Woman's face with molecules - concept design

Best Face Scrubs & Masks And How They Work

No need to trek to the spa or riffle through your refrigerator to make a DIY mask. High-tech + natural converge to make face scrubs and masks for home use with dramatic results. You also have plenty of choices on price and ingredients.

For a couple of dollars you can perk up tired eyes in 10 minutes with 24K gold masks. High potency and high end doesn't have to mean high price either. Obagi's luxurious Professional-C Microdermabrasion + Mask may last you months and provide dozens of treatments. Do the math and you'll see you're still only paying a couple of dollars per treatment. Other choice ingredients blended into anti-aging skincare treatments include oatmeal peptides, sea buckthorn fruit oil and ground coffee bean seeds.

On the subject of money...the best way to be fiscally responsible (and good to your body) is to use your skincare product correctly. It's important to know what ingredients they contain, how they work and the right way to use them.

How Skincare Ingredients Interact

Formulas are created so that ingredients complement, amplify (synergize) or buffer (tone down) one another. This also applies to other skincare products in your medicine cabinet. Just because your collection is packaged separately, it doesn't mean they don't interact. When you use them sequentially without allowing enough time between treatments, you could cancel them out or harm your skin. A longstanding example is the use of benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin. Benzoyl peroxide oxidizes tretinoin and may degrade its effects.

Tip: If you regularly use tretinoin (Retin A) before you go to sleep, skip it the night you use a facial scrub. Exfoliation exposes new delicate skin so it's best to let it rest a bit. Instead a soothing serum that boosts collagen production followed by a peptide-rich moisturizer would be a better choice after deep exfoliation.

Another option is to use your scrub in the morning but it depends on the ingredients. A coffee face and body scrub is great in your morning shower. The invigorating aroma of coffee is an obvious incentive.

A mask containing anti-aging vitamin C1 used before bed maximizes skin's overnight metabolic renewal process. Cell proliferation peaks at midnight and is lowest at noon.2

Regardless of the type of scrub you choose, stick to using it on your face only a few times a week and follow directions provided by your doctor and on the manufacturer label.

Coffee body scrub in jar

Physical Exfoliating Scrubs

A scrub that uses substances like ground coffee seeds, sea salt or crystals are examples of physical exfoliants. They create friction and debride dead skin and accumulated sweat, oil and makeup so they can be lifted away.

Use face and body scrubs containing the natural vasodilators caffeine and theobromine3 and you'll stimulate blood circulation and toxin release. Scrubs infused with mineral-rich Dead Sea salt that will deposit micronutrients for easy absorption. Wrap up your treatment and literally your body with a moisture sealing emollient like coconut oil.

Coffee is the most famous source of caffeine but cacao beans are also rich in the organic compound. Cacao beans bring additional interesting compounds to the mix.

quartz crystals shown with Obagi skincare product

Cacao Beans: Natural Source of Theobromine And Anandamide

Theobromine is a compound naturally found in plants. Among its notable effects on the body is to trigger the release of feel good neurotransmitters dopamine and anandamide. Anandamide, also known as the bliss molecule, is the first cannabinoid ever discovered in the body. Anandamide and other cannabinoids have been reported to boost immunity, and a small study showed anandamide inhibited hypertrophic scar formation.4

Hemp has made cannabinoids famous. Cacao beans, the source of chocolate, is rich in theobromine and is also the only food known to contain actual anandamide.

Chemical Exfoliating Treatments

Fruit enzymes, alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are examples of chemical exfoliants that remove the outer layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum. They are better left for cleansers or serums because scrubbing can irritate your skin.

Nanogold: Real Science

The infusion of retinol and collagen into 24K colloidal gold enhances their delivery deep into the dermis. Heavy research shows the possibility of using nanogold to transport cancer drugs5. A small study demonstrated the ability of colloidal nanogold to cross the blood brain barrier.6 It also exhibits natural antibacterial effects.7 When used in skincare, nanogold may help reduce and prevent acne flare ups.

Neutriherbs 24K gold face masks also contain oatmeal peptides and hyaluronic acid.

man relaxing during gold face mask treatment in bed

Microdermabrasion At Home!

Physical resurfacing of skin dates back to the 1500s BC. Ancient Egyptians smoothed skin by rubbing it with sandstone.8 You wouldn't think of something so harsh on your but pumice and volcanic rocks are great for removing calluses. The common denominator in all of these substances is quartz, the component of sand and silica. Differences lie in the form and size.

For home microdermabrasion, Obagi delivers a potent blend of ultra-fine silica crystals and 30% vitamin C plus sea buckthorn (Hippophaes rhamnoides) fruit oil. Among their benefits, Vitamin C and sea buckthorn fruit oil are antioxidants that shield skin from damaging free radicals caused by UVA, UVB, blue light and environmental pollution.

How Skin Resurfacing Works

Crystals exfoliate and cleanse the top layer of your skin to loosen hard build up of sebum and bacteria stuck in hair follicles—two main causes of acne. The exfoliation clears the path for new skin cells to push their way to the surface and primes your skin to accept your Obagi skincare treatment.

Pure vitamin C seeps into your dermis to stimulate new skin cell growth and collagen production. Renewed collagen plumps up and thickens skin to fill in fine lines and repair damaged. Sea buckthorn fruit oil—naturally loaded with carotenoids—catalyzes9 and accelerates skin cell regeneration.

