Dr. Teo Wan Lin is one of the leading dermatologists in Singapore, and Medical Director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre. She is a regular contributor and resident beauty specialist for THREAD By Zalora Singapore, Her World’s Ask a Dermatologist features, BURO 24/7. This is aside from running a busy dermatologist practice and a cosmeceutical skin care line Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals, known for its bioactive ingredients with clinically proven efficacy. Hear what Dr. Teo has to say about sleeping masks here.
Do sheet masks work as well as traditional wash-off or leave-on sleeping masks?
Sheet masks work on the basis of occlusion. This means that when we apply a topical on skin and also in contact with something moist such as a sheet mask, there is higher absorption of the topical by the skin. The question of efficacy is not so much of whether it is a traditional mask (presumably referring to clay masks or gels we apply on to skin as it is) or sheet mask, but really depends on what is the active ingredient present in the mask.
With precise active ingredients, the type of mask (sheet or gel for instance) becomes secondary in terms of efficacy. In my practice for example, whenever I want to increase absorption of any topical that we dispense to patients, I advise them to apply a wet cotton sheet, as a wet wrap, on to their face to increase absorption. In place of wet cotton sheets, the MoistureMax Skin Healing Polysaccharide Mask may also be considered for additional skin benefits.
The Skin Healing Polysaccharide mask has additional benefits of a unique porous structure. This traps cosmeceutical active ingredients in mini reservoirs within the mask, with enhanced delayed release of cosmeceuticals with minimal transpidermal water loss.
Are overnight sleeping masks more effective?
It is too much to generalise and say that overnight sleeping masks are more effective. This is because it really depends on the active ingredients. In leaving a topical on the skin for more than 12 hours for example, it is important to first ascertain suitability of the ingredients. This includes the preservative and vehicle, concentrations and types, and all of the components and their intent in applying to the skin for an extended period and not as a wash off. Otherwise, you could actually get skin irritation or skin allergies from sleep masking over an extended period. The skin in fact fully absorbs most topicals within a few hours. Therefore, it’s not necessary to leave something on overnight as with sleeping masks.
Is it necessary to mask the skin? What are the benefits of masking?
I would consider masking as something which is very good to do. This is especially if you are diligent with other aspects of skin health. Such as cleansing and applying cosmeceuticals, and using a face mask that would deliver moisture to the skin. Increasing skin moisture forms a large part of the benefits of masking. Consequently, it is important to look out for ingredients such as glycerin, ceramide and hyaluronic acid, as well as potent antioxidants which can be plant derived.
Can you overdo masking with sleeping masks? How do you know if you are over-doing it?
If you are using some form of cosmetic clay masks, I do not recommend doing so. These frequently contain astringents which excessively dries out the oil on one’s face, using salicylic and lactic acids. They are typically marketed as products for acne prone skin. I do not recommend any of my acne patients to do that. This is because when they are on medical treatment for acne, a common side effect is dry dehydrated skin. Conversely, one who is doing a home masking regimen that is for reducing oily skin as well as acne, in place of seeking medical treatment for acne, it is possible that he or she ends up using masks containing salicylic and lactic acids (or clay products that dries out the skin) too often and may develop skin allergies or eczema.
Overdoing masking in this case leads to skin that is dry, sensitive and flaky. Some people may even develop more severe reactions. It is therefore important to get your skin condition properly diagnosed by an accredited dermatologist. This is rather than simply relying on DIY methods. The key thing about face mask or at least in the way that we use at our practice, such as with the Amino Acid 360° Masque which is a gel mask, is actually to increase moisturisation of the skin.
Can you mask daily?
Yes definitely. In fact, the Amino Acid Masque, part of our cosmeceutical offering for patients who are on cosmetic dermatological treatment for anti-aging or for acne, is recommended for use twice daily as part of a cosmeceutical skincare regimen and also for post chemical peel recovery. The mask contains active ingredients, including plant derived antioxidants, vitamin c and amino acids. These help to reverse the process of skin darkening and pigmentation.
As long as the mask delivers moisture and appropriate ingredients, there is no limit to the number of times one can mask. Another tip we have at our practice is the Radiancé Fluide Hydrating Emulsion which is a cosmeceutical moisturiser that makes skin comfortable with a glow in a humid climate. We recommend it for use by our patients as a face mask to apply for intensive treatment up to 3 times a day. This is using a damp cotton sheet to increase absorption, fundamentally again going back to the point about the crux being active ingredients in the mask to deliver moisture.
