Strawberry Scented Mask

I love re-reading the childhood letters I had exchanged with my friend Yulia. Here are two 12 year olds dispensing exercise tips, sharing lists of favorite books (The Thorn Birds with all of the sexy passages highlighted makes a frequent appearance) and offering beauty advice. “I tried a strawberry mask for the first time today,” mentions Yulia in one letter. As I got a little older, I too became a strawberry mask devotee. I remain one today. Summer is indelibly linked in my mind with the pink blush of strawberry juice on my cheeks.

strawberry-mask3

A strawberry mask is the simplest of beauty treatments. You take a large, juicy berry, break it in half and rub the juice generously all over your clean face and neck. Since you only use the juice, the mask won’t slide off, and you can carry on with your morning preparations. Leave it for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have, and rinse off with cool water. Strawberries contain alpha-hydroxy acids that exfoliate skin gently, and the mask brightens and softens the skin. The best part is that it smells heavenly, and since I usually do my face treatments in the morning, the jolt of floral strawberry perfume feels especially rejuvenating.

The simple version described above is great for busy mornings, but whenever I have more time or want a richer effect, I mash strawberries into a thick paste. I layer it over my cleansed face, cover it with muslin or a plain sheet mask* and lie down for 15-20 minutes. Then, I rinse the mask off and follow with my usual skincare–Vitamin C serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. This version of the mask is messier, but it makes my skin glow.

Unless you have allergies to strawberries, the mask is gentle enough to be done weekly. During the strawberry season I usually do it every day for a week and then repeat twice a month. The basic idea inspires plenty of variations. For instance, you can mix mashed strawberries with rosewater (2 strawberries, 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater) for a soothing mask that will benefit combination skin. If you have dry skin, add heavy cream or a few drops of almond oil, while those with oily skin might like the blend of strawberries and yogurt.

strawberry-mask

Another indulgent pairing is with orange blossom water (1/2 teaspoon for two large berries is enough). The distillate is a great skin tonic, and it has a lush aroma of bitter orange flowers. When combined with strawberries, it becomes even sweeter, warmer and more floral. Since the sensory aspect of skincare is just as important as everything else, this combination is one of my favorites. I might even splash on Annick Goutal Néroli, Jo Malone Orange Blossom or Atelier Cologne Grand Néroli for emphasis. Even weekday mornings feel better with such a start.

*Plain sheet masks are cotton sheets with cut outs for mouth, eyes and nose. They come untreated and you can use them for any mask or facial pack treatment. I described them in some detail in A Day of Beauty and Scents.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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62 Comments

  • rainboweyes: I’m currently using the deep black coloured Vestige Verdant Face Mask with peat, so a bright red mask would be a nice alternative 🙂
    My kids will love it!
    I have to try it before the strawberry season ends… July 15, 2015 at 7:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I can just imagine that! 🙂

      Since you’re our beauty guru here, have you tried any interesting new products lately? I’m planning to order those Latvian and Lithuanian brands you recommended earlier, now that I’m back. July 15, 2015 at 2:18pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: Oh, I think I’m more an organic niche skincare nerd than beauty guru 😉

        I’ve been using a skincare line based on birch sap (the aloe vera of the North, as they call it) for a couple of weeks now and I really love it! The brand is Mia Höytö and it comes from Finland http://www.miahoyto.com/en/index.html

        My next “project” 😉 will be exploring the Antipodes brand from New Zealand. Their Aura Manuka face mask is one of my top favourites, now I’m eager to try their other products. Not that I’m influenced by names but the have such fascinating names as Hallelujah, Apostle, Worship, Hosanna and Resurrect 🙂
        http://www.naturisimo.com/searchresults.cfm

        I’ve also heard of an interesting brand from Russia – Natura Siberica – but I’m not sure if I’d like to buy anything from Russia now. On the other hand I think the concept of sustainable organic skincare is worth supporting, no matter where it comes from. The products look very interesting anyway: http://www.naturasiberica.ru/en/ July 16, 2015 at 11:22am Reply

        • Victoria: You had me at birch sap. Their serum and body cream look especially good, and if I read the ingredient list correctly, the formulation is interesting.

