One of my biggest skin concerns personally? Uneven skin tone. It plagues me every time I look in the mirror: a combination of redness, a few dark spots and some lingering melasma. When New York dermatologist Shereene Idriss, MD—you probably know her as “Pillowtalk Derm” on social—told me she was launching a skin-care line aimed at treating these issues, I knew I was in for a treat. Thankfully I got my hands on some lab samples a few weeks ago because the products all sold out in pre-sale (you can get on the waitlist), and I’ve been loving the PillowtalkDerm Major Fade Flash Mask. Here’s why.
My Skin Type:
Combination. I’m drier in the cold-weather months and oilier in the warm-weather ones thanks to the high humidity on the East Coast.
Step One in the three-step Major Fade System, this resurfacing mask was in development for the past two years, and is a “combination of exfoliating acids—glycolic acid, lactic acid and tranexamic acid—all of which work toward brightening your skin by gently exfoliating the superficial layer, followed by attacking the melanocyte to calm it down,” Dr. Idriss says. “The purpose of this mask is to deliver a fresh base for everything else to come.”
What’s meant to come next is Steps Two and Three of the System, which include a brightening gel moisturizer and milky brightening serum, but you can purchase and use any of them solo. “Though each one of these products brings their A-game on their own, as a whole, it’s a powerhouse trio,” the dermatologist adds.
The mask is backed by science, clinically tested, fragrance-free (her followers voted on social without knowing anything about the product, and said they didn’t want fragrance), allergy-tested and cruelty-free. It also works on all skin types and tones, though those with sensitive skin may want to do a patch test first because it does tingle (more on that below).
For those who know Dr. Idriss, she hates droppers and jars that you have to stick your fingers into every time you use the product, so she chose to house the mask in a pump tube instead, which I love. “It comes in an opaque pump because you do not want this product to degrade underneath the light and become weaker over time. It also minimizes any oxygen it gets constantly exposed to.”
Glycolic acid, lactic acid, tranexamic acid and glycerin
How to Use It:
You can use it up to three times a week (at night only) on clean, dry skin. You only need a thin layer to cover your face (more is not better with this formula), which for me was about three pumps. You can leave it on up to 15 minutes, but to be safe, I started with five the first time and then worked up to 10, but that seems to do the trick for my skin just fine. Then rinse it all off with water, and if you have Steps Two and Three, you can follow with those, but if not, follow with your usual serum and moisturizer (they will penetrate so well after this mask!).
Be sure to use sunscreen the next morning because like any acid-rich mask, it may increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun exposure. Dr. Idriss also points out that it is possible to over-exfoliate your skin, so if you’re using this mask, you don’t need to use any other acid-based exfoliants. Additionally, she advises that if you use retinol, don’t use this and retinol on the same night.
What It Feels Like:
A refreshing gel that spread really well on my skin (I used a mask brush from another brand, and any skin-care brush would work, or just your fingers of course). It started tingling about 30 seconds after I applied it—a pretty decent tingle—but Dr. Idriss says that’s perfectly normal. “The tingling lasts a few minutes, and over time [as you use it], your skin will tingle less because your skin will have adjusted to the pH of the acids.” This does not mean, however, that it’s no longer working, so remember that if it happens to you.
The Bottom Line:
This acid-based resurfacing mask is the real deal for tackling hyperpigmentation and creating the perfect canvas for your other skin-care products to dive in and work their magic. If you want your skin to glow, and you like to feel your products working, this is for you.
Price/Where to Buy: