In difficult times like these, you might look to a handful of proven stress relievers: mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, even sex.
But, superficial as it may seem to someone who’s spending their newfound free time reaching spiritual enlightenment for fun, there’s no denying the soothing quality of a good face mask.
Weeks into shelter-in-place orders, Instagram hashtags like #dailymask are racking up numbers as more and more of us get our daily relaxing beauty fix using hydrating sheet masks, exfoliating masks, and everything in between.
A good skincare regimen includes a number of different steps—cleansing, toning, hydrating, exfoliating, and so on.
That sounds like a lot, but every step is crucial for gorgeous, younger-looking skin. Luckily, with all of the products available now, keeping up with your skincare routine is easier than you think.
For example, when it comes to cleansing, you can find plenty of salon-quality products at your local drugstore. When it comes to hydrating, medical-grade remedies like the OVI Deep Cleansing Face Mask deliver deep hydration to plump, firm, and smooth your skin.
People have been using face masks as part of their skincare regimen for millennia.
Cleopatra was said to have used clay, dead sea mud and egg whites as facial masks in ancient Egypt and other cultures, followed by natural facial and skin care practices.
Regardless of the ingredients used, all recognized the importance of caring for the skin.
If you’re out shopping for a face mask, you’ll find a large variety to choose from. There are so many on the market that you may not know which one to buy or how often to use it. The answer? It depends on several factors:
- Your skin type
- Your age
- The time of year
- The weather
If you have oily skin
Oily skin is more prone to breakouts and acne than dry skin, and a mask that unclogs the pores and removes trapped oil and dirt is best.
Clay masks work well to draw out the oil, but they should only be worn for 15 minutes and no more than three times a week.
They’re more effective if you don’t let them dry completely. Look for face masks that feature hyaluronic acid or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).
If your skin is sensitive or dry
If your skin is already sensitive or dry, you need to watch out for facial masks that could stress your skin.
A hydrating mask is best and should include hyaluronic acid and ceramides. It might also have aloe, olive oil and/or witch hazel oil for extra moisture.
One that has oatmeal may help to de-stress sensitive skin.
Applying a face mask more than once a week can dry out your skin even more.
If your skin is mature
Mature skin begins to lose elasticity and can look dull. A facial mask that hydrates and evens skin tone is helpful. Look for masks that feature antioxidants to fight free radicals and collagen to improve elasticity.
An exfoliating mask that includes AHA can help remove dead skin cells that make skin look dull. If you use an anti-aging mask, apply it no more than twice a week.
Consider the season and weather
Skin tends to be dryer in the winter than in the summer.
When it’s cold outside, your cheeks can become red and chapped, and they need more attention.
You can safely use a moisturizing mask several times a week in the winter.
On the other hand, your skin may need more oil control in the heat of summer. If you have acne, symptoms may become more apparent.
A mask that cleanses and refreshes – one with clay or perhaps seaweed – may help. In the summer, you probably will want to use a facial mask only once a week.
What Is a Face Mask?
Just like your serums, face oils, and moisturizers, face masks are loaded with active ingredients to treat and prevent skin concerns.
Facial masks are often used for:
These can be in the form of wash-off masks, leave-on masks, sheet masks, or peel-off masks.
Face Mask Ingredients To Know
To protect your skin, it’s especially important to check the ingredients listed on each mask’s packaging.
Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve, you’ll want to look for specific words and phrases. For example, the following words are important to note:
Products designed for the above purposes sometimes contain harsh chemicals that can damage your skin if used more often than recommended.
On the other hand, ingredients that are safe for daily use include:
- Hyaluronic acid
Now that we understand that not all products are suggested daily let’s look at how this general advice applies to specific products, like the charcoal face mask, the Korean face mask, the DIY face mask, and more.
Types of Face Masks
Brightening masks are wonderful for lightening hyperpigmentation and perking up dull skin for a more radiant complexion.
Some powerful skin-brighteners are:
- Fruit enzymes like papaya or pineapple extracts
- Ginseng extract
- Licorice root extract
- Vitamin C
Based on the list above, we see that some of the substances used in brightening masks are also active ingredients.
Hence it’s best to use them only once or twice a week to prevent over-sensitizing your skin.
Tip — choose a brightening mask that also contains calming or hydrating ingredients like chamomile extract, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid to minimize redness and sensitivity.
Charcoal Face Masks
Charcoal masks contain activated charcoal, which absorbs excess oil and draws out impurities from the skin.
This makes them an ideal pick if you have oily skin and blackheads or reside in a polluted area.
However, since charcoal masks can be drying on the skin, we recommend using them once a week first and see how your skin responds before increasing them to two times per week.
Although they can be very beneficial, charcoal face masks can also be extremely harsh and may damage your skin.
While these masks can be useful for certain problems, the result is often not worth the risk.
First of all, we will say that the main ingredient—charcoal—does have some benefits for your skin.
When you apply activated charcoal to your skin, it draws bacteria, toxins, chemicals, dirt, oil, and other micro-particles to the surface. It then absorbs those foreign substances and carries them away when you rinse the charcoal off your face.
So what’s the problem, then?
Charcoal can strip all of the natural oils from your face—even the beneficial ones that act as a natural barrier against dust, bacteria, dirt, UV rays, and other harmful agents.
When you peel off a charcoal mask, you’re exposing your delicate skin to all of the toxins and pollutants in the air.
Because of the aggressiveness of charcoal face masks, we recommend using one a maximum of once per month. Anything more can cause significant issues later on.
Gelatin Face Masks
Like charcoal face masks, gelatin face masks are tough on your skin. While gelatin face masks are great for boosting collagen production (that’s because gelatin is made out of dried animal collagen!), that benefit is often offset by the irritation caused during removal.
