Roundup Review: Peter Thomas Roth Face Masks

Hi! I got this Mask-a-holic set of Peter Thomas Roth face masks in VIB Rouge sale haul a couple years ago, and since then I’ve been using these and taking notes.

This post has been in the works for a long time, but it kept getting punted month-to-month as new products or topics came up that I wanted to write about instead. I also wanted to make sure I gave these products enough time to write a thorough review of each one.

Face mask set

Peter Thomas Roth Mask-a-holic set, holiday 2016

Cruelty-free status

Part of why I put off this post is that the company is in a grey area in terms of their cruelty-free status. The consensus seems to be that they’re not, but I wanted to include their full statement from their website in case you’re interested.


Peter Thomas Roth does not test any of our formulas or raw materials on animals but we believe in total transparency and will not claim that for the following reasons.

We cannot be certain that a raw material supplier has not now or at some time in the past tested an ingredient on animals.  We do not knowingly purchase ingredients that have been tested on animals and inquire before purchasing ingredients, but some staple ingredients that have been used in products for years may have been tested on animals in the past.

We do sell our products in China and some other countries that still do test on animals; though it is our understanding that China is moving towards stopping this practice. We are not alone in selling to China; nearly every major cosmetic company sells there.  Also to be noted, many major beauty retailers conduct business there including QVC and Sephora. Again, you must feel comfortable in your choices but we hope you will consider all information in doing so.

It’s great that they don’t directly test their products on animals, but they aren’t taking ownership for their ingredients or suppliers, so I personally am going with the consensus that they’re not cruelty-free (I purchased this before I went cruelty-free). I know that this statement may be enough for some of you, so I’ m going to present my review regardless. I just wanted to be fully transparent about this before I started.


So… we good?

Cool! Let’s get into the review.

The Details

This set came with five face masks and an applicator and retailed for $75. Each mask contains 1.7oz/50ml of product. While this exact set isn’t currently available, a similar set of the same name is, as well as a “mask vault” and a set that contains smaller samples. And, of course, each of these masks can be purchased individually. It looks like the full-sized masks retail in the range of $50-80, and the applicator retails for $12.

The masks included in this set are:

  • Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator
  • 24k Gold Mask Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask
  • Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask
  • Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask
  • Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer

Yes, these names are real, and they’re way dramatic, don’t you think? I’m going to repeat exactly what I said in my haul when I got this set: As I typed the names out, I found myself cringing at all the “buzz words” they threw in to make these sound fancy and scientific. I absolutely hate when brands choose to do that… But, I’m looking past that and I’m excited to try these out… I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your seat to see the “extreme” “intense” “luxury” “algae” “enzyme” “dermal” “detoxifying” “resurfacer” power! *eye roll*

I feel the exact same way I did back then, and we haven’t even gotten to the product descriptions on the pots. I think it’s fair to warn you that you will hear any and every skincare buzz word under the sun. For the sake of being thorough, and for humor, I’m including every single word written on the backs of these pots (the fronts have a shortened version of what’s on the back, so I’m not including those). I added some punctuation and capitalization here and there, but I didn’t touch the wording.

Face Mask Applicator

I tried this applicator without first reading the official instructions. Don’t blame me—the set didn’t come with them! I ended up looking them up when my first couple attempts went less than perfectly.

I first used this with the mud mask because mud masks are always messy, but I had the worst time using this applicator to remove the mask. It looked like that was what the bristles were for! Then, I used the bristled side to apply the pumpkin mask and found that it was too wide to scoop product out of the jar, and I wasted a lot of product in the gaps between the bristles. This is when I realized I was probably using it wrong and looked it up.

The actual way to use this is to use the smooth side to scoop and spread the product, massage it into the skin with the textured side, then remove it with the smooth side again. Because it’s rubber, you can just rinse it clean when you’re done.

Using this method made me feel infinitely better about keeping the pots of product sanitary, but I still struggled to get an even application. The smooth side pushes product around and the rough side takes it away. I checked the reviews for this applicator on Sephora and found that I wasn’t the only one with these complaints (in fact, the ratings aren’t good at all).

If you purchase a set like this and get this applicator for free, then it might be worth trying out. Otherwise, I wouldn’t spend money to get this on its own. I usually use a cheap makeup brush from ELF depending on the consistency of the mask I’m using.

Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask

Hydrating mask
Product

“Deeply hydrating and nourishing intensive gel mask. Take a deep dive into refreshing hydration as glacial lake blue marine algae helps deliver nutrients and maximum anti-aging moisture to help defend against the effects of damaging dehydration. Rich tea, sourced from Korea’s Jeju Island, helps deliver replenishing nourishment to depleted skin. Antarcticine, sourced from Arctic glacial ice, helps create an eco-bubble over skin to help defend against varying environmental attacks that can increase the signs of skin aging, dehydration lines and the development of visible wrinkles. Helps smooth and revitalize skin leaving it soft and instantly hydrated with a dewy, radiant glow.”

If you know anything about my skincare preferences, you know that I love hydrating products. I also find this mask to be incredibly beautiful. It’s a semi-transparent blue-green that shifts depending on the light. On the applicator, the shift is more apparent.

The instructions say to apply a generous coat to clean skin, let it sit for 10 minutes, and rinse off with cool water. You can use this 2-3 times a week or daily. Or, you know, whenever.

I worry about products that encourage using a thick layer. First, my assumption is that they just want you to go through it faster so you have to buy more, and second, I worry that my skin will feel trapped and plugged up underneath it all. But I put those fears aside and did as I was told.

I used a thick layer all over my face and under my eyes. This feels like a thick serum on the skin, and it’s very cooling. Within a couple minutes, the gel sets but doesn’t feel drying. My face felt slightly sticky to the touch when the gel set, but it felt comfortable and not like I was suffocating under a pile of sticky goo. If you use face masks a lot, you’ve probably encountered this, and you know it’s the worst.

I noticed that the gel set in the center of my face first, but everything set before the 10 minutes was up. It was super easy to rinse this off. I followed the recommendation to rinse with cool water, and it felt nice and calming. Afterwards, my skin felt calm, smooth, and moisturized. It didn’t feel tight at all. It was comfortable and soft to the touch, which is the best you can ask for with hydrating products. I followed up with my First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, and the next morning, my skin looked clear and still felt soft.

This is something I reach for occasionally when my skin feels extra dry or needs a little replenishing the day after using my actives (mostly just chemical exfoliation). I haven’t tried using this in a thin layer, and honestly I don’t think that would work very well. Because this feels like a thick serum, you need to use enough product to spread it evenly over the skin. So while it may be tempting to treat this like any other serum, it’s important to remember that this is a face mask and does require a thick layer and an extra rinsing step.

Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask

Mud mask
Product

“Purifying, decongesting and hydrating mask with odorless Irish Moor Mud draws out dirt, oil and impurities. Helps minimize the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles, leaving skin looking pure, fresh, hydrated and radiant.”

I love a good mud mask from time to time, so I was excited to see one in this kit. The instructions say to apply it evenly on clean skin, leave it on for up to 10 minutes, and then remove it with a warm, damp washcloth. Then, you should rinse your skin thoroughly to get any remaining residue off. You can use this 2-3 times a week, or “as desired.”

I’ve used this a handful of times, and I wish I liked it more than I do. I find that it doesn’t always set evenly, and it’s ridiculously difficult to get it off. I end up scrubbing the heck out of my skin, whether I use a washcloth or not. The mask already makes my skin a bit red, but the extra scrubbing really irritates it.

I’ve tried using this as a spot treatment, and that works fine, but I don’t see any visible differences in my skin. I’ve used other mud masks that show better results for a lot less money, so I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme Detoxifying Hydrator

Cucumber gel mask
Product

“This ultra-gentle gel helps soothe, hydrate and detoxify dry, irritated skin with botanical extracts.”

I like the idea of a soothing mask that hydrates but is mostly meant for calming irritated skin. I also love the super bright green color of this product! The instructions say to apply a generous coat to clean skin, let it sit for 10 minutes, and rinse if off with cool water. They also suggest refrigerating the mask for an extra cooling effect. You can use this 2-3 times a week or daily.

I waited to try this until my skin was broken out from some makeup I’d worn and feeling itchy. I applied it with my fingers and noticed that it feels cooling even without refrigerating it. The texture is similar to a sheet mask, like a thick gel or serum, and easily makes a that thick coat they say you should aim for. It sticks to the skin really well and doesn’t drip off, so it’s easy to get even coverage.

