The recent pandemic propelled our enduring focus on self-care, wellness, and safety. Around the globe, the editorial highway created awareness about the ‘kindness’ we owe to ourselves, and each other. During extensive lockdown periods, our ‘at-home’ skincare rituals provided much-needed levity. Fuelled by the expertise of skincare professionals including dermatologists, estheticians, and cosmetic physicians, the content we consumed, provided valuable ‘intel’ to navigate the saturated skincare arena. The non-negotiables included a gentle but effective pH-balanced cleanser, a skin barrier-loving moisturiser, a prescribed powerhouse serum, and critical (‘rain or shine’) broad spectrum SPF50+ sun protection. Essential basics to create and maintain, healthy, radiant-looking skin. Skincare Masks moved into the spotlight, simply because we had time to ‘stop and sit’. Inspired by ‘stillness’ and an unapologetic love of self-indulgence, this Editorial Feature unveils the benefits of efficacious ‘non-sheet’ Masks. Understand the science, take note of the expert dermatological insights, and discover the recommended ‘tried and tested’ products, to complement your skincare routine.


“Facial skincare masks occlude the skin – in simpler terms, they create a temporary barrier between the external environment (air), and the formula’s ingredients. This barrier inhibits evaporation, and encourages key ingredients to penetrate the outer layers of the skin, to deliver targeted benefits”, explains dermatologist, Dr Cara McDonald (Complete Skin Specialists, VIC). When it comes to selecting a Mask, the market can seem overwhelming, and full of ‘broken promises’. Assisting consumers should commence with identifying their skin type, and recommending a Mask to address the following key concerns – ageing/dehydrated skin, lack-lustre/pigmented skin, sensitised/compromised skin, and congested/oily skin prone to breakouts. Dr McDonald’s star ingredients include: plumping Hyaluronic Acid, and moisturising Glycerin to restore hydration; Vitamin E (Tocopherol), a potent antioxidant to prevent cellular damage; resurfacing AHAs, and Retinol to address the look of fine lines and wrinkles; Ceramides, and Pro-Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), to soothe and strengthen the skin barrier; brightening Vitamins C and B3 (Niacinamide), to restore clarity; purifying Kaolin Clay, and BHAs (such as Salicylic Acid), to decongest oliy skin prone to blemishes.


Augustinus Bader The Face Cream Mask is powered by TFC8 – a patented complex, (inspired by 30+ years of research and clinical studies), to hydrate, brighten, firm, and smooth ageing skin. The rich cream texture is formulated with Collagen-boosting Vitamin C, powerful antioxidants including Panax Ginseng, Pomegranate Extract, and pure Vitamin E to combat free-radical damage. Skin-identical Glycerin, firming Hyaluronic Acid, and Squalene assist the skin to attract and maintain vital moisture. A cult favourite at MECCA, this luxurious, anti-ageing hero can be applied for 8-10 minutes, or as an intensive overnight treatment. Kiehl’s Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask is enriched with Avocado Fruit Extract, and Avocado + Evening Primrose Oils, to moisturise, soften, and restore elasticity. The ultra-creamy formula is also infused with moisturising Glycerin, Shea Butter (a highly regarded, natural emollient), and antioxidant-rich Vitamin E, to promote a visibly smoother-looking complexion. Scoop up a generous amount of the indulgent formula, massage between your fingertips until it feels smooth and creamy, apply a thick layer, and rinse thoroughly after 15 minutes.


According to Dr McDonald, dull, lack-lustre, pigmented skin can benefit from Masks housing resurfacing AHAs, and brightening Vitamins B3 and C. Cultured Biome One Mask incorporates a stellar cast of next-generation fermented actives + acids, to gently exfoliate, propel cell turnover, and restore luminosity. The sublime, jelly-like formula is infused with radiance-boosting Azelaic, Lactic and Malic Acids, to remove dead skin cells and regulate sebum, and Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid and Inulin, to hydrate and moisturise. Malin+Goetz Brightening Enzyme Mask showcases a refreshing, gel texture to cleanse and exfoliate, and is especially suited to combination skin. Star ingredients include Pomegranate + Pumpkin Enzymes, and Pineapple Fruit Extracts to gently resurface and promote cell renewal. Glycerin and Sugarcane Extract provide moisturising benefits, and anti-inflammatory Licorice Extract assists to soothe, and regulate sebum production. Both Masks are ‘best-sellers’ at MECCA, but if you’re looking for an ‘express-worker’ to promote luminosity, the latter can be applied for 5 minutes, to visibly improve skin texture and tone.


