So what happens when one (read: I) wanted to try this mask yet found the price slays the wallet? Well, for the sake of good skin and satiate the curiosity, I’m willing to be the test bunny and took the plunge. Besides, I’ve never tried anything like this before.
I definitely get more than I bargained for.
May Lindstrom Skin The Problem Solver Correcting Masque.
What it is (from the website):
Hero. Over achiever. Superstar.
A jet-black fusion of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts, and exotic warming spices go deep on a mission to reveal your most radiant self. This intense correcting mask effectively purifies and tightens pores, extinguishes inflammations, fights & heals blemishes, jump-starts circulation in the epidermis and detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power. The radically different powder-to-mousse formula activates on contact with water, only releasing its magic at the exact moment of use so you experience full potency every time.
Whoa. The first three words are quite a ballsy statement. The rest is even more intimidating.
May Lindstrom The Problem Solver is mask in a powder form. It has a khaki-grey shade and turns black when activated. This thing is HUGE. The black jar is very heavy and substantial. There are a lot, a lot of product inside and I wonder when will I finish it, to this date. The weight is intimidating. I dare not drop this thing because I believe the glass jar will break to pieces. And if that happens, so is my heart.
The Ritual as suggested:
- Activate a tablespoon of powder formula with equal parts water in a bowl, blending to form a soft mousse.
- Massage over skin and relax.
- Treatment time is 45 minutes (or until fully dry). Expect a slightly hot and tingling sensation.
- Rinse, and follow with The Youth Dew or The Blue Cocoon (or in this case, the next product).
The interesting part would be finding the right ratio and consistency when mixing the water into the powder. Even though there’s a guideline, I find one teaspoon is more than enough for cover my whole face. And it’s not even a heaping teaspoon either. I do use a small bowl because this could get messy. I use one teaspoon of water into the powder and start from there. Stir it carefully with the spoon and as I do this, I can hear a fizzing sound coming from the powder touching the water. Bubbly. There’s also that herbal scent with a big punch of spice.
Add more water if needed, one drop at a time. I like the mousse consistency to be at a medium fluff, not too runny. It offers the best spreadability for my preference. I do the mixing rather quickly while making sure the powder is dissolved in the water. Reason why is I want to get the potency out of this as much as I can. So, give it a good stir and apply straight away.
Application-wise, it’s time to get dirty. It’d be nice to have a brush to spread this, but since I don’t, fingers do just fine. The mousse texture is a little gritty. Just spread it while making a small circular motion, massaging the skin gently. Cover the whole face and don’t be shy about it! I like to layer more on certain areas such as my nose, chin, under the cheekbones where my hormonal congestion usually shows up and anywhere I feel in need of a deep cleansing (including the eyebrows).
When May Lindstrom said “expect a slightly hot and tingling sensation”, she means business. The Problem Solver gives a full-on heat with the warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, turmeric and cayenne) on the skin. I was breaking sweats while waiting for this mask to dry. I thought to myself, “what the heck did I just put myself into?”. Next to the heat, the tingling sensation was no different. I can feel it’s working its way into the pores, getting rid of the dirt and grime. And that’s a good thing, right? Except it wasn’t comfortable, at all. I do have a low pain tolerance though.
On the first three tries, I struggled to reach the 45-minute treatment time. Even now, I can still feel the heat though it’s not as agonizing. Now, I can put on this mask for at least an hour, though I don’t do it often. Technically, when the black-colored mousse dried up and my face turned into a stone mask, I could rinse it off. But you know, I tend to forget because I’d usually do something else while waiting (like writing this review).
Rinsing this mask is not quite the piece of cake. It’s messy and the sink will be dirty. I like to splash and pat some water into the face several times first. Then gently massage it while adding more water. Slowly but sure, it will come off. I use the help of a pre-soaked face cloth to take off what’s left. However even then, I still notice there’s still some residue when I applied my exfoliating toner with a cotton pad. So, I started to use Antipodes Hallelujah Cleanser to help remove the mask. The cream cleanser is gentle and will not strip the skin. Plus the skin feels so good afterwards.
Let’s evaluate the promises versus the actual effects on my skin.
Purifies and tighten pores – heck yes. I mentioned above about how I associate the tingling sensation with its pore-cleansing action. I can see my pores are somewhat cleaner and because of this, they look tighter and more closed. Oh yeah. My SO has also used this mask a few times and he said that he can squeeze out his blackheads easier afterwards. Believe me, part of the reason I bought this mask is to help him clear out his blackheads collection. His nose has looked much, much better.
Extinguishes inflammations – might sound like a paradox, fighting heat with heat, but it works. The mask relieves any uneasiness in its own uncomfortable way. HA. I know, I hate the heat but I love what it does when my skin is angry. It’s got to be something to do with the purifying properties. Like the need to open the window to let the fresh air in. That’s exactly it.
Fights and heals blemishes – OH YES! And my SO agrees to this too. He said some of his acne receded the following day. I love to use this as a spot treatment too. Dot the mask onto the acne/blemish, leave it for an hour or two, rinse it off. Then redo it again, up to 5 times usually. This trick effectively helps either treating the problems or aids to the healing process, while soothes the pain and discomfort. The area might become dry, but it’s easily remedied. That being said, it usually takes longer on bigger, cystic acne to heal.
Jump-starts circulation in the epidermis – well, another plus point for the heat. For someone who doesn’t like to wash her face with warm water, The Problem Solver gives more or less the same effect and benefits. Good circulation is needed in order to improve the skin tone (otherwise I’d look pale and peaky), helps to eliminate toxins and carries the nutrients of the skincare product into the skin cells. To be fair, this could also be achieved by regularly massaging the skin. But, we’re talking about killing two birds with one stone here.
Detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power – yes, yes and yes. Major powaaahh! This is the perfect mask to use if I was outdoor for a few days or the places I went to aren’t the cleanest. Great before and during PMS, after a work trip, or simply when my skin is feeling extra grubby. Because of the potency, I will only use this maximum once a week. It’s so powerful that it takes out quite a bit of moisture out of my skin. Even though there are ways to counter that, I prefer to stick to the once-a-week rule. Sometimes, I don’t even use it for 2-3 weeks. I don’t want to overuse it, especially if my skin doesn’t really need it. Oh, the risk of backfire.
After drawing out the impurities, basically the skin is left clean, but thirsty. So this is a great chance to give the good stuff back into the skin. To achieve the facial-like results, I love applying another mask after The Problem Solver. My favorites are applying a good layer of Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask (I love it for its soothing effect and hydrating quality) or the superfood for the skin, Leahlani Mermaid Mask. It is such a joy whenever I do this combo.
The cons? The intense heat and the smacking USD 90 price tag (which I clearly paid more).
I know for sure I can stretch this out for quite a while. Since this is a powder, keeping it in a dry place will ensure its freshness. I put it back into the box after each use and store it in the cabinet in the vanity. Considering the vast amount, I will still also support my SO’s need for this mask. It’s absolutely gratifying to see them blackheads gone.
Needless to say, despite a few discomforts here and there, I adore The Problem Solver. It creates a clean(er) canvas for the skin. To reboot. I firmly believe a properly cleansed skin will benefit greatly from what we put on afterwards (the good stuff, of course). The freshly purified skin will drink these masks and the rest of the skincare products in the routine with much delight. The result is there, clearer skin by morning. Some blemishes might not go away in one night, but they are on their way to the front door. It’s a work-in progress 😉