When we first got our shipment of Keep Cool products in our L.A. office, my first thought was, Oh, cute packaging! My second thought was, Another brand with cute packaging … and probably meh results.
Because tbh, we get a lot of those. And I was a tad bit jaded at this point.
But O. M. G. Was I wrong. Because this was one of those all-too-rare moments where style actually did meet substance. (And wow, is my
super-vain vanity happy.)
So let’s start with the sheet masks. Yeah. We’ve all fallen in love with the sheet masks here. Not only do they provide an immediate #shelfie upgrade (no filter necessary), they brighten my skin, give me a gorgeous glow, hydrate soooo well, and layer beautifully with all my other skincare.
Can we talk about the mask material first? It’s what they call “second skin” — sheer (purportedly thinner than the epidermis!) but not so thin so as to make it hard to smooth on your face. It’s certified hypoallergenic, is cut well (no oversized eye holes so that my lids and my under-eye area get some essence goodness), and clings like a freakin’ alien sucking the life force out of you. The essence is pleasingly bouncy and not at all sticky (a huuuuge make-it-or-break-it for me — you make the inside of my elbows stick and it’s over). And their ingredients? Try niacinamide (a personal HG) as the fourth ingredient in the Shine Mask, or the Ocean Mask with its ceramide NP, sodium hyaluronate, and half dozen botanical extracts. They’re just such good, solid, I-want-to-use-it-every-day masks.
But here’s the kicker, the secret weapon of Keep Cool’s masks (in fact, their entire line): the “Cool Keeper.” And yes, while it does sound like some nefarious underground British spy-turned-fixer, the Cool Keeper is actually a complex of three antipyretic herbs used in traditional Korean medicine to reduce temperature and inflammation. OK. So other than the obvious connection to the brand’s name, why is the Cool Keeper such an integral part of Keep Cool?
“Just like your body temperature, your skin has an ideal temperature,” says Erin S. Lee, CEO of Keep Cool. “The optimal temperature of the skin is 31 degrees Celsius (or 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit). As your skin temperature increases, more sebum is secreted, which can lead to clogged pores and acne. If your skin temperature increases significantly, your skin’s elasticity is affected and skin aging is accelerated.”
Uh … what?!
But apparently, it’s true. There’s a growing body of research that points to heat as a major cause of premature aging. Some studies suggest it can be as damaging to the skin as UV rays, even causing hyperpigmentation, especially in Asians, African Americans, and Latinas.
And don’t think just because the weather is cooling down that your skin is safe from heat. “During the winter, the temperature of the skin increases due to indoor heating, which causes various skin issues accompanied by dryness,” says Lee. “In addition, sudden environmental changes due to the difference in temperature between the indoors and outdoors can cause the skin to become more sensitive.”
It’s a genius move because in a world saturated with antioxidants, peptides, and acids, few are focusing on this growing research on thermal-related skin damage. And the fact that Keep Cool is all about lowering the skin’s temperature, whether it’s with their super soothing sheet masks, barrier-reinforcing cream (more on that later), or bi-phase mists, this sufferer of genetic Asian hyperpigmentation is DOWN.
Which brings me to my second favorite Keep Cool product: the facial mists.
When you look at these bi-phase facial mists, you’ll see that they have a darker layer floating at the top of the liquid. At first, we thought it was a dye (ew), but as far as I could tell there is no dye in the ingredients list. Turns out, this darker layer is an essential oil layer floating atop fresh water.
“With a water-based mist, the product starts evaporating almost immediately after spraying on the face, and it makes you feel drier,” says Lee — something I’ve always felt and suspected on my own skin. With its unique water and oil formulation, Keep Cool’s Fixence Mist not only addresses that issue but also acts as a makeup “fixer” (or setting spray) that doesn’t impart the usual “suffocating” feeling. “The fresh water layer provides moisture without feeling suffocating, while the nutrition oil layer provides a velvety finish to set makeup and hold moisture in the skin,” says Lee.
