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Reviewed: Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant (Probably the Best Face Mask in the World!)

You won't believe what it can do for your skin.
Masque Vivant

If I had to name the strangest-smelling skincare product I've ever put on my face, it would have to be the mask I'm about to show you.

That's no joke—this stuff is like applying Marmite, Vegemite or soy sauce to your skin.

And as you can see, it's not exactly pretty.

But bear with me, because these things should NOT deter you from using it.

I'm talking about Masque Vivant from Biologique Recherche, which just might be the best face mask ever made.

About Biologique Recherche

Masque Vivant

Masque Vivant is made by Biologique Recherche, the French skincare brand famous for Lotion P50.

Biologique Recherche needs practically no introduction—it's the French skincare brand best known for the cult-favourite exfoliating toner, Lotion P50.

But what you may not know is that Biologique Recherche was doing "clean beauty" long before that term even existed!

Founded back in the 1970s, the company has always used the highest-quality and most efficacious ingredients on the market. Each formula is comprised of at least 20 percent raw actives, mixed without heat to keep them as potent as possible. And everything is made without fragrances, silicones, parabens or sulfates. 

[Read more about Biologique Recherche in my interview with Dr. Philippe Allouche, the brand's head of creation, innovation and research]

Like me, the brand doesn't believe in "skin types" and instead has its estheticians work one-on-one with clients to prescribe customized regimens tailored to their individual skin concerns. So you can't just purchase their products without first having a skin consultation, either in person or online. Basically, they save you from making the wrong skincare decisions!

However, there is one product in the line that can be used on ALL skin: Masque Vivant!

Masque Vivant Benefits

Masque Vivant

Masque Vivant is balancing mask that addresses everything from acne to dullness.

Masque Vivant is currently described by Biologique Recherche as a "purifying" face mask, but they used to call it "balancing," which I think is more accurate. It's not just for acne!

These are all the ways it helps your skin:

  • Reduces excess oil production
  • Speeds healing of blemishes
  • Brightens and evens skin tone
  • Makes pores look smaller over time
  • Tightens skin
  • Hydrates and soothes
  • Prevents wrinkles

I know those are bold claims, but just listen to two of the most renowned celebrity facialists:

"If you do Masque Vivant at least twice a week, you'll never age," says Danuta Mieloch, owner of Rescue Spa (her clients include Pat McGrath, Naomi Campbell and Eva Chen). "This unique mask contains live yeast extracts which are packed with amino acids and famously nourishing vitamin B. There is no product like it to keep your skin purified, revitalized and bright. In my 20 years of experience with it, I have seen it drastically improve many people's complexions."

Aida Bicaj, who works with the Olsen twins, Jennifer Connelly and Jenna Lyons, is even more passionate about it. "This is the most powerful mask on the market. With this mask, you don't need dermabrasion machines, chemical peels, deep exfoliators or retinols; this mask does it all. The benefits of this mask are astonishing: [it] evens out skin, shrinks pores, makes skin tight, prevents wrinkles; it's like a daily face lift."

I don't know about you, but I've never heard this much praise for a face mask!

Masque Vivant Ingredients

Masque Vivant ingredients

The Masque Vivant ingredients list.

So I'm sure you're curious about what makes the magic happen. Here's what's in Masque Vivant:

Ingredients: Yeast Extract (Faex Extract), Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Bentonite, Kaolin, Alcohol Denat., Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Vinegar, Lactic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Hypericum Perforatum Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum.

As you can see, the main component is a yeast extract. Yeast is rich in B vitamins and has brightening, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties.

The bentonite and kaolin are types of clay, which help absorb oil and draw out gunk from your pores. The vinegar and lactic are gentle exfoliants, while the cucumber and St. John's Wort extracts help soothe the skin. 

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The propylene glycol and alcohol are there as penetration enhancers, and are unlikely to have any drying or irritating effects in a formulation with all of these other ingredients.

