Masking Around

Skin treatment masks have always been a staple item in most skin care regimes. From the use of clay or fermented Milk in Egyptian times, the very questionable ‘Strawberry Peel- Off Mask’ of the 80’s and the placenta, collagen fibre and self heating clay masks of the 90’s; it seems that just about anything can be turned into a mask (think ‘Birds Nest Mask’ or ‘Nightingale Bird Poo Mask’ popular in Asia).

More recently, however (and thanks to the power of Social Media) the focus of masks has shifted to be more about theatrics rather than nourishment, taking things to a whole new, selfie-worthy level. Here are two masks currently taking the internet by storm…

Black Charcoal Peel-Off Mask

If you suffer from black-heads and enlarged pores then, according to the internet, this mask is a must-do treatment. The black goo is painted on to the face in a thickish layer and allowed to dry tight and firm for around 20-40 minutes. Once dry, the mask is slowly pulled away from the skin in a slow upwards direction. The blackheads and oil plugs will be pulled out of the pores as the film is peeled away and the skin is left feeling super smooth.

The mask contains, activated charcoal which has become a popular ingredient in skin care due to its super magnetic ability to absorb oil and dirt from clogged pores. However, despite the charcoals benefits, it’s the other ingredients in these ‘Peel-Off’ style charcoal masks that are an issue for me. Popular home-remedy recipes include the use of PVA Glue to form the base of the mask (no need to explain why that’s a terrible idea!)… but, while quality, over-the-counter versions may not contain PVA Glue per se, they still offer the same degree of grip and here-in lies the problem.

Not only does this style of mask remove the blackheads and oil plugs but it aggressively over-exfoliates the skin by ripping off the surface layer as well as the vellus hair (the soft downy baby hair covering our skin) and the natural oils that sit on the surface of the skin called the ‘acid mantel’ which protect the skin from infection, dehydration, and the surrounding environment.

I do not recommend using this mask although, for entertainment purposes, watching a few youtube clips of others doing so can be very satisfying.

Carbonated Bubbling Clay Mask

This mask is a great alternative which also contains Charcoal but without the glue (thank goodness!). Instead, the theatrics of this mask give the user a fizzy, bubbly, popping experience while slowly turning their face into a fuzzy cartoon character.

Fun and laughter aside, the Charcoal and clay in this mask helps to unclog pores, absorb excessive surface oils and tighten the skin. However, unlike the Peel-Off mask, this mask is simply rinsed away leaving the skin intact and feeling refreshed.

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