While it’s on my skin, I notice that the cooling sensation gets more intense before it sets into the skin. When it’s set, my skin feels slightly stick to the touch, but comfortable, similat to how the hydrating mask feels.

After my first application, my skin was still itchy and broken out, but definitely more moisturized. I think the hydrating and the overall cooling sensation makes this mask a success.

24K Gold Mask Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask

Gold mask
IMG_0639

“The ultimate luxurious anti-aging treatment, infused with pure 24K gold and colloidal gold, to help lift and firm skin, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and impart an opulent glow.”

This is the most expensive mask in the bunch, so I had high expectations for this. At least the product itself looks gorgeous in the pot. The instructions say to apply this to clean skin and leave it on for 5-10 minutes. Then, rinse it off with warm water. You can use this 2-3 times per week or “as desired.”

To be perfectly honest, I’ve only used this mask once. I used the applicator to apply it and I couldn’t tell if it was too thin or thick, or if it was even. I didn’t feel anything on my skin. The mask looks really cool on because it’s shiny, but it didn’t seem to set into the skin. It just remained a wet layer of goo on my face. But on the plus side, it has a very subtle scent that basically smells like nothing. I hate when my face feels wet and my nose is being invaded with an overwhelming scent.

This mask is difficult to get off. It is very thick and serum-like, and it felt like the water was running down the mask instead of taking it off. Afterwards, my skin didn’t look much different. I noticed that the bumps and redness looked a little worse right away.

Someday I might try this again with a thinner layer, but I was so underwhelmed the first time that I haven’t been able to convince myself to pick it back up.

Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer

Pumpkin mask
Product

“This powerful and highly effective exfoliating treatment addresses a dull, aging, and congested complexion in three ways: exfoliates with pumpkin enzyme, peels with alpha hydroxy acid, and polishes with aluminum oxide.”

This mask has a combination of physical and chemical exfoliation, which I always worry will be too harsh for most people. Of course, the first thing I did was check the pH level to know if it’s actually effective as an AHA exfoliator, and the brand’s website claims it’s low enough to work.

So, I was ready to give this a shot. The instructions say to apply a thin layer to clean skin and gently massage it in a circular motion with wet fingertips. Then, leave it on for 3-7 minutes and rinse thoroughly. You can use this 1-2 times per week.

The first thing I noticed about this mask is that the texture is unique. There wasn’t any product stuck to the inner lid, which means this is more of a gel texture than a cream. Then, I noticed that this smells like pumpkin pie, which is delicious.

I tried applying the mask with the applicator but ended up applying too much. I was able to even it out when I rubbed it in with my fingers, as instructed. It was wetter to apply than expected, so I’m a little confused by the instruction to wet your fingertips to rub it in.

This mask has a very fine grit. This made it feel a bit harsher as I rubbed it in because it was scrubbing up every single pore. I tried to leave it on for as long as I could, but it hurt, so at 4 minutes I gave up. It felt cold, but also like my skin was burning. Not good.

I used cool water to rinse this off, hoping it would help with the burning. It wasn’t easy to get off, which was unfortunate. I made a mess in my sink, and some of the gritty pieces were left behind after a good couple minutes of rinsing. I finished my skincare for the night with some hydrating serum and moisturizer, and the next day my skin looked smooth, albeit a bit red on my cheeks. This did seem to exfoliate, after all. But was it worth it?

Yeah… No. I’m never putting this on my face again.

I did give this mask a second chance on my legs, and it went much better. I think it helped with any ingrown hairs around my knees, and it did a great job exfoliating. But, those nasty gritty pieces took forever to rinse off the floor of my shower. I’m glad I have a use for this so the product doesn’t go to waste, but I’m not going to lie, the extra cleanup is annoying.

Final Thoughts

This set is probably going to get wildly different reviews based on personal preference. For me, I prefer the two low-key hydrating masks to the rest of the set. But I can get so many other hydrating masks that are cheaper and cruelty-free, so I won’t be purchasing these again.

You can probably tell by now that the wording on these products kills me. It’s full of science-y words that aren’t always accurate, and it’s inconsistent between products. For most people, this might not be a big deal, but UGH I’m a writer and I die a little inside when I catch massive companies pull shit like this.

But if you love masks and can get past the buzz words (or don’t read the packaging), and you don’t mind their cruelty-free status, one of these sets might be a fun “treat yourself” gift.

Have you tried any of these masks? What do you think?

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