- Peel-off masks are products intended to remove impurities from the skin.
- They target blackheads using a charcoal and glue formula.
- Peel-off masks can often damage and irritate the skin, causing dryness.
- Professional treatments to remove blackheads are safer for skin.
Blackhead peel-off masks have become a popular skin care trend. They typically consist of a paste or gel-like solution that is applied to the face, left to dry and then peeled off.
These products claim to extract blackheads from the skin, leaving it feeling soft and refreshed; however, the use of a facial mask can potentially cause irritation, dryness and skin damage.
What’s In a Peel-off Mask?
Activated charcoal is one key ingredient in blackhead peel-off face masks.
For medical purposes, charcoal is used to bind itself to chemicals and toxins, drawing them from the body. Similarly, it is used within cosmetics as it is believed to attract impurities and excess oil from the skin.
A charcoal mask usually contains glue to bind the ingredients and to ensure the formula adheres to the face. Other ingredients can include fruit acid extracts such as grapefruit and lemon to enhance the exfoliating effects of the mask, while providing deep cleansing.
Do They Work for Blackheads?
Blackheads are as a result of dead skin cells and natural oils (sebum) combining and clogging up pores. Within dermatology, they are referred to as comedones. When exposed to air, the buildup at the surface of the clogged pore darkens in appearance.
Charcoal peel-off masks remove buildup close to the skin’s surface, however they are unable to reach deep within pores and therefore are not an effective treatment for blackheads.
What about other comedones?
Blackheads that are covered by a layer of skin are known as whiteheads, or open comedones. Peel-off masks are unable to treat this form of comedone as they are located much deeper within pores and are enclosed by a layer of skin.
Whiteheads generally require professional extraction, as at-home attempts can lead to scarring and infection if not performed correctly and hygienically.
Are Blackhead Peel-Off Masks Harmful?
They can be. While peel-off face masks claim to leave the skin feeling soft and cleansed, they have been attributed to causing skin damage, dryness and irritation.
The act of peeling off masks can also result in damaged skin, as glue can pull away healthy skin cells and the tiny hairs that appear on the face (vellus hair). Therefore, masks should not be peeled off abruptly or with force.
Damage to the outermost layer of the skin results in a weakening of the skin’s natural barrier. This barrier protects the skin from external stressors in the environment, while also preventing loss of moisture. When the skin’s natural barrier is damaged, it becomes more susceptible to inflammation and irritation.
Overusing peel-off masks can also damage skin. And since they often contain exfoliating and potentially abrasive ingredients, skin can incur further damage.
Those with sensitive skin or those who suffer from conditions such as eczema are more likely to experience skin irritation from peel-off masks. Added perfumes or chemicals can cause allergic dermatitis symptoms that include inflammation, redness and itching. If this occurs, the product should be removed immediately.
Facial masks are often used to incorrectly treat sebaceous filaments, which are mistaken for blackheads.
Sebaceous filaments are a combination of oil and dead skin cells that are most visible around the nose and forehead area. Unlike blackheads, they are not clogged-up pores, but a normal and natural function of the skin. They do not require extracting, but if they are, they will only return within a matter of weeks.
DIY Blackhead Peel-off Masks Without Glue
DIY blackhead peel-off masks can be created at home using various ingredients and omitting the harsh glues. DIY masks have the potential to be safer for the skin by using natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, honey and green tea.
When creating a DIY mask, it is important to do a small patch test on the skin to determine if you have any allergies or adverse reactions.
Gelatine and agar are often used to thicken ingredients into a paste that can then be applied to the face. These types of masks can be left on and then rinsed off, as a safer alternative to peeling off the product.
Honey and tea tree oil are ingredients often used in combination to cleanse the skin and treat blackheads. Honey offers antimicrobial and soothing benefits for the skin, while tea tree oil is an effective anti-inflammatory that can speed up skin healing with powerful antioxidant effects.
The topical application of green tea has been shown to decrease sebum production for those with oily skin and offer anti-inflammatory effects, due to its high level of polyphenols which are antioxidant compounds..
Alternative Effective Blackhead Treatments
Peel-off masks are not the only at-home treatment specifically designed to remove blackheads. Cleansers and toners that are formulated to treat clogged pores contain active ingredients that break down oil buildup on the skin. These ingredients can include witch hazel, lactic acid and salicylic acid.
Cleansers and toners incorporated into your daily skin care routine are effective in treating and controlling blackheads.
Alternatively, clay masks can be used to remove buildup from within pores and cleanse the skin. Unlike charcoal peel-off masks, clay masks can be rinsed off with warm water. This prevents any potential damage that may be caused by peeling off the mask.
Opting for professional treatments to remove blackheads ensures that the treatment will be tailored to your specific skin type, using ingredients that work in harmony with the skin and without irritation.
Professional treatments are recommended for deep blackheads that cannot be easily removed using at-home treatments.
Chemical peels are effective in blackhead treatment as they penetrate deep within the pores to remove dead skin cells and promote the regeneration of fresh, healthy skin.
Glycolic and salicylic acid are often used to perform chemical peels, as they have shown effective and safe results in improving the skin’s appearance.
Microdermabrasion is a professional treatment used to safely treat a variety of skin complaints, including blackheads and acne. One study found a moderate improvement in skin’s appearance and texture after several sessions.
A handheld device controlled by a practitioner directs a stream of microcrystals across the skin’s surface to buff away dead skin cells. This encourages the production of collagen and new skin cells.
With care, blackheads can be extracted at home through the use of a comedone extractor. This small tool contains a metal loop that is placed around the blackhead. Once pressure is applied, the buildup to be released from the pore.
Comedone extractors can be purchased for home use at pharmacies and beauty stores. Caution must be taken when using these tools; too much pressure applied on to the skin may cause skin damage and scarring.
Comedone extractors should be sterilized with rubbing alcohol prior to use, to reduce the risk of infection. Similarly, your fingers should never be used to remove blackheads, as this transfers dirt and bacteria from your fingers to your face and can lead to inflammation and infection.
Preventative measures can be taken to maintain a clearer complexion. Adopting a good skin care routine will help maintain a clear complexion by preventing blackheads from forming.
Use a gentle cleanser morning and evening to remove surface oil and dead skin cells. Exfoliate once a week for a deeper cleansing to avoid any buildup of debris.
Apply moisturizer twice a day to help maintain smooth skin; ensure it contains active ingredients such as zinc to target blemishes.
Peel-off masks are often used to treat blackheads at home, but they can have negative effects on the skin. DIY masks using natural ingredients and clay-based masks are an alternative treatment.
Professional treatments, such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion can also effectively treat blackheads. These treatments are best suited for deep blackheads that cannot be removed through the use of skin care products.
Lastly, the best method for dealing with blackheads is prevention. Cleansing the skin daily and the occasional use of exfoliating products can help prevent buildup from occurring within pores.
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