To Mask Or Not To Mask

Facial masks have hit the cosmetics and skincare market like a storm, and it looks like they are here to stay. These masks can be a great supplement to your current skincare regimen as an extra boost and can be used as often or as infrequently as you want or need. They can come in the form of a cream, lotion, gel, serum, conforming “rubber,” or a sheet. Depending on the type, they can be left on, rinsed off, lifted off, or peeled off. With so many different types of masks on the market, we realize that the world of facial masks might be a difficult one to maneuver. There are clay masks, charcoal masks, over-night masks, sheet masks, and rubber masks, just to name a few. Let us help you explore the world of facial masks and determine which will most benefit your skincare needs.

Let’s start with the ever-so-popular facial sheet mask. Asian women have always taken their skincare very, very seriously, so it isn’t surprising that like many innovative beauty products, facial sheet masks began trending in South Korea decades before making their way to the United States. They are exploding in popularity, available for purchase in various online platforms like Glow Recipe, as well as in-store and online retailers like Sephora and Ulta. They are even found in stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. Sheet masks are essentially cotton or other natural-fiber sheets, saturated in serums that target specific issues such as hydration, fine lines, brightening, and pigmentation.  Since the masks are so heavily saturated in these specialized formulas and the sheet is literally enveloping your face, they quickly penetrate and absorb into the skin. It’s like your face being force-fed these nourishing serums. Because of the unique vehicle of delivery of these potent formulas, it is key to do these masks selectively and more as a boost to your normal skincare regimen. Typically, it is ideal to keep the mask on for 20 minutes or more to allow the solution to effectively penetrate your skin. The size and shape of these facial sheet masks are standard, so one size fits all. Sheet masks can be purchased at all price points and are often individually packaged, making them hygienic and uniform, as well as portable and convenient for use anywhere!

Most recently, activated charcoal seems to be the magic ingredient featured in facial products. Of course, charcoal has been around for ages, but it has come full-circle, finding its way back into the mainstream beauty world. Charcoal, when activated with oxygen, contains properties that draw out the oil, grease, and dirt from skin. While clearing out blackheads and minimizing the appearance of large pores, it can be effective for breakout prone, oily skin. Because it can be so drying, keeping it once a week is probably best until you know how your own skin reacts to it. And those with dry or sensitive skin should stay away from charcoal, or at least restrict it to only the T-zone.

Clay masks are another popular type of mask that is also frequently known as mud masks. They are a staple in the world of masks, where they have been around for ages and come in different varieties. Clay masks are great for acne-prone or oily skin as well. In general, the clay component in the masks acts as a drying agent, and absorbs any grease and oil from the face. There are different forms of clay that can be incorporated in the masks, such as Kaolin, Bentonite, Rhassoul, and Umbrian. Bentonite clay works very well for absorbing oil, and is terrific for acne-prone skin. Kaolin clay is better for sensitive skin because it is gentler and not as stripping, but still gets the job done. Umbrian clay is a proprietary ingredient specific to the company Fresh. Umbrian clay is great for skin that is more normal and less prone to acne. Rhassoul clay works best for dull or dry skin. Masks with Rhassoul clay work to brighten skin and lift dull skin cells. Once applied to the face, clay masks dry and harden on the face and lift any buildup that may be on your face. About 20 minutes after application, the mask is then washed off. We sell the amazing Clay Mint Mask by Topix, which we all love. Adelle, our aesthetic technician, recommends that her SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion acne patients use this mask in between their in-office treatments, especially in the T-zone area. A handful of us in the office use it as a supplement to our normal skincare routine. We love it because it leaves our faces soft and glowing. And don’t forget to moisturize and continue with your usual skincare routine afterwards.

Finally, DIY gals have a wonderful opportunity to mix their own facial mask recipe. Ingredients could include raw eggs, honey, oatmeal, bananas, vinegar, yogurt, milk, mayonnaise, lemon, olive oil, coconut oil, and sugar to name a few. Staying away from essential oils in your DIY mask is smart because they are highly concentrated and may cause toxic or allergic reactions when applied directly on facial skin. Although we cannot vouch for any of these DIY mask concoctions, social media and the Internet are bursting with possibilities.

Although facial masks can never replace the serums or creams that you use on your face on a daily basis, they can act as wonderful and effective additions to your current skincare regimen. Usually, each mask comes with its own set of instructions, so make sure to follow them carefully to maximize the efficacy of your mask with your products. Even if you don’t use them on a regular basis, they can be a refreshing addition to your nighttime beauty regimen, or act as a needed hydration boost after traveling on a long flight. Keep an eye out for the newest, hottest masks emerging on the market. Lately, a few of them have peaked our interest, such as the bubble masks, the rubber masks, and the newest magnetic masks. Have fun masking, and let us know what you think.

–Senada and Dr. H

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