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21 September 2017Last updated
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Beauty | Grooming

How face masks became the hottest thing in beauty

Sales of face masks have reached a new high and no celeb Insta feed is complete without a face mask adorned #selfie. Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith takes a look at why we should all be reaching for one and joining in on the skin boosting action.

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith
6 May 2017 | 11:00 am
  • Source:Getty Images

If your reference for face masks is sugar-fuelled slumber parties circa 1990 with a slimy green mud concoction slathered over your face, then it’s time to re-educate yourself. These pampering packs are having a serious moment right now and it’s predicted to stick around. Global sales of face masks have more than doubled so that, at last count, they have racked up a revenue of over Dh580million. A study by Transparency Market Research predicts that number is set to hit Dh1.2 billion by 2024. That is a lot of face masks.

But why have we suddenly reignited our love affair with masking? It seems to stem from the Korean market – much like many of the current beauty trends. What starts as a trickle of beauty newness in the East makes gargantuan trend-setting waves over the rest of the world. Remember how you’d never heard of a BB or CC cream before – it’s all thanks to the Korean market that you are now totally au fait. However, their need and want for a face mask makes complete sense when you know that the average woman there has a 15-step skincare regime.

On any given day.

And one of those has to be a face mask. As it is a region known for its innovation, beauty brands realised that to make this 15-step skincare system a little more time efficient, they could harness all the potency and power of face masks into a sheet consistency, making masking quicker, easier and less messy. Combine that with the love of all things comic and slightly quirky, Korean brands then started to make these sheets looks cute and kooky by covering them in foil, cats and emojis. And now the rest of the world is hooked too.

Interestingly, however, is what it has done to the mask sector as a whole. Not only has the sheet mask seen huge growth but it has reminded people just how beneficial masks are for the skin prompting them to revisit ‘traditional’ wipe-off versions too. And even sparked a new social media beauty trend for #multimasking, where you use a selection of different masks on different zones of your face. Which, when you think about, makes total sense, especially for those with a combination skin type who might need hydration along the cheeks, chin and across the forehead but a mask that can suck away excess oil on the t-zone. Not only that, but there has also been an upsurge of more targeted masks such as under-eye and lip masks joining the party. But why should you bother to mask, whichever type and method, in the first place?

Because face masks are not designed to be on the skin all day they contain higher quantities and levels of skin enhancing ingredients, and do things other skincare products can’t. For example, you wouldn’t want to wear a clay based moisturiser all day for fear of your skin becoming more dehydrated than the desert – plus it wouldn’t look that great. In a skin-purifying mask, left on for 15 minutes, it’s a dream. Another way to think of masks are like boosters. They give skin an extra shot of what it needs at that moment in time. Skin feeling a bit dry? Look for a mask packed with hyaluronic acid. Complexion looking a bit dull? Choose one brimming with vitamin C. Whilst you want your serums and moisturisers to be working on long-term skincare goals, a mask can give your skin that instant peppy hit to make it look better there and then. Unlike nearly all your other skincare products, masks tend to contain something that makes them instantly more effective.

‘Many masks contain butylene glycol, which acts as a delivery agent and solvent, allowing your skin to absorb more of the other ingredients,’ explains California-based dermatologist Dr David Lortscher. Sheet masks can go one step further, thanks to its unique delivery mechanism. Sheet masks use transdermal cosmetic technology, which was initially developed for pharmaceutical purposes in the late 1980s particularly for the treatment of burns and chronic wounds. It allows ingredients to disperse deeper into the skin, meaning they work harder, but require no aggressive rubbing or massaging in. Sheet masks behave in exactly the same way.

There is also another key factor with masks, and that’s the downtime they require to get to work. ‘By their own design, masks need to be on the skin for a minimum of ten minutes, often with you having to lie-down for them to stay in place,’ says dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe. ‘This means you are often taking time out of a busy schedule to stop, rest and let them work and that is no bad thing for your body, your skin and your state of mind.’

We’re sold! Now for the best masks out on the market right now.

Old-school wonders

Most ‘conventional’ face masks have a thick consistency and they may often be coloured or tinted. Mud-based masks will dry onto the skin, whereas creamier options will sink in leaving a light film or residue to be washed or wiped off. They need to be left on for at least 10 minutes.

