It’s time for the first episode of my 15-part foray into the land of the Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Mask! We’ll be starting with a review of the Black Berry sheet mask.
Sheet masks are by far my favorite addition to my usual nighttime skin care routine. I do a sheet mask at least two or three evenings a week to supplement my daily products with an extra infusion of moisture and actives. Sheet masks are perfect for relaxing at the end of the day. Pull one out of the fridge, slap it on a freshly cleansed and prepped face, and lie back for half an hour or so, and you end up with juicy, soft skin that lasts well into the next day. What’s not to love?
For someone who loves sheet masks so much, however, I haven’t ventured out of the My Beauty Diary safety zone much. Innisfree might change that.
Purpose: Innisfree’s It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Black Berry is a moisturizing sheet mask that claims to deliver nourishment for healthier skin.
Do not use if: You are allergic to blackberries or sensitive to silicones, fragrance, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: In the evening, after cleansing and before your final moisturizing step, tear open the mask packet, remove the sheet mask, unfold and fit over face. The mask has several slits to assist in customizing fit. Leave on for the time specified on the label (or a little bit longer), then remove. Pat or massage in excess product and finish with your emollient or occlusive moisturizing cream.
Ingredients list: Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, cetyl ethylhexanoate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, rubus fruticosus (blackberry) juice, polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, glceryl stearate, dimethicone, PEG-100 stearate, carbomer, xanthan gum, ethylhexylglycerin, adenosine, potassium hydroxide, sodium hyaluronate, citrus unshiu peel extract, orchid extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, camellia japonica leaf extract, opuntia coccinellifera fruit extract, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance
Innisfree’s branding emphasizes pure, natural ingredients, but don’t be fooled into expecting Benton-like products packed with actives and nearly free of fillers. The ingredients list for the Black Berry sheet mask starts out the same as many other sheet masks, with water, the common humectant glycerin, and the common slip agent and penetration enhancer butylene glycol. Pretty standard. Those ingredients are standard because they’re effective, however, so they don’t turn me off.
Notable ingredients: My CosDNA analysis of the Black Berry mask’s ingredients list is reassuring at first glance. Analysis identified a handful of ingredients as potential irritants or acne triggers, but none scored higher than a 1. Those ingredients are butylene glycol, dimethicone, and PEG-100 stearate, all of which got a 1 for acne, and carbomer, which scored a 1 for irritant potential. But when alcohol is entered into CosDNA as “alcohol denat.” rather than just “alcohol,” it scores a whoping 5 for irritation potential. If you’re sensitive, beware.
On the beneficial ingredients side, this mask does contain several fruit extracts–including blackberry, of course–which most likely provide some skin-friendly vitamins and antioxidants. Down in the bottom half of the list, you’ll also find sodium hyaluronate to enhance hydration, as well as camellia sinensis leaf extract, more commonly known as green tea leaf extract. Green tea is famous for its antioxidant properties, and the leaf extract excels at soothing inflammation and reducing redness for a more even skin tone. It’s too far down on the list in this product to make a significant impact, but then again, this Innisfree sheet mask doesn’t claim to affect skin tone, and a little is better than nothing.
This mask doesn’t claim anything besides nourishment and a general improvement in skin health, so my expectations aren’t especially high or targeted. In fact, I chose this mask because of its very basic benefits. The assortment I got only comes with one of each sheet mask variety, and I wanted to save the masks that address specific issues for when I might actually need them. I’m not experiencing any “skin troubles” (nice Korean euphemism for breakouts), my skin isn’t feeling unusually dry, and since I’m testing the Missha M Signature BB cream, brightening skin tone and making it more even aren’t priorities at the moment. All I want from this mask is soft and nicely moisturized skin.
Like most other sheet masks, the Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Masks come folded up and sealed into individual packets. Unfolding the wet and tightly folded mask is a little challenging, but I managed to do it without ripping the mask.
When I unfolded the mask and put it on, I had my first really pleasant surprise: it fits better on my face than any other sheet mask ever has, including hydrogels! I didn’t need to cut or adjust the eye area at all, and the mask provided plenty of coverage for my upper and lower eyelids. (People with larger eyes may need to cut or tear the eye openings a little bit to make them fit, though.) The sheet was small enough that I didn’t end up with inches of excess fabric under my jaw and chin, and the material is thick enough to prevent accidental tearing without being too thick to adhere properly on my face. It stayed on well throughout the time I used it.
The essence is very different from what I’m used to. Instead of being clear and drippy, it’s milky white and more like lotion than water. The mask sheet is soaked, as expected, but not drippy; there’s just enough excess to let me rub some into my neck and chest, but none slopping around in the packet. Some people like to save the extra essence from their masks. This one doesn’t leave a single drop extra, so it won’t work for that purpose.
Unfortunately, the fragrance wasn’t what I hoped for. Based on the packaging, I’d thought that if this mask smelled like anything, it would smell like fresh blackberries. It does have some fruity notes, but the overall fragrance is floral and a bit perfumey. Not unpleasant, and it didn’t give me a headache the way many perfumes do, but it doesn’t match the product’s presentation in my opinion. And I don’t really like perfumey sheet mask scents.
The instructions suggest using the mask for 10-20 minutes before taking it off. I like to let sheet masks sit a little longer on my skin so that I can absorb as much of the essence as possible. I was able to leave the mask on for about 25 minutes before it started pulling loose on its own, a sign that the sheet has started to dry up and should be removed. During those 25 minutes, I didn’t feel my skin “drinking” in the essence, the way that I always feel with MBD masks. I wonder if that’s because this one uses a thicker, more lotiony formulation than MBD.
After I took the mask off, my skin felt moisturized and refreshed. A significant amount of essence remained on my skin, but it only took a couple of minutes to massage it in, leaving behind a slightly sticky feeling and a pleasant cooling sensation. After wondering for a while, I realized the sensation was what I’d missed before: the feeling of my skin “drinking in” the mask liquid!
40 minutes after I took the mask off, all of the essence was fully absorbed (or evaporated), and the sticky feeling was gone. My skin felt soft, hydrated, and ever so slightly moist, in a good way. I sealed it all in with a dose of Benton steam cream. After cleansing this morning, my skin still felt nicely saturated, smooth and happy. I like this.
Conclusion: Innisfree’s It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Black Berry is by no means a Holy Grail sheet mask. Its formulation is basic in a lot of ways, and if it has to smell like anything, I really wish it smelled like actual blackberries instead of vaguely blackberry-flavored perfume. Despite those little flaws, however, it works. The results were exactly what I expected. It hasn’t earned “keep it stocked at all times” status for me, but I’d definitely consider buying it again, and I wouldn’t kick it out of bed if it showed up as part of a variety set.