How to Use Facial Masks

This post is for people who want to explore skincare beyond moisturizers and SPF.  After reading online about misuse of cosmetic masks that lead to disappointment and unjustified negative product reviews, I’ve decided it’s time to provide a simple guideline on how to use facial masks.

There are four major kinds of facial masks:

Moisturizing masks - cream or gel consistency that soaks into the skin.

Treatment masks (for acne, black heads, and inflammation) - opaque pasty consistency, such as clay and mud, that requires time to set before removal. 

Glamour masks – thick gooey material with nourishing qualities that gives the skin temporary firmness and glow. Best used before special events. The mask is poured or smeared on the face, hardens, and is then removed by rinsing off or in one piece  – like the gold mask. 

Sheet masks - also known as Korean masks, after the country of their origin - a single use sheet soaked with nutrients, that is placed on the skin for a few minute.  After the sheet is removed excess material that remains on the skin is massaged in, like serum. 

In this post I will only focus on the first two kinds, the moisturizing and the treatment masks.

Moisturizing masks, if you are young - you probably don’t need them, as your skin is more on the oily side. Moisturizing masks are suited for mature skin that needs more hydration. Most manufacturers recommend leaving them on the face for 5-20 minutes, then wiping off the access with a clean tissue before applying your usual skin care products. This process might be beneficial for very dry skin that needs a serious boost of hydration, but might be too heavy for normal to combination skin.

To benefit the most from a moisturizing mask it is best to leave it on overnight as opposed to only a few minutes. You can use it on top of your night serum twice a week instead of your usual night cream. Also, if you use Retin-A at night consider using a moisturizing mask on top of it instead of a night cream. It is more cost effective, and it does a better job than any night cream when it comes to replenishing skin hydration and comfort, which the retinoic acid seems to deprive the skin of. Two moisturizing masks that I’ve been using and really like are Lancaster Flash Hydration, with cooling Mediterranean algae, and REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask, with calming white mushroom extract.   

When it comes to treatment masks, there is no shortcut here – you can’t leave them on over night (unless it’s for spot treatment), as they don’t soak into the skin. You have to rinse them off. Treatment masks are good for oily skin, breakouts, and inflammation. Most treatment masks use one of the three ingredients: Mud, Green Clay (Argile/French Clay), or White Clay (Kaolin). Both mud and green clay are good to draw out excess oil from the skin and heal acne prone skin. White clay is a much milder material and is better suited for mature and sensitive skin, as it doesn’t dry the skin out as mud or green clay. 

Because the use of these masks is time consuming, people don’t use them as often as they should. That’s why I highly recommend that you make your own mask at home instead of buying it. If you buy a jar of clay or mud mask – most chances are that the contents will dry out or go bad before you use it all. On the other hand, when you buy the dry powder and mix the desired quantity with water or other ingredients (look online for recipes) it can last for years. One exception to this that I’d like to point out – Lancaster Flash Purity Mask – has a long shelf life, is easy to use (only 5 minutes on the skin and easily removed with a wet washcloth), and gives incredible results. My sister Sapir introduced me to this product several years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. The mask is made of white clay and a mixture of herbs and spices, such as ginger and cinnamon, to increase blood circulation and promote fast healing of the skin. It is gentle enough for sensitive skin and powerful enough to clear acne. You can also use it as an overnight spot treatment to clear acne. This mask is a skin saver (And no, I’m not affiliated with Lancaster. They don’t even know I exist).   

Below is my own white clay recipe for all skin types. It is a nourishing, healing, and soothing mask. It contains healing bacteria from the kefir/yogurt and honey, and soothing azulene – the blue pigment found in the German Chamomile. I use German Chamomile essential oil by a brand called Healing Solutions; it smells like a mixture of crisp green apple, honey, and grass.

Soothing White Clay Mask

2 tbsp (flat) white clay
1 tbsp Kefir/yogurt (cow or goat)
½ tsp raw honey
3 drops German Chamomile essential oil.

Mix well Kefir/yogurt with honey. Add clay and mix. Add oil and mix.
Leave on face and neck for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off.