Finding a face mask for your skin type can be a minefield, but it’s worth doing your homework if you want a glowing complexion, says award-winning skincare expert Lisa Franklin
The importance of wearing a face mask has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to Covid, but from a skincare perspective, the humble cosmetic mask remains a powerful tool in our endless quest for healthy, glowing skin. “Use them frequently, there’s no need to keep them for special occasions,” says award-winning skincare expert Lisa Franklin. “Once you find the right mask for your skin type use it two-to-three times a week to help promote clear, radiant skin that we all crave.”
But with dozens of new and innovative masks hitting the market every week, choosing the optimum product to satisfy your skin type can be a minefield. We asked Lisa to help demystify face masks, and to give us her top tips on how to use them effectively.
How can you find out your skin type?
When we talk about someone’s skin type, it can mean anything from dry, normal, oily and combination, through to sensitive and acne-prone skin, as well as conditions such as hyperpigmentation and rosacea.
Your pores are a big indicator of your skin type: do they have a tendency to clog up easily? This could indicate oily skin, whereas tight, small pores may mean you’re prone to dryness. However, it’s important to notice how your skin feels on any given day. Environmental factors, such as heating or air conditioning, and also stress levels, can influence and change your skin type.
Get to know the texture of your skin – it reveals a lot about its condition – and notice how it feels after cleansing. You may want to interchange the type of face mask you use depending on your skin’s condition. A hydrating sheet mask is perfect for a long-haul flight, for instance, but if your skin’s clogged up, an exfoliating mask will gently slough away dead skin cells.
What should you look for in a good face mask?
Delivery systems are a hot topic at the moment, i.e. how well the active ingredients in the product penetrate the surface of the skin. Self-dissolving micro needle masks, which use active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, are very effective. When applied to the skin these tiny needles create microscopic pathways that increase absorption of the active ingredients in the mask.
In terms of ingredients, look out for the following:
Hyaluronic acid: great for thirsty or dry skin thanks to molecules which deliver long and short-term hydration depending on the amount contained in the product.
Polyglutamic acid: more intense than hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic can hold four times more moisture delivering serious hydration to thirsty skin.
Jojoba oil: very nourishing – it’s rich in vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins E and B, zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, and iodine. It closely resembles sebum, and is great for soothing and moisturizing skin, as well as helping prevent acne.
Retinol: a brilliant ingredient, particularly if you’re worried about fine lines. Masks are an excellent way to deliver this powerful anti-ageing ally to the delicate eye area.
Are there any ingredients to avoid?
It’s important to choose a face mask with the same consideration you would a moisturiser, so do your research and check the ingredients. Ideally, you want to avoid products that contain alcohol, parabens or dyes, and also fragrances, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Can you talk us through the different types of face masks…
Bio-cellulose: these are grown in laboratories from bacteria that converts glucose into cellulose to form the fibres that create a sheet mask. They were originally developed as artificial skin to treat severe burns, but are now used as a beauty treatment thanks to their incredible hydration boosting properties.
Bio-cellulose’s superpower is its ability to attract water – up to 100 times its dry weight. Once woven into fabric, the mask is pre loaded with nourishing ingredients. It instantly locks moisture into your skin and enables deeper penetration of key ingredients, such as peptides, which stimulate collagen and elastin production. They also fit snugly against the skin, so the active ingredients can’t evaporate, making them much more effective than their paper counterparts.
2-step masks (or peel-off masks): these 2 in 1 treatments are a great way to give yourself an at-home facial and are perfect if you’re travelling. They’re usually packaged as a scrub/microdermabrasion or an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peel along with a soothing sheet mask. The exfoliant removes tired skin cells and improves the absorption of active ingredients, while the sheet mask hydrates and replenishes.
Eye patches: the delicate skin underneath the eyes is much thinner than elsewhere on the face and contains fewer oil glands, which can lead to dryness and wrinkles. Under eye masks or patches are an effective way to deliver serum to this tricky area, particularly if you need a quick boost before an event or night out. Patches vary depending on the effect you want, such as lifting, reducing puffiness or detoxifying. For an extra-cooling effect, pop them in the fridge for an hour before use, and if your upper eye is an area of concern, swap them from under-eye to under-brow half-way through the treatment.
Lip: the thin skin around the lips is easily damaged, causing the vertical lines above the mouth that can lead to signs of ageing. Using a mask or balm with hyaluronic acid at night (and during the day) will help maintain the appearance of a fuller lip. Try the Lisa Franklin Lip FX for healthy, luscious-looking lips.
Clay: perennially popular, mineral clay has been used since the days of Cleopatra to remove dead skin cells, detoxify and to purify the skin. Types of clay vary and can be suitable for all skin types, but they’re all renowned for their deep cleansing and skin repairing qualities.
- Moroccan rhassoul clay is extracted from natural volcanic sources, and has a high silica and magnesium content making it ideal for acne-prone skin.
- French green clay is formed from decomposed plant matter and its high copper and iron content makes it good for oily skins as it limits sebum production without drying out the skin.
- Bentonite clay is renowned for its detoxifying properties that make the skin glow, although it can be drying.
- Kaolin clay is very fine and perfect for sensitive skins with its gentle exfoliating action.
- Amazon rainforest clay has fantastic antioxidant, skin-firming and anti-aging properties. It softens the skin, and repairs cutaneous damage caused by natural ageing or photoageing (sun damage).
- Dead Sea mud keeps skin healthy and is effective at treating conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Any tips for preparing your skin before you apply a face mask?
Mask should only be applied to clean, dry skin. Use a gentle, no rinse formula such as my Micellar Water to remove any make-up debris. Cleanse hands thoroughly before application, or use a clean foundation brush, and don’t overdo it – one even layer should be enough.
What about after you’ve used a face mask?
I like to follow a face mask with a good moisturiser. The clean, debris-free skin surface will absorb all of the goodness of the moisturiser so you look radiant!
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About Lisa Franklin
Award-winning skincare expert Lisa Franklin has developed her own range of products for her Clinic Privé private clinic in London. She aims to improve skin problems caused by city life, such as pollution. Her non-invasive treatments include facials, CACI lifting procedures, light- to medium-depth skin peels, and DNA testing to try to identify what vitamins and minerals might be needed to help protect against ageing skin.