I recently told someone I’d jumped back into skin-care masking. This isn’t an entirely true statement since I’d never jumped out. My beauty shelves are laden with face masks: clay, honey, marine algae, charcoal, and things with odd names of whose origin I’m not entirely sure. You name it, and I have it and use it with some regularity. I suppose what I meant by “jumped back” was I’d recently found masks that were worthwhile beyond the mere fanciful of appeal with their promises or packaging.
I’m hard-pressed to identify a skincare trend of the last five years that hasn’t come from South Korea or Japan. Masks — sheet masks in particular — are a great case in point. When I heard that daily sheet masks are popular in Japan, I investigated and found Lululun Precious’ Aging Care Face Mask ($23, amazon.com), which is chock-full of natural extracts that force dead skin to slough off. It also breaks up hyperpigmentation and brightens the skin. These daily sheet masks remind me of makeup wipes because of the sheets’ thinness and their tissuelike dispenser. I don’t know if I’m sold on using a time-consuming sheet mask daily, but applying them to my face a couple times per week is a cost-effective approach to masking and the results are reliable.
When Charlotte Tilbury released the Instant Magic Dry Sheet Mask ($80, net-a-porter.com) earlier this year, it was touted as a sheet-mask game-changer. It promised to hydrate, lift, reduce wrinkles, smooth, and brighten. Many products promise all that, but this one delivers without the usual serum-soaked fabric. The ingredients are imprinted on dry fabric that stays in place on the face by hooking around the ears, and they activate when massaged. This dry technology allows for the prolonged release of active ingredients. The fabric doesn’t harbor bacteria, so each mask can be worn up to three times. If you’re bothered by traditional sheet-mask serums dripping down your neck — or if you’d like to greet your trick-or-treaters à la Michael Myers — this mask is the perfect choice. No knife needed.
I’m as guilty as anyone of skipping masks altogether to get to the next part of my day or into bed more quickly.
I’m as guilty as anyone of skipping masks altogether to get to the next part of my day or into bed more quickly. It’s curious, then, that Dr. Dennis Gross’ Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Molding Mask ($46, Sephora) caught my eye. The mask is activated by mixing a gel and powder together. It provides a nice apothecary thrill, but also adds time to the experience. The resulting moisturized skin is worth it. Once mixed, best not to lollygag applying the mask, so get an even coat on the face with quick strokes, being careful to avoid the brows and hairline as the product tends to pill in hair and is bothersome to remove. After 15 minutes you can peel the entire thing off in one go, which, I have to say, had me thinking of Hannibal Lecter, particularly when my husband placed the peeled layer over his face.
For several years I avoided Sisley-Paris Black Rose Cream Mask ($162, Saks Fifth Avenue). First, I feared falling in love with another very expensive skin-care product and second, I suspected that this mask, like every other Sisley-Paris product I’ve ever tried, was overpriced and didn’t deliver results. Then I tried this mask on the back of one hand and, just as promised, the skin on that hand was softer, plumper, and tighter after use than the other nontreated hand. The results were noticeable for two full days. This ultra-hydrating mask works every bit as well where it’s intended to go — on the face — plumping fine lines and disguising pores for a more youthful, glowing appearance. This mask is no trick, it’s all treat.