Being homebound during the pandemic has pushed us to adopt healthier self-care routines, prioritizing wellness in 2020. Gentlemen’s skincare is more than cleansing and moisturizing; it’s masking too. Best practiced weekly or bi-weekly, experts say they induce benefits from fixing concern areas, to removing excess oil and keeping skin hydrated. Not to mention the experience itself reduces stress and sets a relaxing state for sleep.
With so much on the market, I first found selecting masks a little overwhelming. It’s definitely not ‘one fits all’ because skin types vary and needs change. It takes time to narrow down what does and doesn’t work, but 100 face masks later, here’s what I discovered most effective.
Best for waking up
Lush’s Cup O’ Coffee Face and Body Mask is one of the stronger masks among the selection. The ground coffee acted as a scrub to lift off dead skin cells and the kaolin as a deep cleanse. It was perfect in the morning because the scrubbing sensation combined with coffee aroma was a real pick me up. For an added boost rinse off with cold water, spritz on tea tree toner, and dab on Jordan Samuel Skin’s Hydrate Facial Serum.
Best for breakouts
ZitSticka’s pimple patches are a miracle. Earlier this year I placed one on an emerging zit and the next morning it had completely disappeared. No lie. Now, the brand has brought out a Press Refresh sheet mask which is designed for acne-prone skin. It’s drenched in exfoliating acid, unclogs pores, and soothes redness and irritation. Fortunately, at the time of testing, I had no pimples, but as I swear by their zit patches, these specialist masks are saved in my cupboard for future emergencies.
Best for men with beards
Nick Jonas regularly uses this 100% Hydrogel Bro Mask by Jaxon Lane, so I gave it a go too. It is antioxidant-packed, ultra-hydrating, and wonderfully refreshing. I don’t have a thick beard, but for those that do, it comes in two parts, so you can just use the top half and discard the bottom (or rest it on your neck if you don’t want it to go to waste).
Best for hydration
The Korean sheet masks worked best in giving my skin a breath of youth. Aloisia Marie’s Aqua Collagen Mask, Erborian’s BB Shot Mask, and Xoul’s Secret Solution Cream Mask all seemed to take ten years off my face. Innisfree has an interesting range of masks with extracts of Jeju soil-grown root vegetables – the Potato Mask was ultra nutritious and deliciously wet.
Best for a glow
No contest; Peter Thomas Roth’s Pure 24k Gold Mask left me with a notable improvement in terms of radiance. The rich, anti-aging mask is infused with Pure 24K Gold and Colloidal Gold to help improve the appearance of firmness and impart an opulent glow. It was super silky to touch and put on, and I liked the caffeine element. Runners up in the glow challenge were HB Face’s Bamboo Balancer with added vitamin C and Heivy’s super-rich Collagen Boosting Oolong Tea Mask.
Best for unclogging pores
After light workouts in air-conditioned gyms or wandering around giant malls, my pores often feel congested. I discovered that charcoal was the best solution. The top three were Motsi’s Detoxifying Charcoal Mask which worked especially hard on my T-zones, Country Bathhouse’s Renew Black Activated Charcoal Mask which absorbed toxins and left a heavenly smell, and Buttah’s Charcoal Detox Mask which worked in a softer, gentler fashion.
Best for winding down
Shiseido’s Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Face Mask was my favorite to wind down at night with. After cleansing, I popped it on (there are two halves, so again, great for men with beards), lay down for 15 minutes, and peeled off. The mask was easy to use, had a moisturizing finish and the scent was clean and calming. I also tried Priori’s LCA Hydrofill Mask which you can actually sleep in. Though it was tough trying not to sleep on one side, it worked wonders to replenish my skin while I slept.
Best for dark circles
I used some targeted Macklin Rose Gold Eye Masks after a late night and they immediately reduced the puffiness and tired look from under. Good Janes’ Papaya Mask did a good job under the eyes and beyond, thanks to its geranium ingredient which tones and tightens the area to reduce dark circles, and Formula 10.0.6’s Pores Be Pure was like a tingling kiss of life via strawberry and yarrow.
Best for a mock spa
With many spas off-limits, at this time I found a few kits that make face masking more of an event. Celebrity skincare master Olga Lorencin has produced a Red Carpet Facial In A Box with an at-home peel, cleansing neutralizer, and polishing mask. Nectar Bath Treats’ Mix-In Mask Collection and Face Kit are a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by couples.
Best for sensitive skin
My skin was sensitive after weeks of scrubbing and peeling, so I saved the softer masks till last. The Sephora Collection Clean Face Mask was mild and soothing. It’s made with eucalyptus-derived-fiber and a formula of 95 % natural-origin ingredients, so it’s the kind of mask that’s safe to use more frequently. In addition, Vitabrid’s Brightening and Luminous Dual Mask was super soft and gentle yet revitalizing.
NOTE: Masks were tried and tested on the author’s normal skin type. Results may vary for oily or dry skin.