I’m closing out my reviews on the Serendibeauty brand from Cupidrop today! Cupidrop asked me to review something from their online shop and I had to freedom to choose something that interested me. I chose two things from their Serendibeauty line because it offered two unique products that haven’t flooded the kbeauty market yet, the O2 Bubble Cleansing Pack and the Sparkling CO2 Mask Packs (carboxy masks).

I already reviewed the Serendibeauty O2 Bubble Cleansing Pack which uses the science behind fancy oxygen facials and you can read about it in that post.

Serendibeauty is a brand that offers spa salon techniques at home and this review will feature their Sparkling CO2 Mask Packs that mimic the carboxy therapy services offered at facial spas. This is a great way to #upgrade your sheet masking game!  Click to read more about the Sparkling CO2 (Carboxy) Masks 

Click on these links to skip to other parts of the review:

Carboxy Therapy cover Serendibeauty Sparkling CO2 masks
Bring carboxy therapy into your homes. Don’t worry, those aren’t giant gel-filled needles.

About Serendibeauty

What drew me to Serendibeauty is their market placement as a premium personal spa system at home. They offer professional home care products that will give you salon-like results. I’m all about DIY spa service! They currently only have the O2 Bubble Cleansing Mask and the Sparkling CO2 Masks on Cupidrop’s website.

I’m a little confused at their branding because although their carboxy masks say “Serendi_beauty”, the listed website is serendipity7.co.kr. On Cupidrop’s site, it’s listed simply as Serendibeauty so I will go by this name when referring to the carboxy masks.

About Cupidrop

Cupidrop is a online shop with more unique kbeauty brands as well as a few lines that are becoming rising stars like Cosrx, Claire’s, A.True. They are based in New York City and ship internationally as well. They primarily sell skincare with the exception of select BB creams, BB cushions and CC creams. I was happy to see that they carried A. True as I was interested in purchasing something from them a while ago and only ONE retailer had carried A. True at the time. If you’re on the search for something “different” and apart from the usual Skinfood, Etude House or Tony Moly, definitely browse Cupidrop for some new exciting things for the wishlist.

What Are CO2/Carboxy Masks? Science Lesson Ahead

If you read my review on the O2 Bubble Mask Pack, carboxy masks also center around the idea that increasing oxygen to the skin increases cell metabolism (turnover rate) thus revealing a brighter and more even complexion (which I later called bs). Carboxy masks base their claims on the science from the Bohr Effect in which the increase of CO2 molecules also increases the unloading of oxygen molecules in your blood to many other parts of your body (a claim which I am also giving major side-eye – more on this later). The increase in oxygen and improvement in blood circulation would create a more full face and even complexion because of the stimulation of collagen production.

Carboxy therapy is not a new procedure, in fact there are some sources citing its origins from France in the 1930’s when the carbon dioxide rich waters seemingly cured ulcers and cardio vascular ailments and then being heavily studied in Europe (source). The more I look into carboxy therapy, the more that I see pretty incredible before/after photos in banishing wrinkles, cellulite, stretch marks, dark eye circles, scars and even hair loss! Carboxy therapy in a salon includes using a needle to inject medical grade CO2 gas below your skin so that it destroys fat cells which sends an alarm for your blood cells to come in and “super repair” the area.

Spa Carboxy Therapy
Spa Carboxy Therapy (source)

Blood cells surge in and unload oxygen molecules and exchanges them for CO2 molecules since CO2 is a “waste” particle created when our cells go through ATP (as in, when our cells “work” to maintain our body’s delicate chemistry). The increase in blood and oxygen also stimulated collagen production which is why its aids in a variety of aesthetically unpleasing problems. There were many carboxy therapy salons in the United States in the late 2000’s and prior to coming to the states, it was a huge sensation in Brazil (source).

The Bohr Effect Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
This diagram is not really accurate… don’t trust every marketing infographic you see.

Other marketing collateral from other brands also throw in “The Bohr Effect” to give these carboxy masks some scientific evidence that they’re effective. The Bohr Effect is an exchange process that occurs internally, below the surface of your skin since the exchange requires your blood to act as the carriers to bring in oxygen and take away the carbon dioxide.  If you really want to nerd out watch this YouTube from AK Lectures to get a quick run-down.

