- The process of exfoliation increases the rate at which your skin cells shed to reveal fresh, new ones.
- Exfoliating masks are a form of chemical exfoliation which draw out any surface debris that might be clogging your pores, leaving your skin brighter, smoother, and more even-toned.
- With careful research it is possible to make DIY exfoliating masks catered to the unique needs of your skin type.
While physical exfoliants buff dead skin cells away by physically moving across your skin’s surface, chemical exfoliants remove your top layer of skin by dissolving the glue that holds dead cells together.
Exfoliating masks often use either alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) to gently dissolve dead skin cells stuck to the outermost layer of your skin.
What is an Exfoliating Mask?
Exfoliating face masks offer all the benefits of a manual face scrub, but without the abrasive rubbing and tugging that can leave micro-tears on your skin. Upon simple application to the skin, you simply let it dry for the prescribed amount of time, and in the process, its ingredients work to exfoliate your skin and draw out any buildup of dirt, oil, or dry skin.
There are a variety of exfoliating masks available catered to a range of skin types and conditions. From gentle glycolic acid (an AHA) and fast-acting salicylic acid (a BHA), to the replenishing lactic acid found in yogurt, exfoliating masks are found abundantly in-store but can also be made at home with some simple ingredients.
Benefits of Exfoliating Face Masks
There are countless advantages of exfoliating face masks. Depending on your skin type and the ingredients included in your mask, your skin might experience from some more than others, however typically, a well-selected exfoliating mask offers the following skin care benefits:
- Sloughs off dead skin buildup for a softer, smoother complexion
- Hydrates skin, removing dry, flaky skin for an overall rejuvenated look
- Helping boost collagen production, leaving skin firmer and plumper
- Helps with sun damage or skin discoloration by reducing hyperpigmentation
- Allows moisturizers and other skin products to penetrate the skin more deeply
- Soothes inflamed and irritated skin
- Draws out excess oil and treats skin prone to acne
How to Choose an Exfoliating Mask
When it comes to exfoliating face masks, there are a variety of ingredients and formulas that can give you soft, glowing skin. Whether buying a product or selecting a DIY recipe, always be sure to take your skin type and condition into account when choosing an exfoliating mask that will benefit your skin.
Exfoliating Face Masks for Dry Skin
Glycolic acid is a mild, hydrating ingredient found in exfoliating face masks, making it well-suited to those with dry skin. It gently removes dry skin buildup, promoting healthier-looking skin with regular use.
Lactic acid also promotes a healthier complexion for those with dry skin, gently exfoliating to reveal smoother, brighter skin. It also plumps the skin, for a fuller, firmer appearance.
DIY baking soda & honey exfoliating face mask for dry skin
Dry or aging skin in need of exfoliation can be prone to sensitivity, UV light, and flakiness.
Baking soda gently sloughs off dead skin cells that clog your pores, while honey is packed with antioxidants and is naturally antibacterial, as well as hydrating. Vitamin E is also a potent antioxidant that does wonders for repairing damaged and aging skin. Cinnamon helps to detoxify and soothe your skin due to its antiinflammatory properties.
Baking soda and honey can be used in a paste for topical application.
- 3 tbsps baking soda
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp vitamin E oil
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 3 tsps milk
- Combine and mix ingredients.
- Apply a thick layer to your face by working the mixture into your skin in a circular motion.
- Let the mask dry for 15 minutes.
- Rinse with lukewarm water.
- For extra exfoliation, massage with your fingertips as you wash away the mask.
Combining baking soda with antioxidant-rich honey, a potent antibacterial and antimicrobial, may help soothe and hydrate dry skin. However, there is no research on the combined effects of baking soda and honey in face masks.
Exfoliating Face Masks for Oily Skin
If you have oily skin, bentonite clay is beneficial, as it draws impurities from your pores, while sloughing off pore-clogging dead cells and debris.
Exfoliating masks containing salicylic acid are also well-suited to oily skin (particularly those with acne), as the powerful BHA penetrates deeply into the pores to clean and prevent dead skin cells from clogging them.
DIY gram flour, turmeric, lemon & milk exfoliating face mask for oily skin
Gram flour removes dead skin cells as well as excess oil and dirt. Turmeric has been shown to exhibit antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties which help to promote a non-shiny glow and luster to the skin.
Lemon’s antibacterial and antifungal properties get rid of excess oil, brightening the skin for a more even skin tone, while the lactic acid found in milk works to scourge excess cells from the skin while hydrating and nourishing to prevent the skin from drying out.
Gram flour, turmeric, lemon, and milk can be used in a paste for topical application.
- 2 tbsps gram flour
- 5 drops lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2-3 tbsps milk
- Water as needed
- Combine and mix ingredients.
- Apply evenly to your face and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Wash off with lukewarm water.
When combined, gram flour, turmeric, lemon, and milk offer a potent mix of exfoliating, antimicrobial, antifungal and non-oily hydrating properties to oily skin types. However, there is no research on these combined effects in face masks.
Exfoliating Face Masks for Acne
If you have acne-prone skin, consider trying an exfoliating face mask with charcoal among its ingredients. It works like a magnet to attract dirt and oil, cleaning the skin and eliminating excess oil that could lead to blackheads and acne.
