For optimal skin care, try a multi-tasking mask

September 15, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. ó In the quest for better skin thereís a step that most people skip, chalking it up to an overrated indulgence. But if youíve got a skin complaint ó too dry, acne, too oily, uneven, big pores, fine lines, whatever ó you should be using a mask.

"A mask is more than something you spend $100 on at a spa," said Dr. Lawrence Samuels, chief of dermatology at St. Lukeís Hospital. He said that some masks get a bad rap because people think of them as strictly a relaxation ploy.

However, the right mask can be a powerhouse on your skin.

Someone fighting the effects of sun damage can benefit from an enzyme mask, which does the work of the enzymes that are depleted during UV exposure.

He said at-home masks arenít going to be as rigorous as the professional grade products youíll get from a certified aesthetician, but you can use them more often and still get desired effects.

"Depending on their skin problem most people can benefit from using a mask at least once a week," Samuels said. And some people would do well to work a mask into their daily routine, if their skin condition tolerates it.

He said that itís worth the consultation to see a medical spa professional first to diagnosis exactly what your biggest complaint is before you invest in a pricey mask treatment.

"Itís a good way to avoid the bathroom cemetery" of unused skincare products, Samuels said.

The biggest benefit of masking is that it helps slough away debris or provide hydration so that your skin can start repairing itself.

"We are in the business of selling makeup, but great makeup starts with great skin," explained Marcus Monson, Guerlainís national makeup artist who was recently in town for a store appearance.

He takes about four flights a week for his job, so heís constantly battling the effects of the dry air and changing climates. And because of his job, heís religious about skin care. Masking is an essential part of his routine, and among his favorites is a Super Aqua Sheet Mask ($123 for six at Neiman Marcus), a hydrating sheet with holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. He said that sometimes itís an excuse to relax for 5 minutes to a half-hour.

"Stress is a huge factor in skin care," Monson said. "Stress is one of the biggest exacerbating factors of aging itself." And the only way to combat it is to relax.

He said that there are masks "that pretty much do everything ó cleanse, moisturize, lighten and tighten ó and there are some you can leave on called sleep-in masks, so itís the laziest version possible."

The latter are typically hydrating masks that you apply near bedtime. You allow them to sit on the skin for a while and then rub in the excess before bed. Monson swears that the treatment will make you look like you drank eight glasses of water in your sleep.

Samuels is more cautious in his descriptions. He said that skin damage doesnít occur overnight and it isnít corrected overnight. So commit to a routine and stick with it for a while to see true results. But if you start experiencing negative effects, eliminate that product immediately.

He said that he treats many patients who bought some fancy potion because someone at a beauty counter told them that it was the best thing ever.

"Thereís a lot of talk out there, but I like to see the science behind things," said Samuels, who developed a line called RXSystemsPF. Most of the people behind the beauty counters canít even tell you what the normal pH-balance of the skin should be or how this product affects that, he said.

"People want me to verify if this new wonder thing they heard about on television or from a friend is true, and I always tell them to look around," Samuels said. "When Botox was approved and working, it was on every network and every station and every newspaper because it was true and it worked. If you hear about some secret, revolutionary wonder treatment or herb or whatever from one person itís probably not worth it. Things like that donít remain a secret."


(Best applied to freshly washed skin thatís still damp)

Perfective Ceuticals: Divine Brightening Mask. Addresses uneven skin tone and dryness ($48.75) at for set of five sheets.

Alaska Glacial Mud: The Glacial Facial Purifying Mineral Mud Masque. Addresses clarity and exfoliation. Recommended one to four times a week ($35) at, choose unscented, Refreshing Lavender-Peppermint or Relaxing Vanilla-Lavender.

Murad: Blackhead Remover. Addresses exfoliation and acne care. Recommended as a spot treatment as needed ($49.50 part of a set including a Pore Refining Sealer) at or Sephora stores.

Bioelements Kerafole Mask: Addresses skin exfoliation and skin tone. Use seven consecutive days for intensive treatment and then recommended twice weekly ($48) at

Tammy Fender: Holistic Skin Care Custom Blended Formulations, Epi Peel. Addresses enlarged pores, dull skin, dryness and oil complaints with micro-exfoliation ($80) at



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