We’ll start with the good—as a gelatin face mask dries on your skin, it adds moisture and nutrients that stimulate and promote collagen growth, heal damaged skin, improve elasticity, and add volume.
While this process is going on, the gelatin is also lightly binding to the dirt, oil, dead cells, and toxins on the surface of your skin.
When you peel off your gelatin mask, all of these things are stripped away, along with a small layer of your skin.
Once in a while, this is beneficial, but stripping your skin away isn’t something you want to do on a daily basis.
Because of the potentially damaging effects, we recommend using a gelatin face mask no more than two times per month.
Korean Sheet Face Masks
Korean sheet face masks have recently exploded in popularity. While some of the ingredients they contain can help heal your skin, the real benefit comes from the moisture the masks provide.
Unfortunately, the effects of a Korean face mask may only last as long as the sheet is wet. Once the sheet has dried out (after about 20 minutes), it can pull vitamins and minerals away from your skin.
Certain Korean face masks also contain harmful chemicals, so it’s important to limit your use and read the ingredients you are applying to your skin very carefully.
With the right Korean face mask, you could wear it every day. However, the extra ingredients may clog your pores and cause more harm over time than the mask can counteract. That’s why we recommend using a Korean face mask a maximum of once per week.
Clay Face Masks
Clay face masks work well for pretty much every skin type without causing irritation or redness.
These masks are super versatile and can be effectively used for treating both acne and signs of aging.
So if you’re one of the unlucky ones who have to deal with both those conditions simultaneously, then the clay mask is what you want to try.
One of the best benefits of clay masks is that they remove excess oil from your skin while saturating it with the nutrients it needs.
That’s because clay masks are filled with minerals your skin craves. As the mask absorbs on your face, nutrients sink into your skin and make it look soft, smooth and even brighter!
Still, too much of a good thing is never that good. So how often should you use clay face masks?
While they can be used daily, that’s not always necessary.
Depending on your skin type, using a clay mask one to two days per week can do wonders to help you restore and maintain a radiant complexion.
Tea Face Masks
There’s a reason so many people swear by the benefits of green tea (matcha), kombucha (a.k.a. black tea ferment), and other tea-infused drinks. But tea isn’t just for sipping—it’s super beneficial when applied to your skin.
When you apply a tea-based face mask, your skin is treated to a rich dose of vitamins, which nourishes your skin and helps rid it of all the free radicals from your day-to-day life. Different types of tea masks target different problem areas.
GREEN TEA FACE MASK
Green tea masks are best for improving skin complexion and fighting signs of aging.
BLACK TEA FACE MASK
Black tea contains natural antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and promote your skin’s longevity.
ROOIBOS TEA MASKS
Rooibos tea maks are particularly helpful for fighting pimples and acne.
Even though tea masks are natural and minimally harmful to your skin, we suggest using them at most once per week. That’s just the right amount of times to reap the amazing benefits tea masks have to offer.
As its name suggests, overnight masks are not your usual kind of wash-off masks.
Instead, this type of facial mask is meant to be applied and left on overnight so that the mask can work its magic while you sleep.
Since most overnight masks contain humectants and occlusives, these hydrating and moisturizing masks can be used two to three times a week for most skin types.
If you have dry skin, consider increasing the frequency to more than three times a week or use it daily.
DIY Face Masks
DIY face masks are a fun and beneficial addition to any skincare routine. They’re super easy, and you can often find the ingredients you need right in your pantry. DIY face masks contain a wide range of natural, healthy ingredients like:
- Coconut oil
- Aloe vera
These foods are beneficial for your skin when eaten and even better when applied topically.
And depending on the ingredients, you can treat a variety of skin problems without the risk of side effects. Because of their natural nature, you can use a DIY face mask as often as every three days.
It’s important to note that DIY face masks may not provide fast or lasting results.
A Note About Citric Acid
Light amounts of citric acid from citrus fruits—like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes—can help brighten and exfoliate the skin while also helping to fight against acne.
However, if left on too long, citric acid can bleach and burn your skin. As such, we recommend avoiding any type of mask that contains citric acid.
If you choose to use a citric acid product (or include one in your DIY face mask recipe), proceed with caution. If you feel any discomfort during your treatment, remove the mask immediately and rinse your face with cool water.
What face masks do
When you use a face mask as part of your skincare routine, it’s usually to target a specific problem:
- To reverse the signs of aging
- To exfoliate
- To clear up acne
Using face masks consistently can help remove impurities, dirt, dead skin cells, makeup and excess oil buildup and generally improve your skin tone.
How to prepare your skin for a face mask
Before you apply a face mask, make sure you choose one according to your skin type. Regardless of skin type, you need to prepare your skin:
- Wash your hands.
- Cleanse your face.
- Use a mild exfoliating product to remove dead skin cells.
- Steam your face to open the pores and help the mask adhere better.
If you can, apply a thin layer of the mask with a brush; less is more when it comes to face masks.
Put a slice of cucumber over your eyelids to reduce puffiness, sit back and relax.
Just make sure you gently and thoroughly rinse off all traces of the mask and leave it on only as long as recommended.
Benefits of face masks
In addition to making your skin feel better, a facial mask provides many benefits. It can:
- Refine pores
- Improve skin texture and tone
- Absorb oil and dirt
- Hydrate the skin
- Minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Soften and smooth the skin
- Brighten and tighten
- Increase elasticity
- Reduce under-eye bags and puffiness
- Clear acne
Remember to always cleanse your skin before masking to achieve the best results.
You can also exfoliate before applying a face mask to help the formula better penetrate your skin.
Once your skin is clean and prepped for your mask, apply a chickpea-sized amount to your face (and neck if you desire). Don’t overdo it, as only a thin layer is usually necessary to be effective.