You know how some animals molt and grow thicker coats in preparation for cold weather? My skin goes through a similar transformative process when winter rolls around. But, unlike the furry creatures of the wild, my winter coat is not a biological adaptation to ensure survival. My skin's permanent state of shedding, flaking, and itching is a barefaced rebellion against the elements. When a creamy cleanser and two layers of thick moisturizer were no longer cutting it, I knew that it was time for more drastic measures. Returning moisture and life to my winter coat would prove to be no easy task, but a couple of face masks from Teava- "Rejuvenate" and "Rehydrate"- were up for the challenge.

Teava's brand concept is based on the technology of tea, using the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties of various tea plants to address specific skin conditions. Interestingly, Teava's new facial treatment masks have little to do with tea. The star ingredient is clay, which is gentle enough for sensitive skin and effective enough for any skin type. Going beyond your daily cleansing, toning, and moisturizing routine, clay masks lightly exfoliate, snapping skin out of the December doldrums. Though the type of clay in each mask differs, both have detoxifying and nourishing effects- perfect for sensitive, dull, winter-wreaked skin.

In general, cosmetic clays are excellent for reducing inflammation, drawing impurities from the skin, and unplugging clogged pores. Moroccan rhassoul clay makes up the main active in "Rejuvenate" and gives it a brownish hue. With its high content of silica and magnesium (58% and 25% respectively), rhassoul clay's mineral properties result in a high level of ion exchange. As the clay extracts dulling toxins from the skin, it also deposits trace metals like silica, which naturally improve the complexion. Clinical research on rhassoul have shown that it can reduce dryness, remove dead skin layers, and smooth skin texture.

"Rehydrate" draws its hydrating powers from a far more humble clay- kaolin- which is prevalent in powdered and dry cosmetics. It might seem counterproductive to base a hydrating mask on an oil-absorbing ingredient, but kaolin's unique mineral content (46% silicon oxide, 37% aluminum oxide) rejuvenates without sapping the skin's natural oils. This insoluble, negatively-charged white powder extracts positively-charged waste materials from the skin and stimulates blood circulation. Regular application of kaolin clay facials has shown to heal blemishes, remove debris from the pores, and bring about a healthy glow.

While "Rejuvenate" ($45) has a grainy texture and makes the face look like it's coated in a layer of grimy mud, "Rehydrate" ($25) has a fluffy, white appearance and dries to a nearly sheer layer. In terms of tea, both formulas tout small amounts of rooibos and honeybush tea, which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Both masks also are enriched with anti-aging aloe vera, moisture-balancing glycerin, and nourishing grapeseed and jojoba oils. In addition, "Rejuvenate" sports a combination of fruit extracts that act as alpha hydroxy exfoliators.

Even though the formulas appear blameless at a first glace (spared the standard offenders in the preservative department), they are hardly all-natural. Things start to go south around triethanolamine and glyceryl stearate/PEG-100 stearate, both moderate hazards according to the EWG, due to toxicity and contamination concerns (carcinogenic nitrosamines in TEA; ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane in glyceryl stearate/PEG-100 stearate). As their primary preservative, Teava's masks rely on the antimicrobial Germall (diazolidinyl urea by another name), which may not be quite as suspect as parabens but can be potentially irritating and spoiled by formaldehyde.

Swayed by the additional active botanicals (not to mention the rarer clay and higher price tag), I expected "Rejuvenate" to drastically outperform "Rehydrate." However, I actually preferred the results with "Rehydrate," which left my face feeling more nourished and looking more radiant. A side-by-side test revealed smoother, softer skin and less flaking on the "Rehydrate"-treated half. Perhaps the AHAs in "Rejuvenate" distressed my skin at a time when all it wanted was to be coddled. Either way, Teava's two masks brought a healthy glow back to my skin when it needed it most.

Ingredients in "Rehydrate":

Di-ionized H2O, Kaolin Clay, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil, Jojoba oil, Stearic acid, Glycerin, Aloe vera, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, Rooibos tea extract, Honeybush tea extract, Triethanolamine, Germall.

Ingredients in "Rejuvenate":

Di-ionized H2O, Rhassoul Clay, Alpha hydroxy acids (Water, alcohol denaturated, passiflora quadrangularis fruit extract, citrus medica  limonum extract, ananas sativus fruit extract, vitis vinifera fruit extract), Grapeseed oil, Jojoba oil, Stearic acid, Glycerin, Aloe vera, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate, Honeybush Tea Leaves, Rooibos tea extract, Triethanolamine, Germall.