Ode to Masks...
Oh, the glorious and delectable joy (with reliable benefits) of a good face mask…or masque, as I fancily like to spell it!
Like a great yoga class, Pilates class, acupuncture treatment or massage session, when we finally give ourselves the gift of a masque treatment we wonder: “Why-oh-why did I wait so long?” Great question to pose, since masques feel really good. And we feel really good after doing them (and, look really good for having done them; that’s a big dose of really good!).
Masques are “specific,” meaning we can choose targeted areas of skin concern we’d like them to address, and the good ones truly deliver. A sampling of the many things we can ask a masque to do? Add extra hydration or moisture, add antioxidant and nutritional support, provide smoothing exfoliation, help improve over-all vibrancy, maintain a blemish-free state, refine pores, discourage lines-wrinkles-and-sagging, and create a silkier, more velvety texture—just to name a few!
Masques absolutely cannot take the place of a complete, properly prescribed and followed AM and PM home skin care regimen (realness here: nothing can!). However, I can say with complete confidence that they can be a gorgeously helpful part of that regimen.
Several of you asked me to address a few of the biggest “urban myths” surrounding masques. Let’s dive in!
Masque Myth #1: “Masques take too long.”
Nay!!! Did you know that some masques take no extra time at all?! Accurate info: there are masques that require only simple application before stepping into your shower or bath, and the steam does the rest! A good gel hydrating mask or creamy moisturizing mask is solidly in this category...the extra moisture in the air keeps your masque “active” longer! (Cool “Masque Science”: once a hydrating or moisturizing masque has “dried,” it’s no longer active. So! Prolonging the moist, “active” phase of your mask is hugely beneficial.)
Simply cleanse your face as normal (or, cleanse-then-exfoliate if it’s your “exfoliation day”), then apply your masque before stepping into the bath or shower. Ta-da! Leave your masque on the whole time you’re in the shower (or bath). You can rinse your masque off just before getting out of the shower, or leave it on while completing your regular routine (teeth brushing, applying body moisturizer, packing lunch, etc.). Then, rinse off your masque when you’re ready. This is such a beautifully fast, easy way to bring additional benefits to your skin! It really doesn’t add much extra time into your schedule at all. Feel free to apply masques like this as often as you wish. (Yes, that means daily is A-OK! Repeating here: hydrating gel masques and moisturizing creamy masques can be applied as often as needed by your skin—even as often as every day.) Pro-Masque Tip: be sure to apply these masques a minimum of once per week—and more often as needed by your skin—to start reaping the full benefits.
You can even get fancy with your hydrating gel masque or moisturizing creamy masque if you’d like; here’s how: after cleansing (or cleansing-and-exfoliating), apply a good serum and then apply your masque over the top. Drier skin types can apply a good facial oil over the serum, if desired. Then, massage in the masque. Gentle massaging increases your skin’s ability to absorb your serum and masque, and also helps relieve facial tension...ahhhhh...which feels good and has multiple skin benefits. Among those mega-benefits? Increased circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrition to your lovely face...which is a full-on complexion beautifier. If your masque needs more moisture to keep it “massage-able,” spritz it with a good hydrating mist (or just mist with purified water) as you massage. Just a few minutes of gentle massage will do the trick, and then you can simply allow your mask to “rest” on your skin as usual until you’re ready to remove it. (A note: massaging is probably not the best option for breakout-prone, rosacea-prone or otherwise easily inflamed skin. If your beautiful skin is in those categories, just allowing your masque to “rest in place” is absolutely wonderful and therapeutic; no need to massage anything in.)
Some masques need to dry completely in order for your skin to gain those full benefits (examples: seaweed, clay and mud masques…or any masque where the instructions inform you to “leave the masque on until completely dry”). These masques work well in the bath but are tougher in the shower (trying to keep our face masques dry?!…Arg…Oops…Eek!…Ha!). Soooo, for me…I actually apply this type of masque in the AM after I cleanse-and-exfoliate—and then I’ll leave it on, while I do other AM essentials: make a protein shake or green smoothie, fold a load of laundry, put away the clean dishes, make the bed, water the house plants, answer email, read online celebrity gossip (ha!), put fresh water in my cat’s water dish, dry brush…whatever’s on my to-do list. (Once, I answered the door for a UPS delivery driver while I was wearing a very green masque. I’d just put it on, so there was no way I was taking it off—I was not wasting that masque--it wasn’t done yet! Besides, it was “masque day!” And I didn’t want to miss the delivery! (Ultimately, the UPS guy was very polite and pretended that he even didn’t notice that my face was intensely green…win-win!). After my masque is dry, I’ll rinse it off when I hop in the shower after my chores are done. These types of masques generally work best when applied between one and four times per week.
(Reminder: masques that must “dry” on your skin can’t really be massaged in too much; they work best by just allowing them to “rest” on your face so they can do their thing. If you prefer a masque you can really massage in, remember that those would be the hydrating gel masques and moisturizing creamy masques.)
Whenever in doubt about the best way to apply your masque, follow the instructions of your esthetician; if that guidance isn’t readily available to you, simply look for the instructions on your masque’s packaging.
Masque Myth #1, busted: masques don’t have to take extra time! Unless….you want them to! You can put on a masque, and quite literally put your feet up…read, nap, journal, meditate, just sit, sip a cup of tea, feed yourself fresh fruit, ponder life, or ponder nothing at all…this is all “masque-ing time well spent!” No matter how you choose to masque (it’s a verb: To Masque!), your complexion will reap abundant rewards.
A word about “sheet masks”: fads appear-and-fade with ferocious regularity in the skin care world, and “sheet masks” have recently been in the fray. Here’s the 411: there’s nothing wrong with sheet masks, in general. They provide an occlusive quality that can be helpful with product penetration (“occlusive” means providing a physical barrier, in this case keeping hydration and products locked next to your luscious skin). If you’ve applied a lovely serum underneath your sheet mask, that serum combined with the fact that sheet masks can remain moist for a very long time…can create a superb environment for product penetration. Many of you know I do sometimes use sheet masks in my professional facials, as a part of an entire skin care ritual, because the above-mentioned bonuses are useful. (Also, my professional grade sheet masks are overflowing with beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, rose oil, aloe…)
The slightly negative side of sheet masks is this: in many of the commercial retail versions you can buy for home use, there’s a long list of ingredients—not all of them great—and it’s very hard to know if there’s enough of the beneficial ingredients to really positively impact your skin. (For example: is there enough viable vitamin C in your commercial sheet mask to actually brighten your skin if you use it regularly? It’s almost impossible to know for sure, because manufacturers are not required to list compositional ingredient percentages on their packaging. Sheet masks for home-use are also such a fad right now that it’s a given that not all companies selling them are long-term, well-established trusted skin care experts, and instead are just opportunistic grifters trying to make a quick buck…off of you.)
The other negative with sheet masks is that they just DO NOT get into every nook and cranny of your face the way good old gel, cream, seaweed, clay or whatever goopy-mask-in-a-jar-you-apply-with-your-hands does. Depending on how your face is shaped, there will likely be areas around your eyes, nose or mouth that the sheet mask doesn’t fully cover in the same way a goopy, mask-in-a-jar would. Sheet masks are also prone to getting little air pockets and creases that make it hard to evenly cover your entire face. (This is another reason why, if I do use a sheet mask in your facial, I bathe your skin with beneficial serums first…so not one scintilla of your facial skin is omitted from receiving luscious treatment.)
Masque Myth #2: “Masques don’t really do anything.”
Nay nay nay!!! If your own masque seems to be doing nothing for your complexion, you’re probably using a masque that doesn’t provide the benefits your particular skin needs—or, perhaps your masque is not being applied in the best way for your skin to reap the benefits. (No worries, Beauty! These trifling annoyances are fixable!) Check with your esthetician to make sure you’re matched with a masque that will benefit your individual skin, and that you have the full skinny on the best way to apply the masque. You can also check out the complete masque list below, and chose a great masque with full instructions for best use. Masque-ing is a sweet and simple way to boost your regular skin care regimen—full stop.
Pro-tip: most masques will do some very lovely things for your lips as well! In the majority of cases, it’s very beneficial to include your lips when you’re masque-ing.
It’s time to bring some beautifying masque-love into your life! There most definitely is a mask that will work for you…
Gorgeous Masque Options: ELEVEN (11!!!) of them (including full instructions for how to use to get the maximum benefit from your masque, as well as complete info on what masque is best for your skin type…just click on each link)…
1) Rosemary and Geranium Creme Cleansing Masque~ This incredible treatment works as a cleanser and masque in one. Rich in therapeutic-quality nourishing oils and anti-oxidants, this revolutionary, herbal cleansing cream (originally formulated for professional treatments) will deeply purify your skin. Replete with aloe, rose, squalane, apricot, avocado, calendula, green clay, propolis, rosemary, coconut and a proprietary blend of essential oils, this unsurpassed cleansing masque will not only thoroughly cleanse your skin's surface, but will eliminate deeper toxins without stripping your skin’s natural oils. This may be the most purifying, regenerating cleansing masque in existence! Very good for nearly all skin types, but especially good for clogged pores, skin that is prone to milia, breakout-prone skin that is dehydrated or oily, and skin that is both oily and dehydrated at the same time. May not be the best option for skin highly sensitive to essential oils. This cleansing masque is especially beneficial when gently massaged into the skin, and may be worn in the bath or shower. Either this masque or this masque may be applied over the top, to add pore-refining and firming benefits.
2) Sulphuric Exfoliating Masque~ This gentle, exfoliating mask of zinc, sulphur and peppermint calms and heals breakouts. It gently clarifies and balances, while helping to smooth and soften your skin, leaving your complexion calmed and restored. This mask is especially lovely for sensitive skin, breakout-prone skin, and breakout-prone skin that is either oily or dehydrated. This is a mineral-rich mask that works best when it’s left to rest on your skin until it dries completely.
3) Anti-Wrinkle and Detox Seaweed Masque~ This beautiful blend of organic spirulina, seaweeds and biodynamic lavender hydrosol is incomparable…it’s a holistic creation that provides a synergy of profoundly renewing vitamins and minerals that infuse your complexion with a healthy glow. It heals and restores as well deeply rejuvenates. Red marine algae—known for its antiviral properties—aids in circulation, hydration and subtle, gentle exfoliation. This therapeutic treatment will leave your skin feeling beautiful, smooth and firm. Nearly every skin type benefits from this mask, but it’s especially good for breakout-prone skin, sensitive and breakout-prone skin, oily skin, and skin prone to enlarged/clogged pores. This mask works best when it is allowed to rest in place until it dries completely.
4) Repair Masque & Activator~This Repair Masque is actually both an exceptional exfoliating mask and a nutrient-rich rejuvenation treatment, all blended into one. Mildly stimulating, it can help correct and rejuvenate stressed skin (skin damaged from the sun, pollution, neglect and more…) by helping to remove dead skin cells, allowing new, healthy cells to emerge, and by stimulating our own natural ability to create stronger, healthier skin. This unique Repair Mask blends a professional grade pomegranate treatment (created to yield immediate results through effective exfoliation and by stimulating healthy circulation), and the Anti-Winkle Detox Seaweed Mask (created to deeply detoxify as well as profoundly nourish with botanicals that rejuvenate and strengthen). Together, these two exceptional masks are blended to create a complete, holistic treatment that can deeply repair and rejuvenate your skin. This mask is beneficial for nearly all skin types (with the possible exceptions of some extremely sensitive or extremely dry skin types), and works best when it is allowed to rest in place until it dries fully on your skin before removal.
