How social media renewed our interest in face masks

The return of the face mask
Modern face masks provide an intensive treatment hit for skin.

There are a few things we can thank social media for – the recent rise in popularity of face masks isn’t just because there’s a large number of new products being released on the beauty market. The green clay mask synonymous with wearing a bathrobe and slippers on a Sunday night has had a re-brand – in part because it has become a surprising badge of pride to show off this beauty routine – even when its Hannibal Lecter-lookalikes swathed in sheet masks who post on Instagram and Snapchat. Models, celebrities, musicians are all on the masquerading bandwagon.

Renewed enthusiasm for a centuries-old treatment might also have something to do with the results that advanced skincare now provides – plumper, younger and more radiant skin – in minutes. The results can be as good as a facial without leaving home.

Caroline Parker, Head of Education for Dermalogica, says masks can also help improve the effectiveness of other products. “Masks reinforce and enhance your daily skin products. They have specific actions like refining oily or congested skin or nourishing dry skin and are usually applied to clean skin once or twice a week. A great time is after using an exfoliant as you will get better absorption of the ingredients,” she says.

Caroline refers to Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque as an “ambulance in a tube” as it tackles stressed, flaky and red skin, and recommends the Hydrating Mask for giving skin a good drink. “Dehydrated skin is almost inevitable in New Zealand, especially in winter due to low humidity and cold, dry weather.”

Plastic surgeon Dr Des Fernandes created Environ Intensive Revival Masque to be used as a “facelift in a jar”. AHAs, Lactic Acid, Asiatic Acid and Mandelic Acid in the mask lower the
skin’s pH, which in turn boosts collagen production and evens out skin tone and pigmentation. Fernandes is a fan of the new approach, particularly popular in Asia, for leaving masks on skin while sleeping, rather than tissuing or rinsing off.

Holy sheet
Currently exploding in popularity thanks to the increased focus on beauty developments from Asia, single-use sheet masks soak the skin in nourishing ingredients. Pop one on, take some scary selfies, leave for around 10 minutes, then peel off and rub in the residue. Designed for occasional use, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals are packed into the glow-giving skin pick-me-up.

The hygienic sheet helps skin absorb the skin-boosting ingredients and acts as a barrier to prevent product evaporating. They don’t replace traditional formula masks because they generally contain hydrating serum-based formulas. They don’t exfoliate or cleanse deeply, and one should tread carefully with acne-prone skin, but they won’t dry out skin. Chinese beauty brand Wei gets points from us for providing three different targeted treatment types in one six pack – brightening, lifting and firming and hydrating with plenty of wonder-ingredient Hyaluronic Acid to aid the retention of moisture and elasticity. Korea’s multi-piece sheet masks, with separate sheets for your forehead, cheeks, smile lines, neck and décolletage, will also soon be available here.

Detoxifying and decongesting
There’s still a place in the regime for traditional deep-cleansing mud and cream treatment masks, which include concentrated antioxidants, vitamins and botanicals. Combination skin, very oily or acne-prone complexions in particular are likely to find a weekly targeted treatment beneficial. Charcoal’s ability to decongest and suck up toxins and debris means it’s great for flagging skin that’s not been treated kindly (think late nights and takeaways). Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask uses activated charcoal and warms on contact for a deep cleanse.

Oasis Beauty Tropical Fruit Smoothie is a great multitasker, combining a fine physical exfoliator, fruit enzymes to dissolve dead skin and a honey and pink-clay smoothing masque in one. Even better, the pump dispenser reduces the chance of bacteria contamination that dipping fingers into jars can cause. And if you’ve ever been for a dip in Rotorua’s natural mud pool baths you’ll be familiar with how the mud’s minerals leaves skin silky smooth. You’ll get the same results on your face with Skinfood’s mud masque.

If you’re having trouble deciding what you need or you have different problem areas, get on board with #multimasking. The hot-right-now trend is a social media tag for something dermatologists have been recommending for years: Applying multiple masks in a patchwork of different parts of your face all at once to target each area’s concerns.

Masks to try
1. Clinique Pore-Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask, $58. 2. Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Mask Boost, $140. 3. Skinfood Mud Masque, $13.99. 4. Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask, $17.99. 5. Environ Intensive Revival Masque, $95. 6. Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel & Reveal Revitalising Mask, $69. 7. Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque, $74. 8. Dermalogica Age Smart Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque, $91. 9. Manuka Doctor Illusionist Rapid Lift Mask, $59.95. 10. Oasis Beauty Fruit Smoothie, $39.90.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask

FQ’s pick
La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask (above), $440, renews skin while you sleep.

Models backstage with face masks at Victoria Beckham's show at New York Fashion Week

Quick Fix
It’s not just a maintenance thing – its a quick fix, too. Earlier this year Victoria Beckham had models apply SK-II Facial Treatment Mask backstage before her runway shows for an intense treatment hit of hydration.

The Glamgow brand is Hollywood’s worst-kept secret, with the original tingling Glamglow Youth Mud Face Mask, $102, used by actresses to smooth, brighten and tighten the skin’s surface before red-carpet events.