It started in Cannes. Or rather, it started on Instagram during Cannes, when I saw a picture of Victoria Beckham looking delightfully languid, swaddled in the kind of thick terry towelling you only see in hotel robes, wearing an Estee Lauder foil face mask reminiscent of something out of the prop department of Doctor Who.
Then there was Eva Mendes, gripping a foil face mask in one perfectly manicured hand and extolling its virtues. Gabriella Wilde and Carolyn Murphy were next. Then came the bloggers: Sara Donaldson, Carmen Hamilton and Candela Novembre evangelising about an all-powerful foil facemask on social media. I’m not going to lie. I wanted that facemask. I wanted to try it for myself. It wanted to see whether for $35 I could bring radiance, renewal and “reset the look of my skin after the visible assaults of modern life”, as per the mask’s product page on the Estee Lauder website.
Okay, so this wasn’t my proudest moment. But I can’t seem to quit the vicious hold that Instagram has on my consumer urge. Reader, I got my hands on a mask of my own, and this is what happened.
The Advanced Night Repair sheet mask comes in a pretty slick piece of thick gold packaging, which is like the support act to the main event: the silver ‘PowerFoil’ mask. This technology, according to Estee Lauder, is a world first and is designed to seal in all of the mask’s hydration goodness and prevent evaporation during the treatment process. It is certainly heavier than your average sheet mask, and is something of a mensa test to even get out of the packet, let alone put on your face.
All sheet masks seem to reduce me to a near-infancy level of hand-eye co-ordination, and it takes a few goes to make sure that I have all parts of the mask in the right place on my face, with enough space over my eyes, mouth and nose to ensure I can still breathe/see for the 10 minutes that the mask is on.
Next step: Document the process. Part of this particular mask’s appeal is how fantastic it looks on social media. It’s a real conversation starter. When I send a snapchat to my most fashion/celeb obsessed friend, she rapidfire types back ‘YES. JUST LIKE VB IN CANNES.’ In the spirit of transparency, I’m willing to admit that instead of reclining, goddess-like on a bed a la VB for the 10 minutes the mask stays on your face, I instead spent most of the time taking selfies with varying degrees of success. I ended up on one I was pretty happy with (thanks, Carolyn Murphy, for the pose suggestion, I think I got your look pretty much downpat) and posted it to Twitter.
My alarm sounded and the mask came off. It leaves a rich residue of Advanced Night Repair Serum on my face, which you simply massage in. My skin felt pretty plump and soft to the touch in a not entirely unpleasant way. There was definitely a glow situation going on. I felt pretty good about myself. I sat down on the couch, angling my face to the last winter afternoon sun, waiting for my friend to say something. At long last, she did. “Should we get pizza?” she asked matter-of-factly, while alternating between The Queen and Say Yes To The Dress on TV.
Hmm. Not quite the response I was looking for. I sighed and cued up Foodora on my phone, ordering an absurd amount of pizza for just the two of us. Nothing like a BFF to bring you crashing down to Earth when you have VB-esque delusions of grandeur. I might leave the A-lister confidence and swagger to the experts, but at least I can have the pampering experience for just $35 a pop. BYO pizza.