Misconceptions of Masking: What Your Face Really Wants

I love to mask. One of my favorite things to do at home just before my bedtime shower is to apply mask on my face. My skin magically goes from dry, tight and taut to relaxed, hydrated and soothed. This is a ritual that a mask-fanatic like me faithfully perform at least once or twice a week. So, it comes as shocking news to me when I ask how often other women (like my girlfriends) mask on their own, and the answer is almost never. Oh dear.

This is an obvious indicator there is a big misconception about masks as part of a woman’s facial routine. The usual excuses most women don’t mask as often as they should are: no time, too lazy, takes too long, cannot remember as it is not part of daily skincare routine, too expensive, no use and not necessary.

While masking is not an essential part of one’s daily skincare routine, it does make a huge difference to the condition and appearance of complexion. Trust me, I know. If you just want a clean face, then fine. Read no further. But if you want a clean face that radiates and glows without much tell-tale sign of aging (ie. pigmentation, wrinkles, saggy skin), then your daily facial cleanser, toner and moisturizer is simply not good enough.

Like serums, masks are problem solvers. Different kinds of masks address different kinds of problem and needs.

The act of masking is actually quite easy. Just slap it on and spread over your face, avoid eyes and lip area. Some masks can be quick. Especially clay masks. Clay masks, unlike hydrating or moisturizing masks, need to be removed once it dries on the skin, which is normally within ten minutes or so. Don’t leave a clay mask on for too long. It should not be dried and cracked on your skin before rinse off. Hydrating or moisturizing masks, on the other hand, can be left on for a very long time if you like. Some brands even recommend that you sleep with them on. But that is a little too long for me.

5 Main Types of Masks You Need to Know

Clay mask. Clay masks are excellent extractors of facial oil. If you have oily or acne-prone skin due to oil-clogged pores, clay masks are a must-have. Clays that are great for skin are usually bentonite or kaolin. Acne-prone skin types should look for clay masks with natural bacteria-killing ingredients such as camphor, sulfur or eucalyptus. Clay masks with sulfur make excellent spot treatments if left on a blemish spot overnight (read my review on Sisley: Creamy Mask with Topical Resins). There are a lot of different types of clay (or mud) masks in the market. The general rule of thumb is the darker color the clay, the more oil it can absorb. Popular white or pink-colored clay masks are usually gentler and works best on sensitive skin.

Hydrating mask. Hydrating masks are typically gel-textured masks. They are formulated to deliver moisture and water content to the skin. Hydrating masks works for all skin types because our face is almost always exposed to sun, wind and air; and in constant need of moisture replenishment. Look out for great hydrating masks made with aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) or sodium hyaluronte. If you use a hydrating mask before going to a special event, don’t be surprised to find your makeup goes on smoother, stays on longer and your complexion appears plumper and younger-looking.

Moisturizing mask. Moisturizing masks are excellent deliverers of moisture. This is not to be confused with the hydrating mask. Hydrating masks add water content, whereas moisturizing masks add good oil back into your skin. They not only replenish essential oils but moisturizing masks also help seal in hydration. A great moisturizing mask should be rich in lipid such as oils, shea butter, honey and avocado extracts. These masks are normally cream-textured. Perfect for dry skin or when used during dry season.

Brightening or Whitening mask. Brightening or whitening masks are the super boosters of masks. They usually contain high concentrates of vitamin C and other vitamin complexes to combat specific problems such as tired-looking skin or pigmentation. These masks are great for all skin types. I know a lot of women who cannot go without these before an important event. Powerful antioxidants contained in brightening and whitening masks boost an instant glow, brighten uneven skin tone and slow down melanin activity (hyper-pigmentation) giving you a fairer complexion.

Peel off mask. Peel off masks are powerful extractors and typically come in gel-based elasticity texture. These masks are excellent for deep cleansing and, literally, lifting off impurities, dead skin cells and excess oil from your skin’s surface. Regular use of peel off masks will prevent blackheads, dirt, oil and makeup residue buildup; and unblock your skin’s pores to better absorb nutrients from your skincare products. Though peel off masks are not as absorbent as clay masks, they tighten the skin temporarily and stimulate blood flow. Look for a peel off mask with botanical extracts or natural active enzymes. Perfect for dry and mature skin types.

For all of the masks mentioned, there are many different forms of application. Some come in a jar where you can spread on your face with your hands, and some come in a sheet where the face-shaped sheet cloth is infused with mask substance. In Asia, most women are crazy about sheet masks. They are convenient, easy to use and come in a wide variety of mask formulas.

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