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Ask an Expert – Face Masks

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Over the past four weeks, the world as we know it has changed. For many of us those changes have been confusing, and sometimes even a bit scary. Finding things that bring us comfort has been important, and scrolling through social media I’ve been entertained with anecdotes of people doing just that. Some have chosen fitness. Others, 1000 piece puzzles. Many MANY loaves of banana bread have filled the tummies of the housebound citizens of the world. Me though? I’ve been using this unexpected downtime to practice self-care in the way that makes me the happiest… Elaborate, indulgent and downright glorious amounts of skincare. If you have yet to discover the joys of double masking, allow me to enlighten you.
Face masks, to me, are the ultimate in skincare decadence. They require time and usually that time is limited in my day to day life, but not at the moment. So my masks and I have been spending a lot of time together and my skin is in the best condition of my life! I tend toward a more oily skin type, so every second or third night I’m keen to deep cleanse my skin, to get rid of any sebum build up. Currently I’m crushing on the incredible Volcanic Rock Salt Scrub from Lernberger Stafsing (available exclusively in New Zealand and Australia from The Skin Wardrobe) for this step. It’s a gentle, and very effective physical exfoliator, which buffs and polishes your skin leaving it soft and glowing. Just superb, honestly. I like to apply it to my face with a brush, leave it for a few minutes, then gently use circular motions to let it do it’s thing before rinsing it off.
Afterwards I like to up the glow factor by reaching for a hydrating sheet mask (I have a small selection of them, all from the incredible treasure trove of Korean beauty products here in New Zealand, Hikoco). I generally go for one that is heavy on hydration, so the ingredient I like to look for is Hyaluronic Acid. I won’t get too deep into ingredients and their benefits right now as that warrants a far more dedicated deep dive but I do want to talk about a few, one being HA. This interesting little molecule draws hydration to itself, and can hold up to 1000 times it’s own size in water. For an oily gal like me, that’s incredibly beneficial, as it helps my skin to remain balanced and not over produce oil and using a sheet mask like that in a warm, steamy bathroom seems to me like a very good idea!

 

 

On nights when I’m not going to use the scrub, I will often reach for something more moisturising. A heavy, rich, indulgent mask is ideal – something with honey is a lovely option, and there are lots of them available out there. My current favourite is the I’m From Honey Mask, again from Hikoco. This one can be left on for up to an hour, so I don’t usually get stuck in to a second mask if I’ve used it. The glow your skin has after using something along these lines is lovely, and your skin feels plump and soft to the touch. What’s not to love about that?!
I am very partial to a once-a-week encounter with a clay mask. These masks are the type you see in Instagram stories.  The ones where the people in the pics have a towel wrapped around their head, and their face covered in pink or black clay. Clay masks are really good for clearing out clogged pores, and drawing out the excess sebum that has accumulated during the day. Be aware that they can be very drying on the skin, so I would suggest leaving them on for only about 10 minutes, following it up with some serious hydration – welcome back, Madame Sheet Mask. (Fun fact: sheet masks are often used daily by followers of the Korean Beauty practice of the Ten Step Routine). I don’t have a specific clay mask to recommend, as I’m currently using up my many sample packets I’ve accumulated over the years, but  there are some excellent options available at your local supermarket, or your favourite beauty shopping destination.
HONEY MASK

 

The final mask I like to use, is a chemical exfoliator. These masks use active acids to exfoliate the skin, without any/much physical scrubbing. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (Salicylic Acid) – otherwise referred to as AHA’s and BHA’s. These acids act to loosen the dead skin cells in your skin, and allow them to imperceptibly fall away, revealing fresh skin underneath. Don’t be frightened of the fact they are acids (like i was at first). They are surprisingly gentle  when formulated to the correct PH level for optimum effectiveness, and if you’re a bit nervous at first, choose one that has a lower percentage of the acid. For a long time, my favourite wash off mask of this kind has been the Heart Made Angel for Skin – another gem from Hikoco. A gel peel mask, that has the most satisfying process of balling up when you massage it in to the skin, and leaving behind a soft complexion. I’ve recommended this one to anyone who will listen, such is my trust in it.

 

 

 

If you don’t have any face masks to hand, the simple act of soaking in the bath, or spending an extra few minutes in a hot shower, is a way to allocate some time just for you. And once you’ve dried off, and cosied up in your pjs, using a little extra moisturiser on your clean skin, massaging it gently as you go, is a lovely little way to add a touch of self-care into your routine. Because you are most definitely, as they say, worth it.
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