Now, you have to understand something about me. Unless I’m sweating in some Southeast Asian country in September (in which case, a dousing with a whole bucket of water would suit me fine), I generally am not a fan of facial mists. (I know, @sheryll, don’t hate me.) The reason is I’ve always felt that they made my skin feel drier. But then I discovered bi-phase mists — made up of oil and water — and they changed my whole perspective on mists. Bi-phase mists actually feel like I’m truly rehydrating my skin, not just spritzing water on it so that it can evaporate and leave me feeling even drier.
Even better, the Keep Cool Fixence Mist is great for touching up midday. When my base starts breaking up in my super oily chin area after lunch, all I have to do is blot the oil, spritz my face, and reapply my cushion. My base looks as fresh as it did that morning, which is something I’ve never been able to achieve from a touch-up before.
Oh, and my desk at the office is not unhappy about the infusion of some color, either.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my other fave Keep Cool product: The Soothe Phyto Greenpair Cream.
I’m so not picky when it comes to face creams for my dry cheeks. In fact, I find that usually any old cream will do because I do such a good job of layering on serums that hydrate, treat, brighten, fight free radicals, and boost collagen production that really, all I need from my cream is a good occlusive layer to seal all that goodness in.
What I am picky about is the moisturizer for my T-zone. Because my acne-prone T-zone is that super finicky old lady who wants dressing on the side but only if it’s a mayo-based dressing and if it’s not then toss it in but use a quarter less than usual. My T-zone demands a moisturizer that’s lightweight, non-pore-clogging, not too shiny, preferably with anti-inflammatory ingredients to help fight breakouts, with some sebum control, but for god’s sake no silicones whatsoever. In fact, if you feel overly slick or dimethicone-like in any way, well, there’s the door. (Like @sheryll, I’m convinced silicones make my T-zone oilier. #teamoilyskin)
The Soothe Phyto Greenpair Cream is none of those. It comes in a tube (another bonus point — let’s it keep it hygienic, people!), looks almost like a balm but melts into practically nothingness when patted in, leaves a satiny finish (though that will be affected by the finish of your underlying treatments), and just leaves my T-zone feeling fresh, not suffocated. It’s formulated with another HG ingredient, Centella asiatica, and it’s fragrance-free, additive-free, and EWG safe rated. And I have to admit, there’s something about the fact that this cream features a Phyto Green Shower Complex — cypress, Thuja orientalis, pine tree, and bamboo, four extracts that release phytoncide — that really appeals to me. Maybe because I live in
a pollution-clogged city Los Angeles, but I like the thought of infusing my skin with something akin to forest bathing.
“We use an EWG green-rated liquid emulsifier containing olive oil fatty acids, which has a fatty acid structure similar to the lipid composition of the skin’s lipid membrane,” says Lee. “This allows the cream to not only seal in moisture but fill in the gaps in your moisture barrier to actually strengthen it.”
This is especially important for me as I start to re-incorporate AHAs into my routine for the winter. I definitely need to make sure my moisture barrier is strong to handle all that chemical exfoliation I’ve been saving for when photosensitivity is less of a risk. But even during the summer when my T-zone was on oil secretion red alert, this cream was great and never added to the oil slick.
But here’s how I know I really love this cream: In the blind haze that is my morning routine in the rush to get to work on time, this is the cream I reach for every time, to the detriment of all the other T-zone creams I have to try. ’Nuff said.
I could go on and on about Keep Cool — that’s how much I’m a genuine fan. From their #shelfie-worthy packaging to their seriously thoughtful formulations (and as a sufferer of Asian hyperpigmentation, I appreciate that), Keep Cool will always have a place on my vanity. But you know what really could make me a fan for life? Their upcoming sunscreen launch. Now, I have no idea what or when it’s going to be. But if it marries Mr. Badass Cool Keeper and Miss PA++++, then hell yeah, I’m there.
So let’s talk about this! Did you know that heat could cause premature aging (’cause only till recently did I know this)? And I’d love to know what you thought of any of the Keep Cool products you’ve tried.