Are Face Masks Harmful to your Skin?

Face masks are a cornerstone of skincare nowadays. Not only are they cute and luxurious, they often are synonymous with self-care and taking some time to practice some TLC. Indulging in a face mask can feel like a spa day treat, and they're often cheap and easy to use. However, there are certain ingredients you should look out for when using face masks, as these dangerous additives can actually hurt your skin and disrupt your microbiome’s balance. 

From snail jelly to charcoal, the amount of unusual ingredients you can find in your face masks is endless. In addition to interesting ingredients, many face masks are full of added fragrances and dyes to give them a certain hue. If you are using a cloth face mask or even a mud / cream face mask, added fragrances + color should be avoided at all costs. When looking for face masks be sure to opt for products that are labeled as “fragrance free, dye free, and alcohol free”. These will be the kindest to your microbiome and won’t strip your barrier. 

Navigating the world of skincare can be overwhelming, but no fear! We’ve compiled the best tips when it comes to choosing the right face mask for your skin:

Do’s & Don'ts for Face Masks:

Some Dont's:

  • Avoid face masks that claim to peel away blackheads or clear your pores. In reality, these face masks damage your skin barrier and can peel off normal skin cells, and damage your skin in the process. Plus, even though a satisfying blackhead peel can feel like you are clearing your skin, your pores are left open to the environment around them and run the risk of becoming infected. 
  • Don’t apply face masks without cleansing. Limiting the amount of times you wash your face with harsh cleansers is a mantra for us here at Dr. EJ. However, before applying a face masks, either sheet or cream based, be sure to always cleanse. Not cleansing your face can lead to further irritation, as the leftover dirt and makeup can get caught under your mask and render the face mask ineffective. 
  • Don’t leave your face mask on too long - when your face mask starts to feel dry, its time to take it off. Masks that dry like glue can be especially harmful. The hardened product can attach itself to hair follicles and rip them out upon removal. This cases skin irritation and can lead to folliculitis.
  •  Don’t use masks that burn or itch. The classic “if it burns-it means it’s working!” is a major no-no when it comes to skincare, especially face masks. If your skin is burning or itchy, this means an ingredient in the face mask is irritating your skin. Long term use of irritating ingredients can lead to a damaged microbiome, and a host of other skin issues. 

Some Do's:

  • Test out the mask on a patch of your skin before using. If you are using a sheet mask, open the packaging and take some of the serum it contains and put a few drops on your skin. Patch testing allows you to see if your skin will react well to the mask - and avoid a possible allergic reaction and further disruption to your microbiome. 
  • Avoid Fragrances. Even though alluring scents like flowers and cucumbers sound nice, heavy added fragrances are proven to be harmful to your skin. Many added scents contain alcohol, which is extremely drying and damaging to the important bacteria living in your microbiome 
  • Consult your dermatologist. If you are on medications for your skin it is important to pay close attention to what you are using, as certain ingredients may interfere with your medication. If you can, consult your doctor before using a face mask with any active ingredients to ensure safety. 
  • Wash your hands before applying your mask. This may sound intuitive but we often forget to wash our hands when applying skincare products. It is important to ensure your hands are clean and free of outside germs & irritants as you apply your mask to your face. 
  • Practice Facial Yoga. Want to indulge in some self care that encourages collagen production and is relaxing? Facial Yoga might be an alternative to your face mask cravings. Facial Yoga allows you to take part in your skin’s health in a meaningful way, be sure to use an oil-based moisturizer for massaging-ease. 

With so many skincare products and trends out there, it can be hard to discern which are actually beneficial to your skin & your microbiome. We hope this helped clear the air on some face mask myths.

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