The legend of Cleopatra’s beauty routine is as complex as any Hellenistic epic, but I’m sorry to say that many of the wisdoms born from it are useless drivel (though a milk-and-honey bath sounds very relaxing). One of the lesser-known myths from her routine, however, might bear some practical fruit. The story goes like this: Every night, Cleopatra would fall asleep with a magnet on her face. The magnet was said to fight signs of aging. Two thousand years later, a few studies and some new masks are demonstrating that anti-aging magnets are more than the stuff of ancient fables.
The first mask arrives via Dr. Brandt. “Magnetight” is a gray concoction with a bouncy, soufflé-like texture. It smells generally floral and pleasant — like lavender or germanium (the mask contains both oils). Magnetight is fused with an iron powder that you spread over a clean face. You’re instructed to remove the gray goo five to ten minutes later with an included magnet, wrapped in tissue. What happens next is pretty exciting. While gliding the magnet across your face, the negatively charged mask leaps from your skin onto the magnet. It removes the entirety of the formula in a few easy swipes across your skin, leaving an oily, but moisturizing, residue behind. It’s because of this residue that I prefer to use Magnetight at night.
“What’s happening in theory is that the mask is binding to pollution,” Dr. Whitney Bowe, a Manhattan dermatologist, explained in a phone conversation. “We’re learning more and more about pollution — how it’s leading to fine lines and brown spots, and how it sticks to your skin.” Washing your face at the end of the day helps, admits Dr. Bowe, but the mask works to remove residual particles that a cleanser can’t easily reach.
What’s more, the positive charge of the magnet works to activate the negatively charged compounds that naturally exist on the face. “When you wake up the negatively charged calcium compound, for example, calcium as a result will stimulate the cells. You get the immediate benefit of increased circulation, and in the long term, fibroblasts in the cells are more likely to produce collagen. The upper layer of the skin is more likely to turn over more rapidly, and you’re more likely to have a healthy glow.”
Magnetight does produce a noticeable glow. As does Dr. Lancer’s magnetic mask that’s pegged to launch October 1. Like Magnetight, Dr. Lancer’s mask is accompanied by a magnet, though it’s significantly more expensive (one pack accommodates four uses and costs $250). Unlike Dr. Brandt’s version, the mask doesn’t leave behind a film on skin, rendering it more amenable for daytime use.
In all, these weird magnetic masks actually work. Cleopatra was onto something.
Dr. Brandt Magnetight Skin Recharging Magnet Mask, $75 at Sephora.