When I first became interested in all things beauty, I feared most skincare pretty intensely. Face masks and sheet masks felt intimidating to me — bound to wreak havoc on my impossibly sensitive complexion (at least I assumed so). So I decided to put my hypochondriac theory to the test, and try different face masks every day for a week.
Until recently, I had hardly even used moisturizer on my face, let alone more advanced skin care treatments and masks. However, since exploring my fascination with sheet masks on and off throughout the year, I came to realize that face masks are not going to ruin my skin. In fact, my face feels its very best after a mask.
My sensitive skin, riddled with dark circles, redness, and eczema, is always in need of an extra hand. But because of all of its ailments, I'm always hesitant in trying to establish any kind of consistency regarding a routine. Going against my natural instincts, I decided to gather some face masks that are relatively newer on the market, vowing to try a different kind every day in the hopes of finding one that works for me, and hopefully proving to myself the benefits of masks. Here's how the week went.
Since I've been itching to get on board with the coffee mask and scrub fad, I started with a sample of LUSH's Cup O' Coffee. I've drunk coffee only once, and have stayed far away from caffeine for most of my life since it gives me headaches.
Cup O' Coffee Face & Body Mask, $10.95, LUSH
But smelling and slathering on this delicious-smelling mask all over my face really helped me develop a whole new appreciation for the stuff, even if that love can only be fulfilled by rubbing it on my skin. All that caffeine definitely helped me feel more awake and rejuvenated. Amazingly rich in scent and totally revitalizing, I would highly recommend picking up a tub of this coffee mask for any dreary or sleep-deprived morning.
My sister visited the next day, and together we dove into more mask samples. She tried LUSH's Don't Look At Me, while I sampled the brand's Cosmetic Warrior (containing eggs, garlic, and tea tree oil). Recommended for sensitive acne-prone skin, I thought Cosmetic Warrior might be the perfect fit for me. As I applied it, I was initially disappointed as all that garlic flooded my senses in place of the delicious mocha smells I had been inhaling the day before.
Don't Look At Me Fresh Face Mask, $10.95, LUSH
Cosmetic Warrior Fresh Face Mask, $7.95, LUSH
However, the mask itself ended up being pretty magical. After application, my face felt warm and tingly before the mask settled in with an ever-so-soothing finish. White when first applied, the product began cracking after 10 minutes until it seemed to disappear altogether (like my skin had devoured the garlic-scented goo).
My face felt way less oily and extra smooth afterwards, despite the pungent odor. And by the next morning, my normally reddened face had calmed down considerably. I was truly beginning to believe in the power of face masks.
Next, I decided to delve into some Korean beauty with Dermal's Snail Collagen Essence Mask. The concept of snail mucus on my face sounded disconcerting at first. What would it feel like? What would it smell like? But since sheet masks are generally super slimy anyway, I decided to throw caution to the wind and check it out. And it was just as slimy as any sheet mask I've ever encountered.
Dermal Snail Collagen Essence Mask, $8.28, Amazon
The mask itself was tightening and cooling, and left my skin feeling unbelievably supple and soft afterwards. So much so that it felt like I had a brand new layer of baby-soft skin on my face. Note to self: Stock up on more of these masks after my next paycheck.
By the end of the third day, I continued to notice my skin looking less irritated and feeling less oily.
Want more beauty tips? Check out the playlist below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle's YouTube page for more hacks and tricks!
While I was on the subject of sheet masks, I decided to try out Estée Lauder's new Advance Night Repair Powerfoil Mask. It's infused with hyaluronic acid and created for anti-aging purposes. At the tender age of 21, I'm not necessarily in need of much wrinkle repair (is anyone, though?). But since I know starting anti-aging skin routines at a young age is promoted in the beauty community, I decided to give it a go.
Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Powerfoil Mask, $79 (for 4), Estée Lauder
The luxe mask went on in two parts (something new to me), and stung a little by the end of the 10 minutes its recommended to be kept on for. My skin is super sensitive, though, so I wasn't too surprised by this. My partner's constant insistence that I looked "like a cool superhero" and "so majestic" were encouragement enough to keep going.
After removing the mask (which sort of smelled like wine), my skin was the most luminous it has ever been. Any concern about ruining my awesome skin streak due to the initial burning sensation melted away as I admired my soothed and glowing complexion.
The next day, I tried Kiehl's Turmeric And Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque... and it was hands down my favorite product of the week. I also felt this mask was the most aesthetically pleasing non-sheet mask so far. True to its name, the stuff was super energizing and waking, happily overwhelming me with a tingly minty sensation.
Turmeric And Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque, $32, Kiehl's
This one was even more revitalizing than the Cup O' Coffee I tried previously, and had such a soothing menthol feel to it that it would be equally perfect for jump-starting your morning or for recovering from a swollen post-cry face.
My only complaint is how difficult and messy it is to get off. But with my skin feeling newly invigorated and still as bright as ever, I knew the process was definitely worth it.
This time, I tried "Don't Look At Me" myself, after my sister raved about it. True to what she and beauty bloggers all over Instagram have been saying, this mask smells exactly like Fruit Loops. I personally hate sugary cereals, so I wasn't sure if this made the mask a major turn-off or not. But since it's infused with lemon juice, I figured I would get an extra dose of brightening regardless.
My skin felt super fresh and totally looked brighter after use. But if you hate the smell of Fruit Loops, I would not recommend this one for you.
On the last day of the experiment, my skin had no redness, no new breakouts, and considerably less dullness under my eyes. Optimistic, I tried GlamGlow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment, another anti-aging mask for firmer skin.
GlamGlow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment, $69, Sephora
This was by far the most fun I've had with a mask, as it was a peel-off. Honestly, what's more fun than the memory of peeling glue off of your skin circa elementary school days? I got to relive that utter joy when removing this super sweet silver mask at the end of the night, which smelled like piña coladas and left me glowing like the alien princess that I am.
Should You Experiment With Face Masks, Too?
Any doubts I previously held about facial masks are now dead and buried. As it turns out, my face reacted pretty well to every mask I tried (sans one brief period of burning) and my skin looks and feels the best it has in years after the whole process. Sure, face and sheet masks aren't always the quickest, most lazy-girl-friendly beauty routine. But the benefits are undeniable. As someone who's prone to breakouts and dryness, I can honestly say my face has never felt better.
If you have the means to, I would definitely recommend fitting some face mask time into your life at least once or twice a week. No matter how sensitive your skin is, I now believe it's essential for maintaining hydration and brightness in your gorgeous visage.
Ultimately, my week in face masks led me to look like a fresh-faced angel. Could I have asked for more?
Images: Meg Zulch