5) AHA Fruit Peel (Part One)~ This supremely stimulating, biological peel with fruit acids (20% alpha hydroxy acid) has an amazing result with oh-so-many skin types and skin issues. A regenerating wonder, it offers countless benefits, including restructuring your facial skin…cleansing it inside-and-out as if it were reborn, reducing inflammation, improving your blood circulation and the functions of your circulation system as well as refining your skin’s surface. The AHA Fruit Peel is rich in apple, grape, naseberry, fruit acids, lemon balm oil, lactic acid, pectins and vitamins A, C and E. (The AHA Fruit Peel is generally meant to be layered under the Paprika Gel Treatment.) This masque peel is truly beneficial for nearly every single skin type, as well as even for some problematic skin issues such as minor breakouts or uneven skin tone/hyperpigmentation, smoker’s skin, dull skin and tired skin. This mask may not be the best fit for skin types sensitive to fruit acids. This is an exfoliating masque that works best when allowed to rest on your skin until dry.
6) Paprika Gel Treatment (Part Two)~ This robust, potent masque revitalizes your entire complexion. It is the “go to” masque to use before important events, as it leaves your skin velvety, firm, fresh and glowing. (It’s a powerful catalyst as well, as it increases the potency of the AHA Fruit Peel layered underneath.) It provides an astounding number of benefits, including: increased healthy cellular metabolism and boosted blood and lymph circulation (which gives you a healthier, more luminous complexion), accelerated collagen formation (which increases facial firmness), potent anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects and improved nutrient and oxygen intake (which benefits just about every aspect of your complexion). The Hungarian Paprika Gel Treatment is rich in St. John’s wort, sage, walnut leaf, horsetail, marshmallow root, Hungarian cherry pepper, lavender oil, honey, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, trace elements, and vitamin C. The Hungarian Paprika Gel Treatment is generally meant to be layered over the top of the AHA Fruit Peel. (A note: this double masque will feel tingly and will leave your skin temporarily rosy. This is a normal, very expected and healthy skin response to the masque.) This masque is truly beneficial for nearly every single skin type, including some problematic skin issues such as minor breakouts or mild, uneven skin tone/hyperpigmentation, smoker’s skin, dull skin and tired skin. This masque may not be the best fit for certain types of sensitive, reactive, or inflamed skin. This masque can be applied over the top of the AHA Fruit Peel (allowing it to rest, until fully dry) or it can be applied with other hydrating gel masks (like this or this or this ) and massaged in if desired.
7) Apple and Lemon Masque~ Refreshing, brightening and hydrating, this potent treatment is your skin’s support source when it comes to healing from breakouts. Uneven skin tone is minimized (or prevented) while your skin is deeply hydrated without using any heavy oils. Apple and lemon have reliable toning, brightening and antiseptic effects, encouraging a bright, fresh, clear, glowing, even-toned complexion. This masque is lovely for oily, combination, normal and dehydrated skin that is prone to breakouts and hyperpigmentation. This masque can be either massaged in or allowed to rest on your skin, and may be kept moist by wearing in the bath or shower. It can also be blended with this masque and/or this masque to add more benefits.
8) Sour Cherry Gel Masque~ Brilliantly concocted from potent, anti-oxidant-rich sour cherries and stimulating, nourishing blackthorn berries, this gorgeous combination combats the damaging effects of free radicals, encourages vital skin functions and bestows ample hydration. This gentle, powerhouse masque supports your complexion in achieving a toned, supple, radiant glow. This mask is beneficial for nearly all skin types, and is especially good for dehydrated, prematurely aging skin, dehydrated skin with enlarged pores, smoker’s skin, dull skin, tired skin, and normal and combination skin. This masque can be either massaged in or allowed to rest on your skin, and may be kept moist by wearing in the bath or shower. It can also be blended with this masque or this masque to increase the effectiveness and benefits.
