In addition to your glowing your feedback, this product gets a lot of love all over the internet (many positive reviews on the Ulta website, Makeup Alley, Drugstore.com and it's also an Allure Best of Beauty 2013 Winner). I've been using this product twice a week for four weeks now, and I'm ready to give you my verdict. So let's see if it lived up to the hype!
Freeman Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask
(retail: $3.99, 6.0 oz)
From the Freeman website:
Sucrose, Propylene Glycol, Carbon*, Kaolin, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract , Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Maranta Arundinacea Root Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Nasturtium Officinale Extract, Aleurites Moluccana Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Carbomer, Fragrance (Parfum), Iron Oxide (CI 177491).
I'm not sure if this is a widespread issue, but the flip-top lid on my particular tube refuses to click into place. You can see a slight gap between the lid and the tube in my pic above. I've messed with it dozens of time and it just won't "click" shut. The good thing is that it doesn't become too messy even though the lid doesn't close firmly:
roughly the same size as an average portion of toothpaste
First things first: I cannot use this product as intended (as a facial mask). It simply does not spread evenly and it starts to "melt" off my face almost immediately after application. For me personally, it doesn't allow for any benefits as a facial mask. So this review is going to focus exclusively on my experience with using this as a physical exfoliator, not as a mask.
Texture and consistency: Looking at my pics above, you can see that this product is more like a traditional facial scrub than a mask. It's thick, but not so thick that it doesn't spread easily. Once you start to work it into the skin, it breaks down and becomes thinner. The sugar granules are what I would consider medium-sized (not super-fine but not excessively thick or chunky). The sugar is densely-packed into the base, making it very easy for exfoliation. I cannot stand scrubs that contain a sparse amount of sugar or other types of granules because I never feel like I'm actually doing any exfoliating unless the granules are densely packed into the base. Speaking of the base, I love the thickness because, again, it's difficult to exfoliate when you're working with a thin, watery base. So no worries there--I have no doubt you'll get a good exfoliation with this product! Also, I want to make sure you're aware that this is a warming mask/scrub, so you do feel a slight warming sensation upon first contact with your skin. The warming goes away pretty quickly (about 60 seconds for me), but while it's warm, it feels pleasant (it never gets too warm and there's no stinging or burning).
Ease of use and removal: Used as a scrub, I can easily apply this product to my clean, damp skin by gently rubbing in small circles with my fingers. Removal is very easy as well, because the sugar granules start to dissolve by the time I'm almost finished with exfoliation. A few splashes of water is all I need to remove any remaining residue. Also, I feel not residue after removal--no greasy, sticky or oily feeling at all.
Exfoliation: On a scale of one to ten (one being the most gentle, barely-there exfoliation and ten being something close to sandpaper) I would give this a solid eight. It's not overly rough, but I definitely feel some very nice exfoliation when I'm using this scrub. The more damp my face is beforehand, the more mild the exfoliation, so if you prefer a very "scrubby" feel when you exfoliate, apply less water to your face beforehand. If you like things a bit more gentle, make sure your face and hands are fully saturated first--this will cause the sugar granules to dissolve at a faster rate and give you a more gentle exfoliation. I personally like a very "scrubby" feel to my exfoliators, and this one gives me what I need.
Benefits: After using this product as a scrub twice a week for four weeks now, I can tell you that my face feels smoother and a bit brighter. I also have noticed that the charcoal and kaolin (my oily skin loves kaolin clay) in this scrub do a nice job at pulling out the oils from my skin without overly stripping my skin. My face never feels dry, tight or irritated after using this scrub, and I've noticed that my makeup seems to apply more smoothly as well. I have not experienced any breakouts while using this product, but I have heard from some of you who HAVE experienced breakouts while using this product, so your mileage may vary in that department.
Fragrance: Some of you have mentioned that this product smells sugary-sweet, so I was anticipating that when I first used it. However, I don't get a sweet, sugary scent at all from this! To my nose, this product has a fresh, green, herbal fragrance to it--sort of like what you would expect when you hear the word "bamboo" when it comes to bath and body products. I enjoy it quite a bit, and I don't find it too strong or overbearing (although I definitely do smell it during application).
FINAL VERDICT: One of the best drugstore physical exfoliators I've tested in quite some time. As a scrub (because again, I can't use this as a mask for the reasons stated above), I have absolutely no complaints and I find myself looking forward to using this in the shower. I really like the level of exfoliation this product provides and I like that the sugar granules dissolve at the perfect rate--not too early, not too late. It's an easy scrub to use and an easy scrub to remove. It leaves my skin feeling soft and fresh, and I haven't had any breakouts in the four weeks that I've been using it (aside from my usual hormonal, once-a-month breakout). It won't be taking the place of my holy grail drugstore exfoliator because I do prefer the granule-density, fragrance and effects of that one a tiny bit more than this one, but the Freeman scrub is certainly a wonderful back-up and it gets my #2 spot for sure.
Have you tried the Freeman Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask? If so, are you a fan? I'd love to hear from you!
The products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. For more information, click here.