Treat your skin – and yourself – to regular, renewing masks says Josephine Fairley
“There is a huge amount to be said for the TLC a face mask delivers to our busy souls”
As friends, family (and my old teachers) will tell you: I’m not good at doing what I’m told. But there’s one command I find it pretty irresistible to obey: to relax for 10, 15, 20 minutes or so, while a face mask works its magic. I suppose it is possible to work/cook/do the housework while you’re wearing one, but in a world in which we scurry from commitment to appointment, there is a huge amount to be said for the TLC a face mask delivers to our busy souls – quite aside from the huge boost it delivers to our complexions.
If you’re in a real hurry, sure, there are quick fixes. If my complexion has the blahs, I’ve two go-to fast-acting options: Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask, £17.50 for 50ml starter kit (it’s powered by skin-reviving camphor, which gives it a wonderful aromatic scent), and Lixir Vitamin C Paste, £32 for 50ml (victoriahealth.com), which you apply to damp skin for an amazingly reviving burst of brightening vitamin C in just two minutes.
Aside from fast fixes, masks tend to fall into two categories. Clay-based options, some of which ‘set’ on the skin, are designed to draw impurities out, even working to clear pores and blackheads, sometimes with the addition of ingredients like salicylic acid and charcoal. Then there is the skin-quenching, ultra-moisturising type of mask, often powered by glycerine, hyaluronic acid, or butters like shea and cocoa.
In general, the clay style of mask is best suited for oily/combination skins, but the vast majority of 35+ women (and men, if they can be persuaded) will appreciate the skin-plumping, nourishing benefits of something much richer.
Me? I can’t stand masks which set on the skin; they give me a sort of beauty claustrophobia. But I have friends who want every last toxin outta there, thank you – who I will point in the direction of the very reasonable Earth Kiss range of four 100% natural exfoliating/pore-refining/rejuvenating/deep cleansing mud-based masks, featuring plant micronutrients alongside Himalayan Shilajit clay, which is used in Ayurvedic medicine, £1.99 each.
At the other end of the price spectrum is the brilliantly decongesting Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask, £62 for 50ml, which is deep charcoal in colour and features Hungarian thermal mud, rich in calcium and magnesium. (Curvy supermodel Kate Upton, who I basically worship, is apparently a fan.)
Priced somewhere in between is Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Clay Mask & Scrub, £29 for 100ml. Or, delivering a deliciously warming sensation on the skin, there is Sanctuary Spa 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask, £10 for 100ml – very soothing and relaxing (and doesn’t set too hard, in the five minutes it needs to get to work). Other excellent masks in this category include Amie Spring Clean Cleansing Mask, £5.95 for 100ml, or Argan+ Lift & Renew Clay Mask, £8.99 for 125ml.
As for my preferred moisturising masks, I have an absolute arsenal, bathside. I tend to rotate them, using one two or three nights a week, often in the bath where the steam seems to help them penetrate even better. (Entirely unscientific, that observation, but I recommend giving it a go.)
Among my longstanding favourites is the ultra-rich L’Occitane Immortelle Cream Mask, £58 for 125ml – as creamy as a mask gets, packed with vitamin A and E. (Very good for evening out skintone, I find.)
A new discovery is the wonderfully radiance-boosting Nuxe Nuxuriance Ultra Roll-on Mask, £37 for 50ml. I’ve long been a fan of metal applicators – for eye creams, or for ‘rolling’ skin to diminish puffiness – and this is dispensed by a cooling metal rollerball, to help with fluid dispersal. The roller dispenser has an ‘off’ position, and I like to glide it back and forth along the cheekbones and jaw for extra de-puffing.
The REN Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask, £30 for 50ml, is another favourite – and does exactly what it says on the tin (um, tube).
“You’ve heard of multi-tasking – multi-masking is a new buzzword in beauty circles”
Then there’s the multi-masking phenomenon. Now, you’ve heard of multi-tasking (you probably do it all day, every day…), but multi-masking is a bit of a new buzz-term in beauty circles and the basic principle is this: few of us have consistently ‘normal’ skin all over our faces so the idea is to take two or more masks and apply them as required to cleansed (and ideally lightly exfoliated) skin together, on the relevant areas.
This mirrors what a professional beauty therapist would do, during a facial – perhaps one clay-based mask from the paragraph above (or alternatively, something incorporating charcoal or salicylic acid, which fight breakouts), where a moisturising mask would be too rich, on areas of the face, such as the chin and nose, where you’re prone to shine or spots.
Then for the forehead, cheeks – and most definitely the neck – which tend to be much drier, you want to opt for a skin-quenching mask. In addition to my suggestions above, I love the moisture power of Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask, £17.50 for 50ml, and Decléor Hydra Floral Expert Mask, £33 for 50ml.
And there’s another hot new mask trend – for sheet masks. If you follow any Instagram beauty bloggers and vloggers, you’ll have had a good laugh at how ridiculous some of them look, slathered in these sheet masks with their cut-outs for eyes, nose and mouth. But hey, who cares (except maybe a terrified postman/small child), if the results are impressive?
Basically, these are all single-dose, single-use products. If you’ve an eco-conscience, you might want to opt for a more conventional type of wash-off face mask, as these are a real throwaway beauty treat – but if you do want to check out the sheet mask craze, I recommend three that did incredibly well with the testers for the Beauty Bible Awards (check out all the results on beautybible.com).
Temple Spa The Contourist Mask, £50 for six sachets, is slightly hilarious because you actually hook the impregnated stretchy gauze mask over your ears and chin. Serum-infused Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Powerfoil Mask, £16.50 for one mask had one tester’s husband comment that it made her look ‘10 years younger’, £60 for four. A real steal, Amie Daybright Glow Brightening Sheet Mask, £6.99 for three, put on an impressive, skin-reviving performance considering the super-affordable price.
At this end of winter, when skin’s been parched by central heating for up to six months – and really put through it, if you succumbed to that horrible flu that was going around – masks are the pick-me-up skin needs.
And if they encourage you to put your feet up, sit back and do absolutely nothing while they’re working their magic, what’s not to love about that?
For daily health and beauty updates from Jo Fairley, visit beautybible.com.
Nuxuriance Ultra Mask
Ren Evercalm™ Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask
Vitamin C Paste
Brightening Treatment Mask 50ml pump
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