Serendibeauty (as well as other cosmetic brands) have attempted to replicate carboxy therapy in the form of these easy to use masks at home but you’ll notice that there’s no needle or visit to a doctor involved. Without the deeper penetration of CO2 molecules, I can’t imagine that it will actually alert your blood cells to come and exchange O2 molecules for CO2 molecules. The mask will only deliver CO2 to the superficial layers of your skin and cannot diffuse any deeper without a needle (…right?). The question is if CO2 can get absorbed through the top layers of skin and if that makes any difference in increasing blood flow/oxygen to your face. My hypothesis is that all this bubbling is for show and used for marketing differentiation but will it still any difference on my skin at all?

Product Claims

Cupidrop listed the claims very clearly and easily in a chart so I’ll just paste it below!

serendibeauty CO2 sparkling bubble mask claims

Package, Size, Price, Etc.

The package is $95 and includes five individual uses (5 dry cotton sheet masks and 5 gel syringes). I only got two from Cupidrop to try out which is fine since masks are supposed to show an immediate effect. The gel is really thick and packaged in a fun plastic syringe where you need to spread all the gel on your face (don’t “save” any for another use). You then put a dry cotton sheet mask over the gel and two combined together will create the CO2 bubbling effect. You must use the sheet mask it comes with because I think it’s saturated with ingredients made to react with the gel (it smells kind of funky). You keep it on like a normal sheet mask except you should keep pressing the mask + gel together to keep the bubbling going.

The Gel, Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
I guess the needle-like syringe pays homage to the CO2 gas filled needles used in carboxy therapy.

Each syringe has 20 ml of gel which is the average amount of essence you would get from a normal sheet mask. It just seems like lot more since it’s all in the syringe tube! I know $95 is pricey but these masks are not meant for daily use. Kate from Cupidrop suggests that we use it once a week, not more than twice a week. At $19 a mask versus going to a spa for a facial that can cost $50 to a few hundred, I would prefer doing the at-home thing haha.

If you want to enlarge and read the packaging:
Box Packaging Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review Box Packaging Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review

The Masking

Supplies you need to make lying down Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
Supplies you need if you want to mask lying down: spatula, hair band, mirror, syringe and sheet mask.

I masked two weeks apart and did it in two ways – lying down on my couch to apply the gel since it looks really globby and then standing up and squirting the gel right onto my face. I HIGHLY suggest you get your spatula out to help you spread the product because the gel is very sticky and its just best to keep your fingers clean since you have to get the dry cotton sheet out and put it over your face as your second dance move. I purposely did not post pictures with the gel on my face because it looks like freshly squeezed gel from um, something else. The Internet can be mean so just use your imagination!

Cotton Sheet Mask Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
This can look scary looking without the context of a beauty blog.

I took the cotton sheet prior to applying the gel so it was ready immediately. Turns out it wasn’t quite necessary to lie down to apply the gel, it was quite okay standing up. The gel was so thick that it did a good job staying in place for the most part. The nose flap of the mask was a little too long for my smaller nose but I can deal with it.

The masking Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
My second face. Smells like wet cardboard.

The gel doesn’t smell much when I squirted some out for a picture. It will only start to bubble once you apply the sheet mask on so don’t feel like you have to rush too much with your application! The sheet however smells like wet cardboard? I didn’t like but it slowly became less noticeable once the bubbling died down after 5 minutes – this is probably because the sheet became more saturated with the gel.

You will feel a burning sensation – yes, stronger than just a tingle. Fight the urge to rip the mask off your face because this is supposed to happen (unless it really hurts like fire to you, listen to your instincts and rip that demon off – you know your skin best). To me it felt like instant sun-burn pain on the apples of my cheeks mostly. I just moaned while using my fingers to keep pressing onto the mask to release more CO2 bubbles. The pain goes away in 5 minutes. I leave the mask on for a total of 15 minutes (you can leave it on up to 20 minutes).

Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
The carboxy gel looks crinkly from being in contact from the sheet mask.

Take off the mask and throw it out. You’ll still have quite a thick layer of the gel and this is where you can use your spatula to scrap off the excess or use a very warm face towel to wipe off like a spa would. You are free to use your fingers to wash it off but the gel is quite sticky/thick and it takes forever to wash off that way.

use the spatula Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
Trust me on the spatula. You’re welcome.

