2018: Glow & Get It!
It’s a brand new year and January always seems like the most motivational & popular and time to make big changes or a fresh start! Here at eVitality Voices we always encourage our readers to #begoodtoyourself 24/7 year-round, but we’re also taking the opportunity to ring in the New Year by encouraging ourselves and YOU to start the year off with a ~renewed~ sense of self-care!
We’ve been hearing a lot about self-care in the past 12 months (naturally, it has been a doozy of a year) and it is a fantastic concept to remember to take the time and care to look after and treat yourself on a regular basis because, hey, you deserve it! And with this ideal in mind we’ve also seen a huge rise in popularity of skin care products intended to pamper and treat yo’self! In particular, face masks have become the most popular and highly featured products or topics of conversation on beauty blogs, youtube channels or at your local Sephora. With our theme of the New Year in mind I decided to take advantage and do a little practical research into the mask trends and give you my own honest review & experience as well!
I had been dying to try out a fancy mask (the holiday season is a time to indulge after all) and opted to try the Exfoliating Mask for the new Iampure Maple Glow line. I'm an absolute fiend when it comes to exfoliating so this was right up my alley, however I was really surprised to find out upon opening up a shiny new jar that it was a smooth clay mask whereas I was expecting something with exfoliating beads or a gritty texture like the scrubs I use on the regular. This mask is totally different from those scrubs I'm used to in that it uses Glycolic Acid to exfoliate and smooth your skin instead of physically scrubbing off dead skin & oils with exfoliating granules. I'll admit I was a little suspicious of how effective this type of mask could be since when I put it on it felt like a regular (albeit very luxurious) clay mask, which lead me down a rabbit hole of google searches into some of the other popular masks out there right now that seemed like more of an easy and fun quick-fix.
SO for starters, because masks are so popular right now we’re seeing a huge boom in fad masks that get weirder and weirder so that they can stand out from the pack. Foaming/bubble clay masks might make you look like a hilarious Pixar version of a cloud-person, but do they actually do anything for your skin? Unfortunately, like a lot of other cool and fun products, there isn’t much evidence that these products do anything special. Charcoal Peel masks are hugely popular as well, and I’ll even admit to wanting to try one out after seeing some grossly satisfying clips on instagram of a charcoal mask suctioning out a nose-full of blackheads. But upon further research I started to wonder if a type of product that has hundreds youtube videos under the subject of “charcoal mask fails” which show vloggers screaming in pain after ripping off masks could be that great for your skin. It turns out that many of these masks use actual glue mixed with charcoal powder which explains why these masks look much more painful than relaxing to use. And while they certainly might suction out a bunch of gunk and black heads which looks really satisfying, the masks are also removing the healthy sebum and natural oils which help keep your skin healthy as well as any hair along with it (ouch!). More and more doctors and skin experts are warning that these products could cause more harm or even permanent damage to your skin because they're effectively stripping off the surface layer of skin in an extremely aggressive form of exfoliation that causes more irritation to the skin. We might just need a reminder that anything good for your skin shouldn’t hurt that bad, and beauty shouldn’t be painful!
On the other end of the spectrum, sheet masks are also wildly popular at the moment due to the growing popularity of Korean beauty and skin care routines in North America. It’s likely you’ve seen your favourite beauty blogger’s sharing selfies wearing these masks that make them look a little bit like Hannibal Lecter at the spa –full disclosure I’ve used these masks before and totally freaked out my roommate in the process while dramatically entering a room while wearing one. Some even have animal faces printed on them which look pretty cute on the package but a little less so on your face but hey, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get in touch with your inner cartoon cat or panda while you chill! Now these sheet masks are nothing like painful peel-off masks; they’re usually cotton sheets (somewhat similar to baby wipes) with holes cut out for your eyes, nose and mouth and soaked in serums intended to moisturize your face while you wear them. While their purpose is to nourish they can’t actually exfoliate or cleanse your skin, and while they try to sell a lot of formulas for *brightening* or *firming* they don’t necessarily work any better than a simple clay mask or hydrating mask. While they certainly shouldn't do any harm to your face it definitely might hurt your wallet if you’re looking to use sheet masks regularly in your skincare routine as the cost can really add up if you’re buying one-time use sheet masks on a regular basis.
Now with all that said here are some important tips when using the exfoliating mask or any mask containing glycolic acid: SO, after just ruining several of the more popular mask trends of the moment for you, you’re probably wondering “Ok Lizz, is there a mask that is ACTUALLY worth my time and hard-earned money?!!”
