I enjoy a good facial as much as any person familiar with the joys of being pampered and the angst of less-than-perfect skin. Unless something goes horribly wrong (which has happened- but I'll leave that for another time), I always emerge from a facial more rejuvenated and fresh-faced than before. And though the tranquil atmosphere of a spa certainly helps, I credit the high-quality, effective ingredients within the treatment for giving me that out of the ordinary glow. Lately, though, I can't seem to justify the cost of regular facials when I have the next best thing waiting for me at home:  gloTherapeutics gloConditioning Restorative Mask ($50).

As the cruel skin offenders, central heating and travel, have taken a toll on my face, gloTherapeutics has been its humble savior. The gloConditioning Restorative Mask is intended for aging, sun damaged, post-treatment, or inflamed skin, but really any dry skin will reap its benefits. The texture isn't cakey, gummy, or oily, as is often the case with moisture-minded masks. Instead, it is luxuriously creamy and triggers a tingly, cooling effect on contact with skin. Its delicious fragrance falls somewhere on the indulgence spectrum between amaretto and almond biscotti. Over the course of ten minutes, gloTherapeutics's mask visibly penetrates the skin and washes off easily without leaving a film.

Though its primary purpose is as an anti-aging mask, it can double as a creamy emollient for extra-deep moisturizing. I applied the mask to my nose, which sometimes suffers from dry, flaky skin during the winter, and left it on overnight. The next morning, my nose was happily nourished and well-hydrated with not a flake in sight. Another experiment I tried was doing a spot test with the mask on one cheek and leaving the other bare while sleeping. The difference in hydration and elasticity between my two cheeks the following morning was remarkable. Apart from its effectiveness as an evening treatment, you won't want to replace your regular daytime moisturizer with the gloConditioning mask, since it gradually builds up and creamy clumps accumulate as the active ingredients work their magic.

These actives are not only beneficial, but they are also far more abundant than I've seen in other face masks. Out of the nearly 60 ingredients I counted, the vast majority are derived from nature. Shea butter and cocoa seed butter deliver maximum moisture to dry skin. Besides nourishing sunflower seed, rosehip, linseed, and jojoba seed oils, there are a couple of noteworthy oil additions known to improve the skin on a cellular level. Black currant seed oil promotes healthy cell respiration and stimulates microcirculation, while evening primrose oil improves barrier function and stabilizes the cell membrane to ensure healthy metabolic functions.

Lecithin, extracted from soybeans, is high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. As a building block of the lipid layer surrounding skin cells, lecithin helps shield the acid mantle, strengthen the tissues, and promote ingredient absorption. Another protective active, soy isoflavones are rich in phytochemicals and help defend extracellular proteins responsible for skin firmness. Clearly, gloTherapeutics once had a love affair with an olive branch. Not only does it have olive squalane, which rapidly penetrates with skin-protecting properties, it uses olive-derived emulsifiers, cetearyl olivate and sorbitan olivate.

GloTherapeutics has also harnessed the inherent anti-aging benefits of botanical extracts such as grape seed, which safeguards the skin's natural vitamin E content and limits environmental damage that causes cellular breakdown, and shiitake, which infuses the skin with wholesome amino acids and vitamins. Traditionally used to treat a number of health conditions, from whooping cough to psoriasis, red clover extract has anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle actions. Meanwhile, acai fruit extract, an extremely potent antioxidant, helps prevent lipid peroxidation and promotes cell regeneration.

Even though each of these ingredients is effective in its own right, the real anti-aging powerhouse lies in the proprietary gloComplex, which consists of spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone), amla fruit extract, L-carnosine, and niacinamide (vitamin B3). Spin trap is a busy molecule that reigns in rogue free radicals spinning out of control and then harnesses them before they have a chance to do damage to the skin. Like spin trap, carnosine is one of our five top ingredients to look out for in 2009. Carnosine prevents the cross-linking of collagen and other proteins, thus impeding one of the main causes for wrinkles and potentially extending the skin's Hayflick Limit (essentially skin cells' death sentence after 52 divisions). Lastly, amla fruit, one of the richest known sources of vitamin C, has both anti-aging and immune-enhancing properties.

Of course, gloTherapeutics would be better off without the potentially dicey perservatives benzethonium chloride, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol...but beggars can't be choosers. And my face is begging for more of that mask.

Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Dextran, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-2, Xanthan Gum, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Myrtus Communis (Myrtle) Extract, Menthly Lactate, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Squalane, Alcohol Denat., Dioscorea Villosa (Wild Yam) Root Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Lecithin, Soy Isoflavones, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Fruit Oil*, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Trifolium Pratense (Red Clover) Flower Extract, Linum Usitassimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Lentinus Edodes (Shiitake) Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Laurifolia (Passionflower) Flower Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycol Distearate, Titanium Dioxide (Cl 77891), Allantoin, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Benzethonium Chloride, Benzyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 80, Polysorbate 20, Propylene Glycol, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Fragrance/Parfum.