Read my more recent review of the reformulated Blue Lagoon Algae Mud Mask.

A friend of a friend recommended that I seek out and try an Icelandic brand called Blue Lagoon Iceland that has an upmarket spa vibe and prices to match. After contacting the company, they sent us a generous batch of samples including the line’s signature Silica Mud Mask ($100). Although I loved using it, even I (a face mask junkie) had to concede it was pricey and so I did some hard thinking and plenty of research before making it a recommendation.

Blue Lagoon Iceland Silica Mud Mask is pure white, which seemed surprising for a mud mask (although having honeymooned in Iceland I can tell you that mud and minerals come in very weird colors indeed). The mask comes in a tube and the white cream is easy to smooth over the skin. Be warned though, when it dries you will look like Casper and frighten small children. After leaving on for 10 minutes and rinsing off, my skin looked very clear and felt super soft.

Given that the main ingredient is listed as “silica/silt (Blue Lagoon silica mud)” and there isn’t much else in this mask (apart from parabens, which I’ll come back to as there is some new research), it had better be good. Blue Lagoon Iceland says silica (a key ingredient used in many of its products) helps the skin barrier. However, when I tried to search that, the first thing that came up was a link to Blue Lagoon Iceland. Meanwhile, claims made for silica’s importance to collagen formation seemed mostly to be made companies peddling supplements. I was beginning to feel doubtful about this mask until I came across a few leads that make this product very intriguing.

First, there actually is a Blue Lagoon in Iceland. And it does indeed have white mud that has curative and skin healing properties. Apparently, when the geothermal sea water cools, it becomes supersaturated with silicon and long chains of silicon molecules are formed that eventually precipitate out of the water and form the white mud. The Blue Lagoon also has a unique algae. Research has shown that bathing in the Blue Lagoon and rubbing the silica mud into lesions has positive effects on psoriasis.

I also found some research published in Experimental Dermatology that tried to discover what it is about the silica mud and two different microalgae species derived from the Blue Lagoon that makes them good for the skin. The researchers saw that they are capable of inducing gene expression in human epidermal keratinocytes. The algae and silica mud extracts induced collagen and may help with the reduction of transepidermal water loss.. The conclusion was that the bioactives in Blue Lagoon have the capacity to improve "skin barrier function and to prevent premature skin aging".

So silica mud from the Blue Lagoon looks to be the real deal. But what of the rest of the facial mask’s formula. Well, there’s an unremarkable emollient (ethoxydiglycol oleate) a kind of wax (cetearyl isononanoate) and the potentially irritating laureth-7.  But many people may be alarmed by the preservatives, phenoxyethanol and every paraben known to man. I’m not wild about phenoxyethanol, an irritant and possible neurotoxin, but I did notice some new research on parabens from the UK saying that there is “no simple cause and effect relationship” between the use of underarm cosmetics containing parabens and breast cancer”.  Having said that, there were parabens in breast tissue of women who didn’t use deodorant and, frustratingly, the jury still seems to be out – aka more research is needed – on whether parabens cause cancer or not.

Ingredients: sea water/maris aqua (Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater), silica/silt (Blue Lagoon silica mud), ethoxydiglycol oleate, cetearyl isononanoate, polyacrylamide, C13-14 isoparaffin, laureth-7, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben.