If my complexion and I were having a conversation, it would stop and end with “how’s the weather?” That is to say, my winter skin is unbelievably dull and dew-less. It also errs on the dry side and, despite my core group of cold weather products (hello, random $15 hydrating oil), I need a bi-weekly boost. Luckily, I found that boost with Image Skincare’s Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque.

This lovely mask has got the good stuff: hyaluronic acid to lock in hydration, pineapple and papaya fruit enzymes to gently exfoliate, and L-ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbyl (both stable forms of vitamin C) to brighten. We can’t forget about the scent, either. While most effective vitamin C products emit medicinal odors — my nose is wrinkling at just the thought — this one is decadent and smells reminiscent of an orange creamsicle. 

I’ve started using this mask twice a week and consider it the consistent highlight of my Monday and Thursday nights. After about two minutes, the mask feels as refreshing as a big gulp of water — imagine sitting in front of a fan blowing cool air, except you won’t catch the sniffles after. I keep the mask on for about 20 minutes, remove it with lukewarm water, and don’t find myself clawing for moisturizer immediately afterward. Basically, most vitamin C products tend to dry me out, but this one doesn’t. 

But the benefits don’t stop there; you can thank vitamin C for that. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that’s a key component to many skin-brightening regimens, as it interferes with pigment production and keeps inflammation at bay,” explains board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology in New York City. And indeed, this mask promises to gently exfoliate debris and dead skin cells, brighten the overall complexion, and minimize uneven skin tone. 

My dry, dull complexion is also sensitive (I cannot catch a break) and so the mere mention of words like “brighten” and “exfoliate” in product descriptions tend to be red flags that’ll activate my rosacea. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the results: this does a great job of rejuvenating my skin without inducing massive red splotches.

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