by Flora Bescansa Luers
Skincare masks: whether you’ve heard of them or not, they’ve become quite a phenomenon in the skincare world and can be an important component of your skincare routine. Knowing where to start depends on a variety of factors. According to WebMD, “The type of face mask you choose should depend on your skincare goals, skin type, and product quality.”
There are a wide variety of masks categories and specific types of masks which fall within those categories:
- Sheet masks
- Composed of fabric or paper soaked in skincare ingredients. Can be hydrating, brightening, and/or exfoliating. Essentially, a piece of cloth or paper soaked in a water-based serum. Good for dry dehydrated skin and those looking for an easy-to-use and easy-to-remove mask. Dehydrated skin can apply to all skin types, including oily skin. In fact, your skin may be overproducing oils as a response to a lack of hydration and moisture. You can choose to not rinse these off after removal as you have essentially applied a serum - but on steroids.
- Peel-off masks
- Usually contain polyvinyl alcohol as the ingredient that dries in a glue-like fashion and then can be peeled off. The jury is out on the benefit of this type of mask, with some saying it can moisturize better than traditional lotions and gently remove dead skin cells, and others saying they are drying and harsh. Use at your own discretion and always read ingredient lists.
- Clay masks
- Made of clay, sulfur or mud. This type of mask dries out your skin, removing excess oils and impurities. “Best for oily or combination skin that is prone to clogged pores”(Renée Rouleau Blog). Can be good to use strictly on areas like the forehead that get more oily - read on for advice on multi-masking. Also exfoliates skin. Renée Rouleau’s Blog recommends not using clay masks for most skin types, or using them on targeted areas, as well as using a hydrating serum underneath to offset the drying effect. Will work best for oily skin or during the summer months.
- Hydrogel masks
- Similar to a sheet mask, but made of a gel-type material that is more effective at holding moisture in. No distinct difference from a sheet mask other than the improved efficacy of retaining moisture. Excellent for dry dehydrated skin, dehydration applying to all skin types including oily skin. As with a sheet mask, you can leave on the remaining product as a serum, unless the mask contains sensitizing ingredients.
- Bubble masks
- “Bubble masks usually have a gel texture that transforms into a bubbling foam once applied to the face. They are trend(y) and it looks fun, but the foaming effect has no benefit for skin and the ingredients that make the mask foam can irritate skin”(Paula’s Choice). Worth it if you’re looking for a fun experience, but not if you’re concerned for your skin’s health.
- Cream masks
- Essentially a thick moisturizer, but more potent and with more concentrated ingredients. Excellent for dry skin. Can be used as an overnight mask. Not recommended for combination or oily skin as it may clog pores.
- Gel masks
- A viscous gel consistency mask that usually contains one or more skincare ingredients to benefit the skin. Typically water-based and oil free. Have a cooling sensation. Can be stored in the fridge for even more of a cooling sensation. Deeply hydrating, and can be used as an overnight mask. Good for all skin types!
Now, what is multi-masking? Well, it’s quite simple: the practice of putting two or more masks in different areas of the face. Say you have an oily t-zone but the rest of your face is dry. Perhaps you would do a clay mask on the t-zone and a gel or cream mask on the rest of your face. To multi-mask, first assess your skin type and your skin’s needs. Then select a mask that can benefit you in the areas you’re lacking. You should wash your face before applying any mask, and then apply the masks to the areas they are relevant to, leave on for the recommended time, and rinse off.
Masks can be a key part of your skincare routine if you so choose, but they’re not necessary. If you have a specific skin need, or need more potent ingredients for faster results, they’re a good option. Not to mention they’re fun to do, by your lonesome or with friends and loved ones. And to conclude, as a general rule you avoid masks that contain “irritating ingredients like alcohol, mint, menthol, eucalyptus, camphor and fragrances (natural and synthetic)”(Paula’s Choice).
Lyons, Jennifer. “How to Choose a Facial Mask.” Edited by Melinda Ratini, WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/how-to-choose-facial-mask.
Rouleau, Renée. “What Type of Face Mask Is Best for My Skin?” Expert Skin Advice from Renee Rouleau, 24 Feb. 2022, https://blog.reneerouleau.com/best-face-mask-for-skin-type/.
“What Is Multi-Masking?” Kiehl's – Naturally Inspired Skin Care, Body and Haircare, https://www.kiehls.com/skincare-advice/what-is-multi-masking.html.
“What Type of Face Mask Is Best for My Skin Type?: Paula's Choice.” Paula's Choice EU, https://www.paulaschoice-eu.com/best-face-mask-for-my-skintype.