It’s been a long week. You know you’ve been abusing your skin with lack of hydration, proper care, and sleep. You wake up the morning after a wild “let’s-let-loose-because-this-week-sucked” night with your girls. One look at your complexion in the mirror and EEEEEEK!
Face masks have increased in popularity. Whether it’s a clay mask or sheet mask, skincare lovers flock to the displays to pick one out. While some masks can take a decent chunk of cash out of your pocket, there are others that are affordable and just as great! On my trip to Seoul, I was able to stop by one of the largest skincare and beauty stores, Innisfree. While a trip to Seoul is a hefty price, the masks themselves are around $1.00 USD give or take 50 cents. That, mes chéries, is unreal. I picked up a series of face, eye, and feet masks from Innisfree, Nature Republic, and South Korea’s drugstore Olive & Young. I have not gotten around to trying all but so far they have not disappointed me!
Back at home, I also have five other masks that I’ve been trying over the past four years in college. With all these masks on hand, I had a hard time deciding what my skin needed and what ended up being kind of for shits and giggles. It is tempting to purchase a bunch of masks for their “flavor” or packaging, but if you want to use a mask right you have to pick the right type for you. Otherwise, your skin will not receive the treatment it may need.
Let’s start off with the sheet masks.
For Light Moisture and Hydration & Bright Complexions
If you need a face mask for a long overnight flight or just to restore a dewy and hydrated state to your skin, look for sheet masks that contain aloe, bamboo, green tea, and kiwi. These natural ingredients help restore moisture into your skin, leaving it smooth and dewy. I would recommend these type of masks to people who have relatively problem-free skin and clear complexions. If your moisture barrier is damaged causing you to produce excess oil, I would not recommend these as they do not deeply moisturize your skin enough to reduce excess oil production from personal experience.
If what you’re looking for is a brighter complexion in the morning or before an event, again a very temporary skincare result, look for sheet masks with floral or fruit components. The most popular are rose, strawberry, lemon, and pomegranate. Rose is a popular ingredient among middle-aged skincare lovers as it is gentle on aged skin and can leave your complexion looking smooth with a radiant glow-within feeling. Pomegranate is also popular among the same age group due to its ability to leave the skin feeling tighter, firm, and supple. The antioxidants help restore elasticity and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. If all you want is smooth and bright skin, you can try strawberry or even lemon if you’re looking to literally help your face brighten up almost two shades. Some girls love to use lemon masks before putting on makeup and going out because of how it lifts your complexion out of the shadow and creates a glowing and bright canvas for light makeup application*.
*Personally, I dislike putting on makeup after using mask, as I feel like it covers my clean and glowing skin, clogs my pores, and covers the effect of the mask as well.
For Deep Moisture
If you suffer from dry, stiff skin or a damaged moisture barrier like I do, you want to opt for a mask that can help restore moisture and not just temporarily hydrate your skin. These include shea butter, manuka honey (or any type of honey), and cucumber. Cucumber lifts your complexion while drenching your skin with moisture that lasts a little longer than other previously mentioned ingredients. In the wintertime, these types of masks can help your skin stay moisturized and help you reduce the need to slap on layers of moisturizer and look sticky.
For the Problem Skin
If you have bumpy texture, damaged moisture barriers, dead skin cells, and acne scars like I do, you want to opt for something that helps target those areas. Blackberry is full of nutrients and antioxidants that protect your skin, helping it stay healthy and balanced while bija tree seed oil aids with the appearances and pigmentation of skin problems as it moisturizes and cleans your pores.
Now if you want to talk clinical and chemical, madecassoside is a chemical compound that soothes irritated skin due to loss of moisture and fortifies your skin’s barrier. For me, this is very useful as I suffer from constant dryness or constant oily stickiness. BHA, or butylated hydroxyanisole if you want to get technical, is an antioxidant made up of organic compounds and works best with combination skin’s pore lining to help diminish wrinkles, lack of elasticity, and uneven rough texture. It can help clear all the little bumps in your skin and is oil soluble, an important trait to note if you have oily skin. I purchased BHA masks to help lift the dead skin cells off my face. BHA works to unglue the bonds of the skin cells and dead skin cells, lifting them away so you can see the new skin underneath.
Last but not least, if you suffer from irritated skin, whether it’s from other products, dryness, or the weather, chamomile masks are your best friend. They help soothe and smoothe out your skintone while restoring moisture.
As for the other masks I purchased in Seoul, I had a friend of mine translate what was written on the package. If you ever find yourself in the same shoes, read the fine print on the back (there is usually English) and look for the key words: moisture, soothe, smooth, pores, clean. You’ll get an idea of if the mask is for you or not.
Personally, I like clay masks more than sheet masks because they stick better to your skin and allow you to do more things as you wait for the mask to harden without the risk of the mask falling off.
I have to personal favorites from Origins, the Clear Improvement charcoal mask and the Original Skin rose retexturizing mask. I usually put the charcoal mask on my T-zone and chin, the clay on my cheeks as those are the areas that require the respective mask properties. The Clear Improvements mask does a great job of cleaning out clogged pores, but often strips away a lot of moisture meaning I can only use it occasionally in my T-zone. The Original Skin mask helps me retexturize my bumpy skin on my cheeks, restoring it to what it was like pre-college breakouts.
Another mask I’ve used before is the Fresh Rose Face Mask. Like any other rose mask, this mask is more for cosmetic purposes than for skincare purposes. I enjoy using this on days where my skin is clear and moisturized but in need of a slight boost.
Last but not least, the two first face masks I used back in the day were Freeman masks I purchased from Ulta. While they’re inexpensive ($4) compared to the previous three which are all around $30/$35, these masks are fun to experiment with if you just want to do some basic cleansing or brightening. For me, my skin problems exceed the basic and therefore these masks do next to nothing. But if you don’t have serious skin issues that need to be addressed by higher end or more skincare-professional oriented products, definitely check them out!
The lesson of this guide is basically summed up like this: when buying masks, make sure to purchase the mask that benefits your skin and helps resolve any of your skin problems. Don’t buy them just because they’re pretty or fun to play around with. Masks can truly help you as long as you listen to your skin before choosing the right one.
Mask on, f*ck it mask off. I’m out. À bientôt, mes chéries.