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Peel Off Masks

It’s worth noting that there are 4 different types of facial masks with peel-off masks demonstrating improved hydration of the skin (likely from the occlusive effect) in addition to exfoliation and ease of blackhead or comedones removal (likely from the adhesive effect). Read more...




Photo: Wix

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It’s worth noting that there are 4 different types of facial masks with peel-off masks demonstrating improved hydration of the skin (likely from the occlusive effect) in addition to exfoliation and ease of blackhead or comedones removal (likely from the adhesive effect). I’ve read some things in the popular press predominantly by estheticians that suggest they cause a loss of elasticity. This is not supported by medical studies and this type of anecdotal and poorly informed reporting of the skin should be avoided to allow people to make decisions for their skin. Although prolonged stretching of the skin (with a skin expander for example) can loosen or stretch the skin based on prolonged tension, I have not found a medical study that supports the idea that a quick tug can result in sagging skin. The reality is that our skin ‘loosens’, sags, or loses elasticity predominately from UV exposure that damages the elastic fibers in our skin.



What is a peel-off mask?

There are 4 main types of facial masks:

  1. Sheet masks

  2. Peel-off masks

  3. Rinse-off masks

  4. Hydrogels

Each of these types of masks has its own advantages depending on the specific skin concern to be addressed.

Peel-off masks are unique in that they dry after application into place. They form a film over the skin after drying creating a cohesive layer over the skin that allows you to “peel” it off. If used correctly and allowed to dry completely, then there should be no residue left behind.

The unique advantage that peel-off masks provide is an ‘occlusive’ effect of ‘sealing’ the skin to allow hydration from the mask to penetrate into the superficial layers of skin without being wiped or rinsed off.

Is there such a thing as overusing a peel-off mask? If so, what are the downsides?

Facial masks, in general, are not meant for daily use. The goal of a facial mask is to concentrate the product close to the skin for a maximal effect. If the mask is meant to dry excess oil, for example, if you do not leave enough days between applications then you will likely deal with excess drying and possible irritation. For a hydrating skin mask, you could run the risk of clogging your pores and exacerbating acne.

How often should you use a peel-off mask?

Most masks are designed to be used once weekly or every other week.

How to prep skin for using a peel-off mask?

Gently cleanse your face with mild soap and water. Some recommend exfoliating before applying a face mask but the benefit of a peel-off face mask is that it exfoliates naturally when peeled off.

What words/ingredients should consumers look for when looking for a peel-off mask for the following skin types:

​Dry Skin

Look for hyaluronic acid and glycerin if your skin is craving some hydration- especially with cold air in the winter or when using acne or anti-aging medications that can dry the skin out quite a bit.

Oily Skin

Clay or charcoal in a face mask is usually added to help draw excess oil or sebum away from the skin.

Sensitive Skin

Aloe and antioxidants can help soothe sensitive irritated skin.


Anti-aging through face masks usually focuses on the hydration of the skin via hyaluronic acid to reduce the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles.

Is there a common ingredient in peel-off masks that, if left on too long, can cause damage? What are the downsides of leaving a peel-off mask on for too long?

Face masks that contain fragrances can be irritating to some skin types- especially if left on too long. The other ingredients that can sometimes irritate the skin are mint or menthol. These can often be added to give the impression of a clean smell. In higher concentrations, they can irritate the skin.

Multi-masking is a huge trend. Is it advisable to do multiple peel-off masks at the same time?

I am all for multitasking but - when it comes to face masks – you may just cancel out the effects. If you are looking for multiple effects – for example, your skin is acne prone but also dry and sensitive- then it makes more sense to alternate masks weekly.

Tips on how to actually remove/peel off the mask?

The most important step is to apply a thin layer across the skin. The thicker you apply it, the longer it will take to dry. Plus it will dry unevenly. Once completely dry, start at an edge and gently pull away from the skin. Out of habit I usually start in front of my ear or by my hairline but I wouldn’t overthink this!

Tell me about the effects of waxing/threading your face and then using a peel-off mask afterward.

Waxing tends to pull at hair as well as skin resulting in some sloughing of the superficial layers of skin. Threading on the other hand is focused more on the hair and less irritating to the skin. Both are traumatic to the hair follicles and there is often a rebound follicular swelling from the hair removal process. It is difficult to say how a face mask would impact this. The effect would likely vary based on the ingredients in the mask.


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