NIOD Flavanone Mud, Dh200

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks NIOD - Flavanone Mud 50ml

This very clever mask contains black Amazonian mud, Brazilian mud and a white clay to help draw out impurities from the skin without eradicating all the water, meaning you don’t get that tight feeling you can get with other mud masks.

GlamGlow Youth Mud, Dh320

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks YouthMud

As soon as this hits the skin it tingles. Don’t panic, that’s the volcanic minerals gently exfoliating your skin so that when you take it off your skin looks instantly brighter and fresher.

Sisley Black Rose, Dh580

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks BLACK ROSE MASK HIGH RES

If ever there was a cult beauty product, it is this. It contains a cocktail of anti-ageing ingredients that smooth fine lines and plump up the skin, all in 15 minutes. If you are lacking sleep and it’s starting to show on your face, this will sort that out for you.

Sheet mask sensations

Sheet masks are, quite frankly, genius. They are saturated in potent ingredients but require no fuss or mess to use. You may find that you need to lie down or at least prop yourself up when wearing one as they can slide down your face. They are the ideal solution to prevent dehydrated skin on a plane. Just be prepared for funny looks from fellow passengers!

Guerlain Imperial Radiance Mask, Dh1,270

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Containing amazing Orchid Light Technology that inhibits the activation of pigmentation in the skin, this mask will help boost the light-reflecting qualities of the skin making it look clearer and more even.

La Mer The Hydrating Facial, Dh1,525

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks La Mer The Hydrating Facial

This two-zoned sheet mask means that if you feel only one half of your face needs attention then you can save the other half for another time. Containing La Mer’s key ingredient, the sea moist ferment, a blend of dark green algae that help target dark spots and smooth out wrinkles.

Starskin Balancing Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Face Mask, Dh50

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If blemishes and redness are your skin concern, this is for you. The coconut water purifies and hydrates and gets to work on reducing redness and any irritation around pores and the gentian root helps heal the skin from any breakouts or scarring.

Innovative dry sheets

The hottest masks to get your hands on are dry. Sounds strange – but where they differ from ‘wet’ sheet masks are that the ingredients are intertwined within the fabric of the mask, rather than being on top, making them completely dry to the touch. Plus the great news is that because they’re dry you can use them over your makeup for a very quick skin refresh.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask, Dh72

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks Charlotte Tilbury

This completely dry mask can be used up to three times making it a bit of a beauty bargain. It has tiny vectors that contain the active ingredients that are slowly released into the skin. You will feel like it’s not doing anything until you take it off and see how great your skin looks. Plus it comes with handy hooks to place around the ears so it doesn’t budge while you’re wearing it.

Nannette de Gaspé Restorative Techstile Face Masque, Dh391

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks Nannette de Gaspe

This felt-like mask is infused with semi-solid plant oils that warm and imperceptibly melt at body temperature on your skin. It is also designed with loops that hook round the ears so it stays put. Gently massage the mask when applied, this helps stimulate the ingredients allowing them to infuse in to the skin.

Mask zoning

Thanks to the masking explosion, you can now get very specific with the areas you want to mask. Unique designs have made it possible to deliver the same level of ingredients to once tricky-to-reach areas such as under the eyes, along the jawline and even the lips.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Mask, Dh387

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The delicate skin around the eyes can’t take being overwhelmed with product (it can cause puffiness) so a mask that gently disperses a lightweight eye product is a great option and these are shaped perfectly to fit under the eyes comfortably. They are dripping in Elemis’ algae mixture to encourage collagen production, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate.

Sarah Chapman Chin and Jaw Lift, Dh205

FR_170505 Beauty Face Masks Sarah Chapman Sculpting Chin & Jaw Lift

Inspired by Sarah’s own skin-sculpting treatments, this lifting treatment delivers potent skin tightening actives in an elastic mask that stretches up and over the chin, neck and jowls. Leave for 15 minutes, remove and massage the excess serum down the neck.

Rodial Dragon’s Blood Lip Mask, Dh269

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Thanks to Kylie Jenner, fuller, plumper lips are what we’re all after and if you don’t fancy opting for fillers then popping this on is a great alternative. It contains lots of antioxidants to prevent the delicate skin on the lips from drying out and flaking as well as hyalurospheres which deliver temporary plumping to the pout.

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith