I, too, was skeptical when I first heard about the trendy face mask that "grows" a ridiculous amount of bubbles on your face (and kind of makes you look like the Elephant Man).
For starters: the name. It's adorable — the "Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask" — but it also makes no sense. Then there's what the stuff actually does to your face. It's supposed to billow up like a bubble bath, covering your every pore with a thick layer of grey, soapy suds that seemingly arise from nowhere.
"Too good to be true," I thought, shaking my head as the product popped up on my favorite beauty gurus' YouTube channels and began to take over my Instagram feed, too.
But, well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for nonsensically-named goop in cute packaging. I ordered my own container from Memebox, and got ready to try it out for a TODAY Style "Test Drive."
Before I slathered it on, though, I had to ask: How the heck does it work?
How does it work?
I wanted science. Facts. Truth.
But the instructions on the side of the box were entirely in Korean, and my tried-and-true translation methods (exasperated squinting, turning the container upside down, shaking it a little) proved unsuccessful.
Luckily for me, Dr. Angela J. Lamb, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and director of the Westside Dermatology Faculty Practice at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, has years of experience with goop — and was more than ready to assist.
I called her up, told her about the product and asked for her professional opinion: Was this a gimmick? Or could all that bubbling actually be beneficial for the skin?
"What's really going to work about this mask is that it's clay-based," she told me. "Clay has been used in skin products for many years and it really does work. It absorbs oil and closes pores temporarily, making your skin feel tighter and smoother."
But what about the bubbles? Lamb "wouldn't necessarily say that they're a gimmick." Instead, she pointed out that it's a matter of preference since, from a cosmetic view of the product, it's important to factor in how the application feels.
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"It's kind of like tap water and Perrier," she said. "There isn't so much of a difference in nutrients. There are minerals in flat water, too. It's really more about how it feels on your tongue and some people just like that bubbly feeling."
As for those Korean directions? A representative from Memebox eventually gave me the full rundown in English. A second, murkier interpretation arrived via text message from my boyfriend's close friend, who happens to be Korean.
Rashes and redness = bad sign. Got it. Time to apply!
What does it feel like?
Here's where things got interesting. And, frankly, unattractive.
I opened the package for the first time, then applied a thin layer of mud-like cream to my face using the tiny white spatula that comes inside the container. It was shockingly cold, as many masks feel upon first application, but that wasn't what stuck out most to me.
No, what intrigued me most was the tingling sensation I felt almost immediately — before I'd even finished applying it to my entire face. It sort of felt like someone was popping a sheet of miniature bubble wrap on my face.
Once the entirety of my face was a dismal shade of grey, I set a timer for 10 minutes and waited, front-facing iPhone camera at the ready, for more bubbly effects to emerge.
When does it start bubbling? Or, "how to morph into a 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' in five minutes or less."
Forget the 10 minutes advised by the Memebox rep. As the third minute approached, I was already getting wide-eyed stares from my producers.
"You look like you have greyscale," Maggie told me, referencing a disease from "Game of Thrones."
"Huh? WHAT?!" I asked with a giggle, but my laughter was cut short as I realized that I was about to inhale a giant group of grey suds.
Apparently, you shouldn't put this stuff anywhere near your nose. Or eyes, for that matter. I took a minute to wipe it away from those areas before preparing for even bigger bubbles.
They, too, arrived well before the 10 minutes were up. Around the sixth minute, Rebecca, Maggie and I were doubled over laughing and practically in tears as my appearance grew more and more cartoon-like.
The tingling sensation continued, as did the sounds from the tiny popping bubbles. Besides that, it was really all about the look.
How many co-workers does it take to scrub off a bubble mask?
As soon as the timer dinged, I ran to the sink and began washing my face. Or attempting to, anyway. The bubbles died down and dissolved off my face, but what was left was a greenish-grey residue that would not leave.
I wasn't a wimp about this removal process, people. I scrubbed and scrubbed to the point that I began to worry I'd never see my own skin again. Eventually, Maggie grabbed a paper towel and joined me.
But, of course, I stand (er, write) before you a clean-faced woman. The ordeal eventually came to an end after about 10 minutes of power-scrubbing, and I reached up to feel my dry face with the back of my hand.
Could it be?
For all of its weird, bubbly peculiarities, the mask had actually done its job. My skin was smooth, my pores were practically non-existent and even after all that scrubbing (with rough, office paper towels, no less), my face wasn't red or irritated at all.
Instead, I was left with a flawless, picture-perfect complexion. All that clay really did its job, and whether or not the bubbles had anything to do with the final result didn't really matter to me. They were hilarious ... and so very selfie-worthy.
My conclusion? Try this at home. Your skin will thank you, as will your Snapchat friends.