Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

The most ironic part of all of this is that I am extremely freaked out by “acid peels,” or “acid” and “peels,” in general—unless we’re talking fruit peels, in which case I’m just usually in hot pursuit of a trash receptacle (and yes, I know that’s where the vitamins are, in the peel. I’m not eating an orange peel for vitamins, okay? Not right now. Put it in a Vitamix and then maybe we’ll talk). While I have always thought of myself as something of a quick study (whatever that means), I have never quite considered myself to be on par with someone who works with chemicals for a living, and especially not someone who mixes chemicals destined for people's faces. People whose faces are valued so very highly that they’re paying to have chemicals applied to them. See what I’m saying? I don't think I'm so swell that I can pick that up in an aisle at Sephora. So, the fact that I am not only discussing the Ren Gylcol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask but recommending it as an “I heart”? It's distinctly out of character. But here’s the thing: maybe it isn't? I am slowly becoming obsessed with skincare, and there’s only so many times that I can hear a brand be touted on this website, by the likes of Sophie Pera and Kate Young no less, So, I listened. And the result? Two Jin Soon-manicured (in Nostalgia, if you’re wondering— it’s the perfect warm pinky-beige) thumbs up.

As is usual for Ren, the mask is free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances/dyes, and petrochemicals and is recommended for use once a week. The packaging is also ingenious: the pump disperses exactly how much mask you need for one application, so no guessing games required (always a relief to the amateur self-facialist) and the tube is transparent, so you can see how much product is left. I space it out, but tend to slap some on once every ten days or so, when I feel like my skin is looking dry, tired, congested, or just a little dull. The mask is a four-acid complex (lactic, glycolic, tartaric, and citric) and uses a papaya-derived enzyme to gently—the most zing you feel is a slightly stinging tingle—exfoliate your face in around 10-15 minutes, after which you wipe it off with a damp face cloth. It leaves you with what during the colder months in this city seems like an impossibly tall order: a happy, healthy brightness, with no awkward post-treatment redness or irritation. All of which is to say, I’m a fan.

—Alessandra Codinha

Photo by Elizabeth Brockway

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  • Becca @ The Beauty Sample

    I have been wanting this for years and FINALLY acquired a bottle last week. I slapped it on my face as soon as it was out of the box and am in love. There was definitely a glow to my face afterwards and my pores (which are ginormous) were visibly minimized. I can tell we're going to be great friends, this mask and I :)

  • azrakun

    Hmm... I've started doing natural exfoliation at a skincare place last year. I've done couple of years. I am still abit scared of it. Maybe I should try this out - plus it's so much cheaper to do it at home...


    I use this once a week & receive weekly compliments on how great my complexion looks -- usually always the day after using it, heh. ^ ^

    {And it's actually on my face now !!}

  • jjlourve

    Masks are fun I'm just not sure this Ren one did anything for me.. Smells great though. I prefer Peter Thomas Roth Radiance Oxygenating Masque for noticable results.

  • Carrie_Pichel

    I bought this about a year ago at Barney's and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen ever since. I have insanely sensitive skin (so needless to say I stear clear of any type of "chemicals" or "peels" basically anything that sounds like I should have an M.D. present while using it) but using this along with my Aesop regimen has done wonders for my face! If I feel a blemish coming on or have some blotchy areas I'd like to disappear I'll use this mask and literally the second I rinse it off and apply my moisturizer my skin looks clear and
    fresh. And the next morning - that blemish that was just waiting to appear -
    gone. No joke. This product is worth every penny.

  • fairytalesandcoffee

    I am one of those individuals who is not afraid of acids or peels. I require them to cut through the oil, and release accumulated dead skin cells that dulls the skin. If your skin is resistant, aggressively oily and acne-prone like mine is, you may want to pass on the REN glycolactic and go for something a bit stronger. This felt like room temperature applesauce on my skin. Pricey for little effect if you requrie more strength in your products.

    • lily

      any suggestions?