9) Hyaluronic Gel Masque~ Rich in horsetail, yucca, marshmallow, ginkgo, algae and deeply replenishing sodium hyaluronic (hyaluronic acid), this lush gel masque richly hydrates and minimizes fine lines while encouraging replenished, glowing, velvet-soft skin. This masque is good for nearly every skin type, and is especially helpful for dehydrated skin, mildly dry skin, normal and combination skin, prematurely aging skin, mature skin, and as an age-preventative in combination and mildly dry skin types. This masque can be either massaged in or allowed to rest on your skin, and may be kept moist by wearing in the bath or shower. It can also be blended with this masque and this masque to increase the effectiveness and benefits.
10) Pearl Radiance Masque~ Beautifully enlivening, this masque helps to improve your overall skin tone and pallor by balancing out discoloration and combating dullness. Replete with active vitamin C, brightening pearl powder, and powerfully nourishing Kakadu plum extract, this masque encourages an even, bright complexion. (Did we mention it also bestows some lovely anti-aging and hydrating benefits as well?) This masque works nicely for many skin types, and is especially helpful for uneven skin tone and skin prone to dark spots, dull skin, and skin in need of support for a healthy glow. (This masque may not be the best option for certain types of sensitive skin.) This masque works best when applied frequently and kept moist while being worn (such as by wearing it in the bath or shower or by misting it with a good hydrating mist). This masque works well either massaged in or allowed to rest in place.
11) Soothing Relief Masque~ This anti-inflammatory, soothing, healing, deeply quenching salve can relieve flaky or chapped skin, calm sensitivity, and satiate dryness like nobody’s business. This mask encourages supple, soothed, lusciously soft, glowing skin. (Did we mention it also smells heavenly?) This mask is exceptional for normal to dry skin, skin that is both dry and sensitive, skin that is both dry and chapped, as well as dry, mature skin. (This mask is probably not the best option for oily or breakout prone skin or skin prone to clogging.) This mask can be massaged in or simply allowed to rest on your skin as desired. It may be worn in the bath or shower as desired. A small amount can even be added to your daily moisturizer if desired, for extra soothing and quenching moisture throughout the day.
Once you’ve removed your masque, continue on with your regular, fabulous skin care regimen. Your freshly-rinsed-clean-post-masque-skin will take in the benefits of your regular skin care regimen like crazy! Masques are most often gently stimulating—and this helps to ensure that what you apply to your face right after you masque will penetrate exceptionally well.
Swimming in all this masque information? Here is the sweet, sweet lowdown: masques can improve the health of your skin! They offer a very simple way to provide your skin with a concentrated dose of nourishment. They can help boost bounteous hydration, support firmer elasticity, and play a part in creating a silkier, more luminous complexion. Masques provide the greatest benefit to your skin if used regularly, (usually somewhere between one and four times per week…more often as needed), right after cleansing and exfoliating.
Feeling lazy? Or in need of some care? You are covered! Just book any facial you want and I’ll choose (or create) a masque chock-full of benefits for your individual skin.
However you choose to masque, enjoy the sweet simplicity and real benefits they provide.
“Ahead of going on the red carpet, in the morning, I'll put on a clay mask to prepare.” ~Doutzen Kroes
“A great pair of sneakers, a great face mask, and drinking a lot of water - those are my essentials for staying hydrated and refreshed.” ~Lily Aldridge
“I use a mask multiple times a week to restore moisture.” ~ Zendaya
“Being able to sprawl out on the bed and wear my face mask and put my hair up in my bonnet, honestly, it's nice to have those moments sometimes.” ~ Ayesha Curry
“I mask every single day… since I was 27 years old… I can be walking my dog in the mask, scaring children and people off, but it's my routine that I commit to every single day.” ~ Tamron Hall
“Being on an airplane a lot can dry out your skin, so it's important to bring a good mask to help refresh it.” ~Isabeli Fontana
“When I'm traveling, I'll always grab a moisturizing face mask.” ~ Kelsea Ballerini
This blog is not intended to take the place of in-person consultations with qualified skin care and health care practitioners.
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