- Face masks are designed to target specific skin concerns through a deep-penetrating formula.
- These masks effectively tighten, brighten, balance and hydrate the skin.
- Face masks may be purchased or made at home from natural ingredients.
A face mask is intended to deliver highly concentrated amounts of soothing, nourishing ingredients to revitalize the skin. The active ingredients are formulated to penetrate deeply into pores to provide optimal results.
Masks are commonly used to hydrate, clarify, exfoliate, tighten, balance and plump the skin. There are masks for every skin type and concern, and they can easily be incorporated into your skin care routine.
Why Use a Face Mask?
A mask delivers targeted, immediate treatment for a specific skin concern such as acne, inflammation, redness, uneven skin tone and dryness. Some can offer soothing and healing benefits after skin rejuvenation or resurfacing procedures.
Cleansing masks are designed to remove grime and residue from pores, and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Charcoal, clay and peel-off masks can all loosen and lift debris, leaving skin feeling cleaner, tighter and smoother.
Face masks are often included as one part of a comprehensive treatment plan for acne-prone skin. Inflammation, excess oil and blocked pores are typical symptoms of acne; to help treat and prevent breakouts, appropriate masks for acne contain active ingredients that are anti-inflammatory and gently exfoliating.
Skin tightening masks encourage collagen production and are made with rejuvenating, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging ingredients. These are appropriate for multiple skin types and are designed to restore a more youthful-looking appearance by improving the appearance of sagging, aging skin.
Types of Face Masks
Multiple types of face masks are available for all skin types that are formulated with specific ingredients to address a wide variety of skin concerns.
Peel-off face masks
Peel-off face masks work to lift impurities from pores and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. These are applied to the skin, allowed to dry, and then peeled off. This action removes the top layer of grime and impurities from the skin’s surface. Peel-off masks are best suited for surface cleansing, rather than removing blackheads or whiteheads.
Some peel-off masks can cause irritation and dryness; others are made with glue that can damage skin. Peeling them off, especially abruptly or with force, can strip healthy skin cells and the hair on your face, called vellus hair.
Sheet masks are single-use, serum-soaked fabric or paper. These are applied to the face for a specific period of time to allow pores to absorb the nourishing ingredients. Sheet masks are occlusive, sealing in their ingredients while they work.
While sheet masks are effective, they are no more so than their cream or gel mask counterparts. These are available in economical tubes or jars, making single-use sheet masks more expensive in the long term. Further, because they seal the skin and raise the skin’s temperature when applied, they can trigger a breakout in someone who is acne-prone.
Korean face masks
Korean face masks are available in sheet, cream and gel formulations. Masks made with Korean skin care philosophy in mind tend to focus on cultivating a healthy glow – moisturizing and brightening the skin through innovative formulas and all-natural active ingredients.
Korean sheet masks include hydrogel, point, rubber and charcoal varieties. While all types hydrate, additionally, the charcoal sheet mask draw out impurities.
These masks are more expensive than cream, clay and charcoal masks. For those with acne-prone or oily skin, these masks should be avoided as they can block pores and worsen acne breakouts.
Cream face masks are deep-penetrating, moisturizing and rejuvenating. They help plump and tighten the skin and are appropriate for normal to dry skin types.
These are available in multiple formulations for specific concerns, such as plumping, tightening, brightening and hydrating the skin. Cream masks aren’t intended for overnight wear and should be washed off after a few minutes.
Clay masks are available in a variety of formulations for a range of skin concerns. They’re well known for leaving skin feeling smooth and hydrated without causing a tight or oily sensation. Clay masks are ideal for the T-zone and are appropriate for most skin types.
The clay in the mask absorbs excess oil from the surface of the skin, making this an ideal choice for those with oily skin. Sensitive skin types should use caution, as clay can be difficult to wash off and may cause irritation; those with dry skin should avoid clay altogether as it may further exacerbate dryness.
Clay masks are meant to set for about 10–15 minutes then rinsed off as soon as it begins feeling firm. Rinse gently to remove.
Charcoal masks attract and gently remove dirt from pores to cleanse and clarify the skin. They function similarly to clay masks, removing excess oils without a tight or dry feeling afterward. They are available in peel-off, cream and gel formulations.
How to Pick the Best Face Mask for Your Skin Type
When choosing a face mask, it’s important to consider skin type and skin care goals; the best mask will depend on individual needs.
Look for face mask ingredients that will encourage cleansing and open up pores. Your face mask should be hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic and nonacnegenic. Avoid irritating ingredients such as menthol, fragrances, high alcohol content or polyvinyl alcohol (an irritant in peel-off masks).
For oily skin, charcoal and clay masks are excellent options. Both charcoal and clay draw excess oil from the skin and leave it feeling smooth. Avoid emollient ingredients that can clog pores and trap oil.
Gel masks are effective for soothing and cooling sensitive, inflamed, dry or swollen skin. Niacinamide is a calming active ingredient that reduces inflammation especially in rosacea-prone skin.
A word about face masks for men
Face masks for men are similar to women’s. If you’re a man looking to incorporate a face mask into your skin care routine, you may want to think about how you’d like to improve your skin and what concerns you may want to address, such as deep cleansing, exfoliating and reducing the appearance of large pores.
If you don’t want to use products with a floral or perfumed scent, read ingredient labels and choose products with ingredients that suit your needs. Alternatively, there are skin care products specifically designed for men that include face masks.
Best Face Masks for Acne
When choosing a face mask to address acne, your best choices are clay, charcoal and gentle peel-off masks that help clear dirt and debris from pores. Sheet masks can clog pores, so avoid them if you’re looking to fight blemishes and calm your breakouts.
The best face masks for acne include exfoliating and anti-inflammatory ingredients including:
How to Use a Face Mask
It’s simple to incorporate a face mask into your nighttime skin care routine. Always use products as directed, and for best results, apply a mask several times a week.
- Cleanse with a gentle face wash before application
- Sheet, clay, charcoal, cream and gel masks should be applied after you wash your face, then rinsed off before you complete the rest of your bedtime skin care steps
- A face mask designed for overnight wear should be applied as the final step of your skin care routine before bed
DIY Face Masks
DIY face masks can be easily made and applied at home using natural ingredients. While they may provide results, they are generally not as effective as those purchased because those have been specifically formulated and tested for specific conditions.
However, for a cost-effective alternative to commercial face mask products, and if you wish to use all-natural ingredients, a DIY mask is an excellent alternative.
Natural face mask ingredients
Some people prefer naturally-derived skin care ingredients vs. synthetic ingredients found in commercial products; for others, certain natural and plant-derived ingredients may be less irritating than products that contain chemical ingredients or synthetic fragrances.
Before you apply your DIY mask, make sure you do a patch test on a small area of your skin to ensure you aren’t allergic or sensitive to the ingredients.
Some common natural face mask ingredients include:
- Aloe vera
- Argan oil
- Baking soda
- Egg white
- Green tea
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Tea tree and other essential oils
Face masks are formulated to treat a variety of skin concerns such as acne, inflammation, uneven skin tone and dryness. A variety of choices are available, including sheet, clay, cream and charcoal masks. Benefits of using a mask several times a week include moisturizing, exfoliating, skin tightening and skin brightening.
These masks are an effective way to deliver a single, potent dose of nourishing, revitalizing ingredients to your skin. Researching the right ingredients and type of mask for your skin is vital to gain the most benefits for your skin and effectively address any skin concerns.
Face masks can be an important addition to your skin care regimen. By complementing your routine with a mask chosen for your individual needs, you can improve the look and feel of your skin.
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