Cream masks are rich solutions that can be applied to the face by spreading a layer over the face, leaving it on for the suggested duration, rinsing it off afterwards, and following that with a moisturiser. Due to the richness of cream masks, it is often used for ageing skin.
However, those with acne-prone skin types should be careful to check the ingredients when using cream masks, as they tend to use heavier ingredients that may be comedogenic (that is, likely to clog the pores of acne-prone skin). Examples of common ingredients used in cream masks that can clog pores include: coconut oil or coconut butter (which both have a comedogenic rating of 4 out of 5); acetylated lanolin (comedogenic rating of 4); and Algae extract (comedogenic rating of 5).
The main target for cream masks, whether aimed at ageing skin or not, is to hydrate the skin. The problem is that once the cream is applied, it has nothing to seal the cream on your face, meaning it is evaporating. This is why once you wash off the mask the benefits would not last long and may not work well to hydrate deep in the dermis.
What about sheet masks?
Sheet masks are not immune from comedogenic ingredients, however as the ingredients used are less likely to be heavy as seen in rich creams, they are likely to avoid more of the heavier comedogenic ingredients. Sheet masks are drenched in a serum and are to be placed on the face for the suggested duration without the need to wash the face post mask and followed by a moisturiser. As sheet masks formulas are made in the form of a serum, they are much lighter, this does not mean it is less hydrating than a thick cream. Ingredients in masks can use extremely hydrating ingredients with smaller particle sizes that can penetrate deeper without the heaviness. For example, LUIERE masks use a special Lipidure® ingredient which has the capacity to hold over 2,000 times its weight in water.
The use of sheet masks means there is a layer over the skin that is sealing in the formula to be absorbed by the skin without exposure to the air, minimising evaporation and maximising the skin’s absorption.
Different sheet mask types and qualities make a great difference to the mask’s ability to lock in the moisture and deliver nutrients. Bio-cellulose masks, as used in LUIERE masks, are the most advanced type of sheet masks. They are over 1,000 times finer than the general pulp sheet!
The goal of skin hydration benefits all skin types. It helps with anti-ageing by replenishing the skin and avoiding wrinkle formation. It helps repair sensitive skin (if the formula is suitable for sensitive skin) and it is especially good for acne skin. When oily and acne skin types are well hydrated, the skin is tricked into producing less oil, pores start to loosen the sebum and oils that can clog pores and inflamed skin start to calm down. Hydrated skin also means your skin will produce less of the dead skin cells and flaking that can actually clog your pores.
What about clay masks and peel-off masks?
These masks have a very different purpose to sheet and cream masks. Rather than aiming to hydrate the skin, the goal is to remove dead skin cells and oils. The masks are applied on the face as a liquid, it works by coating the skin like an adhesive, when it is washed off or peeled off, the oils and dead skin cells are supposed to come off as well. According to otorhinolaryngologist, Kalpana DePasquale MD, says that although these masks may remove your dead skin cells and oils, these masks also remove a layer of skin, vellus hair and sebaceous filaments (naturally occurring hair-like formations that channel the oil flow through your pores). Dr. Depasquale explains that even though sebaceous filaments may look like blackheads they keep our skin in balance and should not be removed”.
Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian MD agrees with this saying, “The benefit of the peel-off mask is that it physically removes the top layer of skin, sloughing dull dead skin cells. This makes skin feel very smooth, and look dewy and glowy,” she says. “But the process of peeling off the mask is similar to waxing the face. Although tougher skin types can withstand the stripping of skin, those with delicate skin or sensitive skin can cause more damage than it’s worth.”
Although these masks may be removing dead skin cells and oils, the problem is the oil is going to come back. In fact, your skin is tricked into thinking your skin is dehydrated and lacking in natural oils and produces even more oil for your skin. Unfortunately, you can expect to see a difference in the oiliness of your skin in the long term with these types of dehydrating (oil removing) masks.
In the end, the only standing benefit is the removal of dead skin cells (or exfoliation). However, it may be more beneficial to use a gentle exfoliant instead, without removing your much-needed natural oils and skin’s natural protective barrier (lipid barrier), for heathier and stronger skin!