REN is a UK skin care brand that seems to receive a lot of exposure from bloggers, though prior to purchasing the Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask from Space.NK during my holiday to London, I'd never tried any of their products. The mask retails for $66 at Mecca Cosmetica but I bought mine for £30 (at the time around $52). It's still one of most expensive skin care products in my possession, but being on vacation made me more open to splurging. The assistant at Space.NK seemed to approve of my purchase when I took the box to the counter, telling me how much she loved the mask and advising me that the trick was to use it on damp skin. I could hardly wait to get home to use it for the first time and find out if the hype was justified.
The REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask is an exfoliating mask with a load of "bio extracts" including lactic acid from passion fruit, citric acid from lemon, tartaric acid from grape, glycolic acid (6.5%) from pineapple, papain from papaya, omega-7 from sea buckthorn oil and omega-3 from blackcurrant oil. It promises to renew the complexion and improve skin tone and radiance while combating congestion, blackheads and blemishes. Everything you could ask for in a mask, right?
Most reviews I've read describe the texture as akin to marmalade (without the chunky fruity bits) which I would definitely agree with. It even smells exactly like it. I usually squeeze out one full pump onto the back of my hand which expels a generous amount that's more than enough for the whole face. I spritz my clean, bare face lightly with Avene Thermal Spring Water and then apply the mask all over with my fingers. It goes on relatively clear, though the actual colour is a pale orange. After a few minutes, I can feel the mask begin to tingle, though the sensation is nothing too uncomfortable. I normally wait about 10-15 minutes and then wash everything off with my hands and warm water. It's recommended to use the included muslin cloth with warm water to remove the mask but I can never be bothered.
I've used this mask roughly once every couple of weeks since October and I have to say I feel it's a bit overrated. After I've washed it off, my skin does appear more radiant, but almost in a slightly overly scrubbed, greasy way. My cheeks look smoother, more taut and slightly inflamed, but my nose appears a tad oily. While the evidence of having subjected my face to fairly potent exfoliation is clear, I'm not entirely convinced as to the benefits. For one, I don't feel like my skin is positively glowing the morning after or foundation is sitting much better on my face. Maybe I'm just not using it with enough regularity (REN advises weekly use) or my skin is too sensitive to achieve optimal results. I do enjoy using it, the scent and texture are pleasing, the packaging is clean and functional, and while I have exfoliating cleansers, toners and scrubs, it's the only exfoliating mask I own. I just didn't see any marked improvement to my skin, both immediately or after using it for 3 months, that would elicit my strong enthusiasm and encourage me to recommend it to others.