23.5N Gel Masks – Rice Soothing, Oriental Tea Balancing
23.5N pretty much exploded onto my Instagram in 2016, thanks to Beautibi in the US stocking them. I lived in Korea at the time, so getting my grabby little hands on Taiwanese products wasn’t as simple as you might think – and now I’ve moved back to Europe I pretty much put it out my mind. Then Mooni Mask, a French company that exclusively sells a beautifully curated selection of masks (both Taiwanese and Korean), contacted me to ask me if I knew anything about 23.5N and would I be interested in trying them out. Um. Yes.
Did I know anything about 23.5N? Pretty much everything already, thanks to the bombardment of posts displaying their beautiful little gel pots. So I’m late to the game, but I’m still going to review, because they deserve it. The brand and the products are right up my street.
23.5N are a Taiwanese brand that do not use harmful additives in their products. They’re paraben, artificial colouring, and fragrance free. Their ingredients mean they are safe for sale within the EU, which is often a problem with Asian products – they get stopped at customs and declared unsafe thanks to something in the ingredient list. 23.5N also deliver their ingredients to production direct from their origin in Taiwan, which means the process is more eco-friendly. All in all, a good CV for these little jars.
I received two masks: the Oriental Beauty Tea Balancing Mask, and the Rice Soothing Gel Mask. The former is more for oily types, while the latter is more for dry skinned like me! The tea, in that case, I was sure would be harder for me to test, because my skin isn’t oily in the slightest. But I can, at least, look at texture and all other components that do not relate to what it does/doesn’t do for my skin.
The travel masks I received last about six uses, if you’re more stingy like me, but you can get anywhere from 3-5 uses from the pot. One of the reasons I’ve not used all mine is because I’ve discovered I really enjoy using them more as a sleeping pack than as an actual mask, but we’ll get on to that.
As stated, the masks are fragrance free, so there is no scent whatsoever. When it comes to packaging, it’s very simple. A sleek design with the logo printed on the front, and a little picture on the top related to the ingredients of the product. You just have to look at the lid to know which mask you’re using, which is a good idea considering they’re small and the lettering on them is tiny. You may want to use a spatula to apply, as they don’t come with one.
The texture is the same on both masks – a thick transparent gel (the tea one is slightly brown, as you would expect with tea as an ingredient), which glides on smoothly and then sets somewhat while you wear it. Depending on the application, it may all absorb into your skin (which I like doing), or you can wear a thicker layer for about 20 minutes and wash it off. If it’s a really thin layer, it won’t leave any residue, but if it’s thicker you can feel a slight stickiness and you’ll need to wash that off. As you can see, it’s clear when you apply, and you can barely tell I have anything on – just a little shiny.
As expected, my favourite is the rice soothing mask. It is good for dry or irritated skin, and soothes and calms inflammation, while brightening complexion. Here’s the ingredients list:
Aqua, rice extract, aloe extract, sodium hyaluronate, adlay extract, oat kernel extract, carbomer, ceramides, benzyl alcohol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone.
The ingredient list is really short. The only thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable is the benzyl alcohol – there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ alcohols in skincare, and benzyl might be considered as falling on the ‘bad’ side, as it can be labelled as a potential irritant. However, this is usually in larger doses, and the EU doesn’t approve skincare products containing more than 1% benzyl alcohol, so by default, this doesn’t contain more than that. Benzyl alcohol is a preservative, and we should note it’s considered one of the least sensitising preservatives out there.
Other ingredients include aloe, for soothing, and oat kernel extract, which works as an anti-inflammatory and provides relief to the skin. Ceramides moisturise, as does aloe, and sodium hyaluronate is basically a smaller molecule form of our good friend hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin retain moisture.
Tea mask ingredients:
Aqua, tea extract, sodium hyaluronate, carbomer, tremella fucicormis extract, niacinamide, benzyl alcohol, peppermint extract, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone.
Niacinamide can help the appearance of enlarged pores, and improve elasticity in the skin. It’s common in anti-aging products. Tremella fucicormis is otherwise known as snow fungus, and it performs a similar function to sodium hyaluronate. It’s non-toxic, and SK-II even use it in their famed lotion. Tea can help with sebum production and is frequently used in products geared towards the control of oily skin.
Both masks I found to be soothing, and gave me a nice dose of moisture – which is exactly the reason I prefer them as sleeping packs. You can use a pea-sized amount and apply it after your skincare routine is done in the evening, then leave it on overnight. I found I got the real benefits of the ingredients this way, as with a wash-off mask, they were really nice, but I didn’t notice any brightening from the rice mask. However, applying it as a sleeping pack for a couple of weeks, I notice how calm my skin is and how my redness is looking much better when I wake up in the morning.
These masks are really good for a day in the sun – coming home and having one of these in the fridge is cooling, soothing, and kicks my dehydrated skin back to life. I would definitely recommend the rice mask for those with dry skin, and would love to buy the full size myself. I’ll stick to the travel size for the moment though, as it’s all we’ve got! I can’t speak much for the oil control on the tea mask, but I like the texture and application on both masks, so I think it’s worth a try – the benefit of travel size is that it’s good for testing, and you won’t have bought a full sized product that doesn’t work for you.
If you’re interested in either of these masks, Mooni Mask will shortly be stocking them, shipping in Europe. They’re incredibly friendly and are always open to questions – so any doubts, they’ll help you out. I’ll certainly be making a repurchase of the rice mask as soon as it comes online!