How To Use Obagi Professional-C Microdermabrasion + Mask

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are electrons that have become separated from molecules or atoms through a chemical change called oxidation. Once alone, the electrons are unsteady and search the body looking to join other electrons or steal one. Their actions of leaving and joining can create further instability and damage DNA.

What Do Antioxidants Do?

Antioxidants give up one of their electrons to balance damaging free radicals that are created from oxidation stress to the skin that causes premature aging (photoaging). Antioxidants are able to lose an electron without becoming unstable themselves! UVA, UVB, blue light and pollution are all strong triggers of oxidation and the creation of free radicals. Examples of weakening and darkening from oxidation include browning of apples and bananas as well as rust on metals.

How Antioxidants Brighten Skin

Potent antioxidants like vitamins C, A (retinol), E10 and sea buckthorn fruit oil lighten skin indirectly by limiting tyrosine oxidation, the first step in the production of melanin. Melanin is a molecule that gives skin, hair and eyes their natural color called pigment. Fewer melanin molecules = less pigment.

Vitamins C, E and non-prescription forms of vitamin A (retinol) are more gradual than hydroquinone, a prescription depigmenting product. Although you should always wear sunscreen, some antioxidants like Vitamin C and E protect skin from the sun. Retinol or prescription tretinoin and hydroquinone makes skin more sensitive to the UVB and UBA rays. Vitamin C may be blended with hydroquinone to buffer the sun's damaging potential.

Life Renewal From The Dead Sea

The thought that salt and mud from the Dead Sea are high in life-renewing properties may seem odd. At first glance, "dead" may conjure vision of decay but that's not the case at all. The famous "sea" (it's actually a lake) got its name due to the absence of plants or animals. Its high salinity makes it impossible for anything other than some fungi and bacteria to live.

Studies have shown that electrolytes bromide, calcium, magnesium and zinc were easily absorbed by the skin of subjects who bathed in the water.10 Scrubbing with the mineral concentrated salt thousands of miles away brings the same rewards.

package of black gel eye masks

Highlights of Dead Sea Salt And Mud

  • Significant source of zinc - Topical application can aid in wound healing and reduce inflammation.12
  • Rich in magnesium salts known for anti-inflammatory properties.11
  • Rich in magnesium bromide and magnesium chloride- shown to inhibit over proliferation of skin cells, a cause of psoriasis.11
  • Dead sea mud is rich in sulfur, which absorbs oil and kills bacteria,13 two main causes of acne.

Learn more about skincare ingredients and how to use them: Skin Care Power Trio: Tretinoin, Vitamin C And Hydroquinone.

Do you have an FSA or HSA savings account? Learn about the medications you may purchase with you tax-exempt earnings. MintRx is a 90% Rule merchant. You may use your FSA/HSA debit card for easy check-out or retain your receipts to submit to your benefits coordinator for reimbursement. Learn more.


1. Petruk, G., Del Giudice, R, et al. Antioxidants from Plants Protect against Skin Photoaging. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2018, Article ID 1454936, 11 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1454936 

2. Matsui MS, Pelle E, Dong K, Pernodet N. Biological Rhythms in the Skin. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;17(6):801. Published 2016 May 24. doi:10.3390/ijms17060801

3. Nehlig A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013;75(3):716-727. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x

4. Correia-Sá, I.B., Carvalho, C.M., et al. A new role for anandamide: defective link between the systemic and skin endocannabinoid systems in hypertrophic human wound healing. Sci Rep 10, 11134 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-68058-3

5 Yang, C., Bromma, K., et al. Gold nanoparticle mediated combined cancer therapy. Cancer Nano 94 (2018). https://cancer-nano.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12645-018-0039-3, 10(1):11134. Published 2020 Jul 7. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-68058-3

6. Sela, H., Cohen, H., Elia, P. et al. Spontaneous penetration of gold nanoparticles through the blood brain barrier (BBB). J Nanobiotechnol  13, 71 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12951-015-0133-1

7. Zhou Y, Kong Y, Kundu S, Cirillo JD, Liang H. Antibacterial activities of gold and silver nanoparticles against Escherichia coli and bacillus Calmette-Guérin. J Nanobiotechnology. 2012;10:19. Published 2012 May 6. doi:10.1186/1477-3155-10-19

8. Sharma M, Wakure A. Scar revision. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery. 2013;46(02):408-418. doi:10.4103/0970-0358.118621

9. Darvin ME, Sterry W, Lademann J, Vergou T. The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin. Molecules. 2011;16(12):10491-10506. Published 2011 Dec 16. doi:10.3390/molecules161210491

10. Nahhas A, Abdel‐Malek Z, Kohli I, Braunberger T, Lim H, Hamzavi I. The potential role of antioxidants in mitigating skin hyperpigmentation resulting from ultraviolet and visible light‐induced oxidative stress. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2018;35(6):420-428. doi:10.1111/phpp.12423

11. Baumann L. Dead Sea Minerals. Mdedge.com. https://www.mdedge.com/dermatology/article/5713/psoriasis/dead-sea-minerals. Published 2020. Accessed October 29, 2020.

12. Gupta M, Mahajan VK, Mehta KS, Chauhan PS. Zinc therapy in dermatology: a review. Dermatol Res Pract. 2014;2014:709152. doi:10.1155/2014/709152

13 Over-the-counter acne products: What works and why - Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/in-depth/acne-products/ART-20045814?p=1 Published 2020. Accessed October 29, 2020.

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