Should You Be Masking Your Body?

It's no secret that our editors love their face masks. We typically have a healthy stash of them in our bathrooms, and some of us even use more than one in a day. But recently, a new slew of masks started showing up on my desk — masks not just for my face, but for my body as well. Like their facial counterparts, these muds and creams claim to firm, brighten, and detox the skin. But they're for your entire body. As an avid face-masker, I decided to give three of these body versions a go: Lush's Cup O' Coffee, Fango Brillante Brightening Mud Mask, and Ahava Natural Dead Sea Body Mud. Lush's mask came at just the right time; thanks to a diet I'm trying out for work, I'm not drinking coffee. I can, however, apply it to my body. After showering, I smoothed the creamy, chocolate-like elixir over my arms and legs, let it sit for 10 minutes, turned the water stream back on, and buffed the mask away. My skin looked instantly brighter and felt incredibly smooth. Plus, the coffee scent was a real kick in the pants. The only issue? This stuff was a bitch to clear out of my drain. (Apparently coffee grinds are horrible for plumbing. Who knew?) So, I'm still on the fence about whether I'll be using this again. My second mask was Fango's, which is meant to brighten skin. It doesn't come with any directions for use, so after washing up, I smoothed it on my limbs and let it sit until it was dry. That, unfortunately, took about 15 minutes — all of which I spent hanging out in my studio apartment completely naked, unable to touch anything for fear of getting pink clay everywhere. Did my skin look great once it emerged? Yes; it had the same radiance I get after I use a similar mask on my face. But the jury's still out about whether the results justified the naked loitering. Finally, I tried Ahava's mud mask. This one was intriguing because it actually heats up when applied to the skin. It's great for stimulating circulation, and it helps to relieve muscle pain, so I tried to smear it on my back and shoulders. Tip: Find someone to apply the mask to your back. (I applied it completely unevenly and wound up with only part of my back getting the heating sensation.) Since this mask only has to be left on for seven to 15 minutes, I capped off around 10 — so as to avoid the awkward standing-in-my-studio-nude scenario from the day before. Once rinsed, my skin's texture looked a lot more even, and my achy muscles did feel some sweet relief. If you're someone who totally digs the full at-home spa experience, definitely give body masks a try — especially if you're going someplace where your limbs will be exposed. All three of these masks, despite their individual pitfalls, helped my skin look better than if I hadn't used them at all. Just make sure you have a second pair of hands around to help you apply, if you can — and a roommate who doesn't mind you hanging out for a few minutes in the buff.

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