Dr TWL Skin Tips: How to Use Face Masks for Great Skin


Face masks are a great way to care for your skin and give it a loving boost after a long day. But with so many to choose from, how to choose the right one and best use it?

We break down the science of masking according to Singaporean dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin.

What are face masks?

Masks are a form of occlusive therapy in which a topical treatment is trapped on and absorbed by your skin.

These treatments come in different forms of masks. Popular wash-off options come in the form of gel, clay or mud.

Sheet masking, pre-cut mask fabric soaked with an intense serum mix of active ingredients, has also been popularized by a plethora of Korean cosmetic brands. Common sheet mask fabrics include cotton, or synthetic materials such as viscose, rayon. However, these materials have a coarse texture that may not adhere to the skin for more than a few minutes. Serum can also evaporate quickly from their surface. Higher-quality materials include hydrogel, bio-cellulose and lyocell.

How do face masks work?

Skin occlusion is traditionally a treatment option for atopic dermatitis or itchy inflammation of the skin. It usually involves an application of emollients (moisturizers) and antiseptics under wet or dry wrap dressings. Benefits of occlusive therapy include a cooling effect on inflamed skin, greater skin hydration, and increased penetration of topical agents.

A face mask is a form of occlusive therapy. It creates a barrier between your skin and its environment to keep the moisture on your skin. Increasing hydration makes it easier for treatment chemicals to permeate your skin.

When masking, it’s important to consider not just the kind of mask but active ingredients in the mask. This is where your active ingredients come in, which can range quite extensively from botanical extracts like green tea to snail secretions. Ideally, the active ingredient is primed to penetrate hydrated skin easily. The properties of the ingredient decide its penetration ability, such as its chemical structure and boiling/melting points.

How to mask effectively according to a dermatologist

For intensive treatments, apply a liberal amount of moisturizer with active ingredients. If you are unsure about the effectiveness of the active ingredients, a straightforward way is to choose cosmeceuticals. Cosmeceuticals are products that contain bioactive ingredients with pharmaceutical-grade properties that benefit the skin.

For a lightweight moisturizer with brightening abilities, opt for Radiance Fluide™ Hydrating Emulsion. Complete it with a bio-absorbable mask sheet that is slightly dampened with Mineral Booster™ to seal off the moisture and allow enhanced absorption by the skin. This occlusive masking technique is used traditionally by a dermatologist for severe skin inflammation such as eczema. It is done 3 to 5 times a day. For normal skin conditions, masking once a day would be sufficient.

For a gel type mask, Amino Acid 360° Masque is recommended as an effective way for cosmeceuticals to be absorbed by the skin. Originally prescribed at the dermatologist’s office only, it is now available as a home-masking regime. This cult favourite mask is used after lasers, peels and HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatments, and contains a potent concoction of active ingredients. Vitamin C soothes inflamed acne and lightens scars, LARECEA™ Extract and amino acids penetrate the skin epidermis to stimulate collagen regeneration. The mask delivers lifting effects, for a youthful, smooth contour of the face.

What is the right way to apply my mask?

For the Amino Acid 360° Masque, it is recommended to apply in the shower or right after the shower when the face is still damp. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing off. When washing off, rinse with cool water as hot water dehydrates and dries the skin out.

For intensive treatment, apply the mask twice a day. Otherwise, for maintenance, use nightly.

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