face masks explained: what to use + what not to use
Let’s talk about face masks (the other kind). Influencers and celebrities seem to be putting everything on their faces these days. You might’ve seen “bubble masks” or “24k gold leaf masks” trending on social media, and as mesmerizing as they sound, they may not actually be helping your skin. In fact, they may be doing more harm than good. To help you make the right decisions about which face masks to use, here’s a breakdown of the types of masks + what ingredients you should look out for:
As the name implies, rinse-off masks are masks that you apply to your skin, then wash off with water. These are most commonly clay masks, which are meant to moisturize, cleanse, and tone your skin. However, many drugstore brands use synthetic ingredients that may be irritating. You should look out for the following:
- Propylene glycol
These chemicals may dry out the skin, worsen eczema, or trigger an allergic reaction in those with sensitive skin. Instead, look for face masks with herbal moisturizers, such as aloe vera. Herbal moisturizers are non-toxic and are not likely to cause a reaction. They’re the best choice for keeping your skin healthy + safe.
Sheet masks are meant to nourish your skin by delivering vitamins and antioxidants at the surface. Most of these vitamins are actually beneficial:
- Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and vitamin A promote the synthesis of collagen. They even your skin tone, reduce wrinkles, and keep your skin healthy + glowing.
- Vitamin E (tocopherol) is effective at protecting your skin from damage. As an antioxidant, it acts as a guard against chemicals in your everyday environment, like pollution. It has many other benefits that include moisturizing and soothing your skin.
- Last but not least, vitamin B3 (niacinamide) regulates your skin barrier and can make your skin appear brighter. Learn more here.
As amazing as these nutrients are, you should still be careful about which products you use. Sheet masks often contain parabens, artificial dyes and fragrances, and phthalates. These substances may not react well with sensitive or acne prone skin.
Peel off masks are ultra-satisfying. They provide a deep clean by exfoliating your skin and unclogging your pores. At the same time, there’s a tradeoff between exfoliation and disrupting your natural skin barrier. In the short term, the appearance of your skin may improve, but using a peel-off mask could trigger breakouts or cause irritation. This is especially the case if you are prone to acne or eczema.
Beware! Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a common ingredient that could aggravate your skin. It’s a film-forming polymer that’s responsible for the “peel-off” quality of face masks. You can actually find PVA in a lot of everyday products, including craft glue. Although it is safe to use, high concentrations of PVA may excessively irritate your skin. Make sure to check the back of the package + make an informed decision.