Beauty is more than skin deep but that’s not to say we can’t all improve on the open pore front. Enter stage right, the face mask, and not the “Why, hello Clarice” kind.
You might think that using face masks isn’t much of a manly pursuit but it’s one grooming move that can make a big difference to your complexion and all without you needing to leave the comfort of your own home. If you’re already using a good face wash, applying a moisturiser before bed and occasionally even dabbling with a serum, this is the next natural step.
Plus we need to get rid of these gender-defined grooming routines. Boy, you deserve pretty skin.
The Benefits Of Face Masks
“A face mask can help alleviate, combat and control your mild skin concerns,” says Sara Waterman, head aesthetician at skincare studio Young LDN. “For example, congested and spot prone skin will greatly benefit from using a face mask on a regular basis, as it can absorb excess oils, draw out impurities and shrink pores. Dry, dehydrated, flaky or post-holiday skin will also benefit from deeply hydrating and conditioning masks containing hyaluronic acid.
“If you have an important meeting or a big event, look for an energising Vitamin C antioxidant mask to wake your skin up, or brighten your eyes after a heavy night with hydrogel eye patches.”
Some masks only need a few minutes sat on your face to work their magic, whereas others are meant to be kept on overnight. Use the face mask once or twice a week, and if you have any problems stop using it immediately – face masks are meant to alleviate your skin grief not cause extra.
The Different Types Of Face Mask
Face masks come with a whole shedload of textures, ingredients, and ways to use them. This is the most common, a thick mud you spread across your face that is used to treat clogged pores, remove impurities like oil and pollution and even out the texture leaving it just right – not too dry and not Patrick Bateman shiny.
Made from – you guessed it – gels, these face masks are great for dry, sensitive skin when hydration is needed. They often feel lighter while you’re using them, too. Related cream masks are designed to moisturise and replenish dull skin.
Masks that come as a sheet are dependent on the ingredients that will be listed on the packet but offer deeper penetration then creams, clays, and gels. Often individually packaged, they can be used on the go if you need a mobile facial.
Best Brands For Face Masks
L’Oréal is the big daddy in the world of cosmetics which basically means its range of personal care products can be found everywhere, from your local pharmacy to the big supermarket out of town. The French company has its own men’s range which includes this tissue mask that peels on and off easily (no hard-to-wash-off charcoal death masks) and energises your skin in just five minutes with exfoliating amino acid taurine to wake it up.
Focusing exclusively on the chaps, Lab Series started in 1987, back when skincare for men was an alien concept in the mainstream. Its products are high-tech so expect that to reflect slightly in the prices (although it’s nowhere near as dear as some of the more luxury options). You’ll also notice the difference in the results. This everyday facial cleanser doubles as a more intense clay mask when needs must, with added salicylic and lactic acid for deep pore penetration.
Kiehl’s existed as just one drugstore for most of its life until monolith cosmetics company L’Oreal took over at the beginning of the 21st century. Still retaining its vintage-like packaging, it’s not just intelligent marketing: its skincare is made well and works well. Take this deep cleansing face mask, which offsets all the usual intrusive pore cleansing with soothing oatmeal and aloe vera to renew some youthful vigour to your skin.
You get the full spa package when you invest in a face mask cream from British wellness brand ESPA. We’re talking figuratively of course (no complimentary fluffy dressing gown here) but this overnight cream does come packed with some soothing ylang-ylang and lavandin oils to help you rest up alongside the all-important hyaluronic acid hydrating the skin.
Peter Thomas Roth
Masks are the name of the game at Peter Thomas Roth with its eponymous founder having been influenced to start the brand off the back of the mud baths owned by his Hungarian ancestors. It even has masks for when you’ve just had a mask, like this cooling gel mask which is designed to calm the skin down after a peel, while also performing much-needed miracles on bad bouts of sunburn or explosive rounds of pimple popping.
Another massive skincare company, Neutrogena operates at the more economical end of the scale, which is perfect if you don’t have the means to import your mud straight from Hungary. Its detoxifying mask uses seaweed extract as its active ingredient and can be used multiple times so don’t just chuck it in the bin when you’re finished.
From 10-step morning regimes to make-up widely used by the nation’s men – South Korea takes its skincare very seriously indeed. So cosmetics shipped out of the country are closely watched by those with complex complexions because they often feature interesting new ingredients. The hydrating masks at Vitamasques all have a key active compounds within from tea tree and goji berries to jade stones and Jeju green tea.
Sanctuary Spa opened in Covent Garden in 1977 as a place for the ballerinas at the local Royal Opera House to get some crucial R&R between shows. The spa is now sadly no more, but the name lives on in the products which really do stretch across the spectrum of skin types and needs from one-minute blitzes to overnight treatments. A self-heating charcoal clay mask and a perfect-for-the-shower Kakadu plum and vitamin C glow mask are the standouts of the range.
There’s some real medical pedigree in the history of French anti-aging cosmetics specialist Filorga, with the brand having been founded by a doctor of aesthetic medicine and being regularly cited in medical publications. Expect a clinically clean face after investing in a Filorga product with ingredients like NCTF, an anti-aging complex used in non-surgical procedures. Sounds complicated but you can’t beat science.
Hungary is the place to go to for your top-notch facial cleansing mud, with the capital Budapest unofficially christened the City of Spas. Luxury skincare brand Omorovicsa was founded in the city, and its deep cleansing mask contains a specially crafted way of shipping the minerals, mud vitamins and calcium right into the epidermis, the outer layer of your skin.
La Roche-Posay may sound like a twee French seaside town, but there ain’t nothing twee about the way these clay masks get all up in your pores. Natural minerals argilla and kaolin team-up to absorb the excess sebum, otherwise known as gloopy face sweat, from your skin while pharmaceutical panthenol calms and soothes it down after the deed is done.
British skincare brand Ren is keen on promoting a clean, bio-active approach in its products. Expect natural bio-active ingredients across its impressive range of face masks from the nourishing spirulina extract infused in its detoxing clay mask, to the yeast, derived lactic acid in its overnight formulation to help exfoliate the dead skin cells before refining your skin texture.
It’s the perfect fairytale – go to sleep an ordinary Joe and wake up as sleeping beauty – that’s now a reality with this eight-hour mask from luxury skincare brand Avant. Anti-oxidants to take aim at your fine lines and wrinkles, shea butter for moisturising and exotic, nutrient-dense moringa oil – it’s all here and it’s all going to make your skin look as pretty as sunrise come morning.
Looking to clear that greasy skin on a budget? Korres is the one for you. The Greek body care brand Korres does a fine line in naturally fragrant shower gels, and have bought that dedication to the art of cleanliness into its deep cleansing clay mask, which is enriched with the skin radiating mineral, zinc, and works specifically at regulating the oily sebum on your skin.
Bulldog has entered into new territories in recent years. The British men’s grooming brand started life out with a range of sustainable and vegan products for the high street but moved into the razor world last year. Now it’s entered the extravagant land of face masks and pulled out a corker on its way. Its sheet masks come in a little brown cylinder that you unfold onto your face to brighten up tired looking skin. A morning pick-me-up whenever you need one.