Masque Vivant Texture and Scent

Masque Vivant

The texture of Masque Vivant.

It's the high yeast content that is responsible for Masque Vivant's funky scent. No, it's not the greatest, but it's won't make you gag either. It just takes getting used to, especially if you're used to skincare with synthetic fragrances. I've been using this product for a few years, and I don't mind it at all now!

It looks exactly the way it smells—like Marmite/Vegemite. It's a dark brown paste, and a bit sticky, so you'll want to tie your hair back before applying it.

How to Use Masque Vivant

Masque Vivant

Masque Vivant can be applied all over your face or as a spot treatment.

1. Cleanse and Exfoliate

Like any face mask, you want to apply Masque Vivant to clean skin. So wash your face with your favourite gentle cleanser first.

If you can also exfoliate, even better. Removing surface dead cells will help your mask to penetrate so that you get more benefits. Lotion P50 would be ideal, or your favourite mild acid toner. 

2. Apply Masque Vivant 

Spread a thin, even layer of Masque Vivant all over your face, excluding the eye area. You can also put it on your neck and chest (although I will admit I don't do that!). 

Alternatively, you can use it as a spot treatment on breakouts when you can't be bothered doing a full mask. Or, if you find that you're oily in some areas and dry in others, you could use Masque Vivant on the oily zones and a moisturizing mask (such as Masque VIP O2) everywhere else.

3. Wait 15 Minutes

It only takes about 15 minutes for Masque Vivant to do its thing. Try not to look in the mirror during this time—this is not a "cute" mask! 

4. Wash Off

Once Masque Vivant dries, splash your face with lukewarm water to moisten it and make it easier to remove. Then, you can use a wash cloth or just your fingers to get it off. (I find fingers work pretty well—this is not a difficult mask to remove, unlike so many that have you tugging at your skin!)

5. Exfoliate (Optional) and Moisturize

You don't have to exfoliate again, but you can—that's what Aida Bicaj always does after Masque Vivant, using Lotion P50. Otherwise, proceed with your usual serums, moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup, etc.

How Often to Use Masque Vivant

To really see results, you want to use Masque Vivant once or twice a week at minimum. But you can apply it as often as daily (morning or night)!

Optional Masque Vivant “Recipes”

Masque Vivant

Masque Vivant can be mixed with other products for a more targeted treatment.

Although I haven't tried them, there are a few different ways you can customize your Masque Vivant treatment, if warranted. (I would ask about this in your Biologique Recherche consultation to make sure your skin is suited.)

For Blackheads, Acne or Oily Skin

You can mix Masque Vivant with a pinch of baking soda and/or a few drops of Complexe Iribiol (a zinc-based serum) to help soften and remove excess sebum. Just be careful not to use the baking soda too often, as it is super alkaline!

For Dry or Sensitive Skin

For more hydration, you can mix two parts Masque Vivant with one part Masque VIP O2, which is an oxygenating and moisturizing mask.


Many people have called Lotion P50 "the best beauty product in the world."

Well, Masque Vivant is certainly a contender for "the best face mask in the world."

While I've yet to try it on a daily basis, I can attest to the great results even from occasional applications. (I'm certainly motivated to do them more often now!)

Whenever I've used it, my skin feels smoother, softer and more matte—but not dry or tight at all, just balanced. I've definitely noticed less oil production after using it.

It also leaves my skin looking bright, but CALM. You know how some masks, when you take them off, your skin is kind of red and irritated? Well, that doesn't happen with Masque Vivant. It actually takes down my redness, and just makes my skin look better overall. 

In the photo above, I'm just wearing a touch of Glossier Stretch Concealer with mascara and tinted lip balm. That's all I needed after Masque Vivant!

Never again will I think face masks "don't do anything." This one does quite a lot. 

And thank goodness, because the results definitely make up for the smell!

Where to Buy

To find a retailer near you, see here.