Mask Roundup | Types of masks and when to use them


Growing up, I always thought of face masks as this mysterious thing, like green goop being slathered onto peoples' faces and topped with fresh cucumber slices or sticky pastes made of mysterious substances and mud. Face masks to me then didn't seem like something most people indulged in on a normal basis. Rather, masks were something you paid professionals to do. Boy, was I wrong! Now I know that masks are something anybody can do, and they are an important part of maintaining one's skin balance. Sure, we all have those workhorse products, such as cleansers, moisturizers and serums, but masks are that little something extra to give your skin the super-charge it needs and they're the perfect excuse to slow down and have a little "me time."

Now that I'm a regular mask user, I've realized that there are a wide variety of mask types, with differing purposes and functions. It can all be a tad confusing to know what to use and when, so I thought I'd share today a peek into my own face mask collection, with the hopes that it can help you figure out what kinds of masks to incorporate into your beauty routine.

Deep-cleansing Clay Masks
The first type, and my favourite, are deep-cleansing clay masks. These kinds of masks are made primarily of clay and may also include physical exfoliants like sugar or sea salt. The purpose of these kinds of masks are to get really down into your pores and just suck out all that built-up dirt, bacteria and oils that can clog pores and cause blemishes. Kaolin clay in particular, is a very popular ingredient as it naturally draws out impurities and reduces inflammation. For anyone who has oily skin or who just loves a good scrub, these kinds of masks will be right up your alley. The only downsides to clay masks are that they can be very drying, so be sure to replenish your skin's moisture barrier after with a hydrating mask or cream!

lancome clay mask
Lancome Pure Empriente

My picks:

lush cranberry festive mask
Lush Cranberry Festive Face Mask

Detoxifying Masks
These kinds of masks perfect for the night before a big event when you want your skin to look extra good and they're also great for long-term use to gradually improve your skin's texture, tone and general appearance. Detoxifying masks are designed to gentle refine and condition your skin in a similar manner as deep-cleansing clay masks, but are more suitable for drier and sensitive skin. Often they may contain chemical exfoliants, like fruit enzymes to slough off dead skin cells, emollients such as nut oils to hydrate, and astringents like honey to kill blemish-causing bacteria.

Whereas clay masks are something I wouldn't use more than once a week, detoxifying masks are gentle enough that you could use them a couple times a week. Although you won't notice instant results, over time I've found these kinds of masks to be highly effective.

nuxe bio beaute detox mask
Nuxe Bio Beaute Vitamin Rich Detox Mask

My picks:
  • June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Mask ($60) - pricey, but one of my favourites. This gentle plant-based mask uses fruit juice acids to dissolve dead skin cells and green tea extracts to fight signs of aging
  • Nuxe Bio Beaute Vitamin Rich Detox Mask ($30+) - I reviewed this mask before and had meh results, but I've since changed my mind as the longer I've used it, the smoother and more poreless my skin has become!
  • Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask ($70) - I've been trying this one out recently and it's definitely the most unique mask I've ever tried. It comes out as a gel and turns into a bubbling foam that slowly gets absorbed into skin. Designed to mimic Bliss' famous oxygen facials, this mask uses oxygen, vitamins C & E and natural extracts to rejuvenate skin. So far it seems more gimmicky than life-changing, but time will tell!
bliss oxygen face mask
Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask

Sheet Masks
For an even faster quick-fix, nothing can beat a good sheet mask. Sheet masks originated in Asia and consist of paper sheets cut in the shape of a face and which are soaked in serums. The idea is to apply, wait and then toss it away without the messy application or rinsing off required by conventional masks. Although I don't find sheet masks to really have long-term effects, I enjoy using them as a fun way to quickly eliminate dry, flaky skin or to give my face a temporary jolt of plumpness or brightening. 

THEFACESHOP sheet masks
THEFACESHOP Real Nature sheet masks

My picks: Any Asian beauty and cosmetics store should carry tons of sheet mask options, but for a North American option, THEFACESHOP is my favourite source!

Other types of masks
These are the main categories, but there are also other types of masks that are gaining in popularity as well:

Peeling masks: are usually gels that you spread over your face, wait and then literally peel off in long strips. These are my least favourite types of masks as the peeling process is often quite painful! They can be used to exfoliate and brighten.

Sleeping masks: are growing to be my second favourite type of mask after clay masks. This type of mask is used mainly for hydration and is applied like a thick cream to your face and left on overnight. This is the best kind of mask for lazy people as you just apply it and then forget it! My current go-to sleeping mask is Clinique's Moisture Surge Overnight Mask ($41) - it feels so creamy and soft going on and leaves my skin looking luminous in the morning! A total essential in winter.

So those are all the types of masks I've tried - what type of face mask is your favourite? Are there other categories of masks out there?

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