Lather is not an organic line, nor is it for purists, but it (somewhat) attempts to come close. The company claims to use the highest-quality effective natural ingredients and maintains a commitment to cruelty-free beauty along with efforts to incorporate eco-packaging. Copley had previously reviewed Lather’s AHA Facial therapy and noted that “while not all of Lather’s products have formulas that pass my personal purity standards, the company is taking steps in the right direction, promising to eliminate all parabens and sulfates.” Per Lather’s website, parabens were eliminated from the formulations in 2010.

Lather Honey Moisture Mask With Propolis Extract ($22) is described as a hydrating relief mask for environmentally stressed skin. Under Lather’s skincare guide, the mask is designated for sensitive skin and does not need to be rinsed off. For at-home use, it is recommended to be applied at night, allowing the product to sink in for 20 minutes; any excess should be rubbed into the skin. It can also be spot-applied to relieve any dry patches.

The key to the Honey Moisture Mask is to determine the correct amount to apply for your skin type. I have generously applied this mask on clients with very dry, mature skin and the results were transformational! I’ve also applied layers of the mask as needed, following an exfoliating treatment and found it works well to calm skin and reduce some redness. A thin layer of the mask gently massaged into the skin also serves as an effective moisturizer. I wouldn’t recommend this for ultra-oily skin, but I have applied it to oily-combination skin without any resulting breakouts. The mask has a fairly perceptible scent and I’ve noted that some find the aroma to be a bit overwhelming when first applied.

New Yorkers, in general, tend to have dehydrated skin, and I use this mask to revive my chronically dehydrated skin. I have used it as directed at night, 30 minutes after applying a retinoid, and it prevents any peeling or irritation. However, I’ve also used it on mornings when I need a quick fix to look and feel presentable. I apply a thin layer and allow the mask to sink in for 5 to10 minutes, followed by a thorough, but gentle, sweep with a washcloth to remove any excess. This gives my skin much-needed hydration, without any greasiness, allowing me to apply sunscreen without it pilling.

As the mask’s name indicates, honey, a sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers, is the center of attention. Honey has humectant properties and is a mild but effective natural preservative with anti-inflammatory effects. The mask also includes propolis extract, which is a resin from bee hives. Both ingredients have antibacterial and antifungal properties. As an aside, Lather’s environmental policy claims the products do not contain animal byproducts. Don’t bees qualify as animals?

The formula features outstanding moisturizers that are also good choices for oily or sensitive skin. The second ingredient is C12-15 alkyl benzoate, is an excellent emollient ester that provides a light conditioning and silkiness to the skin. It offers occlusion without heaviness, reducing the feeling of greasiness from the other oils in the product. It is nontoxic, nonsensitizing, noncomedogenic, and odorless. Moreover, it is known to act as an antimicrobial agent. The mask contains sweet almond oil, which has been used for centuries in skincare preparations and is easily absorbed into skin. There is sorbian stearate, sourced from berries and vegetable matter, as well as stearyl alcohol, derived from coconut oil or vegetable fatty acids. All three ingredients soothe irritation, while nourishing and softening skin. Propanediol, also found in Creo Pro-Tec hair cleanser ($14 in the TIA shop), is a non-irritating emollient providing protection from UV rays. It also includes olive oil and aloe, which made Marta’s Five Best botanical oils for skin care.

There are some controversial ingredients, including cetyl alcohol, retinyl palmitate, and ceteareth 20. There is also cyclomethicone; however, it evaporates quickly after transporting nutrients to the skin. While it does contain the preservative phenoxyethanol, there are potassium sorbate and ethylhexylglycerin, two gentle, non-irritating preservatives.

Overall, I think this moisturizing and soothing mask is also ideal for dry, dehydrated, or mature skin and can be used in a variety of ways by all but the most sensitive or oily skin types. For the most part, the mask contains many beneficial ingredients; however, I would avoid it if you have allergic reactions to bee stings.

[Editor's note: Lather planned to eliminate all parabens by 2010; however, the Ultra Light Face Lotion does still contain parabens]

Ingredients: deionized water (aqua), C12-15 alkyl benzoate, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, cetyl alcohol, sorbitan stearate, stearyl alcohol, propanediol (zemea), olea europaea (olive) oil, aloe barbadensis extract, honey extract, hypericum perforatum L (St. John's Wort) extract, triticum vulgare (hydrolized wheat) protein, glycerine, propolis extract, soya glycine (phospholipids), ceteareth-20, cyclomethicone, bentonite (China clay), sodium carbomer, royal jelly, tocopheryl linoleate, retinyl palmitate, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, oxynex K (PEG-8 and tocopherol and ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbic acid and citric acid)