      • fairytalesandcoffee

        Depends on what your skin can handle - A product doesn't have to be labeled a "peel" in order to have the same effect. If you want a simple glycolic peeling agent that won't necessarily penetrate pores, Neostrata makes Gel Plus, which is a 15% glyco gel, best for more resistant skin. They also created Bionic Lotion with polyhydroxy acid, which is less irritating and drying than the glyco but is more moisturizing. I use both. Bionic better suited for winter, while the Gel Plus can be used year round on super oily, resistant skin. For hardcore peeling MD forte makes Face Lotion III which I think has 15 or 20% glyco, best for super oily, resistant skins. This stuff is awesome but you have to be judicious and not use it too often. B.Kamins makes Lactic 10 which uses lactic acid to peel the skin, supposedly more gentle but this stings my skin when I am using retinoids, so I can't use any other peeling/exfoliating agent when I use it. If you are looking for something with the fruity mush like consistency of REN - Mychelle has a Cranberry Peel which is ALOT STRONGER. Arcona also has the Raspberry peel which is MUCH STRONGER. But if you want something that exfoliates the skin AND CLEARS out the pores at the same time (also CHEAP-ISH) derma e exfoliating mask with fruit enzymes and dead sea salt. This will PURGE your skin and exfoliate it at the same time. I've gone through two bottles, recently bought my third in the new revamped packaging. Soft, creamy white mask that can be left for hours. If your skin is very resistant and oily/acne prone - you can use a glyco - lotion to exfoliate for about 15 min to an hour, wash off and then add the derma E mask for purging pores. All of the best best for oily skin with more resistant skin....Whatever you use, figure out a balance. If you go hardcore with treatments you have to go really gentle with cleansers/moisturizers. Hope something here sounded interesting.

    • Nina

      Hear that! I must say I'm disappointed with this REN peel. I was hoping it'd be super effective on my oily, congested skin but after three uses I don't get what the hype is all about. I'd really love some other recommendations for my skin type to battle those stubborn whiteheads?

      • fairytalesandcoffee

        Forgot, if your skin can handle it MD forte Level II or III cleansers which contains 10-15% glycolic acid is really great on oily, congested skin - it has a ton of reviews on certain webstores and will make ANY product you put on your skin more effective because it degreases your skin WITHOUT drying it out. I find some drugstore products with lower concentration of acids, more drying than the MD Forte.

        • Nina

          thanks a lot, i'll keep these names in mind. that derma e mask sounds really interesting. i'll choose "purging" over "radiance" any day.

          • fairytalesandcoffee

            derma e does glycolic cleansers and toners too that aren't as strong as the MD forte but would pair well with the mask since its from the same brand that can speed up removal of dark spots left behind from acne.

  • Sindhu R.

    Yeah, anything that sounds at all "science-y" I run from. I want to use just natural oils locally harvested if possible but your review is convincing. My only thing is the word "brightening". I never know what that means. In India, where I am from, brightening is about getting fairer skin but here in the states it seems to be about anti-aging. I'm only 22 so "brightening" isn't as important to me as "hydrating". Still recommend?

    • ITGAlessandra

      Hi! Yes, still recommend, as I think in this case "brightening" is not "whitening" as much as "increasing radiance" by sloughing off dead skin cells. This is not, however, really a hydrating mask as much as a clarifying mask. If you're looking for a hydrating mask, well, STAY TUNED is all I can say about that (ahem, ahem, come back tomorrow). xx

  • renaphuah

    been using this for a while, works well on my sensitive acne-prone skin x

  • Aparnaa

    This is the best, best, best mask I have ever used. It's so good. When I scrub it off, I look like I've been working out in the most positive way - flushed glowing skin. I'm cheap as crap, and I plan on rebuying this until I'm old and gray. EXCELLENT.

  • Loni

    Some masks I feel do not do anything, but this one by Ren is such a good one, it really does brighten. Several years ago I got chemical peels once a month, and never experienced extreme irritation after. Then once during the summer months I got one, maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the humidity but my face literally peeled off (this had never happened before) and this was right before a big job interview, calling this a disaster does not even capture what my face looked like, flakes were falling off my face during my interview. So I feel you on being weary of "acid peels,” or “acid” and “peels,” in general." I love the Ren one, its gentle but works, but I'm really in love with this one by Pangea Organics, I never really thought masks without peeling properties could do anything substantial until I tried this one. Seriously.
    Check it out:

  • yslin

    This is one of my staples in my skincare regimen! I have combination skin and this is gentle and really works. I use it about twice a month. Just before "that time of the month," when I get all hormone-y, and I suddenly start to get lots of new pimples, I slap this on for 15mins...and my skin calms back down to normal the next day. I also love the papaya smell!

  • kimberlyloc

    This is one of my favorite masks! I LOVE the scent of it, too — a great citrusy smell. The consistency is also awesome. Definitely a 1x a week luxury :)

  • Patricia

    The Upper House, the most fabulous hotel in Hong Kong, puts sample sizes of this and other REN products in their guest bathrooms. I was sold on this mask after trying it on my jet-lagged face. I don't use it very often, so I'm still eking out the last squeezes from my second sample tube. Will definitely buy the full size when I'm out. This and the SK-II mask are the best at-home treatments, in my experience.

  • nikki

    I love this mask! I have skin that is oily, sensitive, and prone to discoloration. This mask is pretty much the harshest thing I put on my face and it is wonderful! I find it leaves my skin with a flushed glow as if I had been exercising. I uses it once every 7-10 days and I love the result. It is expensive but I don't regret buying it.


REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask