I already love Lather’s Honey Moisture Mask with Propolis and have now found yet another winner in Lather’s eco- conscious skincare line. Lather’s Sea Kelp & Ginseng All-Over Mask ($18 in the TIA shop) is one of my favorite masks to use after professional treatments, such as microdermabrasion with the PMD or chemical peels (please don’t try this at home unless you are a licensed esthetician). Like with the Honey Moisture mask, I also use it on days when I need a quick fix to look presentable. What I really love about this mask is that it is a gel and it provides an instant cooling sensation. This is incredibly soothing and refreshing when applied to inflamed, traumatized skin following a peel or microdermabrasion – or just on a hot summer day when my skin needs refreshing. Per Lather, this paraben-free mask is ideal for any part of the body as it was actually formulated to be used on sunburned skin, hence the fact that it is an all-over mask.

The first ingredient (after water) is glycerin, which has been shown to provide a protective barrier that helps the skin cells mature properly and aid bruised and swollen skin. The formula also includes seaweed and bladderwrack extracts, sodium alginate as well as oil of algae. All algae have loads of iodine, which helps moisturize skin. There is also oak root extract as well as hamamelis virginiana or witch hazel extract (not to be confused with witch hazel) – both of which are high in tannins, a skin soother used on cuts, bruises, and insect bites. St John’s Wort is generally soothing to skin as it contains hypericin, which has anti-inflammatory and nervine (calming) properties. Thyme extract is well known as a DIY remedy for acne, and its astringent properties are considered to be helpful in drying oily, blocked pores. Moreover, a study on albino rats showed that thyme extract can prevent N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA)-induced oxidative stress.

The fourth ingredient is hops extract, which Copley had pointed out is good for your skin. Xanthohumol, the bioactive molecule in hops, has shown to have antioxidant and anti-cancer effects 100 times that of green tea and soy. Applying beer topically can clear up your complexion, treat dry flakes, and smooth texture. But hops isn’t just good for your skin, it’s also good for your hair. Per Lather, the mask can even be used to condition and revitalize hair! According to Copley, the proteins found in hops are said to repair damaged hair and boost overall body (I searched for evidence on whether consuming products containing hops extract provide any skin benefits but to no avail... sigh). I admit I had qualms about how the mask worked on hair and called the Lather rep to ask her if she had tried it herself. She replied that the mask is great for the hair and can be left on for five minutes while showering or applied to damp hair overnight while you sleep – I tried both methods. While this mask may aid in revitalizing hair, it will not serve as a substitute for a traditional hair conditioner.

I was a bit concerned about the inclusion of panax ginseng which, while it makes skin feel refreshed, might have a bit too much “zing” for irritated skin. However, I recently learned that ginseng is recognized medically as a demulcent, an agent that forms a soothing film, relieving minor pain and inflammation. Further, Marta noted that ginseng is known for making a contribution to hair health.

The formulation of Lather’s sea kelp & ginseng mask is well thought out and teeming with skin-calming agents. The pH range of the mask is 6.2 - 6.6, which is ideal as skin’s natural pH is approximately 5.5; thus, chemically, this mask will generally help to reduce skin irritation. I actually keep my jar of the mask in the refrigerator, not just to maintain product integrity (as noted by Dr. Debra Jaliman in her book, Skin Rules), but also because I like the instant gratification of an über cooling mask.

Ingredients: purified water, glycerin, algae pheophycea (seaweed) extract, humulus lupulus (hops) extract, sucrose, panax ginseng extract, propanediol (zemea), fucus vesiculosus L (bladderwrack) extract, aloe barbadensis extract, dextrine, aspartic acid, sodium carbomer, polysorbate 20, hamamelis virginiana extract, quercus infectoria (oak) root extract, hypericum perforatum L (St. John's wort) extract, sodium alginate (chondrus crispus), oil of algae (rhodophycea), thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, ethylhexylglycerin, tetrasodium salt