Masks have been around forever but they’re having a real moment right now. Every time I blink and new one pops up and that’s great ‘cos I love them. There’s nothing like slapping one on when you’re having a big night in or using it as a flash pick-me-up before a big night out.
Still, some are better than others, especially when it comes to being good value. You really don’t have to pay the earth to find a mask that’ll meet your needs provided they’re simple ones – like cleansing, hydrating or exfoliating. When it comes to anti-ageing, however, that’s where you could run into trouble. Don’t trust a mask that promises to turn back the hands of time. Blitzing fine lines requires applying something topical that contains collagen-encouraging ingredients like retinol and using it every single day. If you believe that using a mask once a week, even if it contains the right actives, is going to help you fend off Father Time then you’re living in crazy town. It’s like taking a multi-vitamin once a month and expecting it to have an impact.
That said, I’ve been swamped with new masks – some cool, some kak – and thought I’d fill you in on the best of the bunch starting with Avene Soothing Moisture mask (R230, Dis-Chem).
I recently dried out a portion of my face using too much acid to rid myself of a mark left behind by a monster pimple and Avene’s lovely mask was a nice way to help restore some balance. It’s a very basic hydrating mix of thermal spa water (proven to soothe) and non-irritating oils, namely mineral, safflower and palm kernel. Texture-wise, it feels like any other medium-weight moisturiser and, if you’ve got super dry skin, you can actually use it as such. However, I like to slap it on then wipe it off if I remember. (There have been days when I’ve put it on in the evening and just gone to bed!) It doesn’t ‘set’ or contain anything that could irritate if left on too long so there’s really nothing stopping you from using it like a hydrating night cream if you wished.
Another lovely, super affordable hydrating mask I’m enjoying is Aloe Unique Aloe & Honey gel mask (R108, Aloe Unique).
A lightweight, non-drying gel, you can leave it on for as long as you like. The hydrating bit’s accomplished via super soothing aloe ferox leaf extract and honey that are both good sources of antioxidants. It also contains a whopload of witch hazel extract, a great astringent that also has a soothing affect. The irony, however, is that those with extremely sensitive skins could find it sensitizing. Personally, I’ve only ever had good experiences with witch hazel. If my skin’s red or inflamed witch hazel has only ever calmed it down. For that reason, this is the kind of mask I’d reach for after I’ve annoyed my skin by picking at it. It feels fabulously calming, almost like an after sun gel. It also did a very nice job of calming down some redness in my bikini line when I had to shave it in an emergency, knowing full well this would result in irritation. Arrgh!
Last but not least, I’m also enjoying L’Oreal’s Pure Clay Detox mask (R129,95, Dis-Chem). It’s your typical clay mask with the addition of charcoal to help draw out excess oil. As it dries this isn’t the kind of thing you could go to bed in. Simply apply it to any areas that are oily or congested for about five to ten minutes before taking it off.
If you’ve spotted it in stores you’ll know its part of a collection of three masks. All of them make use of the same trio of clays and are formulated very similarly save for the addition of one or two extra actives. I find Detox and Purity are almost the same formula but the former includes charcoal and the latter eucalyptus which irritates my skin. The Glow option also makes use of the three clays but the formula is slightly more hydrating thanks to glycerin. It also contains a very small amount of red algae and there’s been talk that it might be able to help brighten your skin but I can’t find any studies. For these reasons my favourite of all three masks is the Detox one. As far as charcoal masks go, its very good value considering you can get multiple uses out of it and it can definitely live up to its promises.