Everything You Need To Know About Using Face Masks

How often can you use a face mask? What should you look for when it comes to face mask ingredients? What should you do before and after applying a face mask?

Yep, we have plenty of questions when it comes to this popular skincare product. So we spoke to expert dermatologist Dr Andrea Tomizawa to find out everything you need to know about face masks.

What are the benefits of regular face masks?

“A face mask can be an effective addition to your weekly skin routine, to help deliver important ingredients to the skin surface to help reduce inflammation, infection, and oil production which can otherwise contribute to the development of acne,” Andrea says.  

What ingredients should we be looking for in a face mask?

It depends on your skin concerns and the solution you’re after. Want to banish blemishes?

“A face mask containing a keratolytic can act as a natural exfoliant, to help the new layer of skin underneath regenerate and grow,” Andrea explains. “It should also contain an ingredient with anti-bacterial properties to help eliminate bacteria that causes inflammation and cause acne.” (You can find all of this in the new Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask).

Need to nourish dry skin? 

For people with combination or dry skin, a soothing ingredient with hydrating properties such as glycerine will help nourish the skin barrier.” 

What should you do before applying a face mask?

“It is important to gently cleanse the skin of any makeup and sunscreen before applying any face mask,” Andrea says.

How do you apply a face mask?

“Each face mask contains slightly different ingredients, so be sure to read the product instructions carefully before you apply it to your skin,” Andrea says.

Typically, they’re best applied to dampened skin after cleansing.

“This reconstitutes the active ingredients to optimise penetration.”

Hydrating masks or ointment-based products can be applied directly to clean skin.

The best method of application is the spread a thin layer of the mask to the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. Start from the hairline towards the central face, avoiding the eyebrows, lip margin, and staying well away from your eyelids.  

“For patients with sensitive/dry skin, I also recommend avoiding the crease of the nostrils which can become irritated easily,” Andrea adds.

Leave the mask on your skin for the specified period of time, typically from five to 15 minutes but it’s important to follow the instructions closely.

“I would recommend washing off all face masks to avoid unwanted irritation, rinsing off with warm water and using clean fingertips or a moistened face wash to wipe off any residue.”

What should you do after washing off a face mask?

“After you have applied the face mask for the appropriate time, it may be helpful to hydrate the skin with a soothing lotion-based moisturiser or light serum to further promote restoration of the skin barrier,” Andrea says.  “It reduces the tendency of unwanted dryness that may occur after applying deep-cleansing masks.”

How often can face masks be used?

“Every person’s skin is unique, so how often you apply a face mask depends on your skin type,” Andrea says.

“If the face mask does not irritate your skin, it can be used between one and three times a week, depending on the ingredients.”

What not to do when it comes to face masks

The biggest mistake Andrea sees patients make is unwittingly using products that are not appropriate for their specific skin type and condition.

“For example, if you have oily skin, a sulfur-based face mask may be effective if you have mild to moderate acne. For people with dry and sensitive skin, try to find a product designed specifically for sensitive skin to avoid unwanted irritation.  For patients with this skin type, a face mask with keratolytics such as sulfur or salicylic acid can cause the skin to become too dry.”

If you suffer from severe acne, she also recommends seeking professional treatment rather than attempting over-the-counter products for an extended period of time.

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