Facial masks are a great way to give your skin a little extra cleansing

facial mask

Facial masks are a great way to give your skin a little extra cleansing, exfoliating, and firming attention.

Facial Masks

Masks for the skin can be used to help deep-clean your pores and remove dead skin cells. Some masks are moisturizing, while others are designed to firm up loose skin. Facial masks are specially formulated for the sensitive skin on your face, but some masks are meant for use on other parts of your body — like your neck, chest, or back — that can also benefit from a mask. But remember, most masks are not recommended for daily use.

Different masks for different skin types:

  • Deep-cleansing clay or mud masks for normal or oily skin: A clay or mud mask goes on wet but will dry on your skin like a crisp shell. As it dries, it sucks excess oil out of your skin, tightens it up, and makes your pores appear smaller. These masks are especially good for oily skin but may not be ideal for people with dry skin.
  • Exfoliating fruit extract masks for normal or oily skin: These masks are made with fruit enzymes, such as papaya or pineapple, which help unclog the pores by dissolving dead skin cells, surface oil, and dirt. If your skin is particularly dry or sensitive, this type of mask may irritate your skin.
  • Moisturizing masks for normal, dry, and sensitive skin: Masks that contain emollients, such as shea or cocoa butter, almond, olive, or jojoba oil, aloe vera, vitamin E, glycerin, or essential oils, can help soothe the skin and restore it to its smooth, supple self. Moisturizing masks can also have a “firming” effect on skin because the moisture helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you have oily skin, be careful not to use masks with strong emollients in them, since they can clog up your pores.

Commercial or Homemade Masks?

You can find a large variety of facial masks and other masks for skin at your local drugstore. You can also seek out upscale or luxury-brand masks — some of which smell good enough to eat! — but keep in mind that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more effective, since part of what you’re paying for is branding and packaging. On the other hand, if you want to go au naturel and get your mask on the cheap, you can concoct your own mask for your particular skin type with ingredients you have around your house.

Making Your Own Mask

Honey, for example, is a nonirritating emollient that can be used on all skin types. Yogurt is also face-friendly, and its high acidity makes it an especially good choice for oily skin. Olive and coconut oils are very moisturizing — great for dry spots on the body — but don’t use oils like these if you have oily skin or if your skin is prone to breakouts, since they’ll clog your pores.

Mashed fruit, fruit juices, and some botanicals can be energizing mask ingredients as well. Consider adding citrus, strawberries, banana, apple-cider vinegar, and/or rosewater to masks for oily skin types. Use mashed avocados for dry skin. And if you want to calm sensitive skin, try adding cucumbers, ginseng, or green tea to your mask. If you’d like to create a clay mask, you’ll find the appropriate kind of clay — basic fuller’s earth, Aztec mud, or French green clay — at your local health food store.

  • When you decide on your ingredients, mix them together. The consistency should be gooey or creamy, depending on what you’re using.
  • Next, wet a clean face towel with hot water and rest it on your face — make sure the towel is pleasantly warm and not scald-your-face hot. Steaming your face for a few minutes will help open up your pores.
  • Remove the towel.
  • Smear the mask mixture on your face, but don’t put it on or around your eyes, since the skin around your eyes is more sensitive.
  • Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes.
  • Rinse the mask off with warm water and a washcloth (or your already wet face towel).
  • Splash cool water on your face to close your pores.
  • Pat your face dry with a towel.

It’s easy to overlook the benefits of skin care and relaxation when daily schedules are jam-packed with responsibilities, but taking time out for a facial mask can be a replenishing pick-me-up. Do something nice for yourself today!

Last Updated: Monday, December 7, 2009