I’m deathly afraid of bees, but I love honey. It’s an amazing glaze on hams and carrots, and a drizzle on buttered biscuits is like an express ticket to tastebud heaven. I like it in fried chicken batter and I like it in tea. It soothes sore throats, and, if kept properly, it never spoils. And as if all that wasn’t enough, honey also offers some compelling skin care benefits. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could bring myself to coat my face in thick, sticky, sweet straight honey. That’s why I was super excited to try out my Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Manuka Honey!
Purpose: Innisfree’s It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Manuka Honey is a sheet mask that claims to deliver rich moisture to “dry, stiffened skin.”
Do not use if: You are sensitive to alcohol, fragrance, honey, or anything else in the ingredients list. Use with caution if you have pollen or bee allergies.
When and how to use: Sheet masks can be used as frequently as you want, and, with the exception of exfoliating or astringent varieties, can be left on for as long as you like. Apply in the evening after cleansing, as either a replacement for or a supplement to your usual PM moisturizing products. I prefer the latter approach. When I use sheet masks, I wait until the second-to-last step in my nighttime skin care routine, after my acids, essences, and ampoules and before my emollient or occlusive moisturizing cream. When you’re done with the mask, pat or massage in any excess liquid and finish with a moisturizing cream if desired.
Ingredients list: Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, alcohol, betaine, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, honey extract, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, xanthan gum, carbomer, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium hydroxide, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, sodium hyaluronate, citrus unshiu peel extract, orchid extract, camellia sinensis leaf extract, camellia japonica leaf extract, opuntia coccinellifera fruit extract, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance
Notable ingredients: I know I said that I wouldn’t want to use straight honey as a face mask, but the fact is, that would probably be the best use of honey as a skin care treatment. According to this impressively sourced Reddit post, honey is an outstanding moisturizer with both humectant and occlusive properties and is also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, which may make it effective against acne as well. Unfortunately, honey is not one of the top ingredients in this mask. In fact, it doesn’t even appear in its original state, but instead as honey extract.
The rest of the serum’s ingredients are basic but good. There’s sodium hyaluronate, the sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid, for plumping and hydration, and green tea and aloe leaf extracts to provide additional anti-inflammatory effects. My CosDNA analysis of the Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Manuka Honey only flags two ingredients: butylene glycol, a slip agent and penetration enhancer, scores a 1 as a potential acne trigger, and carbomer, an emulsifier, scores a 1 as a potential irritant. Remember, however, that although CosDNA does not flag “alcohol,” alcohol is a known irritant for some people, and “alcohol denat.” will score a whopping 5 for irritation.
I purposely waited for a very dry skin day before trying this mask, because my skin is normally too balanced to really put the Manuka Honey sheet mask’s moisturizing claims to the test. Finally, there came a day when the stars aligned. I forgot to use my Hada Labo hydrating toner, skimped on my moisturizing cream because I was running low, went out in unusually arid weather, and found my skin getting drier, tighter, and more uncomfortable by the hour. By evening, I was dying to get this mask on and see if it could inject some life back into my thirsty, thirsty face.
Like the Black Berry It’s Real Squeeze Mask, the cut of the Manuka Honey sheet mask fits my face more comfortably than any other sheet mask I’ve ever tried. The mask material seems thinner and more flexible than the Black Berry’s and is also much more saturated. The essence is the clear and watery type, like the My Beauty Diary formulations I’m used to, with a soft, sweet, vaguely honeylike fragrance. So far, so good.
One caution: I accidentally got some of the essence in my eye, and holy CRAP did it sting. It stung like the vengeful ghost of some poor worker bee that had spent its entire unassuming life diligently making honey to nourish the honey bee collective, only to see the product of its labor taken away and squandered on some crazy broad’s face instead. So be careful when you’re placing this mask around your eye area and don’t let any drips reach your eyes.
The Innisfree Manuka Honey sheet mask lasted about 30 minutes on my face before drying out. Throughout that half hour, my skin felt cooled, soothed, and comfortably hydrated. I was concerned about the alcohol in the essence, since Mr. Crazy Snail Lady had had a minor reaction to Innisfree’s similarly formulated Green Tea sheet mask, but I experienced no ill effects. A little essence remained on my face after I took the mask off but absorbed fully with a little massaging and about 15 minutes of waiting. My dryness was fully cured; my skin felt moist and supple and had regained a lovely dewy glow. I sealed the essence in with a layer of Mizon Good Night White sleeping mask, and the results lasted through the next day.
Conclusion: Well, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Intense moisturization is kind of the baseline expectation of a sheet mask, and the Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Mask in Manuka Honey doesn’t moisturize any better than many other sheet masks I’ve tried. It does live up to its claims, however, and I like that it dried up faster than the MBDs, since that saved me a bit of time in the evening. It’s nice enough, and I’m relieved that it didn’t give me the kind of problems my mister had with the Green Tea.