Take note. ‘Sensitive skin’ is not a skin type, and all skin types can experience sensitivity due to a host of external and/or internal triggers. Although the phrase is all-pervading within the editorial arena and amongst consumers, dermatologists interpret the ailment as skin that tends to be more reactive than average. “When the skin’s crucial protective barrier is compromised, it becomes susceptible to external aggressors including UV exposure, bacteria, and irritating skincare ingredients that can lead to discomfort – including burning, itchiness, and redness”, explains Dr McDonald. The solution? Adopt a ‘less is more’ approach – seek out dermatologist-approved, minimalist formulations to maximise tolerance. SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque is powered by Pro-Vitamin B5, Glycerin, and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate, moisturise and soothe skin, and strengthen its natural barrier. The brand’s highly acclaimed Phyto Corrective Masque is scientifically proven to be suitable for use after mild cosmetic procedures – studies have revealed a 47% reduction in discomfort immediately after use, and a 20% decrease in visible redness. The hydrating, soothing formula is infused with Dipeptide to reduce heat sensitivity, Hyaluronic Acid, and a blend of Green Botanicals including Cucumber, Olive, and Thyme Extracts to provide optimum skin comfort. Prone to itchiness and ‘redness’? Avène Antirougeurs Calm Redness-Relief Soothing Mask showcases a refreshing gel texture, that offers rapid comfort and hydration for sensitised skin. Powered by the brand’s acclaimed soothing Thermal Spring Water and TRP-Regulin, the innovative formula supports the health of fine surface facial micro-blood vessels, relieves sensations of discomfort, and works swiftly to diminish ‘redness’.


“Kaolin Clay (also referred to as China Clay) is a natural, porous mineral clay, renowned for its ability to absorb excess oil, and gently exfoliate skin. Kaolin-based Masks that integrate skin-loving ingredients, can complement an anti-acne skincare regime”, explains Dr McDonald. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Anti-Acne Purifying Mask is dermatologically tested, and clinically proven to unclog pores, remove impurities, and control shine. Showcasing a blend of Kaolin Clay, Glycerin, and Pro-Vitamin B5, the creamy formula gently removes excess oil, visibly refines pores, and promotes a long-lasting mattified complexion. QV Face Purifying Mask is formulated with Kaolin Clay to absorb dirt and excess oil, and antioxidant-rich Safflower Oil + Vitamin E to moisturise and soften skin. Both Masks are ideal for oily, acne-prone skin, but also suited to normal and combination skin types, to cleanse and decongest. Weekly usage of a Kaolin Clay-based Mask will also amplify the penetration of your treasured skincare arsenal, including moisturisers, serums, and sunscreen. Win! Aspect Exfoliating Clay Mask offers a next-level treatment for oily, acne-prone skin, with a combination of Kaolin and Bentonite Clays, Lactic Acid to exfoliate and refine, and Salicylic Acid to decongest and purify pores. The addition of Aloe Vera, and Green Tea Extracts + Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil, provides anti-inflammatory, soothing benefits. This clever multitasker can also be dabbed onto blemishes as an overnight spot treatment.


Due to their intensity, skincare Masks can swiftly deliver visible benefits, to promote and maintain a healthy, radiant-looking complexion. Apply a Mask to thoroughly cleansed skin, and adhere to the advised ‘leave-on’ time to avoid irritation. Sweep the Mask down to your neckline, as this often neglected zone, is prone to the signs of ageing – particularly horizontal lines and sagging, due to loss of elasticity, and pigmentation. A weekly application is ideal for Masks infused with anti-ageing, resurfacing actives, whereas those that are designed to address ‘sensitivity’, can be used more frequently to strengthen the skin barrier, and promote comfort. Post-application, rinse thoroughly, and apply your preferred serum and/or moisturiser – during the day, be sure to complete your skincare routine with a broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen, as the last step prior to applying makeup. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF50+ is my ‘go-to’ daily facial sunscreen – the non-irritating, ultra-light, non-greasy formula absorbs quickly, and creates the perfect base for makeup. Consult a skincare professional to identify your skin type, and discuss your key concerns. Research and trial. Your skincare routine is aligned to self-care – the world is spinning, take time to indulge and pamper. Go slow… you’re worth it!

This article was first published in the Spring issue of Retail Beauty.

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