All About The Different Types Of Face Masks

All about face masks in skin care

Since masks are big right now, I decided it is high time to write a post about them. I'll loosely define a face mask as a treatment that you apply for a short period of time and then remove. I feel like masks got big because the rest of skin care has been getting really light -- moisturiser is expected to be light enough to go on under sunscreen and makeup, and many people even shy away from heavier night creams. So people whose skin needs much more reach for masks, and they tolerate heavy masks because they are meant to be washed off after twenty minutes.

Let's talk about the different types of masks. These categories are not exhaustive, it's just my way to orient myself among all the available products:

Cleansing masks:

Clays pull out dirt from the skin, and should not be allowed to dry out when on the face. There are many different types of clays out there, like the different Kaolin clays and my personal favourite Rhassoul. An oats mask is also cleansing but even gentler. Charcoal masks are also really popular, however I don't really see the point of using activated charcoal if it's already mixed with other stuff.
Then there are masks which are actually exfoliating products: peel-off masks and masks with exfoliating particles. Both are fine if they are gentle and don't scratch or tug at the skin.
It's important to clean off cleansing masks, I like to use a microfibre towel for that. Otherwise the clay (or whatever) can stay on the skin and make makeup look weird.

Hydroxy Acid Masks:

The ones with salicylic acid (BHA) do wonder for acne, blocked pores, and oily skin. The are often marketed as clarifying and anti-acne.
The effects of a mask with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and polyhdroxid acids (PHAs) depends on which exact hydroxy acid is in the mask (here is a great guide). If the concentration of the acid is low, the effect will more likely be brightening and moisturising, however anything with more than 10% acid will have an exfoliating effect. AHAs make the skin sensitive to the sun and so should always be followed by diligent sun protection, and should not be used in the summer. The only exception is the gentle mandeleic acid, which can be used all year round.

Hydrating masks and "treatment" masks:

The main ingredients here are humidifiers and emollients, they are meant to moisturise the skin and brighten it or counter ageing. Some aren't much more exciting than my regular moisturisers. Ingredients that I look for are algae, Q10, hyaluron and interesting plant extracts. I don't get excited about oils or aloe vera or honey because these I use on my face directly pretty often. If alcohol is among the top ingredients I run.
These masks are pretty similar to heavy moisturising creams. Personally I don't shy away from richer moisturisers so I use such  masks once in a while, when my skin needs and extra pick-me-up. Sometimes I use masks like these as a moisturiser in the winter. 

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are very different from regular masks, because they are basically a way to keep liquids on the face for a longer time. To me the ingredients of many sheet masks are closer to those of serums -- meaning that they have a lot of active ingredients (that deal with various skin issues, or brighten it, etc), but usually aren't that good with dry skin. They are so popular because they are great for those in a hurry -- you don't need to wash them off.

The thing about masks is that they need a bit of time, so it's usually something you do over the weekend or so. Always start with clean skin. You can stack masks, starting with cleansing ones (apply these on clean skin), then following it up with another. Apply your masks on the neck and decoltee too!
If you are not really familiar with masks I suggest doing one at a time, so that if your skin is unhappy the next day (or very happy) you know which product is responsible. If you use DIY masks, I strongly recommend starting with one-ingredient masks and seeing how your skin reacts. Honey, yoghurt, chickpea flour and oatmeal are a great place to start.
You can also apply hydrating masks on drier parts of your face and cleansing ones on the areas which tend to break out.
The important last s

My favourite masks:

All kinds of clays, pure, which I mix either with just water or yoghurt.
Cattier argile masks
Weleda almond mask
Hauschka Revitalising mask
Martina Gebhart 7 herbs mask
Lavera vitalising mask
Luvos Hydro Maske
Logona purifying mint mask (only on impurities)
Madara brightening AHA peel mask (for the winter)
I've also heard really great things about the masks from Living Nature, but I haven't been able to get my hand on one.

What are your favourite masks? Let me know in the comments.

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