The Skin Nerd: Why face masks aren’t as important as you’d think

The Skin Nerd: Why face masks aren’t as important as you’d think

When you think of someone who is “into skincare”, you probably imagine someone in a face mask. It’s the most stereotypical visual of skincare, the person slathered in an unguent coating of godknows- what.

I do love masks and they are definitely a part of my weekly skincare routine. However, I’d be of the belief that they’re a skincare want and not a skincare need.

Masks (or masques, as I would tend to spell it personally) are a gateway into skincare. From the very first time you pick up a Montague Jeunesse self-heating mask from your local Tesco, there’s no going back. You’re one of us now.

The argument from experts is that the majority of masks actually have few long-term benefits, acting as a temporary skin-pacifier. In my opinion, for the most part, I’d tend to agree. My priority as a skin professional is always skin health over all else.

Thankfully, with skin health comes aesthetic benefits. My issue with masks is that many of them don’t support your skin health, can contain ingredients that can negatively impact the skin and simply aren’t as worthwhile as part of your skincare budget as a decent cleanser, serum and SPF are.

Of course, not all masks are created equally and there are plenty of masks that we highly rate at The Skin Nerd.

For us, what makes the difference is the ingredients within the mask itself (quelle surprise). A huge pro of masks is that they allow you to easily introduce more ingredients than you’re already using in your skincare routine in a simple and straightforward manner.

For this to be a benefit, the mask you’re choosing to use needs to be a high-quality formulation that actually does something. The concern is that plenty of the masks found on the market are more of a gimmick than anything. Case in point: the peel-off mask.

The appeal of the peel-off mask is that the user feels as if they are quite literally removing dead skin cells, dirt and debris as they unstick the PVAglue like texture from the surface of the skin.

To some extent, yes, peel-off masks can remove dead skin cells but they absolutely cannot remove debris from the pore. Our pores are deeper and tighter than you’d ever think, so a sticky something attached to the top of a blackhead isn’t strong enough to pull that deep sucker out.

If you do see any “blackheads” removed by a peel-off mask, it’s more than likely your sebaceous filaments you’re seeing. Your sebaceous filaments are essentially your skin’s oil transit vehicles and aren’t something you want to get rid of, as they help to funnel sebum to the surface of the skin, moisturising it naturally.

The view of masks is that they are an all-round, one-step skin fixing tool. Your skin is an organ so you can’t expect magic, and for real results, you’re best off putting your hard earned cash towards a cleanser and serum with active ingredients that are geared towards your skin concerns, and a broad-spectrum SPF.

It’s like brushing your teeth daily compared to a weekly whitening strip. Yes, the whitening strip will temporarily make those gnashers gleam but you’d never choose them over brushing your teeth.

The Nerdie Pick

A gommage is not a mask per se, but it is a more skin-friendly alternative to the beloved peel-off mask. “Gommage” directly translates to scrub but a scrub it is not, and it would much more aptly be called a rub.

You apply a thick layer of the gommage to clean skin, allow it a minute or two to harden a bit and then gentle rub it off with your fingertips, giving yourself a little rinse afterwards. It is by far the most gentle exfoliant I have ever come across, to the point that it can be used around the eye area and by even the most sensitive of skins.

■ Yon-ka Gommage, €47, selected salons and

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