Tula Skin Care is all over our Instagram feeds — but does it live up to the hype?

The brand has been thriving over the last few months — so we had to see what the hype is about.
TODAY
By Daniel Boan

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As most of us are spending more time indoors than ever, we may not be as concerned with our appearance as usual. Working from home means reaching for less makeup and skin care, and the beauty industry has seen a decline in sales as a result.

According to retail tracking group NPD, the prestige beauty market has seen a 14% sales dip in the first quarter of 2020. Despite this overall decline in sales for the industry, products in the "clean beauty" category saw an 11% increase — and it looks like Tula Skincare has become one of the most popular brands in the space.

The brand told CNBC it experienced a 400% sales increase in April compared to 2019, which was the best April in the brand's history and double the sales in March. Tula has been growing its social media presence quite steadily since it launched in 2013, and now its sales seem to be catching up with its growing buzz.

Tula's appeal comes not just from the Instagram-friendly vibrant packaging, but also in its focus on natural ingredients. All of the Tula formulas include probiotics, which the brand says is meant to smooth, hydrate and brighten the skin while soothing irritation. Many of the products also tout "superfoods" such as blueberries, watermelon and chia seeds for their vitamin content.

We were able to get our hands on two of the brand's most popular products to see if they actually live up to the hype.

Tula Glow and Get It Cooling and Brightening Eye Balm

Like most of us, I'm not necessarily looking to completely overhaul my skin care routine right now. If anything, I'm looking to streamline and simplify it as much as possible. With this in mind, Tula's eye balm seemed like a good place to start with its swipe-on applicator that is easy to quickly incorporate into any routine.

Right away, I was impressed with the sleek packaging. Tula definitely thrives on its Instagram-worthy aesthetic, and it looks just as trendy and vibrant in person. Formula-wise, the eye balm includes caffeine to tighten and firm the look of fine lines and wrinkles, while apple, aloe, watermelon and blueberry are meant to hydrate and protect the delicate skin under the eye.

Upon application, the balm feels incredibly smooth and glides on effortlessly. There's no tugging or pulling on the skin, which is incredibly important for the delicate area under the eyes. I also noticed an immediate change in brightness. There's no actual coverage in terms of hiding dark circles, but it does add a luminous glow to the skin that made me look slightly more awake and put-together. Perhaps most impressively, the balm seems to have a primer-like effect when it comes to smoothing out fine lines. I found that my concealer applied very smoothly on top of the balm, and even seemed to crease less throughout the day.

Halle Proper/TODAY

The balm also starts to have a cooling effect within minutes of application, which feels extremely refreshing and is quite effective at perking me up on particularly groggy mornings. That being said, the slight tingling sensation might be a bit much for super sensitive eyes, so I would recommend starting with a light hand.

The eye balm has also become of favorite of our audience development coordinator Halle Proper, who calls it "a burst of energy in balm form."

"I use it every morning to help wake me up and throughout the day I’ll apply another layer to help me get through my Zoom meetings," Proper said. "Between this product and my large iced coffee, I feel unstoppable."

I wasn't expecting much from this shimmery balm, but it's become one of my favorite beauty products in the past few weeks. I have had countless Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls lately, and this balm is perfect for helping me look more presentable in a pinch. With just two quick swipes, I've been able to fool everyone on the other end of my video calls into thinking I had a decent night's sleep.

Tula Star Bright Hydrogel Mask

Though I haven't been looking to drastically change my skin care routine, I have been taking some time on the weekends to indulge in a few extra steps in the name of self-care. Sheet masks are one of my go-to favorites when I need 10-15 minutes to unwind, so I knew the Star Bright Hydrogel Mask would be right up my alley.

The mask is formulated with grapefruit to help brighten the skin, while chamomile and gotu kola (a medicinal plant) are included for their soothing and smoothing properties.

Like the eye balm, the exterior is what initially caught my eye. The two-piece mask is a pale shade of blue and features a tiny star pattern. This, of course, has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the mask, but it's a cute touch.

Daniel Boan/TODAY

Once placed on the skin, the mask feels immediately cooling and the "hydrogel" texture is surprisingly plush and less watery than most sheet masks I've tried. It was easy to relax for the recommended 10 minutes, and the results were good but not quite as immediate as the eye balm.

My skin felt extremely soft and smooth, though I can't say I noticed a huge change in its brightness or overall appearance. Still, the texture and cooling sensation are enough to justify the price point when you want something that feels a little more pampering than a typical sheet mask.

Does it live up to the hype?

After spending a few weeks with the face masks and eye balm, I can see why Tula is making quite a splash in the industry. Usually, brands that heavily cater to the social media and influencer demographic are all style over substance, but the formulas of these products were genuinely effective and impressive for products with such a millennial-focused aesthetic.

Though I can't see myself buying the sheet mask on a regular basis, the eye balm will have a permanent spot in my day-to-day routine.

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