          The New Zealand brand also looks very tempting. July 16, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

          • rainboweyes: I haven’t tried their body cream but the Lumous serum is great! July 16, 2015 at 4:16pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m definitely curious to try them out. July 17, 2015 at 11:18am Reply

  • Michaela: How cute, the 12 years old girl trying strawberry mask 🙂 These letters must be a treasure.
    Thank you for the tips! I always thought strawberry mask is not for dry skin, and avoided it. I love its simplicity above all.
    Those neroli colognes you mentioned seem gorgeous together with the mask, great idea! July 15, 2015 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: The letters are so funny. Reading them, I can see that I have always had a predilection for lists, and they are filled with my “top 10 favorites”–books, places, recipes, etc. I guess this is why blogging came so easily to me. 🙂

      Strawberries are acidic, so one should try a patch test first (but this goes for any new skincare). But if you add cream or oil, it’s a totally different effect. Very luxurious. July 15, 2015 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Jillie: So sweet – your memories of your childhood friend are something to treasure.

    I read recently that strawberries make a good tooth whitener. You mash one up with some bicarbonate of soda and brush your teeth with the mixture and don’t rinse for ten minutes. I haven’t tried it – too tempted to eat the juicy berries to do anything else with them! July 15, 2015 at 9:34am Reply

    • Michaela: Take care, Jillie, please. The strawberry juice is so acid that could attack teeth enamel in 10 minutes… that’s a long time. The soda bicarbonate is probably recommended to rise the pH and so neutralize the juice acidity, but I think it’s not so easy to find the correct proportion. July 15, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

      • Jillie: Thanks for the warning, Michaela! I haven’t tried it yet and now won’t bother – I will stick to eating them. July 15, 2015 at 10:34am Reply

        • Michaela: Enjoy! 🙂 July 15, 2015 at 10:37am Reply

          • Aurora: Jillie/Michaela: I so enjoyed your exchange, Bois de Jasmin is such a caring community and both of you are always so nice when you comment here. All my best. July 15, 2015 at 1:38pm Reply

            • Michaela: Aurora, I think BdJ is one of the most interesting and relaxing places on Earth 🙂 All my best to you, too. July 16, 2015 at 3:49am Reply

              • Victoria: You guys make it so! Thank you. 🙂 July 16, 2015 at 3:15pm Reply

            • Jillie: Aurora – thank you! It is indeed a lovely community and I am so glad I discovered it. July 16, 2015 at 4:00am Reply

      • Victoria: I was also thinking that soda bicarbonate may not be good for tooth enamel in the long run. It’s effective but damaging. July 15, 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: For each other’s weddings we made books of letters photocopied and bound. They’re a treasure, for sure. July 15, 2015 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Trudy: This sounds delicious and I am going to try it today (with an essential oil as I have a tendency towards dry skin)! I, too, have been using masks since I was a young girl and have always been fascinated by beauty treatments (both store bought and home made). I love the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask but at 17.00 per use, I reserve those for very special occasions (although I can usually get two or three uses out of each mask if I am careful). I also love the Fresh Black Rose sleeping mask as well as the Bliss Oxygen Mask. But my first love are these types of home remedies. When I moved into my current home I found an old newspaper clipping with the following recipe taped to the inside of a kitchen cupboard. It’s called the “Elizabeth Arden Lush Lemon Facial”…mix 1 teaspoon honey, 1 egg yoke, 3 drops of lemon and apply to face for 20 minutes. Rinse and wait one day then mix 1 tablespoon each of oatmeal and honey, 3 drops lemon juice and water. Apply for 20 minutes and rinse. Skin is exfoliated, smooth and soft! I have since repainted all my cupboards but carefully re-taped the clipping to it’s original position…I wanted to keep the feeling of finding a little treasure in my new house. Thank you for these beauty tips. They brighten the day and give me something to look forward to trying! July 15, 2015 at 10:14am Reply

    • Michaela: I also have dry skin. Almond oil (see the recommendation for dry skin) is perfect to combine strawberry juice with.
      I wouldn’t try any essential oil on my face mask, as far as I know, even the mildest essential oils are not recommended directly on skin, not to mention the face. July 15, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

