MAC Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask: Erupting with Softer Skin

Published in: MAC Makeup, Product Reviews, Skin Care


It took all of two made-for-tv volcano flicks in the ’80s (one about Mount St. Helens and the other about Pompeii) to scar me for life.


Growing up near one of the world’s most geologically active fault lines wasn’t half as scary as the thought of mountains spewing lava and ash, yikes!

But so far the closest I’ve come to anything volcanic has been my brushes with MAC’s Volcanic Ash line of skin care products.

It’s not so much a line as a duo of products, and both are part of the Style Black collection. One of the two, Volcanic Ash Exfoliator ($20), has been released before (see an earlier review), but the second, Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask ($20), is brand new.

I always get a little nervous when I try new skin care products because I can never predict how my combo dry/acne-prone skin will react.

MAC Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask

Sometimes it’s good to be dirty. 🙂 I guess that’s where the mask comes in. It’s loaded with actual volcanic ash and oils like jojoba, lavender, evening primrose and sunflower.

Add water and the paste warms ever so slightly. That’s the thermal part (Kilauea would be proud, LOL!).

MAC recommends using it one to three times per week to deep clean and moisturize the skin (should not be used near the eyes).

Is it really volcanic?

One thing those volcano disaster movies taught me was that volcanic ash can REALLY screw people up.

In dry, powder form it contains particles that can cause serious eye trauma, worsen open wounds and even lead to respiratory problems.

But in clay form — that’s a whole different story.

Throughout history, different cultures have used volcanic ash clays for health and beauty. Even our girl Cleopatra was a fan.

So, does it work?

I know a thing or two about gunk… Last week my acne-prone skin decided to freak out. The stress of moving, excessive junk food and insufficient sleep all joined forces to summon pimples on my forehead.

But I can’t complain…

That gave me a reason to try the mask! 🙂

Last Thursday before bed I followed the instructions, carefully applying a thin layer to my face (avoiding my eyes) and neck. Then, I let it dry for five minutes before rinsing with water.

I noticed a difference immediately — softer and smoother skin — and the following morning the pimples on my forehead looked a little smaller and less inflamed.


Other positives:

  • Comes in a convenient tube
  • Has a spreadable consistency that’s easy to rinse (like toothpaste)
  • Has a relaxing lavender scent (if you like lavender)

It’s not all gravy, though. It’s $20 and limited edition, which means it may not be available forever, assuming MAC doesn’t release it again.

MAC, if you’re reading this, why not add it to your permanent line? That gives everyone more time to think about giving it a try. Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B+

You might like MAC Volcanic Ash Thermal Mask if…

  • You have acne-prone, dry or combination skin
  • You’re a fan of MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
  • You don’t mind paying $20 for skin care products

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 18 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. amy says:

    I have been using this 1-2 times a week for the last 3 weeks along with the exfoliator and it is wonderful. I also have dry skin and my forehead is prone to breakouts. As my acne starts to clear, I am left with bumps and redness. The first two weeks I don’t notice any healing of my acne scars but my skin is more hydrated and the dry flakes from using Retin A is gone. This is my third week and now I noticed less redness and the bumps are smaller too. I did get a few isolated pimples but the the product didn’t break me out and I haven’t really broke at for monthly hormonal reasons either :). I will either have to make this product stretch or buy some back ups if money permits!
    .-= amy’s last blog post… FOTD Halloween Look: Clockwork Orange Alex DeLarge Inspired Look Using MAC Kohl Power Feline Liner and MAC Lollipop Loving Lipstick =-.

  2. Kelly says:

    Hey Karen!

    I got the exfoliator but can’t use it yet 🙁 I am still healing from getting my nose pierced and can’t get anything like that near it. So of course I am panicking thinking “what if I LOVE the stuff and then don’t have extra tubes and it NEVER comes back?”. Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night, LOL!
    .-= Kelly’s last blog post… Vampy Varnish Giveaway! =-.

  3. msiu says:

    aaah too bad.. Mac malaysia doesnot bring thiss… 🙁

  4. Christy says:

    Love this! The first time I used it, I was worried that maybe my skin would hate it. After I tried it, I found a wonderful smoothness that I hadn’t had in ages. I got a few backups since I was so happy. I had some mild acne that seems to have died down quite a bit after using both products twice a week.

    Oddly, I had lunch at a volcano with my family a few years ago. We went to Tagaytay in the Philippines, home of the Taal volcano. It is inactive and has a lake that surrounds it.
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… Sephora Now Open at Metropolis Metrotown + Haul =-.

  5. Christy says:

    ^What I meant to say about volcano’s, is don’t be too scared about them. Sometimes they are places of calmness & serenity for everyone to enjoy. 🙂
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… Sephora Now Open at Metropolis Metrotown + Haul =-.

  6. I’m scared of volcanic ash… somehow such masks makes me breakout.. must be cause my skin is dry on the inside… 🙁
    .-= Blovet Beauty’s last blog post… 7 MUST HAVE MAKEUP BRUSHES ( EYES ) =-.

