Face masks, also called face scrubs or skin masks, are medical and cosmetic products used to soften, moisturize, cleanse, detoxify, and repair facial skin. A face mask is typically a thin cloth face mask worn directly over the nose and mouth, often containing clay or natural mud that helps draw out dirt and grime. Clay masks have long been recognized for their healing properties; using a clay mask to moisturize and cleanse the skin has also been shown to reduce wrinkles and fine lines while promoting facial health. When face masks cannot be obtained, or when the physical distancing isn’t possible, cloth face masks can be used.
Cloth face masks come in a variety of forms. A simple square, rectangular or oval shape usually consists of a number of small holes, which when filled with a solution pull the particles of the face mask together. The more well-holes are, the smoother the mask will be as the solution pulls the particles closer together, so the more air or moisture is pulled through the cloth. To release the trapped oil, excess water or dirt, or to simply remove accumulated debris, a cloth or sponge dipped into the product is used to remove the product from the face. As more solutions are added, the process continues until the desired effect is achieved.
Some brands of face masks have evolved into products useful in other ways. For example, a manufacturer may combine a cleansing mask with a pH neutralizing scrub to create a complete facial cleanser. Another type of face mask might include a protein-filled gel that tightens while moisturizing to draw out wrinkles or dry skin. The wearer may wear face masks on one or both hands to achieve a double-whitening effect, as with the use of an esthetician. And, a manufacturer may combine a light exfoliating mask with a light moisturizing lotion for a very gentle yet replenishing pick me up.
Before applying any face mask, cleanse your hands with warm water and soap, then wash your face with tepid water to remove any soap or leftover cleanser. If you’d like to avoid soap residue, pat your face dry, but apply at least 20 seconds worth of press time to each square of the mask. Once you’re satisfied with the overall appearance of your mask, put it on your face and rinse with lukewarm water to close the pores and start to tone your skin.
You can find all types of face masks and some types are more appropriate than others for different reasons. The most common types are those that prevent the entry of irritants into the pores, preventing the overproduction of bacteria or viruses. Some masks contain ingredients that help fight the fungal contaminants called Coronaviruses, preventing the growth and development of Candida, a group of yeasts that cause infection. Some masks have ingredients to prevent the buildup of sebum, keeping the skin naturally moisturized, while others contain ingredients to stimulate the function of the immune system and fight the microbial infection that causes acne.
Disposable face masks aren’t appropriate for overnight or very early morning use because they can dry out the skin and leave a brown cast. To reduce the drying effect, wear your mask as little as possible during the day or wear it only during the hours when you’ll be wearing makeup, or swimming. If you must wear a disposable mask during the day or at night, choose one that contains no oil-based moisturizers or astringents. Also avoid the use of clay-based masks during the day or at night and choose a brand of facial cleanser that includes kaolin, which helps to gently pull excess oil from the skin’s surface. You may also want to consider wearing gloves when washing your hands in order to protect them from the abrasive texture of the masques.