The weird and wonderful world of face masks has blossomed in recent years.
Where once people stuck to creams and clays, they’re now venturing into enzyme, charcoal, and sheet masks.
But do these Instagram-friendly concoctions actually benefit your skin? Or are their claims too good to be true?
Read on for all the answers.
What’s the short answer?
In a nutshell, it all depends on which face mask you use and what you’re trying to achieve.
“Face masks can be an effective way to deliver an intensive burst of nourishing and therapeutic skin care ingredients in a highly concentrated form,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Nikhil Dhingra of Spring Street Dermatology in New York. Your skin concern determines your key ingredients with hundreds of face-mask formulas out there, which one should you pick?
The answer is pretty simple: Know your skin and then head straight to the ingredients list.
Dr. Dhingra explains, “The ingredients should suit your skin type and ideally address a specific concern.”
Here’s exactly what to look for.
Acne or inflammation
While face masks aren’t a long-term remedy for acne, they can help calm inflamed skin and prevent breakouts. Look for salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and natural ingredients like yogurt and papaya to remove dead skin and pore-clogging substances. Oatmeal and aloe vera will soothe, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung, while clay and charcoal can soak up excess oil.
Dark spots and pigmentation
Struggling with dark marks? With its ability to prevent hyperpigmentation Trusted Source, vitamin C is your new hero ingredient. Dr. Cheung notes that Kojic acid, azelaic acid, and licorice root work to lighten and brighten pigmentation too. As well exfoliating ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), lactic acid, and pineapple can help remove dead, discolored skin from the surface.
Dry skin needs serious hydration, meaning you’ll want to use a face mask filled with water-retaining hyaluronic acid.
Moisturizers such as avocado or shea butter can also soften and smooth skin.
Although deeper wrinkles will likely require a trip to your dermatologist’s office, certain face masks can help minimize the appearance of fine lines.
is, again, an ingredient to watch for. As an antioxidant, it boosts collagen production Trusted Source to help firm skin.
is also an effective anti-aging option, along with resveratrol Trusted Source and ferulic acid. They work to protect the skin from the things that cause fine lines, such as pollution and sun damage.
Anything that removes excess oil and helps reduce pore-clogging is ideal for oily skin.
Look for face masks containing ingredients like:
On the natural side, opt for the likes of yogurt and pineapple, which can be used to exfoliate skin.
Types of face masks
Your key ingredients often determine the type
Now that you know which ingredients to pinpoint, you’ll want to narrow down the kind of face mask that’s best for you and your skin.
The list may be lengthy, but it’s easy to navigate. Why? Because certain ingredients and face-mask types go hand-in-hand.
Ideal for all skin types, mud masks are designed to give a deep cleanse.
Although these masks look similar to the clay variety, they’re water-based, which makes them more hydrating.
Different mud formulas contain different ingredients, but you’re likely to spot various acids and fruit extracts in the list.
Aesthetician René Serbon says clay masks, which are rich in minerals, are great for revitalizing the skin.
The two main types of clay masks —kaolin and bentonite — absorb excess oil and are suitable for both oily and acne-prone skin.
Serbon notes that they can be a little drying, so dry skin types may want to look elsewhere.
There’s little evidence to support the use of charcoal face masks. However, as activated charcoal can absorb toxinsTrusted Source inside the body, it’s thought that it can also remove dirt and other impurities from the surface of the skin.
Cream or gel
With added hyaluronic acid, thicker cream masks can be great for particularly dry skin that needs a healthy dose of hydration. Gel formulas typically include cucumber and aloe vera to soothe and calm the skin, making them ideal for sensitive types.
Chemical exfoliants, like glycolic acid and lactic acid, feature heavily in exfoliating face masks. These mild acids work to remove dead cells built up on the surface of the face, leaving skin looking brighter and feeling smoother.
Fruit enzymes, such as those derived from pineapples and papayas, are another way to exfoliate. Typically non-irritating, they also break down dead skin cells to tone and brighten skin.
With a rubber-like texture that’s super easy to remove, these masks are best for those who don’t like mess. They can also be used for any skin concern. Some contain acids, such as glycolic and salicylic, that exfoliate and combat acne. there are full of hydrating hyaluronic acid or antioxidants like vitamins C and E.