My pot of Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Masque ($52) came as a sample and without instructions. This meant that the first time that I used it was straight up - on my face without what I subsequently discovered to be the necessary step of adding water “to emulsify”. So the thick, gloopy texture that didn’t smooth over my skin very well was entirely my fault. But even when I got the hang of application (kind of – working out how much water to use was very much trial and error), I never really got over my bad start.

Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Masque smells overwhelmingly like bubble gum. And it prickles unpleasantly with an itchy sensation that makes me want to go and rinse it off right away. I’ve tried to sit it out a few times but have never been able to last more than five minutes before becoming convinced that some creature with very hot little feet is crawling all over my face.

I have looked for culprits amongst the ingredients and it initially thought that it may well be that the strawberry and rhubarb juices are too much for my skin. Strawberry contains salicylic acid, which can irritate sensitive souls like me )and rhubarb is an astringent. But overall, there’s just too much salicylic acid in Eminence’s mask. In addition to strawberry, salicylic acid is also listed separately in the ingredients list and even appears again in its salt version, sodium salicylate.

One thing that made me curious was the listing for hyaluronic acid, which says it comes from marshmallow extract. As I’d never seen that before, I tried to find more. I have been able to determine that marshmallow has an inhibitory effect on hyaluronidase, the enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid in our skin tissue. So marshmallow is having a good effect on our hyaluronic acid, but that’s not the same as containing it.

Of the many good ingredients here, there is tara tree. This is packed full of tannins. The seeds are full of polysaccharides called galactomannans that are impressive retainers of moisture. Mostly, this is good looking product that others may have more luck with. Having said that, it would be preferable without sodium benzoate.

Strawberry Juice, Corn Germ Oil, Rhubarb Juice, Shea Butter, Grape Seed Oil, Hyaluronic Acid (from Marshmallow Extract), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Glyceryl Stearate, Beeswax, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Vegetable Glycerin, Tara Tree Extract, Kaolin Clay, Corn Derived Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Xanthan Gum, Biocomplex™ (Vitamin A, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid), Salicylic Acid (soy Derived), Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Salicylate, Strawberry Essence.