For glowing skin, good daily habits are essential. Eating right and exercising can certainly contribute to a healthy glow. But a little pampering can help enhance that glow you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. So what’s the best way to pamper your skin?
You certainly can make an appointment at a spa for a facial. But many people don’t have the time or money to do that regularly. The good news is that an increasing number of products allow you to recreate that spa experience at home. Here’s how to do it.
Face masks have been popular for some time. And they can certainly help your skin. I’ll have more on them below. But have you ever tried an eye mask? No, I’m not talking about something that blocks the light so you can sleep. (Although ultimately getting good sleep will help your skin too!) You can purchase eye mask products (e.g., Skynn) that fit right around your eyes to help you target specific ingredients to that delicate skin.
There are a number of products on the market. So let me tell you about some of my favorite ingredients. You can pick and choose based on your skin’s needs.
An Acid That Keeps Skin Young
Of course, I have to start with hyaluronic acid. You might think that acid would be something to keep away from your eyes. But hyaluronic acid is actually a great moisturizer. It’s one of my favorite ingredients in a variety of skin-care products. Look for a product that contains hyaluronic acid (HA helps the skin retain water – the more hydrated our skin is the fewer obvious looking wrinkles) with rose water or aloe for an especially hydrating experience. Hyaluronic acid can also help you deliver the powerful wrinkle-fighter retinol to this sensitive area, reducing irritation for sensitive skin.
Aloe combined with vitamin C can help brighten as well. Another brightening ingredient is cucumber extract. Yes, that old standby of cucumber slices over the eyes does actually work! Why? Cucumber is not only full of polyphenols and micronutritients, but is naturally hydrating and anti-inflammatory.
If you’re concerned about tired or wrinkled eyes, try peppermint extracts, green tea extracts, or collagen, all of which can perk you up. To reduce dark circles or puffiness after a late night, try algae extract, vitamin B3, cornflower, arnica, chamomile extract, or allantoin. You can even use dragon’s blood to reduce fine lines. No, this isn’t a mysterious ingredient you have to go on a quest to find. It’s resin from the danger de drago tree – and it will help you look much more like a sleeping beauty than a damsel in distress.
Finally, for a truly luxurious experience, you can look for eye masks that contain real gold. Believe it or not, gold has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, if it raises your blood pressure just to think about spending money on a gold-infused eye mask, you should skip this one. But it may be the pinnacle of pampering.
Masks for Your Entire Face
Giving your eyes a little TLC can go a long way toward improving your overall appearance. But masks certainly aren’t just for eyes. Face masks remain perennially popular. DIY versions that allow you to put some of the nutrients you have hiding in your kitchen abound. In fact, you can check the Skin Care Insider archives for some of my favorite “recipes.” But there’s a new trend in masks that I like a lot: sheet masks.
Korean Sheet Masks Provide Glowing Skin
You may have heard of “K-beauty.” Short for Korean beauty, this approach to skincare has taken the world by storm. The Koreans have become famous for their elaborate, multi-step skincare routines (and their glowing skin!). One of those steps is often a sheet mask.
Unlike mask formulas that come in a jar or a tube, sheet masks are one-time-use products typically made from cotton, paper, or even gel. They’re a convenient delivery system for a variety of concentrated ingredients, and once you’ve let them sit on your skin for 15 minutes or so, they couldn’t be easier to remove. No more cracked mud hiding in every crevice!
As with eye masks, you can choose from a variety of ingredients depending on your needs. If you want to brighten your skin, consider a gel-based mask. Allantoin, which I mentioned earlier, can help plump your skin. And you can look for plant-based essential oils to moisturize and brighten. Argan oil or cinnamon are brightening as well, although if you have sensitive skin, cinnamon might trigger a reaction. Brightening masks are great to use before a big event. Try using one every two to three days the week before an event. This will also give your skin time to calm down if you do find something irritating.
If you do have sensitive skin, you might prefer a gentle, water-based mask. Allantoin can be great here as well. Flower water is delicate and soothing. And witch hazel can help calm and cool irritation. Oatmeal extract is great for sunburned or wind-burned skin. If your skin is angry, using a sheet mask for sensitive skin right before bed can help you deliver soothing ingredients that keep working all night long. You and your skin will wake up refreshed! And if you do tend to react to more powerful ingredients, immediately following a brightening mask with a soothing sheet mask can help keep irritation at bay and allow you get to get the benefits of both.
Sheet masks are also a great way to deliver potent anti-aging ingredients. You can apply moisturizers and antioxidants like red algae, hyaluronic acid, and green tea. Anti-aging masks can help tighten up fine lines for a bit, so they’re also great right before a big night out. And they’re a lot easier to schedule than a facial!
If you have dry skin, especially during the winter, look for hyaluronic acid or vitamin B5 and betaine. Ultra-hydrating masks are a great way to combat dry air. You can even try one on your next flight if you aren’t afraid of looking a little silly! You’ll certainly look great when you land. Dry airplane air is notorious for being hard on skin. If you aren’t bold enough to try a mask mid-flight, stash one in your suitcase to rejuvenate your skin once you get to your destination.
There are even sheet masks for breakout-prone skin. You can use some of these masks daily to regularly deliver targeted ingredients. Or you can save them for when you feel a breakout coming on (or one pops up unexpectedly). Just make sure you choose masks that also contain soothing ingredients like maple water or, yet again, hyaluronic acid. You don’t want anything that’s going to inflame your skin further. If you’re feeling brave, you can even look for one with snail secretions. It may sound a little bit like snake oil, but this natural ingredient is a great skin-soother!
If you live in an urban area, pollution might be triggering your breakouts or causing premature aging or dullness. You may be especially vulnerable if you spend a lot of time outdoors in polluted areas, even if all you’re doing is finishing your commute on foot. Antioxidant-rich masks can help. Pollution triggers free radical damage that can trigger breakouts and aging. Look for masks that deliver plenty of vitamins C, B, and E. Make sure you’ve washed your face first to eliminate the source of the damage!
Worth the Price?
Finally, keep in mind that sheet masks can vary widely in price. But if you compare them to a day at the spa, even the higher-end ones are typically a great deal. And they often contain carefully curated ingredients that are worth the price. You can find cheap sheet masks, but be sure to check their ingredients lists. Look for natural ingredients, like avocado or berries, rather than chemicals.
No matter how much you’re planning to spend, be sure your mask doesn’t contain dangerous ingredients like parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. You can check the archives for more information on how to spot these dangerous chemicals in your products. The last thing you want to do is spend 20 minutes delivering toxic chemicals directly to your skin.
You don’t need to use a sheet mask or an eye mask every day – unless you want to. But they’re a great way to deliver some extra pampering to your skin for a fraction of what you’d spend at the spa. Just make sure you warn your family or roommates before you put on one. You don’t want to spend your relaxation time calming down a startled spouse!