Face masks 101: what type should you be wearing?

Bubble and foil and magnets, oh my!

Remember a time when face masks were just something you did at sleepovers, in between your Backstreet Boys choreography? 2016 changed all that. Not only did they become something that every woman wanted, suddenly we had multiple variants – one for every possible condition our skin might have. Here we review the best of the year… and just where this obsession is taking us next.  


We’ll start at the beginning, with the product responsible for the face mask revolution: sheet masks. Originating, naturally, from the new mecca of beauty – South Korea – these individually wrapped cloth or cellulose sheets come soaked in different key ingredients depending on which you choose (hydration, anti-ageing, clarity, purify). Kind of like an amped up serum, they contour to your face, making you look like something from Scream, but with some amazing results. This contouring traps in all the goodness without letting any escape so that your face can get all the benefits

Try: SK-II Skin Signature 3D Refining Mask, $190 (for 6).


We can thank Victoria Beckham for our obsession with these, specifically, the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Powerfoil Mask which she ‘grammed herself wearing some eight months ago. Like a next-level sheet mask, the thing that makes these so special is their “dual matrix” foil backs. Apart from looking très futuristic chic, the outer matrix foil forms what they call a “protective cocoon” that seals in the potent key ingredients (essentially a more powerful version of Advanced Night Repair, plus a double hit of hyaluronic acid) and drives it deep into the skin for faster penetration  – 25 times faster than your regular sheet mask. Hey, you had us at Vicky B…

Try: Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, 4 Pack $120.


Introduced to the market by Aussie brand Trefiel, these have, like all good face masks, spawned a thousand insta selfies since their launch in 2015. But, it’s not all about a pretty gimmick (though we are partial to the lace aesthetic). These hydrogel facemasks are plant based and packed with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and hydrolysed collagen for maximum moisture, and now also come in brightening, firming and repairing formulations.

Try: Trefiel Moisturising Lace Hydromask, $9.95 (single mask).


Another invention we can thank Korea for, these masks are ideal for a good pore clean. Essentially these are another “oxygenating” beauty product that work by turning the gel or clay type formula into a bubble foam when it comes into contact with the air (oxygen). The bubbles stimulate the key ingredients and help activate it deep into the skin. Also, they deliver anti-oxidant properties that are great for fighting pollution and external environmental aggressors.

Try: Sephora Collection Bubble Mask Detoxifying and Oxygenating, $26.


A wonder ingredient for decongestion, and great if you face the odd spot of adult acne, charcoal absorbs excess sebum and unclogs pores. What makes activated charcoal so great is that it only takes out the toxic elements of your skin without stripping the good stuff. This is precisely why it’s been used in the medical industry for years to treat anything from insect bites to alcohol overdoses – because it gets rids of toxic elements without damaging everything else.

Try: Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask, $52.


The newest kid to launch into the mask market, these use the healing power of magnets (a technique used in many ancient civilisations and apparently, even Cleopatra) to activate the mask. First, you apply the (iron-based formula) mask using a spatula included in the pack. Then, after 10 minutes use the magnet tool and a tissue to glide over and suck up/ remove the mask. You can literally see the particles “jump” off the skin, which would be enough to sell us on it alone, but the effect on the skin is equally impressive. The electro-magnetic field created by the magnet and mask combination attracts the skin’s impurities and pollutants removing the nasties, reduces the signs of ageing and then recharges the skin– all without causing any trauma to the skin.

Try: Dr Brandt Age-Defier Magnetight Mask, $110

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