I have oily/combo skin that’s also sensitive to some products, so I’m always on the lookout for a good (and inexpensive!) face masque. Also, what’s more relaxing than a facial? And a good facial leaves you so glowy, you don’t feel the need for makeup.

(I actually lucked into this particular masque last month while shopping at a local grocery store—go figure, it’s very hard to find Queen Helene products around here, but I’d find it while out for bread and milk.)

Product: Queen Helene Grape Seed Extract Peel Off Masque
Price: $4
Claim: “Clears clogged pores, smooths facial lines, soothes and tones skin.” Contains antioxidants.

Queen Helene Grape  Seed Masque

I tried it: This was one of those products that I threw in my cart on a whim—heck, it’s a steal at $4—but didn’t really think much of while it sat on the bathroom counter. I’ve tried peel-off masques before and haven’t been terribly impressed with them, compared to other types of masques, so I wasn’t expecting anything stellar. (Spoiler alert: was I ever in for a surprise!)

I washed my face first with a salicylic acid scrub to cleanse and open up my pores, then applied the masque. First, be warned: if you don’t like the smell of grapes, you’re not going to enjoy this product. The smell isn’t overpowering, but it’s definitely there.

The masque had a very thick, gummy, almost glue-like consistency that made it a bit difficult to apply, and definitely had me wondering about the quality of the product. The bottle said to wait ten minutes before peeling off, so I waited…

…and wow, did my opinion of this product ever change from the moment I first opened the tube. I’ve tried peel-off masques that shred and have to be sloughed off, but this one lifted off almost as one entire piece, and didn’t leave any sticky residue behind. It’s important to wait until the masque has dried fully, or else it won’t peel off in one piece.

I followed up the masque with another gentle wash with an anti-acne gel cleanser and a warm washcloth, and rinsed very well before patting dry with a towel. (In my experience, a masque can bring a lot of gunk to the surface of your pores; so while I certainly didn’t need to wash away any bits of the masque, it’s a good idea to wash your face afterward anyway to make sure you’re 100% clean.)

The results: WOW, here’s where my expectations were blown away. I wish my camera had a better macro setting to show you the before-and-after difference on my face, because this grape seed masque left me looking practically poreless. In fact, my skin looked so smooth and clean, I didn’t even feel the need to apply primer or foundation before leaving the house.

Not only did my pores seem to disappear, my fine lines seemed softened, and my face looked much smoother and quite glowy overall. It felt firm, but not tight—a good sign the skin was thoroughly cleansed, but not left over-dry.

I’ve used this product multiple times since and every time, I’m impressed by just how wonderful this leaves my skin looking and feeling. I especially like using it before applying self-tanner, to make sure my skin is super-smooth and clean and I won’t have to worry about looking “dirty” or breaking out after a couple of days of using the tanning creme.

My conclusion: Some facial masques are only so-so, but this one completely exceeded my expectations and is an incredible bargain to boot. It’s definitely earned itself a place at the top of my “favorite products” list. If you’re a big fan of at-home facials or are on the lookout for something to tighten up those pores, then I can’t recommend this grape seed masque highly enough!

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