When you leave a facial, your skin is glowing—problem pores addressed, dullness brightened, dryness soothed. Glorious, really. However, re-creating that magic at home is often fruitless because you’re approaching your face mask situation all wrong. If you typically open your drawer of skin-saving goodies, pick up two masks, and waffle between which one will get the pleasure of treating your pores, you’ve made one fateful mistake. “Because most people have a variety of different skin issues, they need to find the answers in more than one mask,” says Sonya Dakar, skincare expert and founder of Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic.
Layering face masks: The idea is so simple, and yet it’s a total game changer.
Keep reading to find out the best ways to layer your masks!
What You Need to Know
First things first: For maximum benefits, exfoliate before applying any mask. When layering face masks, order is also crucial. “Soft masks should always go first followed by a clay- or mud-based mask,” Dakar says. “If you do it in reverse, the soft mask will never be able to properly penetrate.” Which brings us to the two basic types of masks Dakar says you should have in your beauty arsenal. A soft mask, which hydrates, soothes, and calms skin, and (like the name implies) does not dry, and a clay- or mud-based mask that absorbs impurities and excess oil and clarifies.
Breakouts and Dry Patches: Healing Mask + Oil-Absorbing Mud Mask
When your skin is acting up in more ways than one, it’s difficult to treat it with a single mask. Start with a thin layer of a healing mask all over. “Look for one that has soothing ingredients like chamomile, and hydrating ones, like grape-seed or flaxseed oil,” Dakar says. “This will relieve irritated skin while also adding hydration to dry patches.” Then follow with a mud-based mask to help absorb oil and eliminate breakouts. Apply the second mask only to the breakout-prone areas. A mud mask alone would be too strong and overwhelming for stressed-out skin.
“The first layer of the soft mask will help your skin handle a stronger treatment,” Dakar says.
Aging and Enlarged Pores: Hydrating Mask + Firming Mask + Clay Mask
“As people get older, sun damage and decreased skin elasticity can cause pores to dilate, so it’s not uncommon for women to be concerned with enlarged pores,” Dakar says. But pores are only part of the problem, so start with a light application of a moisturizing mask. At the same time, apply a slightly thicker layer of a firming mask to the area around the eyes (feel free to apply this mask to your neck and décolletage too). In these soft masks, Dakar says to look for ingredients such as resveratrol and other antioxidants, stem cells, and natural essential oils.
Follow with a clay mask to tighten pores on your T-zone and other problematic areas.
Dullness and Oiliness: Brightening Mask + Clarifying Clay Mask
To revive a dull complexion, Dakar says you’ll need a brightening mask with daisy flower or salicylic acid. Apply a thin layer all over, and add a little more to your forehead or any areas you’re especially concerned about. Then, follow it with a clarifying mask. “Apply a thick layer of clay mask to your entire face, adding a little extra to T-zone,” Dakar says. Choose a mineral-rich clay or mud mask with sulfur, salicylic acid, or probiotics. “You can add probiotics to your mask—when used topically, they decongest skin and absorb excess oil,” Dakar says.
Will you try doubling up on your face masks? Let us know which combo is for you.
This story was originally published on August 20, 2014, and has been updated.