this thing's incredible

The Vitamin-C Mask That Makes My Skin ‘Glow Like a Glazed Doughnut’

Photo: courtesy of author

According to a dear friend who just graduated from aesthetician school, I suffer from dry skin. Positioned under the glaring light of her magnifying “bt-vision” goggles, I found this news to be a divine revelation. It’s not like I have rough patches of dryness in any one spot; that might actually be easier to address. Instead, my entire face refuses to hold on to moisture, making me look dull and ashy despite my best efforts — a travesty for darker skin. In the winter, I use a layer of coconut oil to seal in moisture, but that method would make me fry like an egg in the summer. With glowing, melanin-rich skin finally getting the praise it deserves, the dusty layer of gray that covers my own chocolaty brown face is frustrating to say the least. I too want to beam like a Fenty foundation ad, or as my cousin, an aspiring makeup guru, puts it, “glow like a glazed doughnut.”

I first came across the Natura Bissé C+C Vitamin Soufflé Mask back in 2016. Sandwiched between a bottle of KFC chicken–scented sunscreen and castaway monogrammed dress socks, the sample-size tube was sitting on the giveaway table at GQ, where I worked at the time. I love trying new products, but I’m far from a grooming expert; I lack the patience to stick with anything long enough to see real results. So when I received multiple compliments on my “radiant complexion” after using the mask just once, I took notice. However, I had also just gotten a haircut, so I chalked it up to my post-haircut glow — a phenomenon black men experience in the first 72 hours out of the barber’s chair. If you know, you know.

Still, I didn’t become a true believer until a month later, when I had to go on camera for work and couldn’t make it to the barbershop in time. I scrambled around my medicine cabinet for something that would make me look halfway decent and remembered the remaining sample of the vitamin-C mask. I swiped the mousselike cream onto my face in a thick layer, making sure to cover the bridge of my nose, forehead, and every part of my face that wasn’t covered with facial hair. It went on very pasty, but after I removed it with a hot towel, my skin looked brighter and more hydrated. Yet it wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of myself onscreen hours later that I noticed how shockingly luminous my skin was. My cheeks and forehead looked bouncy and refreshed, as if I’d just woken up from a really good nap. Even in the poorly lit restroom, my brand-new glazed-doughnut skin looked healthy and supple — a word I never fully understood until that moment.

I also had no idea what vitamin C did for the skin — as I said, I’m no expert — but I now know that the antioxidant is a superefficient complexion brightener. That and shea butter, the same ingredient my mother and every other black woman I know swears by, make this mask a hydrated-skin secret weapon. Now when I notice my skin looks a little dry before an event or video shoot, I grab this mask. I can’t pretend to use it on a regular basis because, honestly, I suck at sticking to any kind of skin-care routine, but if I need a quick grooming pick-me-up, this mask delivers every time. I’m no longer at the mercy of a barber to secure my glow.

Other Strat-Approved Vitamin-C Products

Rio Viera-Newton calls this Timeless ferulic-acid serum one of her must-haves: “I tend to try a lot of vitamin-C serums — they don’t make me break out, and if they’re potent, I know how to gently ease them into my routine (slowly increase doses and wear a lot of sunscreen). The results of this vitamin-C serum are fierce, and it is half the price of my former lover, Drunk Elephant vitamin-C serum.”


Dr. Rhonda Klein, who spoke to us for our roundup of the best vitamin-C serums on the market, suggests Obagi Professional-C Serum for folks with dry skin. The hyaluronic acid in this serum helps seal in moisture and prevent dryness.

And this all-natural and affordable serum combines vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide, and tea-tree oil to combat both aging skin and breakouts.

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The Mask That Makes My Skin Glow Like a Glazed Doughnut