Humans have been slathering their faces in mud since time began, yet we’re going to thank a modern tribe of celebrity for bringing this ancient ritual back to our attention. Justin Bieber, Cristiano Ronaldo and Chris Pratt are just a few notable men who’ve braved the sheet mask selfie to entertain their Instagram followers and bring this noble tradition to the fore. Face masks comprise a wide ranging grooming category that’s relatively new to us. So, apart from looking mildly ridiculous, what are they and what are the benefits?
The Benefits Of Using A Face Mask
Depending on the type, face masks mainly work to boost the skin or act as a reset button. Use them one to two times per week or those times when your skin feels like it needs extra help: a detox after a heavy weekend, putting the extra hours in at work, lack of sleep, rundown or getting over an illness, long haul travel or just wanting to look your best for an occasion (note: to get the most from a mask your face should be beard free). Make it part of your Sunday routine to start the week with good skin.
Here’s a breakdown of the main categories, and what they can do:
The celebrity choice, sheet masks typically come in individual sachets, making them easy to store and transport. They cover a wide range of skin concerns from brightening to hydrating to anti-ageing. These leave-on masks range in price; from £8.50 for a single mask from Starskin, to £62 for four of the cult Powerfoil Masks by Estée Lauder. Bulldog’s latest Energising Mask is a wallet-friendly £12 for eight and you get to pour the lotion onto the compressed paper mask and watch it expand like a satisfying science experiment.
Tip: these stay on better when lying down so combine with a power nap for full skin-reviving potential.
Clay & Charcoal Masks
Clay and charcoal both have detoxifying qualities and can deep clean pores and help reduce surface oil, making this type of mask an excellent choice for acne-prone or blemished skin However, they are not exclusively for oily types: they also work to purify hungover skin and city skin (anti-pollution). Clay is moisturising too, so your skin will feel fresher and softer even if it’s break-out free.
We like: Tom Ford Intensive Purifying Mud Mask (£48), Horace Purifying Face Mask (£10), Baxter of California Clay Mask AHA (£18) and Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask (£26). For those who like the cave man approach, you can mix your own mask with Buly 1803’s range of natural powder clays (from £12).
Classic peel masks should be applied all over, allowed to set and then peeled straight off in one piece. This type are good for drawing impurities out of the pores and resurfacing the top layer of skin, making it brighter and clearer. Avoid the eyebrows, hair line and beard for cleaner removal. The new generation peel mask by the likes of Dr Dennis Gross and Ole Henriksen are multi-phase masks that use microdermabrasion to resurface and renew the skin and deliver professional results at home.
We like: Ole Henriksen Power Peel Transforming Facial System (£44) and Dermalogica Rapid Reveal Peel (£79).
Cream masks work as hydrating, nourishing boosters for older, dryer and sensitive skin types and feel like super-charged face creams that give plumping, firming results to parched and ageing faces. They need to be applied and left on for a good 15 minutes for maximum absorption. Then rinse or tissue off and allow any excess product to soak in.
Exfoliating masks usually work to slough away dead skin cells on two levels; to physically wipe them away with grains or (plastic free) beads and with active ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid and AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and fruit acids that resurface the skin. This type of mask can also help diminish hyper pigmentation, scarring, uneven skin tones and give lacklustre skin the heave-ho.
We like: Ren skincare’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask (£36) is a solid performer for bringing a healthy look and smooth feel to dull, patchy skin. Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste (£37) combines quartz powder with lactic acid for a super re-polishing mask.
Eye & Skin Patches
Smaller, targeted stick-on patches work on under-eye bags, frown lines, blackheads and other areas that might need special attention.
We like: 111Skin’s Sub-Zero De Puffing Eye Mask (£12) should be in every man’s red-eye kit.
Light Therapy Masks
These high-tech masks represent a new frontier in home skincare. The major benefit of red LED light therapy is that is can penetrate the deeper layers of the epidermis that a topical product can’t touch. Red light is proven to reduce pigmentation/discolouration and firm the skin by boosting collagen and elastin, plump out furrow lines, even out skin tone, and even help conditions like eczema and psoriasis. These state-of-the-art masks have brought a professional therapy into the home.
We like: One of the best on the market, the Spectralite Face-Ware Pro by Dr Dennis Gross, retails around the £400 mark. We agree it’s pretty punchy – but can you put a price on looking like Iron Man for three minutes a day? It also has a blue light setting which kills acne causing bacteria and red/blue combo for treating wrinkles and blemishes simultaneously so it’s a multitasking mask for all skin woes.
At £249, Foreo’s compact UFO Smart Mask device is a bit lighter on the credit card and combines light therapy with a range of sheet masks for different concerns (these press neatly onto the front of the gadget) and combine sheet mask power with red light therapy.