’s always the product — the product tells the story even after you open the jar, it continues to tell the story when you put it on your skin, because it becomes your product.”

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“The complexity and simplicity of Fresh goes well together,” continues Lev, in sync, “The complexity is to take something that’s so familiar to you and make it an ingredient. When you walk into our store, every ingredient is familiar – black tea, lotus, rose, sugar – people heard about it. That’s the simplicity of the approach, something that could be part of your daily life. But there’s the curiosity of it, how can this be used on my face? Fresh, in so many ways, creates desire for the product without people knowing that they needed it. What attracts people is the storytelling, for sure, but the first main thing, the star, is always the ingredient.”

With that, let’s get started on our lotus mask, shall we?


WHAT IS IT?

Called the “5-minute facial in a jar”, the Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask has a couple of much-needed benefits going for it. The top one’s about saving us from a dull, wan complexion by way of gently buffing our skin with exfoliating ingredients, and also by boosting our skin’s natural radiance, primarily through Fresh’s proprietary Super 7 Complex, which itself is powered by a lotus plant extract. On top of that, it claims to fight against rough texture, uneven skin tones, congestion, and dryness.

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These are the key ingredients and how they work:

  • Super 7 Complex –this blend of 7 super ingredients includes lotus flower extract that’s packed with antioxidants, and helps to hydrate skin as well as give it a youthful glow.
  • Kombu Seaweed Flakes & Red Algae — the former is composed of wild seaweed that’s harvested by hand, then ground and dried into a powder that’s rich in minerals, while red algae is also ground and sieved into a fine powder. Both help to exfoliate the skin.
  • Lotus Seeds — these are sourced from Southeast Asia (represent!) and help smooth skin’s texture too.
  • Sea Fennel Extract — found on coastlines around the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, the plant’s rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, all of which help to maintain supple skin.

 

HOW TO USE IT, AND HOW DID IT FEEL?

We’re told that after cleansing the skin, we should apply a generous layer of the mask using circular motions — this is there mainly to ensure the exfoliating ingredients do their work. You’ll first feel the lotus seeds and flakes of seaweed gently grazing against your skin, though these feel more comforting thanks to how they’re now sloughing away all your dead skin cells.

That said, the soft cream comes next, and my skin then felt enveloped by its cushion-like texture. When they said “generous”, I usually err on the side of caution and go for a thick, visible layer (like the picture below). There’s a light tingly sensation you’ll feel after putting on the mask, which signals that something’s working. After five minutes, add warm water and massage the skin while rinsing it off.

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As recommended by Alina who does this as well, you can apply it during your morning bathroom routine, say before you hop in the shower. Not only does the pleasant scent help wake you up, by the time you’re done brushing your teeth and showering, five minutes would have already passed and you’re now ready to wash the mask away.

 

DID IT WORK? 

Now, the brand has also already rolled out several masks in their impressive arsenal — in fact, this happens to be their 9th one. I’ve raved about the previous ones before and included in my long-term beauty regime (which is rare for someone who gets to try tons of items each week). This includes the Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask for when my skin’s out of control and when I want to prevent a full zit outbreak, and the Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask. So technically, I didn’t need this to work; I was already pleased.

But hey, it does. And yes, instantly too! I particularly enjoyed the whole exfoliating process, simply because it feels so satisfying knowing that my clogged pores and dead skin cells are gone for good. Good riddance much? After rinsing the mask off, my skin felt clean and clear, and ready to take in any nutrients and moisture from my other skincare items. That did wonders for rejuvenating my skin too, adding a healthy and refreshing glow. Over two weeks of steady use, I did feel like my skin was smoother, less oily and clogged up.

I would also be more keen to run my hands on what seems to be my newfound skin, not in a narcissistic way, but because it always feels so smooth and supple after — and comfortable. You know, that elusive velvety texture that’s neither too oily nor too dry. Away went its original rough, dry texture that’s now replaced with an instant youthful plumpness, plus what I noticed was a bit more glow, as if my natural skin finally had the chance to shine through.

Perhaps my only gripe was that you had to layer it with other moisturising products after the mask. Using it on its own will give you some instant hydration, yes, but this doesn’t last long throughout the day. That’s where complementary items like the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream comes in, to really lock in the moisture and benefits.

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IS IT WORTH IT?

Since we’re talking about “worth”, I can’t help but take a glance at the price tag, and really, Fresh’s products aren’t usually that affordable — the masks usually start from $100 and this is no different. The jars are pretty generous though, and since you don’t really use a mask everyday, one of this will last you a long while.

If you’re the kind who thinks skincare is an investment (and who are we kidding, it is!), I’d say, go for it. Some may see the Lotus mask is supplementary to the skincare routine, since a more straightforward item will usually have more hydrating benefits as well, but think of this as enhancing your beauty ritual. The mask refines your skin texture and still gives it a radiance in the long-term, plus the multiple benefits makes it an impressive all-rounder for what can be classified as an exfoliating product. You’ll definitely enjoy the skin pampering session that the mask provides though, so yes for a facial you can recreate at home!

 

Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Rescue Mask, $105, available at Fresh boutiques, Sephora stores and sephora.sg