Face Masks 101: What Are the Types and Which One Is Best for You

BY Marilyn Oliveira · January 19, 2018

Girl with Gold Mask

As much fun as decking the halls during the holidays may be, with great partying comes great overindulgence in pretty much everything but sleep—and the combination of too much alcohol, too much sugar and too little shut-eye does not a raving beauty make.

“If there’s any drinking involved—and of course there will be—your skin can get very dehydrated,” says Nancy Reagan, licensed aesthetician and founder of Bella Reina Spa in Delray Beach, Florida. “Likewise, high sugar levels in the body can damage the protein fibers on which collagen and elastin depend to keep the skin firm, plump and without wrinkles,” she adds.

Compounding the effects of imbibing too much alcohol and sugar is the sleep you forfeited to have all that fun. Since much of the body’s repair process happens during sleep, sacrificing slumber to the party gods can interfere with skin cell turnover and repair. “This can lead to the new skin cells not being formed correctly,” says Nancy. “Lack of sleep also puts the body into a state of stress, resulting in the release of stress-related hormones that can cause inflammation, including breakouts.”

Face Masks to the Rescue

“No matter what your skin type,” says Nancy, “you will need to rehydrate and plump up those skin cells.” Luckily, there is a facial mask for every skin type that can jump-start repairs and help combat party-induced woes. Not sure which face mask is right for you? We’ve done our homework. These at-home face masks will help you accomplish your most pressing skin care objectives on your own time.

 

1. CREAM MASKS

Ideal for: Normal to Dry Skin

What is it: Normal to dry skin types will benefit from a cream mask, which is “rich in oils and moisturizers that penetrate deeply and replenish dry cells,” according to Nancy Reagan, licensed aesthetician and founder of Bella Reina Spa in Delray Beach, Florida. Masks that contain hyaluronic acid have the added benefit of attracting and binding moisture to plump up flat skin cells, while algae extracts will help tighten and firm.

Try:  Natura Bisse Essential Shock Intense Mask

2. CLAY MASKS

Ideal for: Normal to Oily Skin

What is it: A restorative, moisturizing clay mask that naturally detoxifies skin as it hydrates without oil is a great option for normal and oily skin types. “Because they are occlusive (closing off the skin to the air), clay masks cause the brain to send down natural skin plumpers,” Nancy says, “and at the same time they are firming, detoxing and tightening.” If your skin is inflamed, look for a clay mask that also boasts clarifying enzymes and/or sulfur to treat breakouts and soothe redness.

Tip: Frustrated that clay-based mask is leaving residue everywhere? Whatever you do, don’t forcibly rub your skin to remove it. Instead, enlist the help of a warm, wet washcloth and let it sit on your skin for a minute or so. The steam will “loosen” the product and easy, gentle removal will be well within your reach.

Try: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Detoxifying Treatment Mask

3. GEL MASKS

Ideal for: Dry and Sensitive Skin

What is it: According to Reagan, the soothing, cooling effect of a gel mask is great for dry and sensitive skin types that need hydration ahead of firming and detoxifying. “Gel masks are infused with collagen and antioxidants that help the skin with recovery,” she says, adding that they offer total rehydration of the skin.

Try: Peter Thomas Roth Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask 

4. SHEET MASKS

Ideal for: Most Skin Types

Although sheet masks work with all skin types based on the formulas they contain, they are particularly excellent for resistant skin types when paired with serums. “Just like we do in the treatment rooms, you will want to apply hyaluronic serums under it so that the occlusive nature of the mask can push the serums deep into the skin,” Reagan says.

TIP: Using a sheet mask? Skip any kind of rinsing altogether and instead seal in the effects of the mask with your favorite moisturizer, which you should apply immediately after use.

Try: Erno Laszlo Firmarine Hydrogel Mask

5. EXFOLIATING MASKS

Ideal for: Most skin types. However, if you have sensitive skin, try an enzyme mask.

Exfoliating masks slough off dulling dead skin cells and purge deep-seated dirt in your pores using hydroxy acids (like glycolic and lactic acids) and fruit enzymes (typically from papaya and pineapple). Aside from offering gentle exfoliation, exfoliating masks also have natural skin-brightening properties, which will give you that healthy, lit-from-within glow that you’ll see almost instantly.

Tip: While some contain ingredients that soothe and calm skin, try not to use this mask more than once a week. Exfoliating masks are also notorious for being drying, so do remember to load up on moisture afterward. Additionally, the use of an exfoliating mask, given that it works to remove dead skin cells, puts skin in the best possible position to absorb treatments and moisture—so don’t let the window pass.

Try: Tula Skincare Exfoliating Treatment Mask

Marilyn Oliveira

Marilyn is a writer, editor and content creator whose work has ranged from editing Inside Weddings magazine to launching the content section of Evite.com. A California native and UCLA Bruin, Marilyn loves seeing live theatre and attending ou... Read More >

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