Well it turns out that even though it may not seem as fun or exciting as a mask that’s trending on twitter or that doesn't show extreme results after just one use, if you’re looking for something that is genuinely worth spending the time and money to improve your skin it’s definitely worthwhile investing in a high quality clay mask with powerful ingredients like the Maple Glow mask to effectively exfoliate and nourish your skin. I can't say that patience is one of my virtues, but after sticking with this mask for the past couple weeks I can honestly recommend it! As mentioned earlier, a key ingredient in this mask is Glycolic Acid, which might sound a little scary, but it is actually a natural acid derived from sugar cane and belongs to a family of acids called alpha-hydroxy acids or fruit acids and is by far the most popular and gentle acid of the bunch. While it’s the most popular AHA used by dermatologists or cosmetic physicians in skin peels -which are extremely effective but also very expensive- using a mask with glycolic acid at a low percentage -between 1-10%- on a regular basis (the Maple Glow mask has a 6% Glycolic Acid concentration) can over time be just as effective as a rejuvenating chemical peel. Glycolic Acid is basically the holy grail for exfoliation, effectively and gently removing the outermost layer of dead cells from the skin, as opposed to ripping it off! The result is that products containing this powerhouse ingredient can be extremely effective in treating fine lines, acne, blackheads, dullness, oiliness and uneven texture without causing unnecessary irritation or damage to your skin.
As also previously mentioned, as a fiend for exfoliation I've been using many different scrubs since I was a teenager because I loved how smooth they made my skin feel after using them. And it’s true that scrubs are great for sloughing off dry skin cells and oil, however many scrubs contain ingredients that can be much too abrasive for sensitive skin and cause more harm than good. I know I’ve started to notice more and more that my skin feels too dry or oily if I haven’t used an exfoliating scrub on my face every couple of days and even felt like my skin was becoming dependent on them. I’ll admit an exfoliating mask won’t leave your skin feeling as smooth the first time you use it compared to if you’ve just used a heavy-duty scrub, but I’ve noticed over the past 2 weeks using this mask every 3 nights in place of my usual scrub that my skin is becoming just as smooth and more even without the oily/dry spells in between each use. Also, there’s something super rewarding and luxurious about slathering on a thick clay mask and having a little 20-minute spa session at home a few nights a week. A great thing about this mask is that it’s crazy-easy to apply, and you don’t need to use a lot to cover your entire face and neck- I’ve used it about 8 times in the past 2 weeks and have barely made a dent in my jar! Once you’ve applied it to your face you can pretty much forget about it for 20-25 minutes and chill out while you watch an episode of something on Netflix, take a bubble bath or do your nails, and it doesn’t drip or cause a huge mess while it dries. It comes off super easily with some warm water and a washcloth and then BOOM you’re left with a smooth, even & hydrated face! -And another fun and added bonus to this mask is it smells AMAZING. I had my roomie try it with me and she described it as feeling like spreading maple icing on her face, and to me that beats using a ill-fitting unicorn sheet mask any day!
- If you have sensitive skin or are unsure about how your skin might react to an ingredient it’s always a good idea to do a skin “Patch Test” before trying out a new product on your face. Simply apply a small about of the product to either the inside of your arm or to your neck and wait 24-48 hours to see if you experience any skin irritation. If you do you could be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in the product and it’s best to consult your physician or dermatologist before you continue use
- Listen to your skin! When using products that contain glycolic acid a mild tingling is normal the first few uses and is an indication it is working. It should not be painful or cause excessive peeling or flaking of the skin! And always follow the product application & use instructions carefully! It’s easy to overdo it if you use the product more often than directed or apply it incorrectly.
- It’s best to use exfoliating masks at night; Applying a mask like this in the evening before bedtime will provide better results because your skin is in repair mode when you are asleep and this is the key time for the acidic ingredients absorbed after using an exfoliating mask encourage and aid in skin repair.
- Lastly, exfoliation especially with a glycolic acid mask will makes your skin much more sensitive to the sun, so its extra important to wear sunscreen during the day when you've introduces any AHA products into your skincare routine, even in the winter!
I'll leave you with this little bit of skincare wisdom that I've learned these last couple weeks of 2017: It’s great to have fun with your skin care routine and try new things every now and then, but remember to think critically before you try out a flashy new skin care trend and practice patience when it comes to your skin. It may not be as exciting, but to see long-lasting and effective results, nothing beats a consistent skin-care routine with good-quality products that suit your own skin! As always, never forget to #BeGoodToYourself!