Masques unmasked


Masking has been one of my favorite self-care things to do since I was a teenager. I began my love affair with masques as an adolescent with Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. I used it often and with great hope. I loved horses and many of my hunt seat companions at the time used Elizabeth Arden Eight hour cream on their complexion’s, hands and lips. I decided to give it a try. Eight hour cream wasn’t a cream at all but a thick gel based petrolatum product. It was soothing. IT WAS also comedogenic as all get out. In light of it being comedogenic,  I used it with  blissful abandon underneath the Mint julep mask because it was deeply moisturizing. My higher self knew that the Mint Julep masque was too drying due to an inferior quality of clay.

Fast forward to my early days as an esthetician. In the late 1970’s there wasn’t much in terms of back bar products. I was forced to make my own masks. I bought myself a mortar and pestle in Mexico and proceeded to concoct masques for my clients. I mixed aspirin with Redken PPT protein treatment to use as an exfoliating masque. I whipped honey and egg white into a froth to use for a tightening masque. I crushed strawberry and mixed with witch hazel to use to freshen and brighten dull skin.

I made a deal with my dentist and bought alginate powder from him. You all know what that is, right? Just in case you don’t it is the very same product that the dental tech mixes with water to take an impression of your teeth and gums. I figured that I could apply a good hydrating cream or an ampoule underneath the dental alginate mask to get a good effect. After all, by occluding the skin, the skin can’t exchange with the environment and the epidermis goes into relative shock. Water, sebum and inter-cellular lipids make their way up to the stratum corneum to assist the skin in this perceived emergency. This process creates natural mositurization. The ingredients in the ampule and or cream application underneath the alginate mask get to travel down the epidermis a little bit deeper than they otherwise would and benefit the skin by plumping it up. At the time, this piece d’ resistance specialized masque was my secret signature facial.

As our industry grew in back bar products and professional European products became more accessible, I ceased mixing up my own products.

I  must say that once I became a proficient esthetician, I steered away from complicated masques. Some of the companies, you all know who they are, seem to complicate their masque instructions unnecessarily. Simplicity, efficiency and outstanding results are our target for the win.

Sometime in the 1980’s, I discovered Lerosett mask from Gunilla of Sweden. It was beneficial in my treatments due to the specialized clay in the ingredient deck. It was very good for oily and blemish prone skin.  It doesn’t dry as hard as other clay masks. I used to apply a thick layer of cream underneath the Lerosett mask for drier and dehydrated skin types. 

About ten years ago my go to for home care masks were the Glam-Glow masks.  I still enjoy using the Gravity Mud and Youth Mud. They are effective in brightening the skin. Glam Glow has an arsenal of masks for many skin conditions. Their masks assist with clearing, refining and smoothing the skin. Some of the key ingredients in Glam-Glow masques include Volcanic pumice rock, a natural clay blend, Teaoxi green tea leaf, activated charcoal and a super six acid blend.

I did cart wheels all across town over ten years ago when I discovered Environ’s Alginate mask for use in my back bar.  The masque echoed my early dental alginate masque days. With one small caveat, Environ Alginate Masque, in addition to super refined alginate, also contains diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized algae and silica.

The mask is soothing and cooling. It never met a skin that it didn’t like. I have used it over a thousand times on every type of skin with consistent results. It is extraordinary for compromised skin. It also calms the skin after a more assertive treatment. It physically obstructs trans epidermal water loss. Skin is luxuriously hydrated once it is lifted off. Another perk in using this mask is that it conducts energy efficiently when combined with field iontophoresis.

While I am on the wonders of Environ, I must mention the Tri Bio Botanical Revival Masque. The three acids contained in it, Asiatic, Lactic and Mandelic are in the perfect combination to put skin in healing mode. It is a face lift in a jar due to its re-densifying capabilities. One can sleep in this mask. Environ’s Purifying Anti-Pollution Masque has AcnacidolA (registered trademark) kaolin, Jojoba, shea butter, rose of  Jericho, charcoal powder.  I love it because it is comforting and assists with the delicate barrier function of our skin. For me,  the big plus is that it regulates sebum and it doesn’t  reduce it.

AcnacidolA (registered TM) is a proprietary blend of components including Royal jelly. The synergy is anti-inflammatory. I will take all of the assists in regards to reducing inflammation that I can get.

Environ Skin Essentia Hydrating mask is a wonder because it is a gel cream formulation. It micro-exfoliates in a whisper fashion. It also hydrates due to the barley seed extract and panthenol. It can be used as a blanket when applied over top of night time products and allowed to remain on the skin during slumber.

Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant is a cult fave for good reason. I like this mask because it makes the skin look vibrant. It instantly clarifies the skin and works to stimulate a lack luster complexion. It is said to revitalize and stimulate epidermal functions. Ahead of water, the first ingredient that It contains is yeast extract. Some of the other main substances are cucumber, vinegar, lactic acid, witch hazel bark/leaf/twig extract, acacia,  and Hypericum perforatum flower/ leaf/stem extract.

Masques are here to stay. We can thank the Covid-19 virus for an energetic  and upgraded interest in home facial routines. There is always a rainbow at the end of a rainy season.  Once a client grasps and sees with  his/her own eyes that home care regime accounts for 75% of their skin’s improvement, I believe they hear angelic bells chiming.  As an industry let’s keep our clients plugged into masqueing with regularity!

Cathy Wainwright


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