Be it sheet, clay, peel, gel, or cream, face masks come in many different forms. They also have just as many different intended purposes, be it soothing, cleansing, calming, hydrating, anti-aging, or acne prevention. But for so many face masks on the market, it can be hard to figure out which ones to use. Crucial to this question, it is especially hard to figure out when to use a face mask and how often to use one. Add to this the possibility of overdoing a mask, and you might just end up doing face masks wrong altogether.
We have come up with this simple list of face masks and how often they should be used. So let’s dive in.
The Types of Face Masks
The chemistry behind these masks is that they are physical occlusives. They are usually drenched in ingredients like glycol or hyaluronic acid. Occlusive ingredients create a physical barrier with your face helping to trap moisture. Ever felt a stickiness with your sheet mask only to realize your skin drank it all up? That is because the humectant ingredients draw moisture without making your face greasy and vulnerable to breakouts. The end result is a plump, younger-looking face.
Our favorite sheet mask: Innisfree Skin Clinic Mask
How Often to Use a Sheet Mask
Literally, anytime you feel like! During a flight, before makeup, before sleeping, after a shower… ANYTIME! Thinking about how often to use a sheet mask is like asking how much a hydrating serum or humectant your face can take.
Given that your epidermis absorbs a very small portion of ingredients on a sheet mask, make sure to look at the ingredients section in the mask. The first five ingredients are what will affect your skin the most. Based on this, use away. Use it as often as you like.
Pro tip 1: If you put the sheet masks pack in the fridge, it gives a cooling effect that is perfect for a hungover or jet-lagged puffy face.
Clay is a drying ingredient and targets oily acne-prone skin. It helps to soothe inflammation and thus makes pores appear smaller. There are usually three types of clay masks: green, white, and bentonite.
Green is made up of different minerals and is a more subtle clay, making it perfect for sensitive skin.
White is also known as kaolinite which is a mild exfoliant that doesn’t strip skin.
Bentonite is the most popular clay, thanks to the success of Aztec Clay and its pulsating sensation. Bentonite clay is great for acne-prone or oily skin.
Bentonite is anti-bacterial and many acne-survivors swear by it. The pulsation is an effect of oxidation and electric charge that-causes tingles.
Our favorite clay masks: Veda French Green Clay, SkinCeuticals White Clay Mask, Aztec Clay Mask
How Often to Use a Clay Mask
It is important to follow the labels and not leave on a clay mask for too long. Over-drying may cause irritation and will strip your skin. Remember that a thin layer is good enough, so do not cake it all over your face.
We suggest using a clay mask twice a week at most for normal to combination skin, and once a week for sensitive skin.
Pro tip 2: cleanse with a hot towel on your face before a clay mask to open the pores… put to work those the nutritious minerals!
The newest mask trend is the sleeping mask, which is usually a gel-like substance that is deeply hydrating. It is rich in humectants and meant as an overnight skin renewal regimen. It is intended mostly for hydration purposes.
Our favorite sleep mask: Nature Republic Sleeping Pack
How Often to Use a Sleeping Mask
A sleep mask is like an alternative sheet mask, hydration without a sheet on your face.
You can use it anytime you feel your skin needs a little help with hydration. We strongly recommend combining a sleep mask with proper beauty sleep, especially since skin metabolism increases between the hours of 10pm and 2am. You can use sleeping masks nightly or every other night.
Peel off Masks
The peel-off mask is the most fun and satisfying mask. It works as an exfoliator and doubles as an experience. Come on, who doesn’t love the feeling of peeling off a mask. Apart from this, the peel-off is not as hydrating and usually does not have as many effective nutrients.
Our favorite peel off mask: Freeman Cucumber Facial Peel Off Mask
How Often to Do Peel Off Masks
These masks are more exfoliating than hydrating. So we recommend using them once a week because you do not want your skin to be stripped of its natural hydration capabilities.
Gel Masks or Cream Masks
Similar to sleeping or sheet masks, gel or cream-based masks are more like a hydrating booster. They usually have a high concentrate of serum and offer an instant cooling effect.
How Often to Apply Gel or Cream Masks
Incorporate these into your skincare ritual twice a week especially if they have specific ingredients like peptides to plump your skin.
Exfoliating AHA or BHA masks
AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, e.g. glycolic and lactic acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) are basically acids that exfoliate dead skin. The benefit of these masks is seeing the immediate youthful skin after application.
AHA is water-soluble and works to reduce signs of sun damage. BHA works on the pores and is oil-soluble. BHA is preferred for sensitive skin because of its calming properties.
How Often to Do Exfoliating AHA or BHA masks
These masks are for the pros or wannabe pros at skincare. We strongly suggest a consultation with a dermatologist before experimenting with exfoliating acids or making sure the pH range is between 3-4. Overdoing exfoliation will risk you damaging the hydrolipidic film that protects the epidermis, this can cause an excessive amount of sebum or oil production (hence, acne). We suggest doing these masks once a week at the most.
Mud masks are an ancient practice in beauty and skincare. The mud is a skin-healing agent, while the clay is a drying agent. So don’t mix those two up. Mud is water-based, so the mask acts as a good hydrating agent. It also helps repair skin tissue while improving skin elasticity.
Our favorite mud mask: Ahava Purifying Mud Mask
How Often to Use Mud Masks
These masks are better for normal to dry skin. Work on a clean and dry face. Rinse with lukewarm water. It is best when used two to three times a week.
Collagen Lip Masks and Eye Masks
These are quirky and catching onto the trend of skincare. Many swear by eye masks as an important part of skincare since it calms down irritated and puffy skin. Depending on the product, the main ingredient can be coconut, collagen, retinol, or some form of cooling gel. Lip masks work by plumping the skin after exfoliation.
Our favorite collagen lip masks and eye masks: Rodial Dragon’s Blood Lip Mask, Safisa Collagen Eye Patch Mask
How often to apply collagen lip masks and eye masks
Incorporate these into your skincare as often as you like, especially if you have a puffy eye or dry lips. Eye masks work best after a long tiring day, providing a cooling sensation. Lips masks are especially effective before a night out or a date, adding a glamorous pout.
Using face masks regularly can take years off your appearance with just a few minutes of regular use. In addition to wearing face masks, you can take even better care of your skin and tone by also practicing some facial exercises. There’s more about that in our guides on face yoga and face exercises.
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