6 Things You Need to Know Before Using Face Masks
You don't need to wash your face before applying a mask.
False. When you smear a mask over uncleansed skin, you’re trapping makeup, dirt, and other impurities, potentially forcing them deeper into your pores. Plus, a layer of grime makes it that much harder for active ingredients to be absorbed.
2. Your mask will likely work better if your skin is:
A: It’s always best to heed the instructions, but if the package simply says to apply to skin, a little dampness will help. “Many masks spread more evenly and some ingredients can better penetrate when your face is wet and warm,” says Boston dermatologist Emmy Graber, MD. “So right before you apply, splash your skin with a little warm water.”
3. True or False?
You'll get better results if you leave a face mask on longer than you're supposed to.
True-ish. There are a few caveats: Clay, peel-off, and rubber masks and formulas containing retinol or anti-acne ingredients can cause dryness, flaking, and inflammation if left on too long. For everything else, “the longer an active ingredient is in contact with the skin, the more effective it will be,” says Graber. To be certain your complexion can tolerate it, Wilson recommends following the directions the first time you try a new product. Then gradually work your way up to an extra 15 minutes.
4. True or False?
It's okay to use a face mask on your neck and décolletage.
True, so go ahead and spread the love—unless you have sensitive skin. The outer layer on your neck and chest is thinner and has fewer oil glands, so you may be more likely to negatively react to certain active ingredients. And if you do experience redness or irritation, these areas will take a longer time to recover, Graber says.
5. When applying a face mask, you should avoid your brows:
C: Most masks won’t do any harm. If you’re using a modeling or peel-off kind, though, you run the risk of pulling out some hairs during removal. Keep it up, and the loss could become permanent.
6. How to Multi-Mask
What happens if you’re dealing with multiple skin issues—dryness, slick spots, blemishes? You might try “multi-masking,” the Instagram-friendly trend that has women applying different face masks to various areas simultaneously. Consider this cocktail from Kavita Mariwalla, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York’s Stony Brook University: “I apply a purifying mask to my oily T-zone, a tea-tree oil mask to my cheeks to fight breakouts, and a hydrating mask everywhere else.” Master your mix with Mariwalla’s index of ingredients to combat the most common concerns:
Sulfur soothes inflammation, clays mop up excess oil, and salicylic and alpha hydroxy acids unclog congested pores.
Licorice extract helps brighten skin, while calendula heals and strengthens it.
Try fruit enzymes like papaya or pumpkin, or radiance-amping algae and alpha hydroxy acids.
Choose hydrating heavyweights like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Just make sure they’re among the first few ingredients listed to ensure they’re in higher concentrations.