Enzymes, particularly from papaya and pumpkin, are also commonly added to exfoliating masks. Like other fruit, papaya has alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) that can slough off dead skin cells. With regular use, it can work to fade acne as well.
DIY kefir & honey lactic acid exfoliating face mask for acne
Those with acne prone skin require an antibacterial nourishing skin treatment.
Honey is a natural antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal agent that reduces inflammation and draws moisture into the skin while kefir offers an ample dose of beneficial bacteria. It is also a natural source of lactic acid, which works to exfoliate your skin, clear away impurities in your pores, and hydrate all at once.
Kefir and honey can be used in a paste for topical application.
- ¼ cup plain kefir
- 1 tsp honey
- Combine and mix ingredients.
- Apply an even layer to your face and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Rinse off the mask thoroughly.
Combining kefir with antimicrobial honey may help soothe inflamed skin and prevent future breakouts. However, there is no research on the combined effects of kefir and honey in face masks.
Exfoliating Face Masks for Normal Skin
If you have skin that is neither dry or oily, and without blemishes, you have a normal skin type and can experiment with different exfoliants to determine what works best for your skin.
Exfoliating face masks which include a combination of AHAs and BHAs (such as a mix of glycolic and salicylic acid) work to simultaneously soothe and exfoliate respectively, for an overall refreshed complexion.
Masks containing naturally nourishing ingredients like iris root and rose extract may also be helpful to normal skin types.
DIY rice flour & green tea exfoliating face mask for normal skin
Normal skin types typically require a combination of exfoliating and replenishing skin care ingredients to maintain healthy-looking skin.
Rice flour gently exfoliates, leaving you with radiant, glowing skin, and green tea has powerful antioxidant properties, repairing and renewing skin while protecting it from environmental damage and pollutants.
Rice flour and green tea can be used in a paste for topical application.
- ½ cup freshly brewed green tea, cooled
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- Brew green tea for 15 minutes.
- Once it has cooled down, stir in the rice flour until blended and smooth.
- Apply the mask in small circular motions to maximize its exfoliating benefits.
- Leave the mixture on your face for 15 minutes.
- Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Combining rice flour with green tea may help to slough away dead skin cells while providing the skin with an antioxidant boost. However, there is no research on the combined effects of green tea and rice flour in face masks.
How to Use an Exfoliating Mask
It’s important to take your skin type and lifestyle into account when integrating exfoliating masks into your skin care routine in order to reap their skin care benefits.
Always be sure to perform a spot test when integrating a new exfoliating mask into your routine.
When using an exfoliating face mask, use a gentle cleanser beforehand to ensure any dirt, oil and makeup is removed.
Nighttime exfoliation is typically recommended so your skin can replenish while you sleep with fewer skin care products to compete with (particularly for those who wear makeup). If you have oily skin, or your face is dull and could use brightening when you wake up however, morning exfoliation may be better-suited to your skin.
Once you’ve rinsed off your exfoliating mask with lukewarm water, it’s important to follow up with a moisturizer of your choice to lock in hydration and prevent your skin from drying out.
Use your exfoliating face mask once or twice a week at first. Over time, if you see there are no adverse reactions, you can use it two to three times a week if needed.
It is always important to read the instructions when using at-home treatments, as wearing an exfoliating mask longer than the suggested amount of time could cause irritation, dryness, or flakiness.
Although exfoliation can be helpful for all skin types, exfoliating too much can harm your skin. Overexfoliating triggers inflammation, causing skin to become more vulnerable to sensitivities and infections.
If you notice any of the following signs of overexfoliation, stop treatments and wait until your skin returns to normal again. After that, wait several more days before reintroducing exfoliating masks to your skin care routine.
- The appearance of stretched, taut skin
- Sheer, translucent-looking skin
- Shiny skin
- Skin that is more sensitive than usual
- Irritated skin
- Increased dryness
As a general rule, those with dry skin should avoid exfoliating masks with salicylic acid as it tends to dry out and thin the skin.
Oily skin types should avoid any ingredients that strip skin of its natural oils (such as alcohol), as they do not keep oil at bay for long and they can add to your skin problems by also drying your skin out and causing flakiness. Additionally, avoiding oils high in oleic acid is wise (such as coconut oil), as it tends to sit heavily on top of the skin.
Alternatives to Exfoliating Masks
Although exfoliating face masks are generally considered safe when used as instructed, there is a potential for negative reactions between different ingredients, making it important to research the interactions between the ingredients in your chosen exfoliating mask and any skin care products you may already be using.
Although physical exfoliation is losing popularity, in part because it only works on the surface of the skin rather than penetrating to the skin’s deeper layers as chemical exfoliants do, and in part because many find it too abrasive, you may opt for the gentle use of a manual exfoliation device.
A brush or a glove, used with care, can act as an effective exfoliant if you are sensitive to chemical exfoliants for any reason.
Exfoliating masks are an effective form of chemical exfoliation suited to a wide range of skin types depending on the active ingredients in your selected product.
Those wishing to avoid the abrasiveness of manual exfoliation may benefit from the use of an exfoliating mask.
It’s important to always use exfoliating masks as instructed and not to overexfoliate in order to avoid possible redness, irritation and flakiness.
DIY exfoliating masks are easy to make and use at home and can be effectively catered to a variety of skin types and conditions.