updated 28 Jan 2014, 18:37
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Thu, Feb 09, 2012
The Star/ANN
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Masking skin problem
by Elaine Dong

Most women cleanse, tone and moisturise, but do you know that there is a necessary extra step?

If you drop by beauty counters, you will find a plethora of facial masks, one for every need imaginable. Deep cleansing masks for clogged pores, brightening masks for dull skin, collagen masks for dehydrated skin, calming masks for sensitive skin and so forth.

Just what is it that masks do that inspire beauty companies to churn them out every season with formulations more potent than last season’s offerings?

A mask is usually a paste that is applied on to cleansed face, and before moisturisers or serums. The consistency of the paste varies; it could be creamy or in the form of gel or clay. It contains nourishing ingredients that are said to be easily absorbed into the skin to help certain functions. The ingredients include minerals, essential oils, vitamins, and fruit or plant extracts.

Basking in it: SK-II offers sheet masks that replenish nutrients and rejuvenate skin.

If we look further back, in ancient Egypt, masks used to be the purvey of royalty. Queens would send their slave girls out to gather exotic ingredients to make a mask. Things like ant eggs would be crushed into pastes, and Cleopatra herself has been claimed to use Dead Sea mud in her beauty regimen. The mud from the ocean is rich with minerals from the sea.

Ancient Romans would whip up various concoctions to combat ageing. We do the same today. Whatever label we give to our "imperfections", whether it be dry skin, fine lines, uneven skin tone, clogged pores, it all boils down to the onslaught of ageing. And clever marketing by beauty companies have assured their customers that there is now a solution for every skin problem. 

Whether your skin is calling out for a spot of healing, rejuvenating, brightening or a moisture boost, there is a corresponding mask out there to cater to your needs.

Estee Lauder Hydra Complete Multi-Level Moisture Gel Mask helps plump and soften the look of fine lines caused by dehydration.

The question is, do these masks work?

The effects of a mask may be temporary or long term, depending on how you care for your skin. Certain masks are meant to give a temporary boost. Lifting masks give tired skin an instant pick-me-up, while collagen masks can instantly plump up and hydrate skin. But masks can also yield long-term benefits if used correctly and regularly.

"It’s very important to boost skin with proper hydration daily and exfoliate once a week. Our skin is exposed to daily environmental assault, which reduces our skin’s ability to repair. To enjoy the full benefits of a mask, a regular regimen must be in place. Also, one of the most important masks to use on a weekly basis is a hydration mask," says Estee Lauder senior education manager Audrey Ang.

A mask is a weekly treatment for the skin to maintain its health, according to Lancome education manager Joselyn Lee. Depending on the function of the mask – whitening, anti-ageing, hydrating, acne and more – a simple mask will help to nourish the skin and give faster results.

The best way to choose a mask is to know the ingredients contained within. Though technology has overtaken traditional beauty methods, many of the core ingredients used to beautify women have remained unchanged.

Until today, scientists continue to utilise Dead Sea mud in modern-day masks.

Use Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight mask to quench skin thirst.

Kaolin clay, or China clay, which got its name from Kaoling in the Jiangxi province in China, is a high quality clay used in clay masks and rich in minerals. Clay masks are good for drawing out impurities in the skin.

Kaolin deposits are found in Germany, France, Britain and the United States as well.

Blue or red montmorillonite clay is used to draw out excess oil and toxins, and masks containing this clay is usually used on acne-prone skin.

A healing herb, aloe vera, is traditionally used on burns and cuts, as it helps to repair skin cells. When the leave is broken, it releases a sap that can be used directly on the skin as a mask. Beauty companies have capitalised on this potent herb, and have formulated masks and gels from it.

Lancome Genifique Youth Activating Mask is meant to rejuvenate tired skin.

When British explorer Captain Cook chanced upon the beautiful skin of the people of the Pacific oceans, he discovered they used coconut oil on their skin. Not surprisingly, virgin coconut oil is often used today in masks for dry skin.

A lot of masks today contain plant extracts. In olden days, before beauty went high tech, women would gather herbs, fruits and plants and mix them into a paste to put on their faces. Today, beauty companies have laboratories that extract and test plant essences and enzymes for efficacy.

Last time, only the rich and privileged had access to beauty treatments because of the difficulty in attaining them. But thanks to the technology and increased knowledge about the world around us, beauty and youth is now highly attainable and available to the "common folk",and masks are touted to be accesible elixirs of youth, bottled and ready for sale.

-The Star/Asia News Network

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