The Radiance Fluide Emulsion contains LARECEA™ Extract for regeneration and skin brightening ingredients for a dewy glow. Specially formulated for a light-weight feel to impart a radiant glow without make-up. Includes amino acids for repair, oligopeptides for collagen stimulation and anti-aging, and niacinamide for brightening.
Emulsion formula for a leave-on sleep mask
A serum, emulsion or lotion is a more cosmetically acceptable moisturiser formula and leave-on sleeping mask for somebody with greasy skin. If you tend to have oily skin, avoid heavy cream formulas. Lotions or emulsions have a higher water content (which evaporates) rather than oil content which is the predominant vehicle in a cream or an ointment.
The Radiance Emulsion formula is recommended for use with Qraser™ Cosmeceutical Transdermal Delivery Patch for Forehead Wrinkles, Smile Lines (Nasolabial Folds) and Custom Cut Mask (Neck Lifting, Cheek Scars, Stretch Marks). These patches are uniquely engineered with several properties which are beneficial for preventing the growth of bacteria, improving the appearance of acne scars, creating a healthy skin microenvironment, and helping the balance of growth factors that stimulate collagen production. Leave the patches on overnight for minimum of 6 hours for night time use during sleep.
Can you combine different masks at one time? Or use one after another? And if so, what are some good combinations to follow?
I would not recommend that. This is because of the types of ingredients that may be present in masks that specifically target for example oily skin. In this case, some people may consider their T zone being oilier and decide to use salicylic or lactic acid infused mask for those areas and a hydrating mask for other areas. In theory, this may seem like a good idea. However, from a dermatologist’s perspective, it is much more efficient in treatment of oily skin, to apply chemical peel that contains higher concentration of salicylic acid, lactic acid or glycolic acid as a procedure done at a dermatologist’s office and subsequently rinse it off. This is rather than having very low concentrations present in leave-on sleeping masks for example. This is because the effects will most likely be not as good and over time, may cause skin irritation.
Are there certain masks more suitable for certain skin types (eg: peel-off, clay, cream for dry skins, oily skins etc.)?
I typically do not recommend astringent masks. These may include those marketed as clay types or for oily skin) for any skin condition. This is even for excessively oily skin, because these are not proven to help acne treatment. The face mask that I would recommend would be those for skin moisturisation.
How do I choose a mask? For example, I have dull complexion, dehydrated skin and breakouts. Which skin problem should I address first?
The key thing here is looking at the root of each of these conditions and treating them. For example, a dull complexion is actually related to the aging process where the skin cells turnover at a slower rate than somebody who is more youthful. In terms of addressing this problem, I would recommend using cosmeceuticals which are applied on to the skin and absorbed. This will be together with chemical peels as well as lasers if necessary as recommended by your dermatologist.
Dehydrated skin is quite tricky. This is because if your skin is so dry that it starts flaking or have redness, you may be suffering from a form of facial eczema. It is important to have it treated medically, understanding that this is not about face masking at all. In terms of breakouts, we consider acne itself a medical condition that is treatable. It is also not treatable by skincare, face masks or sleeping masks for that matter, on their own. If the acne is severe enough, one may require oral medications. If it is hormonal, medications like oral contraceptive pills may help to control the underlying problem.
How long should I mask for? What can go wrong if the mask is applied for longer than required (especially with sheet masks?
For sheet masks, when the mask has dried up due to the process of evaporation, there would be really no point in applying that to one’s skin as there will be no extra benefits. Also, if the active ingredients contain something which is meant to control oil production, it can cause the skin to be very irritated and dry with excessive application. In fact, it may cause problems as excessively long application could increase likelihood of skin allergy towards such active ingredients. With clay masks or any astringent masks, it can cause skin to develop facial eczema when applied for too long. This is for example in the case of sleeping masks.
Sleeping tips for your skin:
“My best beauty tip would be to sleep early – before 11pm, and to wake up early as well. This is because our body runs on a Circadian rhythm -which is also our biological clock, that responds to daylight hours, we don’t realize that when we disregard the Circadian rhythm, our body gets stressed. This stress affects our bodies right down to the level of out skin cells, which will cause you to age faster,” Dr. Teo Wan Lin, accredited dermatologist.
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