Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Freeman Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask

Of all the products I've posted about on social media, this is the one that received the most raves and positive comments when I shared a picture on my Instagram a while back. Many of you (I received 97 comments and almost 500 likes on that photo!) told me that you were in love with this product and I even heard "holy grail" mentioned a few times. I know that some of you have a hard time finding this full-size tube in your area, but if you live near a Rite Aid, they do sell the full-size tube there. You can also purchase it at Ulta, drugstore.com and directly from the Freeman website, which is where I got mine back when they were running their 40% off sale at the beginning of April.

In addition to your glowing your feedback, this product gets a lot of love all over the internet (many positive reviews on the Ulta websiteMakeup 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:

Ingredient List:
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).
*Activated Charcoal




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.
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41 comments

  1. I have the same issue with the lid not closing. I just clean the opening and hope it will shut. It's a great product though!

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  2. I love this as an exfoliator! I also have the same problem with the lid on mine not closing all the way, so you're not alone!

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  3. I have ur holy grail exfoliator too, but I'm very interested in trying this Freeman mask. It sounds awesome. ^^

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  4. I also have an issue with closing the lid, but I just let brute force take the lead and I smack it on the counter and it snaps closed. It is rare that I actually like a product enough to use the entire thing and go back for more and I'm almost through my second tube of this, I love it!

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  5. I love this stuff. I use it as a mask, but a lightly exfoliate when I apply it. It makes a great improvement in the smoothness of my skin just after one use.

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  6. i like this one a lot. i bought it to see how it compares with MAC's Volcanic Ash exfoliant, and while they're definitely not dupes, this one is very nice and i will repurchase. (also great to use on arms and legs before sunless tanning!)

    i like that the sugar dissolves. i worry about the environmental effects of microbeads. not to harsh your buzz (sorry, i hate to be that person) but this is worth looking at:
    http://beatthemicrobead.org/en/science

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  7. I'm on my second tube of this. I do love it, but I agree that it doesn't work too well as a mask. I can't get the lid to shut right, either. I do like something about the sticky, textured polish, though.

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  8. This seems similar to Lush's Dark Angels scrub but that's got mud in it too. I love that stuff..charcoal and black sugar, a great scrub and smells so earthy!

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  9. My lid will not close, either. Luckily, the product inside doesn't dry out.

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  10. I have to manhandle my tube to get it to close, but if I hit it hard enough, it works. I love this stuff. I bought one of the sample pouches to try it out, and when the Freeman sale happened, I bought two tubes because I knew I'd use them. I never do that sort of thing.

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  11. Have you ever tried the Michael Todd charcoal scrub (it was going out in Ipsy boxes a while back)? I would love to know how this compares.. I really like the MT one but it's spendy and hard to get, have to order online in my area. Two thumbs up for no sulfates, hard to find ones that don't have them.

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    1. i have both and i don't feel that they really compare, actually. the freeman mask/scrub is thicker and FAR grittier (which isn't a bad thing, just different) especially since the MT scrub feels generally pretty smooth. freeman's exfoliates more and MT leaves a more 'moist' feeling to your skin. freeman's smells way better... and of course is way cheaper :) but it *did* break me out, which the MT scrub has never done. i hope this is helpful for you!

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  12. I picked this up somewhat recently at Harmon Face Values and at the time had no idea it was such a "big deal" haha, although the check out lady out did rave about it! I too have issues with the top clicking closed and slam it shut like some of the other gals commented. Harmon had a ton of other masks by Freeman that I'm interested in trying too!

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  13. I also have the same issue with the lid! Funny how you think you're the only one until you read other people's experiences! I love it! I also just use it to exfoliate and it's done wonders for my skin. I love the warming sensation. I used the one by Mac and it's honestly the same as this, but this one is cheaper!

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  14. Yes! my lid doesn't close either and i thought it was maybe just mine. guess not haha
    nonetheless still a great product (:

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  15. I will try this for sure. I would like to use it as a mask so I hope it works that way for me. The price is fantastic! :{D

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  16. I am not a fan of this product because I cannot use it as a mask. I was so excited to find this at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I had no idea until later that it is highly coveted. I don't know that I'll ever reach for it again.

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  17. i tried this both as a mask and an exfoliator and it dried out my skin severly!..like nothing else i've ever used..it left my skin raw both times and it took a long time to recover..
    i regreted giving it a second chance :'(
    i have oily/combo skin and i dont consider it sensitive..
    i enjoy the other freeman masks, but this one didnt like me..

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  18. I happened on this at CVS awhile back. Same issues: I couldn't seem to spread it on my face as a mask real well (a spare elf foundation brush helps with that, on dry face); and I found early on I have to get every single granule of sugar out of the opening by smacking the clamped end of the tube on the counter to settle product and even blow into the opening of the cap.

    Otherwise, though, loved it...so much I bought a backup during that Freeman site 40% off sale.