      • rainboweyes: I actually use essential oils on my face, diluted in oil, of course (2-4 drops per 100ml). Some essential oils have a calming effect on irritated skin – e.g. vanilla, rosemary and immortelle. You have to be careful if you have sensitive skin, though. July 15, 2015 at 11:13am Reply

        • Victoria: I only tried immortelle hydrosol, but I loved its effect on my skin. July 15, 2015 at 2:27pm Reply

          • Austenfan: And the smell is great as well! July 15, 2015 at 5:42pm Reply

            • Victoria: One of the best parts! 🙂 July 16, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

        • Michaela: The dilution ratio you mention is safe, indeed. July 16, 2015 at 3:11am Reply

          • Victoria: Safe and you will still get a nice aroma. July 16, 2015 at 3:28pm Reply

      • Trudy: You are right…almond oil it is. July 15, 2015 at 12:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: Almond oil is one of the most versatile oils for skincare. I also use it instead of cream or lotion after my bath. July 15, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a wonderful discovery! I would keep it too. I had a less exciting find, but I bought a used book from France recently, and when I opened it, I found a newspaper cut out from the 70s with different recipes for using flowers in beauty. I enjoyed it as much as the book itself.

      You can use olive oil or any other vegetable oil too. July 15, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Lynley: Strawberries! What a lovely idea. They’re just beginning to come into season here so I’ll have to try it.
    I often do the same with pawpaw, as they’re full of enzymes. I remember starting to do this on a holiday to Bali several years ago. I always head for the tropical fruit when I get there, and particularly pawpaw as the enzymes can help counter balance gut bacteria and reduce one’s chances of Bali belly. I saw some local women across the road from the hotel with dozens and dozens of pawpaws just brought into town to sell, so I went and bought one. It was massive and cost me all of about 5cents (one half the size would be $5 here!). When my friend and I could eat no more we mashed some up and smeared it on our faces, hoping we wouldnt turn orange! Lol.
    Must be some subconscious recognition of their benefits in the urge to smother one’s face with fruit! 🙂 July 15, 2015 at 11:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I used to do pawpaw (papaya) masks a lot, and yes, they’re effective and the difference is instant. One mustn’t overdo it, because the enzymes in papaya are powerful, but once in a while, it’s a great exfoliating mask. July 15, 2015 at 2:28pm Reply

      • Katherine: Darn – I just threw out an overripe paw-paw that would’ve been fine for a facial. I won’t do that again… Also love your simple strawberry juice facial! Simple is the operative word here – will start this easy regimen right away. July 15, 2015 at 3:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s such a great fruit for masks. Well, next time you can try it! July 16, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Lynley: Oh, and my friend Julie and I also did the same with The Thorn Birds. Father Ralph de Bricassart.. sigh… 😉 July 15, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I also remember that scene of Mary’s seventy-fifth birthday party when Ralph avoids Meggie dressed gorgeous in a gown of ashy rose. Ever since I read about that gown, I have been fantasizing about an ashy rose dress. I still do. 🙂 July 15, 2015 at 2:34pm Reply

      • Lynley: Yes! I still call that colour Ashes of Roses, and still have a yearning for it too. July 15, 2015 at 8:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: I organized my closet not long ago, and I noticed that I have a few pieces in that shade. Clearly, the early childhood influences are still strong. July 16, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Aurora: Such a treat, one of your beauty recipe post! I never thought of using strawberries for the face before and limited myself to cucumber for the eye area, thank you so much for describing so well the various combinations possible according to skin type and the best aroma. It is soft fruit season in the UK and strawberries are plentiful and delicious at the moment, and as I have some I will make the full mask this evening and give myself twenty minutes. Lovely photos too, thank you, Victoria! July 15, 2015 at 11:28am Reply

