Product Review: Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask

Growing up, it’s kind-of cool to have a cast on your arm.  Certainly not the pain part, or the bone resetting part.  But once you’ve got the cast on and everyone’s signing your wrist, you feel a little excited.  And special.

Until, of course, it’s time to pick teams for sports.

Such is the case with having sensitive skin.  It makes you feel a little special, in a bit of a delicate, evoking mild sympathy sort-of way.

Until, of course, it’s time to try out new skin care products.

I’ve lived with sensitive skin my entire life.  And I never minded that much until companies started to send us a lot of products to review.  Items like highly concentrated peels and super strong masques are usually a no-no, so imagine my enthusiasm when we were recently sent the Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask ($52.00, for review.  The mask contains peptides and a slew of sensitive skin-friendly elements like green tea, sweet almond seed extract, and jojoba.

Alguronic Acid

The verdict is still out on whether or not alguronic acid has the potential to be universally considered a leading anti-aging ingredient.  Most of the studies supporting alguronic acid are from Algenist.  What’s more, the studies are mostly done in vitro, or cell culture.  Although in vitro studies can be used to suggest how an ingredient may be working within the skin, these results are not as strong as those from a study that is conducted in vivo, or within the body.  If you don’t believe me, consider the fact that skin cells cultured in water will die within seconds – yet we all know water is wonderful for the skin!

Still, the few in vivo preliminary results show alguronic acid has positive effects.  The parent company of Algenist, Solazyme, suggests 78% of users had a decrease in deep wrinkles and 81% had lifted skin after 4 weeks’ of daily use (  While these results were not said to be statistically significant in press materials, company vice-president of research and development Dr. Tony Day, Ph.D., reported to The New York Times the results were statistically significant.  So that’s saying something.

Green Tea

The benefits of green tea stem largely from the antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).  This polyphenol only comprises about half of the green tea extract in skin care and cosmetics, but that is enough for your skin to benefit from its anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties (On the Horizon). Topical application of EGCG after UV irradiation has been shown to decrease oxidative stress and increase antioxidant activity (Carcinogenesis).   Another study showed that the acidic polysaccharide found in green tea worked as an anti-adhesive against skin pathogenic bacteria (Ji-Hye, et. al.).  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Tripeptide-1, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester

This is where Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask gets a little dicier.  If there is suspicion alguronic acid might be beneficial for the skin, there is an all-out debate on whether or not peptides work within the skin at all.

There is a general rule in dermatology:  only proteins around 5000 Daltons or less are absorbed into the skin.  Most peptides are considerably larger than this, leading some to believe they are ineffectual.  As dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D., told us, “Peptides are too large to penetrate the skin.”

Still, there are strong independent studies that show effects from using peptides like palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, acetyl hexapeptide, and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 – none of which, for the record, are found in Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask.  For instance, in a 2005 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 was found to significantly improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as overall moisturization levels.  [Read more:  What are the Differences Between Peptides?]

This raises lots of questions – Are there benefits to using peptides, even if they don’t penetrate the skin?  Could they somehow be signaling within the skin?  And if so, in a rinse-off formula like Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask, is there any point to using them besides hydration?

Personal Use and Opinions

Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask has butylene glycol, so it drinks into the skin quickly.  The glycol tingles a little bit, the formula glides over the skin, and there is a mild pleasant fragrance.  It rinses off and leaves skin feeling smooth and a bit soothed – a nice treatment for the sensitive of skin!

Bottom Line

We love that the Algenist Firming and Lifting Intensive Mask is well-formulated for sensitive skin.  But as far as anti-aging benefits go, the effects of a rinse-off mask with peptides and alguronic acid are mild at best.  We recommend using this mask if you want to improve your skin’s overall appearance and texture, but if you’re looking for a wrinkle fighter, go for a leave-on treatment instead.

Product Rating:  6/9

  • High or optimized concentration of independently proven ingredients:  1.5/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3
  • Value for the money:  1.5/3
  • Sunscreen:  0/0

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Fragrance Review: Swarovski Edition


Talk about arm candy! The house of Swarovski has introduced a new fragrance, Swarovski Edition, which was inspired by its celebrity-adored (and very sparkly) evening bags, specifically the ones created for stars to tote at the Cannes Film Festival, the Academy Awards, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

And since the crystal giant is not one to do anything that doesn’t really shine, the perfume’s bottle is shaped like — what else? — a glistening clutch. Made of leather and croc-embossed, gem-adorned metal, the scent’s packaging makes for an elegant addition to any vanity (or red carpet, really). (







white floral

Swarovski Edition Analysis


Clementine, part of the mandarin orange family, gives a floral perfume an energizing fruity zing.

What an elegant bottle for a very captivating scent. Swarovski Edition is the follow up to its premier perfume Swarovski Aura.

This scent has what it takes, what I have been longing for in a floral scent to make it stand out from the crowds of floral-based perfumes seemingly stamped out in some factory — all very much the same. Not so here, I am happy to report.

I think it’s the opening notes of Clementine and red currant that help to make this perfume stand apart. Clementine and Redcurrant are energizing fruity notes — giving a zing to the top of this scent.


Red currant, a member of the gooseberry family, is both sweet and tart and the other half of the fruity notes.

But the mid range of the perfume comes sensually and softly, blending gardenia and wild rose blossoms — floral yes, and sexy too!

In the bottom of this very well-composed scent are cedar wood and white musk — which ground the scent in an earthy way. I detect the fruity notes of the top even in the dry down: sparkling Clementine and tart red currant throughout the wear. Again, I think this is what makes this floral stand apart. I love the combination of the fruity zing and smooth floral anchored by the woody cedar and white musk.

Bottom Line

This is a light scent overall, and although it’s bottle is designed to resemble a clutch- typically an evening bag — I feel because it does come across subtly that it can be worn as a daytime fragrance as well. Wear time was approximately 5 hours.

Did You Know?

Who was the first female to produce a designer perfume?

Coco Chanel with the introduction of Chanel No. 5. Jeanne Lanvin of LanvinPerfumes, whose initial perfume offering in 1927 was named Arpege, followed her. After those two came Arden and Lauder.


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