Do Masks Really Work?

In the last two years, face masks sales have skyrocketed. In the U.S., sales have boomed 60 percent since 2013. With so many women investing in luxury face masks (for example, this mask comes at a hefty price tag of $135 and can only be used 10 times) surely they must produce amazing results?

Yesterday, when I was first sitting down to write this post, I wasn’t convinced. I started writing about how the results were so ephemeral face masks were surely pointless. And then after writing about masks I suddenly felt the urge to put on a mask. And then I put on another (after rinsing off the first, of course). Today, I have barely any makeup on my face because my skin looks radiant and healthy. So I decided to check-back in here with you and let you know what I really think:


No. Face masks won't solve your skin problems permanently. No, their effects won't last you weeks and no, you certainly won't come out looking like Jennifer Lopez (if only…). But if you’re prepping for a big event (like a wedding, or an important presentation), or if you simply feel as though your skin looks tired, then you might see some slight improvements to the texture and overall appearance of your skin. Am I a pro of the face mask world? Absolutely not. Would I ever buy a $135 sheet mask? Hell no. But if you do your research and try your own little concoction of products (as I did), then you might be pleased with the results.

 This year, it’s all about Korean beauty. As such, Korean beauty trends like sheet masks have exploded over here. But here’s what bugs me: they seem incredibly wasteful. Putting a sheet on your face that you then dispose of (and that oftentimes come individually packaged in plastic) breaks my heart a little bit. I’m also dubious of it being more effective than simply putting on the product directly onto your face. So, if you want to try the whole face-mask thing, then I encourage you to go the classic route (but I won’t judge).

 If you’re feeling inspired, you can totally make your own out of cheap, inexpensive products. Clay, for example, is really, really cheap, and you should never purchase a clay mask that’s over $8. Anything over that is just a plain rip-off. Honey is another great one – but if you want to see results don’t just reach for your teddy bear honey, instead, something like Manuka honey has been proven to have amazing antioxidant properties and be great for acne-prone skin. Most importantly, do your research on DIY masks. Some recipes will include things like cinnamon or mustard: both of which will sting and irritate.

 If, like me, you might be too lazy for DIY, then go through your cupboards and try a clay mask followed by a soothing, moisturizing one (I decided to do this because clay masks can notoriously dry out your skin).  Here's what I had: 

From left to right: Nuxe Vitamin-Rich Detox Mask, Queen Helen Mint Julep Masque

From left to right: Nuxe Vitamin-Rich Detox Mask, Queen Helen Mint Julep Masque

I left the Queen Helene mask (which is 4 DOLLARS PEOPLE!!!!) until it was completely dry on my skin. I've used this one on its own before when I've had bad breakouts or when knowing one was approaching (like when my period was arriving...) but have never been totally convinced it was that effective. So I went a step further and decided to see what would happen when I combined it with a soothing mask, like this Nuxe "Detox" mask. First, a word on the marketing language: detox is a word beauty companies love to throw around. A detox implies a cure, a deep-cleansing, a je-ne-sais-quoi that will leave you feeling ahhhhh, refreshed. 

None of it is ever true. However, I did find it to be soothing and moisturizing. Again, used on its own, I've never been wowed. I purchased this product in a French pharmacy while in Paris earlier this year, simply because the pharmacist/saleswoman was so nice and pitched this product to her best ability (it's supposedly won awards for being a great mask). So okay, I put it in my basket. I'm the greatest (most gullible) customer in the world. 

It's an interesting product. The texture feels like a gel version of honey. It's gooey, but not sticky, and very lightweight in texture. It also smells divine. I left this one on for a while, it's something you don't have to worry about being left on your skin for too long. After maybe twenty minutes I rinsed it off with water, the mask turning into a milky texture on my face and washing off seamlessly. 

I looked in the mirror, thought: yeah, yeah, sure, my skin looks nice and clean (but any cleanser can do that) and it feels soft but, whatever, who cares. This morning though, I did find that my skin looked, well, really healthy. I put on a tiny bit of blush, mascara (and some concealer for my under-eye circles) and was out the door. No need for any kind of base (not that there is ever a need.)

My verdict? Indulge if you want, you won't necessarily be disappointed. Worth the hype? Eh. Be a smart shopper, and research your ingredients and their worth. And if you make your own make sure it's not a silly recipe from a 14 year old girl who has no clue what's she doing. Ultimately, yes, it's a good pampering experience, goddamnit, and it's one I'll probably repeat for quite some time. 

 

Beauty, SkincareColine