A Pumpkin Spice...Mask?


I recently overheard a Starbucks order that went like this: grande pumpkin spice latte, with two pumps of caramel, and, “don’t make it hot as you usually do.”

At first I was sort of horrified at the thought of the calories, but then I had to hand it to her—that was one masterfully specific order. This lady knows what she wants in life, and she’s going to get it. At least at Starbucks, the closest we can get to playing God.

Calling a PSL “basic,” and the fact that I can refer to it by acronym and you get what I mean, is pretty much passé at this point. They’ve been such a clichéd punchline to every basic caricature that we’ve begun to admit we kinda like pumpkin stuff, even if we’re being “ironic” about it. I had some pumpkin-flavored Puffins cereal sent to me at work lately (I have a weird job), and my coworkers gobbled them up like they were kibble, which they resemble in texture. There’s nothing to be ashamed of...it’s not like admitting you really love the flavor of kale. (We know you don’t.)

But whatever your pumpkin politics, cast them aside when it comes to your face, because it’s great for your skin. My new jam is Peter Thomas Roth’s Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, which smells straight up like Thanksgiving pie and doesn’t require turning the oven on, or learning how to bake, or my worst nightmare: having people over.

Here’s how it goes down:

After I hopped out of the shower, face clean and patted dry, I pulled my hair up in a towel and applied the mask with damp fingers, as instructed. You end up exfoliating your face for a bit, rubbing the mask—which has little “crystals” of aluminum oxide, in gentle circles—feeling the good burn. Then you wait for three to seven minutes. It goes on orangey-brown, so you resemble a reality TV star who got a Groupon for a streaky spray tan, or like yourself that time last year when you applied self tanner in the dark—it’s fun.

I wore it for the long side: enough time to put water on for coffee, feed the cat, upload the newspaper app on my iPad, peek out the window at two people yelling over a parking spot, and question every decision I’ve ever made about throw pillows as I do a quick scroll through Instagram. I rinsed my face with lukewarm water (hot water can dry you out), *very thoroughly, * as the instructions say, and towel off, waiting to see a new face.

Damn, still the same face.

It’s not red, but it’s a little tingly and tight—must be the enzymes. But what exactly is an enzyme?

Enzymes are things that quicken the natural chemical reactions of other things (like dead skin cells). “There are many types of enzymes,” Kate Somerville told me—her very popular, very beloved ExfoliKate has pumpkin, pineapple, and papaya (smells more like graham crackers than pie)— “fruit enzymes gently accelerate the chemical exfoliation process.” Because the surface of your skin is mostly dead skin cells, she added, those enzymes clear them out leaving *poof! * smooth baby face. If you have very sensitive skin, I’d recommend her ExfoliKate Gentle Exfoliating Treatment over the Peter Thomas Roth mask.

There are a few other masks out there made with fruit enzymes— Ole Henriksen's Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask is another I’ve tried (goes on very jelly and smooth), and Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub works, gently, by the same science. But Peter Thomas Roth’s mask has the most dramatic, peel-like effect. Oh, and pie effect, very important.

Reviewers on Sephora, who tend to be a happy bunch—handing out 5-stars like day-after discount Halloween candy—say the mask is effective for acne-prone skin, but let me know if you’re tried it in the comments. And I’ll admit, if you don’t like pumpkin pie, this mask isn’t for you. I hope you find something to fill that void in your life.

—Alex Beggs

Photographed by Tom Newton.

If reading this made you hungry, the recipe for our beauty food salad awaits you.