Tweakment Finder TWEAKMENT




Face Masks

Written by: Becki Murray

Last Updated: 9 February 2024

Face masks are not only good for your skin – they also give you a licence to lie down and relax for 15 minutes. So what’s not to like? Yes, you could still run around doing domestic tasks, or sit at your laptop, while you’re wearing a mask, but that rather spoils the fun.

Face masks have had somewhat of a revival in recent years too. There are different types – from pots and tubes to sheet masks made from paper, cellulose or gel – but the main point is to give your skin a big dose of active ingredients at the same time as allowing you to sit back and relax while they work their magic. It is this pampering element that makes them a popular addition to a skincare regime. Face masks can be soothing, hydrating, brightening or purifying and can even help peel the skin, depending on the ingredients they use.

face mask sheet

What are the benefits of using face masks in skincare?

The key benefit of using a face mask is that you can give your skin a big, blanket coating of a treatment that delivers a bigger dose of active ingredients than your regular skincare does and so has a greater effect.

Depending on the mask, that treatment might be to hydrate and moisturise dry skin, soothe inflamed skin, perform a deep cleanse by drawing out impurities buried several layers deep in your epidermis, or brighten your skin and make it glow. 

How do face masks complement a skincare routine?

Face masks can complement your regular skincare routine by enabling you to treat your skin more intensively and get enhanced results. By using a face mask once, twice, or thrice a week, you can deliver hydration and nutrients more deeply into your skin, soothe any irritation to create smoother skin, or detoxify and exfoliate your skin to brighten your complexion.

But as your question says, you should use face masks as a complement to your skincare routine, not as a substitute for sensible daily care. You should also be careful not to overdo masks: twice a week may give great results, but every other day won’t necessarily be better.

What are the key active ingredients in face masks?

Face masks use many different active ingredients, depending on the mask’s purpose and the type of skin it is designed for. Generally, face masks contain ingredients from some of the following five categories, which are shown with sample ingredients:

  • Hydration. Hyaluronic acid, glycerine.
  • Moisturisation. Ceramides, niacinamide.
  • Exfoliation and pore cleansing. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, clay, charcoal.
  • Brightening and anti-aging. Retinol, peptides, vitamin C, resveratrol.
  • Soothing and calming. Oatmeal, green tea, aloe vera.

How often should you use a facial mask?

How often you should use a face mask depends on the type of mask, your skin type, and how your skin reacts to the mask. So you’ll need to work out the frequency that suits you best. Start from the following general guidelines:

  • Dry skin. Use a hydrating mask once or twice a week.
  • Oily skin. Use a purifying mask two to three times a week.
  • Sensitive skin. Begin by performing a patch test to see how well your skin tolerates the mask. If all is well, use the mask once a week.
  • Combination skin. Mask twice a week, using an appropriate mask for each different area.

Adjust the frequency as needed depending on how your skin reacts to the mask.

Are there specific masks recommended for certain skin types?

Yes. Here are recommendations of mask types by skin type:

  • Dry skin. Look for hydrating masks or cream masks.
  • Oily skin. Use clay masks to absorb excess oil and minimise pore size, charcoal masks to draw toxins and impurities out of your skin, or gel masks to hydrate your skin without making it greasy.
  • Combination skin. Try a balancing mask that can help balance your facial skin’s oil production. You might also try multimasking (see the next section).
  • Sensitive skin. Get a calming mask that contains ingredients such as oatmeal or aloe vera. Make sure the mask uses hypoallergenic ingredients and is fragrance free.
  • Acne-prone skin. Try a mask that contains salicylic acid to unclog your pores and reduce inflammation. Or use a benzoyl peroxide mask to kill acne bacteria.

What makes a face mask brightening or purifying?

A brightening face mask would typically use ingredients such as niacinamide (vitamin B3), vitamin C, or liquorice root to brighten your complexion by evening out your skin tone and fading dark spots.

A purifying face mask would typically include ingredients such as clay or charcoal to pull impurities and toxins from your skin, salicylic acid to penetrate into the skin and dissolve the muck that causes acne and blackheads, and perhaps sulphur to break down dead skin cells.

How do hydrating masks improve skin health?

First, a quick definition. In the technical sense, ‘hydrating’ your skin means adding water to it. But ‘hydrating’ is also used more loosely sometimes to include keeping moisture in your skin by preventing it escaping.

Hydrating masks infuse your skin with moisture by using ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerine, and aloe vera, which draw water into the deeper layers of your skin. Adding moisture is especially helpful for skin that is dehydrated, sensitive, or aging.

Many masks described as ‘hydrating’ also moisturise your skin by using ingredients such as ceramides or shea butter. These ingredients help seal the moisture into your skin, stopping it escaping through the skin in what practitioners call ‘trans-epidermal water loss’, or TEWL.

