Kose Medicated Sekkisei Clear Whitening Mask Review

The YS Beauty Lab

Clay masks, bubbly carbonated masks, hydrogel masks, regular sheet masks, sleeping packs — I’ve tried them all. However, this is the first time I’m using a peel-off mask. I never would have considered this a few years ago, owing to my acne-prone complexion. But now that my skin has improved, the brightening benefits of Kose’s Medicated Sekkisei Clear Whitening Mask appealed to me. I still have residual PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) so anything that promises to fade those marks is worth looking into!

Black and White

A black mask that whitens? Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? The Medicated Sekkisei Clear Whitening Mask is actually a black liquid mask, made with nano-sized black powder and infused with a Vitamin C derivative (citric acid) and angelica extracts for brightening. Its other ingredients include Chinese quince extract for sebum control as well as Job’s Tears (coix seed), goldthread and peony extracts, among others.

Image from Kose Singapore

As for the word “medicated” in the product’s name, I discovered that most brightening/whitening products (“bihaku”) in Japan are classified as “quasi-drugs” due to certain government regulations. Japanese beauty blogger RatzillaCosme explains how bihaku products work, what they don’t do, and a list of ingredients that provide those whitening benefits approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare (MHLW). Joan over at kinseng.org also wrote a very helpful post about the different cosmetic standards of the USA, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China.

(Left) Blogger RatzillaCosme’s very helpful post on Japanese whitening products while Joan at Kinseng.org has a useful guide about different countries’ cosmetic standards.

All the Peels!

The tube comes in the distinctive blue shade of Kose’s Sekkisei line with characters written in white, creating an overall impression of coolness and serenity, along with classic Japanese minimalism. Instead of the usual round hole for dispensing the product, the mask comes with a nozzle that allows greater control on how much you want to use. A screw-on cap instead of a flip cap also prevents product from being wasted.

The product itself is surprisingly watery, very much unlike the usual peel-off nose packs I’ve tried before. It takes me several gentle squeezes to get a good amount that covers my entire face, especially since the fluid is quite runny. My first try ended in failure since I slathered on a very thin layer. Instead of peeling it off, I just rinsed it from my skin. My succeeding attempts were a little more successful. I slathered the black liquid all over my face, trying to avoid my eyebrows and paying close attention to the nose area, forehead, chin and jawline.

Left: My first attempt. Second attempt: SUCCESS!

Some Caveats

This mask comes with a light, floral fragrance that I don’t find unpleasant since it dissipates quickly. If you’re sensitive to scents, this might not be for you. I also recommend applying this mask in a cool, dry environment, and on a freshly washed face. It’s sweltering here in Hong Kong, and when I did a patch test for this mask on my jawline, it just dripped down my neck due to the sweat. Icky, I know, but lesson learned. Now I use it only when the air-conditioner has cooled the room to an acceptable temperature.

Peeling off the mask itself proves tricky for me. I always have to remind myself to go slow and not tug too hard at the risk of ripping off skin and hair. So far, I haven’t managed to completely remove the mask in one go because I never applied a uniformly thick layer. It’s definitely fun to remove, though! Sometimes, I leave a “moustache” on and take a few selfies. I’ve also rocked some Frida Kahlo-esque brows, too. Skin care can be fun!

The aftermath

After rinsing off stubborn residue with warm water (a cleansing tissue will also do the trick), my skin does look a little smoother. Of course, I know not to expect instant results in just 30 minutes but my face doesn’t feel tight, tingly or itchy — just cleaner and perhaps a bit fresher-looking. Once-a-week usage also helps to keep my skin free of excess oil and any shallow blackheads or whiteheads. I also make sure to apply a hydrating toner right after to ensure that my skin doesn’t lose any more moisture.

At US$ 24.21 for an 80g tube, the Kose Medicated Sekkisei Clear Whitening Mask is a little pricey, but is certainly a gentle, non-irritating product that provides a nice pampering — and fun — experience with a touch of luxury.