Use these tips to find the right mask for your skin concern

Winter weather can be brutal on skin, even for those who diligently care for their complexions. Whatever your skin care routine, be it minimum or elaborate, one easy treatment that delivers big benefits with little effort or time commitment is the face mask. Some masks don’t even need to be rinsed off—think sheet masks or nighttime treatments. BCLiving spoke to three beauty brands about choosing the right mask for skin types and concerns to achieve optimum results.

Why mask at all?

Estée LauderEstée Lauder“Masking allows you to target specific skin care concerns while treating yourself to a spa-like treatment at home. Incorporating the right treatment mask into your routine can transform your skin instantly and overtime,” says Erin Martyn, Field Executive Training manager for Glamglow Canada. Given the huge selection of masks available, identifying key benefits is the best place to start, says Janice James, Estée Lauder Field Executive Training Manager Canada. James says the top categories of masks are hydration and moisturizing, removing oil and impurities, and reducing the signs of aging.

“Reducing signs of aging is a big benefit in masking,” she says. “These masks contain powerful anti-aging ingredients that stimulate your natural collagen and elastin production so that your skin looks firmer and more resilient.”

“In addition to skin-type-specific benefits, masking is the ultimate form of self-care and encourages resting and relaxing,” adds Valerie Gagnon, Garnier Canada, Communications Manager.

What’s in a mask?

GLAMGLOWGLAMGLOW“Look for ingredients that target your concerns,” advises Martyn. “For example, if you have congested pores and problematic skin, using a treatment mask that has active ingredients for a multi-level exfoliation will give your skin the results you want.”

She points to Glamglow's Supermud, formulated with a proprietary blend of AHAs and BHAs (lactic acid, mandelic acid, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, tartaric acid and pyruvic acid) which are key ingredients in exfoliating masks.

For hydration, look for hyaluronic acid that binds and holds the moisture in the skin. “It actually traps the water in the skin so that your skin appears plumper, more dewy and more hydrated.” James says. She adds that for deep hydration, Estée Lauder’s ANR Powerfoil Mask’s technology pushes the hyaluronic acid into the skin 20 times faster than regular cotton masks in just 10 minutes.

For anti-aging, retinol, a variant of vitamin A, is a key ingredient that James says accelerates skin’s natural cell turnover while helping produce collagen and elastin creating a pluming effect.

The newest “it” ingredient is niacinamide. It’s a form of vitamin B3 and is regarded as a multi-benefit, anti-aging component. James says that it reduces lines and wrinkles and helps build collagen which is instrumental for maintaining younger looking skin.

Gagnon suggests looking to citrus extract, ginseng, pearl powder and vitamin C for skin-brightening ingredients as a quick way to liven up your skin, and ingredients like camellia sinensis and other aloes, as well as green tea products for calming benefits.

How much is too much?

Estée LauderEstée LauderHow often you use a mask depends on the purpose of the mask and the ingredients in the formulation. A mask for hydration can be applied multiple times a week but one for exfoliation less often. It also depends on if you’re using a multi-purpose product that can function as a mask, such as applying a retinol serum in thick layer to work as a nighttime sleep mask. You might use that on a nightly basis once your skin becomes acclimated to it. Or perhaps a cleanser, that if left on longer, detoxifies the skin.

James uses Estée Lauder’s Revitalizing Supreme Night, a night cream, as a mask. Instead of massaging it into the skin, she applies if liberally, allowing it to absorb into the skin overnight.

One way to target all your skin concerns in a time efficient way is with multi-masking. This means addressing individual skin issues with different mask treatments on various parts of your face at the same time. James uses the example of someone with a combination complexion who might have dry and flakey skin on the cheeks. “So, they might want to use a hydrating nourishing mask on the cheeks but then their T-zone is sort of oily. So, they use a clay mask in the T-zone to absorb that excess oil,” she explains, adding it’s possible to have three different masks on at one time.

“Using a multi-masking regime allows you to custom fit your mask moments to your individual skin concerns so that you can control where you glow,” Martyn says.

That said, it is possible to layer masks one on top of another, says James, perhaps a hydration mask and an anti-aging mask. Just apply the one with the lightest texture first, then the heavier one on top.

Gagnon says to help address a variety of skin concerns, Garnier offers a six-pack of complementary masks in the Skinactive Moisture Bomb Biodegradable Sheet Mask range that work in 15 minutes. The brand has also just released Green Labs Serum Masks which, she says, performs faster with more concentrated results.

Masking prep

For a mask to be effective, it should always be applied to clean skin, advises Martyn.

“You wouldn’t mop your floors without sweeping it first,” she quips. “Cleansing and toning are the first two steps to take before you apply your mask. This will allow the mask to penetrate the skin deeply, so you get the results you want.”

So, be kind to your skin and mask up. You’ll thank yourself now, and years down the road.