Face masks and exfoliators can be valuable elements of any skin care routine. However, there’s often some confusion about which is more beneficial for skin health. While exfoliators brush away dead skin cells to reveal the healthy, new skin underneath, face masks are all about infusing the skin with nourishing ingredients to boost your best skin health. For some people, a mask and an exfoliator, combined, might be the best choice. But if you’ve got sensitive skin or a dry/ oily skin type, then this may not only influence your choice of one over the other but also the frequency with which you use it in your weekly routine.
Let us help you to break it down:
The Science Of Our Skin
Our skin naturally exfoliates itself over an average 28-day cycle. Every month, new skin cells emerge to replace the old ones. But sometimes the process isn’t efficient. Without manual exfoliation this can lead to a dull complexion, the appearance of dry skin and clogged pores. Regular exfoliation, however, has been shown to:
- Give skin a healthier and brighter appearance
- Aid hyperpigmentation
- Smooth rough patches of skin
- Result in clearer skin, due to fewer clogged pores
We can remove dead cells in two main ways – using exfoliators and face masks.
The Pros And Cons Of Face Masks
As the potentially messier choice of the two, masks are a bit more of a commitment but can deliver great results for your skin. Unlike exfoliators, masks are packed full of ingredients, and some are designed to nourish while they exfoliate using ingredients such as BHAs.
Unlike other skin care ingredients BHAs absorb deep into the pores of your skin to dissolve the mix of oily sebum and dead skin, which can lead to breakouts. They also have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties to help treat acne, smooth out fine lines and calm redness and irritation. The most commonly used BHA is salicylic acid, which is derived from aspirin and can cause allergies.
While effective, BHAs aren’t for everyone. In dissolving sebum, they can be very drying for people with already dry or sensitive skin, like our Founder. But that doesn’t mean a face mask is out of bounds. Here are a list of Face Masks for Sensitive Skin, as recommended by our Founder.
If you’re interested in using a mask as part of your skincare routine, we recommend:
- Starting off with a double cleanse
- Apply the face mask and leave on for the recommended time
- Follow up with a toner or serum (optional)
- Finish off with a face oil or moisturiser
The Pros And Cons Of Exfoliators
Exfoliators are quick and easy to use and can easily be incorporated into your shower routine.
Just as there are many different types of masks, there are different types of exfoliators, which can be split into two main categories. These are – physical exfoliators and chemical exfoliators. While some people choose to vary the use of both, it is equally effective to choose one type.
Physical scrubs often come in a pot and require you to rub the product onto your skin, although these can sometimes be harsh if used too often. Many are made of natural food ingredients, such as:
- Sugar Scrub
- Flour Scrubs (Chickpea, Oat)
- Salt Scrub
- Loofahs / Exfoliating Mitts
As someone with sensitive skin, our Founder uses a simple muslin cloth, such as Cloud Cloth, with her favourite cleanser. You can read more about the Best Natural Face Exfoliators for Sensitive Skin, as recommended by our Founder.
Alternatively, chemical exfoliators rely on the application of specific chemicals to melt away dead cells. These include AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic acid, BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) and retinoids.
For more guidance on chemical exfoliation, click here.
Depending on your skin type, you might find that chemical exfoliation works better for you than manual exfoliation, or vice versa.
The Superhero For Your Skin Type
The combination of a face mask and exfoliator is ideal for most skin types. However, if you know you have sensitive skin or want to add to your skin care routine one at a time, then choose the option that works best for you. For our Founder, it’s a hydrating and exfoliating mask that nourishes her sensitive skin, but for you it might be an exfoliator or hybrid product that includes elements of both.