  7. sylvie says:

    I tried this for the first time last night and I wasn’t so impressed. I guess the product isn’t lousy itself, it’s just that I’ve been using The Body Shop’s warming mineral mask and I’m comparing the two. Talk about warming, the Body Shop’s warms more. Talk about moisture content, MAC’s dries up into a tight thin sheet of paper that washes away, yes, but it left my skin tighter than usual. If i didn’t know better, I’d think it’s a great mask but it’s definitely not a good sign everytime a skin care item does that. Also, it stung parts of my eyebrows when I put it on, though The Body Shop’s used to as well, it itched at the beginning when I put it on but went away after a minute. And lastly, I think the mask smells nothing like lavendar, it was rather unpalatable actually (and I got some in my mouth while washing off. I’m not a picky eater but Volcanic Ash tastes awful =P). Those are my first impressions but I shall be giving it a try or two more before I reach a firm conclusion. Oh and they are selling it for around US$35 in France and I bought TWO thinking that I might like it. I’ve got to “make it work” a la Tim Gunn.

  8. Steph B says:

    I bought this a few weeks ago and just love it. I’ve been using it about twice a week and it leaves my skin very smooth. I find that my oily areas take twice as long as usual to get shiny. I agree it tastes kinda nasty if you get any in your mouth while rinsing. I like that this rinses cleanly and easily and leaves my skin flake free and soft. Even though a little goes a long way, I’m probably going to buy a backup in case MAC doesn’t wise up and put this in their regular line.

  9. Sarah says:

    I’m very excited about this product and I haven’t even bought it yet.
    .-= Sarah’s last blog post… CrazyCatLadie: Enjoying a nice cup of java =-.

  10. dip says:

    i had a dream where i found this in my shoe, it was like an early christmas present…haha i dream about mac products.
    .-= dip’s last blog post… Tarantulas on the Runway =-.

  11. Marce says:

    Karen, how are you? How’s life at the new place? Thanks for the great review! I wonder if it’ll work well on my oily combo scar speckled skin? I don’t know if I’ll get this or the Exfoliator, but I know it’s only gonna be one. MAC went up 10% here, and it’s becoming a luxury lke Givenchy, Dior or Lancome. Crazy, hey? Anyway, hope everything’s well! =)
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… MAC Love That Look – Swatches & Review =-.

  12. Dao says:

    I was looking forward to this last year but it was pulled at the last minute. I’m glad it works for you, I’m running low on face mask and I may give it a try.
    .-= Dao’s last blog post… You Know You’re a Makeup and Beauty Addict When… =-.

  13. Louise Gray says:

    Hello Dear Heart,
    The only MAC item that I have used was a stick foundaton which I did like. However, I don’t like to cheat on Chanel. Speaking of Chanel, I have to confess that I succumbed to the wiles of the Noir Collection. Yes,(hangs head down in shame)I bought that quad of those 4 dark shadows and a dark purple lipstick with the weird gloss called Java to put on top. It really isn’t that scary when put on the face because the shadows are very sheer. The MUA at Chanel applied them wet. I did not do that. I have to say that it was not too bad of a look. When I went to work wearing it the next day, one of the young ‘uns, said, “O-o-o, I like your makeup.” I told her that I hoped it wasn’t too “Goth”. I am wondering if I will ever see pan on that quad because it is not something that I would wear everyday. Maybe I could put it up for sale after Halloween. LOL!!!!! Louise

  14. Eva says:

    I was born & raised in Rotorua, New Zealand. Close to a few volcano’s. One erupted quite a few years back & a cloud of ash covered most of NZ. I remember having to wear masks alot so as not breathe the stuff in!

    I don’t know if I want the stuff on my face :o) but hey, it’s MAC…….I’ll try it for sure! hehehe

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eva,

      Holy crap! I think I would’ve been totally on edge if I lived near a volcano. Was it scary when it erupted?

      You’ve gotta try this stuff — it works wonders on the skin. 🙂

  15. Tami says:

    Hey Karen,

    I have been using both products 3 times a week for the past 3 weeks or so and I must say I’m quite impressed. It left my skin smoother and more even toned. My only gripe is that they both are kind of messy so I reserve use of them to the shower only. Hopefully I can grab a couple more before they’re gone but I am like you in hoping that MAC will make the VAE and VATM permanent:-)

  16. Elle says:

    I’m glad you reviewed this, Karen! I found a body wash and exfoliator at Whole Foods over the weekend with volcanic ash, and it works pretty well (I think the company name is Giovanni?). I can’t get behind the limited edition skincare though. I’d rather be without and never know how awesome it is, then buy it and stockpile it and freak out when I’m out of it! 🙂 Here’s hoping they make it permanent so I can try it, and everyone else who loves it will be able to get it whenever they want.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge