One of the most important aspects of skincare, and often, the most neglected, is the application of face masks. As Indians, we have been applying face masks since the ancient days with several of the secret face mask recipes being passed on from mother to daughter as a family heirloom. Even those who aren’t much into beauty will have, at some point or other, applied a paste of besan (chick pea flour) and haldi (turmeric) or multani mitti (fuller’s earth) and rose water. And as for brides, their whole body was scrubbed with fragrant packs made with blends of various flours, flowers, herbs and essential oils. This, I feel, was the origin of body masks.
Anyway, I digress. I am not going to write about homemade face masks and face packs today. What I’m going to write about is something that I have been very frequently been asked about – the different types of face masks and when to use them. I won’t be talking about the qualities of the masks, such as anti-aging or anti-acne etc, rather, this post will be more about the basic kinds of the face masks according to their textures. Confused? Don’t be. It isn’t rocket science. Shall we start?
What is a Face Mask/Face Pack?
“A face mask/pack is a cosmetic preparation spread over the face and left for some time to cleanse and improve the condition of the skin.”
Types of Face Masks
Face masks usually fit into one of the following categories:
- Clay Masks
- Cream / Gel Masks
- Peel-Off Masks
- Thermal / Warming Masks
- Sheet Masks
- Sleeping Masks
- Natural / Homemade Mask
Let’s briefly see what each mask is about…
Any mask that has clay or earth or mud as it’s base ingredient is called a clay mask. A simple multani mitti and rose water pack is the most basic clay mask you can get. Besides Fuller’s Earth the other kinds of clay that can be there in clay masks are Kaolin, China Clay, Rose Clay among others. The main quality of the clay is it’s ability to deep clean the skin and draw out impurities. Clay masks also help in controlling the oil and minimizing the appearance of pores thus making it the mask of choice for oily, acne-prone skin. Or even for normal skin in the hot, humid summer months.
One of my favourite clay masks is the Wei Golden Root Purifying Mud Mask (I had two of those pods left over hiding in the deep recesses of my drawer). Closer home, we have the Plum Grape Seed and Sea Buckthorn Face Mask (yet to be reviewed) that you can see in the picture above. It has Kaolin and Betonite clay and is a really good, effective and affordable clay mask.
Cream / Gel Masks
As the name suggests, these masks are cream / gel texture and usually have a rich, hydrating texture and hence, are generally used for dry or dehydrated skin. Most anti-aging masks (such as the Thalgo and Sisley ones seen here) have a cream or gel texture. Some might have ingredients to lighten spots or brighten the skin while others will be meant for targeting wrinkles while yet others will be loaded with vitamins and anti-oxidants as an antidote to stressed out skin. However, most cream/gel masks will be meant for aging or slightly mature and dry skin.
The Dermalogica Age Smart Multi-Vitamin Power Recovery Masque has been one of my favourite masks since almost three years because it is Fabulous!! I have bought/ tried out other masks as well but this one maintains a constant presence in my dresser.
Peel Off Masks
The most fun face masks, peeling them off takes me back to school days when we used to peel off the remains of fevicol from our fingers. Whether they are really effective is a matter of debate but as far as I have noticed, the peel-off masks do make the skin appear a bit brighter and cleaner. These masks work by forming a thin layer or film over the skin which, when dry, can be peeled off. I guess the peeling pulls off some residual dirt with it and hence makes the skin appear brighter. Personally, I find these masks to be more gimmicky than effective though they do make you look more radiant for a short while.
Thermal or Warming Masks
The name needs no explanation. These are the masks that warm up on contact with the skin and thus cleanse the clogged pores. Most of them are meant to be applied on wet/damp skin and you can feel them getting warmer from the time you apply them. These are the masks I stay away from since they just don’t suit my skin. I don’t know why, but they don’t. In college, my friend had got me a thermal mask from The Body Shop from London (this was in the 1990s…..way before TBS opened in India) and I broke out terribly after using that. Forward to 2014 when I received the Purederm Heat Therapy Oatmeal mask in one of my Memeboxes. I forgot all about my earlier experience and slapped it on. Only to have my skin break out in a red rash. However, these very same masks work wonders on my friends’ skin making me feel like there’s something wrong with me.
A Korean invention, sheet masks are a quick and easy way of pampering the skin. Sheet masks are individual sheets of cloth or paper or even hydrogel that are drenched in essence/serum. All you have to do it put it on cleansed face, leave it on for 15-20 minutes, take off the mask, pat in the essence and voila, you’ve had a mini facial. There is a huge variety of sheet masks available for all sorts of concerns and they aren’t restricted to just oily skin or dry skin. You get sheet masks for hydrating dry skin, for purifying acne prone skin, for anti-aging, for brightening…no matter what your skin care concern, there is a sheet mask or you.
Of the three sheet masks in the picture above, the Mirenesse Hydrogel mask is an anti-aging one, the Innisfree Blackberry mask is for very dry and dehydrated skin while The Skin Food Peach Sake mask is for making enlarged pores appear smaller.
Another Korean invention. We all know that the skin repairs and rejuvenates itself while we sleep. The sleeping masks make that process more effective by giving the skin more tools to rejuvenate itself with. Obviously, these have to be applied at night in a thin layer onto cleansed skin and you wake up to more radiant, brighter, plumper skin. Again, most of these are meant for dry skin, dehydrated skin and skin needing an anti-aging mask. Being heavier in texture than most other masks, these can come off on your pillow…or on your better half. That is the reason why I can only apply sleeping masks when hubby is travelling. But these are really very effective! Think of them as a facial….while you were sleeping….
Natural / Homemade Mask
Ok, I’m not going to write anything about these. This post is already very long and the name is self-explanatory. Every girl has tried out at least one natural mask with ingredients from the kitchen at some point or the other. The best part about these masks are that they are chemical-free and highly customised to suit the skin and requirements of the person. Of course, they are also time consuming. But then, no gains without pains, right?
Whew…what a long post this became! I hope you had the patience to read through it and that it was helpful to you. Do let me know if you have any queries about face masks and I shall try my best to answer you 🙂