Can face masks be soothing for sensitive skin?

Yes, you can get any number of face masks designed for treating sensitive skin. They can be great if your skin is irritated, red, or tight-feeling.

A hydrating mask (see the previous section) can fix sensitivity caused by dehydration. If your skin is sensitive but adequately hydrated, look for a calming mask with ingredients such as these:

  • Oatmeal. Good for soothing irritation and reducing redness.
  • Aloe vera. Good for soothing and hydrating your skin.
  • Green tea. Its antioxidants help calm inflammation and protect against free radicals.
  • Centella asiatica (cica). Also known as Gotu Kola, this plant reduces inflammation and can promote healing

What are the latest trends in facial mask treatments?

As mentioned earlier on this page, one major trend has been from gloop-style masks to sheet masks that are easier and less messy to use. Here are four other trends to keep your eye on:

  • Sustainable and biodegradable masks. Manufacturers are increasingly making sheet masks from biodegradable materials, such as bamboo or seaweed fibres. So if you’re going for a sheet mask rather than gloop, pick a mask that is biodegradable, and dispose of it sensibly.
  • Custom masks. Some masks are designed for ‘multimasking’, providing targeted zones infused with different formulas for different areas of your face. This kind of zonal masking can be a great solution for combination skin.
  • Masks with fermented ingredients. Various types of masks use fermented ingredients, such as fermented yeast extract or fermented green tea, because fermentation boosts the concentration of antioxidants, peptides, and vitamins and makes ingredients smaller and (in theory) easier for your skin to absorb.
  • Overnight masks. Sometimes called ‘sleeping masks’, these are masks that you leave on all night to give your skin a deep dose of hydration and restoring nutrients. Some overnight masks include relaxing scents to help you fall asleep.

What types of face masks are best for relaxation?

If you want to unwind, try face masks such as the following four types:

  • Hydrogel masks with ingredients such as aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and cucumber
  • Cream masks that include nourishing oils and butters
  • Masks that include stress-busting essential oils, such as lavender or sandalwood
  • Clay masks that use gentle clay, such as kaolin clay, to reduce redness and inflammation

FAQ ABOUT Face Masks

What do face masks do?

The point of face masks is to give your skin a big, blanket coating of a treatment which delivers a bigger dose of active ingredients. (They also give you a licence to lie down and relax for 15 minutes). Different face masks do different things, depending on the active ingredients they contain.

What are face masks for?

What face masks are for depends on the type of face mask. They can soothe, hydrate, brighten, purify, or peel the skin. You can also find masks specific to the eyes, which can soothe, hydrate and de-puff the under-eye area. It all depends on what’s in them

Do face masks work?

Yes they absolutely do! Use them as a regular pick-me-up for your skin.

Are face masks effective?

Yes, particularly if you use them regularly. You need to, obviously, use the right face mask for the particular concerns you’re trying to target – e.g. a hyaluronic acid mask for hydration, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) for brightening and exfoliating the skin, or a clay-based mask for unclogging pores. Use one that’s appropriate for your skin type – for example, nothing too strenuous for sensitive skin, and clay-based masks are better for oily than already dry skins.

How to apply a face mask

This depends on the type – some are gloopy things that come in pots and tubes, in which case you spread them over your skin with your fingers to a thickness specified on the pot or tube, making sure you don’t get too close to the eyes (and avoiding the lips too). Most masks, unless worn overnight, should not be worn for any longer than 15-20 minutes (again, this will be specified on the product’s packaging). Remove the masknwith a clean flannel wrung out in warm water. It may take several attempts to remove all of the product.

Sheet masks are another type of face mask. These are made from paper or cellulose or gel, soused in serums that can soothe or hydrate or brighten the skin. These you simply drape over your face and then gently press onto your face so that the mask is in contact with your skin. There should be eye, mouth and nose holes that you use to align the mask with your face. Once you’re done with the sheet mask, peel it slowly off your face and massage any remaining serum into your skin.

How often should you use a face mask?

Once a week? Twice a week, if you like? It depends on what’s in them. If the mask contains ingredients that are a bit tougher on your skin, like exfoliating acids, don’t use them too often, whereas using a hydrating mask twice a week won’t do your skin any harm.

Do face masks expire?

Yes. Look at the details on the packaging. There will be a small symbol that tells you for how long after opening the product will be at its most effective for.

Where to buy face masks?

Take a look at a few of my favourites on the shop. Or, book in for a skincare consultation with our TTG skincare specialist Shanaz. She’ll be able to recommend the best skincare routine, including face masks, for you and your skin.



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