Reviewed by Charley

I’ve read high praise of Dr. Alkaitis’ organic, holistic, edible skincare products, but the brand’s equally lofty prices have discouraged me from seeing if they work. I’m 43 years old, a part-time student, freelancer, human to a super-active dog and helper to a sleep-deprived new mom. The stress is definitely showing on my face: the tone and texture of my skin is uneven with dry, scaly patches on my cheeks and upper lip.  So, TIA could not have given this Dare to Try assignment, the Dr. Alkaitis Organic Cellular Repair Mask ($55), to a more appreciative reader. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, two to three times a week, for four weeks, I made a thin paste with about a teaspoon of the powder and a teaspoon of water and smeared it onto my face and neck. The packaging says to leave it on for 20 minutes. Dr. Alkaitis’ website also instructs to “keep mask moist by spritzing with water.” They really should put this on the jar. I’ve experimented with letting it dry on my face for a full 20 minutes: it is painful as it dries and painful to scrub off. Dr. Alkaitis also suggests adding goat yogurt or raw honey to the paste “for additional rejuvenation and hydration.” Yogurt didn’t help with the spackle effect. Neither did the 97% humidity we slogged through in New York a few weeks ago. Hygroscopic honey helped some, but it didn’t completely eliminate the need for spritzing. It’s not the most relaxing treatment, as Nina attests to in her fun review of Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Universal Mask ($55 in the shop).

I used the mask more often than recommended (once a week) to “hurry up” the results so I could tell you all about it. After four weeks, I couldn’t discern much difference on my face except for the lessening of oil on my T-zone. Restful sleep and the addition of Skin Nutrition Night Cream to my regimen have a more pronounced effect. This season’s slew of serums from Discover with Marta hasn’t hurt either. But wait! I’ve also been smearing leftover mask on my left hand and forearm – there’s just enough for one side – and there I can see a significant improvement. It is not as tanned, and the keratosis pilaris bumps are smoother and lighter than on my right arm. That got me started on a tangential experiment: I tried using the mask on my legs (where the KP bumps are at their worst), every other day for two weeks. Alas, no improvement there. Which leaves me guessing that it was the sun damage on my left arm that the mask treated, resulting in overall improvement of the skin, accuminate papules and all. Ah, well... one hopes. The jar is $55 and contains 25 applications. For reversing and preventing sun damage, I would choose this fussy mask over dermabrasion down the line.

How does it work? We’re all familiar with oatmeal in skincare products – it absorbs excess oils, exfoliates gently, soothes and conditions. My research on oat buds (or oat tops) failed to turn up anything, but the mask does smell strongly of breakfast porridge. All those berries in the ingredients list are some of the richest sources of anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and other botanical goodies. Many studies have found them to be effective antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-allergic, antipruritic wound healers when applied topically. Bilberry, additionally, aids circulation. Grapes protect collagen. Strawberry extract was found to protect fibroblasts in vitro from UV damage. Trust a pharmacognosist like Dr. Alkaitis to find the most powerful plant matter available and cram them into a jar for “cellular repair.”

A few caveats: The label warns against use if you’re allergic to strawberries – obviously that applies if you have allergies to the other berries or oats. And don’t let your pets lick you while you mask – grapes are potentially toxic to dogs and cats.

Ingredients: Raspberry*, Blueberry*, Blackberry*, Oat Buds*, Grapes*, Strawberry*, Bilberry*

*Certified organically grown