I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize seasonal change could affect my skin like this. It was cool—okay, Hawai‘i’s version of cool—for a good long while, but spring and summer have suddenly melded together in a hot steamy mess right in front of my face. And sometimes, the sky just decides to cry. No warning. Oh, and suddenly, vog! Have you heard of vog? That’s volcanic fog, for you non-Hawai‘i people. This makes for some surprise closed comedones (CCs) and mild irritation brought about by the sudden weather change.
This is why we don’t go outside.
Anyway, the second mask in my TJ Maxx Sheet Mask Review Series—which I made up just now—is the Naisture Tea Tree Mask Pack. With its main ingredient, it promises to help ease the pain of active breakouts and calm my panicking skin.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil has long been touted in the skincare and health world for its multitude of benefits. It’s been making breakthroughs outside of the herbal/natural-product community; we’ve seen it cropping up in popular brands like The Body Shop and Innisfree, and there must be a good reason why. While some mix it with water and bathe in it in order to treat symptoms of respiratory ailments (such as coughing), let’s talk about what it may do for your skin when applied topically:
- Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory; it can possibly kill bacteria and fungus
- Reduce skin reactions due to allergens, etc.
- Treat acne, both inflammatory (papules and pustules) and non-inflammatory (blackheads and whiteheads)
Much of the current research available is supportive of tea tree oil as a helpful ingredient in topical products, but as with most ingredients, it’s always in need of better-quality tests and research. Some question its safety, but when properly formulated, it’s a non-issue. So far, it’s working out.
One of the studies linked above show that tea tree oil was effective when used regularly over a period of 45 days, which is a challenge to this sheet mask because, hey, masks are supposed to deliver near-instant results! Exciting stuff.
Here’s what the Naisture Tea Tree Mask Pack specifically states:
- “Helps to calm and soothe your skin”
- “antibiotic and anti-inflammatory” ingredients, as underlined in the list below
- AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid), a chemical exfoliant which removes dead skin cells and helps increase cell turnover rate
- I’m a bit iffy about this one. AHA as a chemical exfoliant is not known to be mild and “calming” or “soothing” in the least when formulated to be effective; a skincare routine with a proper AHA may cause initial breakouts due to “purging” (which is normal and okay for AHA—more on that in the future!). I wouldn’t normally recommend using anything with AHA if it’s new to your skincare wardrobe! Fortunately, as you’ll see below, AHA (glycolic acid here) is the very last of the ingredients listed—meaning it’s very likely to be in perfectly negligible and ineffective amounts. Nonetheless, always be cautious and do some research on questionable ingredients/formulations.
- Yeah, I’m not even going to expand on the featured hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate). Same case as AHA: It’s at the bottom of the list, and is most likely in negligible amounts. It’s something, though.
Regarding ingredients, a quick shoutout to Holy Snails for clearing up some important misconceptions about parabens, a term that many fear due to the unfortunate success of ill-informed marketing. Her recent post also helps people understand that yes, we DO want (safe, well-formulated) preservatives in our products that we use on our bodies! Sadly, many companies don’t mind that we remain ignorant about science and research for the sake of selling us stuff. Remember that we ought to do even just a bit of Googling before automatically assuming that something “unnatural” or a “chemical” is bad for you.
Here’s the full ingredients list; I’ve underlined some key or active ingredients. See Cosdna for more details. Those with 1 or higher “Acne” or “Irritant” value, as well as a red “Safety” value, are bolded*:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetyl Ethylbexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Trehalose, Butyrospermum Parkii [Shea] Butter, Polysorbate 60, Scutellaria, Baicalensis Root Extract (may be anti-inflammatory), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Xanthan Gum, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Potassium Hydroxide, Panthenol, Panthenol, Fragrance, Hamamelis Virginiaga (Witch Hazel) Extract (also anti-inflammatory), Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract (may do a lot of things for acne and brighter/clearer skin), Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Sorbitan Stearate, Phenoxylethanol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Houttuynia COrdata Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Eucalyptus Globus Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Flower Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycolic Acid
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. The amount of ingredient actually in the product, as well as the product’s overall formulation, greatly affect the potential for irritation. Not everyone will be sensitive to these bolded ingredients, and you may be sensitive to ingredients that are not bolded. Every individual’s skin may react differently. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
- I tear into the packet, smother my face in either a hydrating toner or extra mask essence, and stick the thing on my face.
- Leave it on for 45 minutes to an hour—much longer than the instructed 10-15 minutes. Hey, I ain’t wastin’ no perfectly-faaahn (translation: fine) essence!
- Top off the experience by smothering more extra essence on my face.
- Skin profit
MASKING PROTIP: More of an addendum to my previous tip, but here’s something a bit weird: I realized I can sort of swipe my whole face with the folded-up mask immediately after removing it from the foil packet, and before unfolding and putting it on. This is especially helpful and less wasteful if your mask tends to drip when you take it out of the packet. An alternative is to hold the packet somewhat tightly at the opening while you pull the mask out, which helps squeegee extra essence into the packet, but I am too lazy to find somewhere else to put the mask down while I pat essence on my face before masking.
Even though the mask itself is exactly the same as all other cotton Naisture masks in this affordable line, this one feels noticeably thicker than usual. I know it’s thick because after it dries out completely, it feels pretty stiff and starchy compared to most other masks I like. Again, it’s not uncomfortable, but it’s also not ideal. I am suspecting the different, somewhat lighter consistency of this essence to have affected the mask’s quality; it’s almost like the mask wasn’t as completely permeated by this essence as it had been by the Red Wine essence.
Immediately after masking, I feel hydrated but just slightly, err, moist. I’ve come to realize that Naisture’s essence is usually on the thicker side, which is great for some, but not for combo/oily folks like me. It’s not bothersome, though; I just need to use less extra essence post-masking than I would with, say, My Scheming. Then, I easily continue with the rest of my routine, no problem.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t immediately notice tea tree oil’s effects until the morning after (hehehuehuehe…) masking. I do feel moisturized, though, likely due to the shea butter. I have a couple of active acne spots, but that morning as I rinsed my face, there’s significantly less irritation. I even poked at the spots (don’t do that), and there was nothing. Just a slight itch was left, nothing more. I’m willing to bet that soaking my face in tea-tree-oil-based essence truly helped drown the bacteria right out. It was pleasantly surprising.
As I’d predicted earlier, I didn’t seem to be affected by the supposed AHA at all. Which is a good thing! AHA as a chemical exfoliant is one of those steps that should be properly and gradually incorporated into your routine. Besides, it should be used with more regularity anyway, i.e. every other day or so. It’s not usually formulated with calming and moisturizing ingredients. If it is in a calming/moisturizing product somewhere and is effective as a chemical exfoliant in it, though, I’d be quite surprised.
On another note, you know what I’ve discovered? The ease of opening mask foil packets is actually really important to me. Foil packets from My Scheming and My Beauty Diary will tear off like a well-cut slice of fresh pizza. Mmmmm… But some brands including Naisture have less tear-friendly packaging. The sealed sides of the foil packet are sometimes layered pretty thickly and sturdily, which means I have to exert myself ripping off the torn foil strip. Like an animal. Of course, this isn’t the worst problem to have. Just one of those little inconveniences that you experience often enough for it to become a considerable bother. Sigh.
The mask essence has just a slight, unobtrusive scent of, well, tea tree oil. It’s a vaguely medicinal, almost waxy smell (or “camphoraceous,” as Wikipedia describes it), but with fresher and more natural undertones. I might be smelling some of that peppermint leaf extract, actually. It doesn’t bother me at all, but if you actively dislike such scents, then perhaps this is not for you.
Like most Naisture masks at TJ Maxx, this came as a box of 5 for $4.99. Ah do declare, that’s a mighty decent bargain.
I rate this slightly higher than the Red Wine Mask Pack because of its more noticeable immediate/short-term effects. And that’s what sheet masks are for, right? The moisturizing effect can contribute to acne prevention, too. I suppose I can’t help but begin to believe in tea tree oil. I only wish the mask was made out of a softer material than this cotton. Overall, for this price point, I recommend this mask for any skin type and especially for those with acne—whether mild or severe, it’s worth a shot to relieve some irritation and to calm your skin when you need to.
Overall Rating: 3.75 / 5
5 / 5: HOLY GRAIL STATUS. I dare you to pry this from my cold, dead, kpop-glowy hands.
4 / 5: I really liked this! Would repurchase until I find a better alternative.
3 / 5: So-so. Unimpressive results, but may work better for others with different conditions.
2 / 5: Would not repurchase. Possibly caused some issues for me, but may work for others.
1 / 5: This lied to me. It did nothing that it said it would, and caused some issues.
0 / 5: Do not buy this. No one should have to suffer the way I did.