    • Aurora: And I can just imagine you and your friend Yulia exchanging letters, discoveries seem so urgent at that age as if somehow we feel more pressed for time the younger we are. How sweet that you swapped beauty recipes, even though your 12-year old skins must have hardly needed any. July 15, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: My mom and grandmother took care of their skin, and they had books with recipes for masks and different treatments. As a child, I didn’t use any of it, of course, but I copied them into my little notebook diligently. I still have these notes. Today I was flipping through it and found an apricot-milk-honey mask, which I really want to try. July 15, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can also mix strawberries and cucumber for exfoliation and radiance (cucumber masks are excellent for skin, soothing, brightening, mild). It’s such an easy way to pamper yourself. You can even do this during your bath. July 15, 2015 at 2:37pm Reply

  • DelRae: Very sweet post…. LOL at the Thorn Birds mention… a teen favorite of mine as well. July 15, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Ah, the days of reading The Thorn Birds surreptitiously. July 15, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Katherine: Me too 🙂 July 15, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Elie: I love this post! I’m going to try the mask tonight since I have strawberries at home. July 15, 2015 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you like it, Elie! July 15, 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

  • Katherine: Magnificent photos – you’ve outdone yourself. July 15, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Katherine! July 16, 2015 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Katherine: Wonderful suggestion! Mom and I just did your strawberry rub mask. I can see the difference already and I promise it’s not my imagination. It’s especially apparent on my Mom. Her skin is glowing after only one treatment. Maybe it’s something to do with her age (she’s a young 84)? We plan to do this daily for the next week (while I visit). My 13 year old son wants to try it as well. He was concerned at first that we would use all the strawberries that he wanted to eat!!! As it happened – we used just one. Thanks for sharing another healthy, refreshing and aromatic routine! July 15, 2015 at 4:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear both of you liked it (and even managed to tempt a teen to do a mask). 🙂 If you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to do once or twice a week first and then build up. I usually do this with all new skincare to make sure my skin gets accustomed to the new products or masks. Enjoy it! July 16, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

      • Katherine: Thanks Victoria. And not only was Jacques tempted – he enjoyed his first mask – smiling from ear to ear. So fun – it was lovely. What we do for mom:) And thanks for your good advice on starting out slowly. Makes perfect sense. July 16, 2015 at 11:18pm Reply

        • Michaela: The smile on the masked face of your boy cries pictures! 🙂 July 17, 2015 at 3:04am Reply

          • Katherine: It does! Next time… July 17, 2015 at 9:17am Reply

          • Victoria: I was thinking the same thing. 🙂 July 17, 2015 at 11:14am Reply

        • Victoria: Your comment really made my day. Thank you, of course, for trying the mask, and above all, for sharing such a wonderful story. I bet your mother enjoyed the sight of Jacques covered in strawberries. How sweet! July 17, 2015 at 11:18am Reply

          • Katherine: So glad Victoria. And yes, it was a happy time indeed. July 17, 2015 at 11:17pm Reply

  • Jaime: I love reading your skincare posts — they remind me to include small pleasures into my day-to-day routine. A strawberry mask sounds lovely — I shall try it out tonight.

    PS– what vitamin C serum do you use? July 15, 2015 at 6:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I use Auriga Flavo C, which is sold at all Belgian pharmacies. It’s a reasonably priced brand, and the quality is stellar. July 16, 2015 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Dee: I recently found out that I’m allergic to strawberries, which is a bit ironic because they’re one of my favorite fruits. I’ll still have to try this (can’t resist,) but maybe just in moderation 🙂 July 16, 2015 at 7:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is what I found with cantaloupes. I love them, but lately I started getting a sore throat after eating even a small bit. Strange how these things get developed. But I’m ok with melons and watermelons. On the other hand, if you develop allergies to something, repeated exposure often makes things worse, so do be careful. I’m sorry to hear about it. July 17, 2015 at 11:20am Reply

  • Gentiana: Thank you for remembering me on the strawberry mask… I totally forgot it this year… And here, by us, strawberry season is over… But the big melon-cantaloupe-apricot and peach season is in 🙂
    I will definitely reserve at least an hour this week-end for a good homemade skincare and pampering session 🙂 July 17, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Cantaloupe mask is another wonderful one. It’s especially good for dry and sensitive skin, and it also smells great. A splash of Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese would complement it perfectly. July 17, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

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