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How to Use Face Masks
Face masks can play an important supporting role when you’re dealing with dry skin, dehydrated skin, or oily skin and want to do everything possible to help. The question is: Should you bother using a face mask if you already have good skin? And, if so, at what point in your routine, and how, do you use the face mask? We’ve got the answers!
Types of Face Masks
If you already have a great complexion, a face mask for skincare isn’t essential; however, even if your facial skin looks fantastic, a mask can still be useful for those stressful times when skin looks and feels dehydrated, fatigued, or dull. In those cases, a hydrating and skin-brightening mask is just what’s needed for visible results overnight.
If you have dry skin, a well-formulated rehydrating or moisturizing mask can be a helpful addition to your skincare routine. The same is true for an oil-absorbing mask or pore-perfecting mask for those dealing with combination to oily or clog-prone skin.
When and How to Apply Face Masks
Here’s how and when to use a face mask, depending on your skin concerns and type of mask:
- Whether it’s a clay mask, cream mask, sheet mask, peel-off mask, or other type, always cleanse your skin before applying a face mask.
- If the face mask is supposed to be rinsed off, apply it after cleansing, but before the rest of your skincare routine.
- If the face mask is supposed to be left on overnight, apply it as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine.
- Most leave-on masks are hydrating formulas, so you might be able to skip applying your regular nighttime moisturizer—but you’ll want to apply the mask and your face moisturizer if you have very dry skin.
- Sheet masks should be applied before the rest of your skincare routine. Then, after removing the mask, massage what remains on the skin in before continuing with your daytime or nighttime routine.
- Clay, mud, or charcoal masks should be applied and then rinsed off. Make sure you rinse them off before applying any other skincare products because you certainly don’t want to rinse off skincare products (like acne treatments) that need prolonged contact with skin to work their best.
- Keep in mind that most peel-off masks contain polyvinyl alcohol, a drying type of alcohol that can sensitize skin, but the alcohol is what makes the peel-off concept possible. We generally don’t recommend this type of mask, even if it contains hydrating ingredients.
References for this information:
Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2016, pages 279–287
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 355–360
Journal of Cosmetic Science, September-October 2011, pages 505–514
Applied Clay Science, Volume 36, 2007, pages 4–21.
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!