Outcomes – Before and After

Immediately there is a smooth effect! It was moisturized and bouncy, elastic feeling. Skin did not feel tight at all. I was touching my cheeks for the rest of the day because it was so effortlessly smooth. I had to check my before and after photos to really see if it made any effects on my freckles since it claimed to brighten. You’ll see that it did not change my freckles’ pigmentation at all.

Before and After pictures Serendibeauty-Carboxy-Sparkling-CO2-Masks-Review
Less bumpy around my trouble area where most pimples pop up.

However I did notice that I had an area of small bumps and congested pores near my nose and upper lip. The After photo shows how that area appears smoother, less bumpy. I was pretty amazed at how I only noticed in examining my pictures. I didn’t know I had that small trouble area until writing today!

I don’t have adult acne so I can’t really assess if the mask control excess sebum production. The claims did not include getting rid of black heads, only dead skin cells – this is probably why my skin was really smooth afterwards.

Ingredients List

The most alarming ingredient is Algin which is a thickener in the gel – no wonder it’s so thick! It’s not so good for those with acne according to CosDNA, it ranked a 4 as both an irritant and acne-triggering. The masks were fine on my normal to dry skin so just know what doesn’t work for yours, full list below.

Aside from Algin, it has a lot of great herbal and plant extracts in fact over half of the ingredients listed are a thumbs up in my book! There seems to be few fillers used in the formula. Parabens/perservatives are necessary here because of the giant list of herbal extracts they use (I highlighted a paraben in case that is your choice to avoid them)!

Water, Glacier Water, Glycerin, Sodium Bicarbonate, Triethanolamine, Algin, Butylene Glycol, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Phellinus Linteus Extract, Chrysanthellum Indicum Extract, Rheum Palmatum Root/Stalk Extract, Asarum Sieboldi Root Extract, Larix Sibirica Wood Extract, Quercus Mongolia Leaf Extract, Persicaria Hydropiper Extract, Illicium Verum (Anise) Fruit Extract, Corydalis Turtschaninovii Root Extract, Coptis Japonica Root Extract, Machilus Thunbergii Bark Extract, Ascorbic Acid

Conclusion – Are Carboxy Masks Just a Gimmick?

I’m actually not sure anymore. After researching more about the Bohr Effect, I personally don’t think that our blood can exchange CO2 with O2 molecules the same way through a bubbling CO2 sheet mask that sits on top of our skin. Real carboxy therapy salons use a needle to inject CO2 gas to your trouble areas and although there are amazing before and after photos, the FDA has not approved or tested this method to this day.

However I also came across this interesting page from a Japanese company called NeoChemir that makes their own version called the eCO2GEL and they explain the science behind it here. They even have an infographic that approximately 1.2 ml/min of CO2 is absorbed through 400 cm2 surface area of skin but later admit that “it is technically difficult to measure an exact amount of carbon dioxide absorbed from skin. So there haven’t any such data about [the] eCO2GEL yet” (source). Basically this is just a claim because no one has been able to really prove its positive effects on skin.

Just like my review on the O2 Bubble Pack, it’s probably not the bubbling action that creates the smooth and moisturized effects on our skin but the gel/serum itself. The ingredients list for the Sparkling CO2 Masks was nice and short with herbal ingredients I can look up! This mask actually smoothed out bumps I didn’t even notice! I say this is a really good mask for those days you see congested pores/bumps and fee like you really need a “reset”.

Would I repurchase? Probably only for special occasions like pre-wedding or if I’m ever sick and need to desperately zap some life back into my skin this winter. Carboxy therapy is also available in this same gel form (sans needles) in facial spas too so it’s considered a bargain to DIY at home but I’d look closer at the ingredients list than the CO2 bubbling gimmick as it’s unlikely the Bohr Effect can occur through a sheet mask.

TL;DR: Calling you out on your (possible) science bs, but you left my face really nice!

Where to buy: You can get these through Cupidrop for a reasonable price as they cost about the same on Korea Depart (99.000 KRW). Also faster shipping since they are based in NYC!

Rating: 4/5 – Stands in a good place on the shelfie. The science claims aren’t proven however I see results.

This product was provided by Cupidrop for review and the opinions and research was done on my own. I was not obligated to give this product a positive review. I am not getting referral credit for this post or link clicks.