    It's just pretty awesome stuff, especially for the price. The whole "charcoal" thing is big right now so I will buy anything with that. I am loving Giovanni D:tox charcoal face wash and clay ,ask from TJ Maxx, and need to get that Garnier scrub.

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  19. i love it as a mask more than an exfoliator n i have the same problem with the lid but u just gonna have to clean it with a q tip the sugar is preventing it from closing

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  20. To use this as a mask it is intended to be applied over dry skin! That's why it runs when you apply it! When applied over dry skin (as opposed to damp) it will adhere to your skin much better and it'll stay in place for the recommended 5-7min. I don't think it would be as effective if you don't allow the charcoal the time to sit and purge the pores.

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    1. That's exactly how I applied it when attempted to us it as a mask--I applied it to dry skin, not damp. Sadly, I had the issues I described above. :(

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  21. I pop the whole cap off of mine when I'm done and rinse it out so I can close the lid again. It's a bit of a pain but I love this stuff, love it so much.

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  22. Sadly, I'm allergic to lavender, so I can't try it :(

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  23. Another voice chiming in on the "lid won't close" issue. Like others have mentioned, banging it on the counter top forces it closed. But I don't think I should have to work that hard to get a tube to close. This is the only Freeman product I recall having this issue with.

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  24. Wow and reading G's review and all the comments, I will indeed buy this the next time I need to buy a scrub!!! I love Freeman products so much!

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  25. Same issue with closing the lid. I usually just bang it down on the sink to close it. I have no idea how this could even remotely be used as a facial mask. It falls off all over the sink when I apply it. I use it as a scrub with my olay brush and it does an okay job of exfoliating, but it's not my favorite. Still searching for that one.

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  26. I had issues with my lid as well. I couldn't get it to close at all. I also couldn't use it like a mask, just kinda slid everywhere, but this is an excellent scrub, and doesn't irritate skin. Totally worth it, busted lid and all!

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  27. Great review! I love all facial products with carbon and black goodness. This seems like a cheaper version of LUSH Dark Angels, so perhaps, perhaps!.

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  28. Oh I love this stuff! I've been trying to find it in a full sized tube for ages it seems like - definitely going to rite aid today and finding it haha. My boyfriend even loves it!

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  29. I have seen this in the beauty department of my grocery store even!

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  30. "i have both and i don't feel that they really compare, actually. the freeman mask/scrub is thicker and FAR grittier (which isn't a bad thing, just different) especially since the MT scrub feels generally pretty smooth. freeman's exfoliates more and MT leaves a more 'moist' feeling to your skin. freeman's smells way better... and of course is way cheaper :) but it *did* break me out, which the MT scrub has never done. i hope this is helpful for you! "
    Thank you.. very helpful. Probably give it a pass then.

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  31. Okay now I need this! I use the two clay masques--the blue deep sea minerals and the purple acai--both quite nice after a workout. My CVS had them two for $7, an insane deal for so much product. Can't wait to look for this one!

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  32. I've been using this for a while as a scrub like you. I'm still on the fence about this product, I don't know if it really does something to your skin or just give you a fake effect. I'm not much fan of Freeman, so maybe my opinion of it is biased. I purchased it because of the hype this mask got including the allure award. Hope this works for you!

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  33. These scrubs and masks are Buy One Get One free at Ulta right now! I just picked up this one and the Golden Grains one. Sale is until May 31st i believe!
    I can't wait to try them!

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  34. Really wanted to love this..
    As a scrub it was too harsh and irritated my skin. As a mask I felt I had to use more then I should have and sat weird on my skin. I used up whole bottle and had no results.

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  35. I love this product too! BTW I usually clean the opening after each use with my finger or a q-tip to close it, the sugar granules on the lid and opening are what keep it from closing fully.

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  36. I know this is really late but after using this for a month I just wanted to add some tips I found out that might help other users. My bottle wouldn't click shut after the first use either. It's not the cap that is broken because it did with initially, its because the mask is so thick it chokes the opening and it won't shut anymore. If you clean all the little granules from the opening it will shut completely. Also, if you are having problems being able to use this as a mask I find it spreads best over clean dry skin. I wash my face and dry thoroughly and I was able to spread it thinly without it melting. Hth!

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  37. I suffer from TOTM breakouts as well.. They never fail to accumulate around my mouth and on my chin! Do you have any advice or blog posts about catching them before they start?

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  38. I just bought this today and immediately checked for reviews to make sure I was applying it correctly. I have to say my skin feels great after the first use and I hope I don't breakout because I'm really loving this mask.

    Also, for everyone having lid problems, I had it too BUT I figured out how to fix it. You have to wipe the inside first and then press down from middle of the lid hard. The sugar granules in the opening prevent the lid from fully closing so just wipe it the best you can and really press down hard from the center of the lid - the part that would be right above the opening.

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