In a bid to add more steps to skincare and complicate our lives, even the male beauty industry has developed countless recipes for the perfect catch-all mask treatment for our manly mugs. And yes, we must admit: on top of your daily cleanse-exfoliate-moisturize regime, a mask or two a week can give you an extra edge over the things you’re unhappy about. For your salutary benefit, we’ve split up all the masks in the world into three broad categories. Take your time and weigh your options, and you’re never going to regret you did – if you keep at it regularly.
1. Natural, edible masks.
The masks below are edible because most of them are made from natural food items: stuff you know won’t hurt you, unlike those lengthy unpronounceable stuff you see on commercial product labels. Here are some homemade recipes that we approve, using ingredients readily available in your fridge, at a fraction of the price of a mask you buy off the shelf.
Egg Masks. Raw eggs contain 69 different proteins, as well as vitamin A and collagen. Together, these work to reduce fine lines, renew skin, and add elasticity to your skin. Most egg masks involve either egg whites or egg yolks separately, with an addition of another ingredient for different purposes.
If you’re skeptical, try a pure egg white mask first:
1. Whip up the whites of one egg until it’s foamy (use a fork or a blender)
2. Apply it all over your face, leave for 15 minutes or till your skin feels tight.
3. Remove gently using a warm soaked towel.
A tingly effect is usually felt due to the exfoliating nature of egg whites. If you have acne issues or dull skin, mix in the juice of half a lemon after whipping up your egg white. If your skin is thirsty for some hydration, add half a mashed avocado and a teaspoon each of honey and milk. For these masks, leave on for 15 minutes and wash off with warm water. Easy peasy.
Mmm, smells like guacamole. Source: Istockphoto.com
Yogurt Masks. Similar to eggs, but perhaps more palatable, yogurt masks are known for their myriad benefits that include evening out skin tone and texture due to their rich store of vitamin Bs, reducing the looks of scars, combating acne with its anti-microbial properties, and keeping ageing at bay with antioxidants. Convinced yet?
Try it yourself at home. For all masks, apply a thick layer, leave on for 15 minutes, and wash off with warm water. Mix some plain, unsweetened, probiotic yogurt (preferably Greek) with any of the following for different results:
1. For a rejuvenating experience, mix equal parts (1 teaspoon) yogurt, honey, and oats.
2. To brighten and combat acne, mash up two very ripe strawberries with the back of a fork and combine them with 1 teaspoon each of yogurt and honey.
3. In need of moisture? Mash up a quarter of an avocado and mix that with one teaspoon each of olive oil and yogurt.
Sir, with all due respect, you’re doing it wrong. Source: Idiva.com
Cucumber Masks. Perhaps the first thing that came to mind when we mentioned masks was this: a woman with two slices of cucumber over her eyes. Guess what, that has some truth to it – except that to maximize the cooling benefits of the green gourd…
1. Puree the cucumber in a blender first.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt or 2 tablespoons of honey to half a peeled and puréed cucumber.
3. Leave on for 15 minutes and wash off with cool water.
Best for summer days and hot, humid climates (hello, Singapore). Tip: keep the cucumber in the fridge before using it. Makes for a cool cucumber mask.
2. Natural, inedible masks
Nope, we ain’t fooling around with you. Besides masks made from food items, there are also masks made from mineral ingredients. One particularly popular and potent type of mask you can do at home is a clay mask. They may look exactly like those in high-end spa ads, but the truth is you can get some of that goodness without busting your budget, or stepping out of your house (especially if you get the clay online)!
We know! Masks are exciting! Source: Eitrlounge.com.
Clay masks are differentiated by color, specifically white, red, green, and grey, each getting stronger in astringent and deep cleansing properties. Here are some examples:
White kaolin, pronounced kay-lin, is a fine clay powder that mixes extremely well with water and is suitable for most skin types. While it does not absorb oils, this mild clay is perfect for gentle exfoliation and cleansing.
Red Moroccan clay is stronger, absorbs oils, and is good for normal skin types.
Green clay, better known as French clay, has enormous absorbency and should be used only by folks with oily skin. Sea clay, which is a dark gray-green clay, has a marine flavor and is most often associated with spas. It is similar to French clay in its properties.
Bentonite – perhaps more familiar to some as Fuller’s Earth – which can present itself anywhere between brown to grey. It’s been used by Native Americans and Ayurvedic Indians through the ages and is an all-round effective clay that can be too tingly for those with sensitive skin.
They are all good for exfoliating and promoting blood circulation – vital for an optimal flow of nutrients around your face – while the stronger ones draw oils from the face and thus achieving unclogging and minimizing effects for oily, sebum-stuffed pores that lead to blackheads and acne. Indian Healing Bentonite Clay, Aztec Secret, USD10.
How to use? Once you procure these clays, whether online or from your local health supply store, it’s really easy to use. Follow the instructions on the tub, which most often involves a simple addition of water to the clay and spreading it over the face. For best results, use after a hot shower or open your pores by steaming your face over a basin of hot water with a towel over both your head and the basin.
3. Masks you can get from a shelf.
Because sometimes we just don’t have the time. For folks with oily skin and those who want to detox their mug, look for those containing clay or charcoal. For pore-minimizing benefits and acne-prone skin, one with salicylic acid or tea tree oils would work best. If you want some anti-ageing benefits, find a nourishing mask that contains honey, anti-oxidants like green tea extract, or vitamins A and C. If your skin is already close to perfect, get a gentle, exfoliating mask to help pull out any toxins that may be waiting to strike.
Clear Improvement® Active Charcoal Mask, Origins, USD25
Best for those with oily, acne-prone skin, this detoxifying mask will pull out excess sebum and tighten pores.
Acne Complex Clarifying Mask, Murad, USD37
Formulated for acneic skin, this clay-based mask unclogs those nasty pores but remains gentle and calming.
Soothing Moisture Mask, Avène, USD26
Loaded with minerals naturally occuring in spring water, this is best for skin weakened by dryness.
Deep Dive™ Glycolic Facial Cleanser, Jack Black, USD20
A cleanser and mask in one tube, packed with kaolin clay: leave on to dry for a deeper clean.
As you can see, anything from dull-looking skin, fine lines, acne, scars, or enlarged pores – there is a mask for it, and it doesn’t have to clean out your bank account. It’s non-committal, it’s variable, and it’s pretty much dead simple. What’s more, there’s something strangely therapeutic in gooping up your face (preferably by and with someone special) and just lying there for fifteen minutes, hearing yourself breathe or listening to the record you haven’t had time to play.
So try masking your mug and see if your skin outperforms that of your lazy counterparts. Men who try hard get ahead. Or so it’s said.