Hydrating Masks


We all strive for soft, supple, glowing skin. Too often, however, this goal is thwarted by the very skin we are trying to improve. Dryness, excess oil, and acne play the antagonist part making youthful, smooth skin out of reach.

If that wasn’t bad enough, harsh chemicals, pollution, and the sun’s UV rays can make your skin dry and wrinkled. It’s enough to make you want to stay inside for the foreseeable future.

Although there are many products like moisturizers, etc out there to combat skin issues, we prefer masks. They give major hydration without feeling heavy or clogging your pores.

Vitamins, collagen, and plant extracts are just a few of the ingredients found in our favorite masks, which deliver spa-worthy results in the comfort of our own homes. Hydrated skin feels fresh, after all.


What Is A Hydrating Face Mask?

Hydrating face masks are formulated with ingredients that contain active compounds that function in a number of ways.

Some compounds actively draw moisture into skin tissues; others lock in moisture and prevent water loss by enhancing the skin’s barrier and reinforcing cellular structures.


Hydrating Mask Benefits

Hydrates Skin: Face masks add moisture to dry or dehydrated skin making it easy to apply makeup. As the water from the face mask penetrates deep into the skin and softens it, making it more elastic, the end result is a more youthful appearance.

Reduces Fine Lines: Periodic application of face masks can diminish fine lines, brown spots, and wrinkles associated with ageing resulting in smooth and soft skin.

Evens Skin Tone: Face masks are the perfect antidote to hyper-pigmentation. Applying them creates a smooth and even skin. Additionally, face masks enhance the oxygen level in the skin.

Tightens Skin: If you are struggling with loose skin, you can solve this problem by applying a face mask regularly. This will promote the production of collagen which creates a tighter and firmer skin.


Types Of Hydrating Masks and How To Use Them

There are various types of hydrating face masks to choose from, each with its own shape, application method and treatment period.

Most masks are best used once or twice weekly depending on the severity of your skin’s dryness. If your product has accompanying instructions, be sure to follow them closely for the best possible results.

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are face-shaped fiber sheets infused with a serum of powerful moisturizing ingredients. When applied, they adhere to the face and the serum is then slowly absorbed into the skin, resulting in deep hydration.

Sheet masks are packaged individually and are ready-made, with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth. They are designed to be easily applied directly from the package and removed with no mess.

Most sheet masks should be removed and discarded after about 15 minutes.

Cream Masks

Cream masks are dense formulas designed for direct application to the skin with a brush or fingers. While moisturizing gels, lotions and serums tend to be water-based, cream mask products are usually oil-based.

For this reason, they tend to have a more powerful occlusive effect, and are therefore better suited for sealing in moisture.

Most cream masks should be rinsed off after 10–20 minutes.

Overnight Masks

Overnight or sleeping masks are rich cream or serum formulations designed to be applied before bed and washed off in the morning. Overnight wear allows the ingredients in these masks more time to soak into the skin and replenish moisture.

The skin’s circadian rhythm is known to fluctuate from day to night. During the day, sebum production is at its highest; during the night, the protective barrier function weakens and the skin loses moisture.

Overnight masks can help prevent any skin dryness that may develop and ensure skin is hydrated by morning. However, the longer a product is left on the skin, the greater the risk of triggering an allergic reaction.

Avoid any formulations containing ingredients to which you are sensitive or allergic when selecting an overnight mask product 

Some overnight masks may contain ingredients that can stain fabrics. If you are concerned about this possibility, you may wish to cover your pillow with an old T-shirt that you can set aside for these occasions.

Microbiome Masks

Microbiome masks are specially formulated with a blend of actives to replenish and support your skin’s microbiome. The microbiome plays a major role in impacting the skin’s well-being, appearance and feel.

The microbiome formulation protects the skin’s microflora, keeps the good bacteria intact and the bad bacteria away from your skin.

It is deeply and rapidly hydrating. It enlivens dry, parched skin rapidly and strengthens the skin barrier function. It also calms, soothes and relaxes the skin. It is ideal for sensitive skin. 

Whitening Masks

Whitening masks aim to improve the complexion of the skin. Best whitening masks combine a unique blend of botanicals that inhibits enzymes to prevent the production of dark pigments and pro-inflammatory factors that lead to skin darkening.

It hydrates the skin while also promoting skin renewal for a fairer complexion.

Clay Masks

Clay masks are made of a few types of clay including kaolin or bentonite. Clay masks are used to help manage dry skin, absorb excess oil as well as to prevent acne, blackheads and whiteheads. 

Bentonite is a clay derived from volcanic ash and has been known to help with dermatitis, diaper rash, ulcers, cuts and other skin disorders such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema. 

While clay masks do not pose any serious side effects, it is recommended that you use this treatment no more than twice a week to avoid your skin becoming dry or irritated. 


How To Choose The Best Hydrating Mask For Your Skin Type

Those with dry skin are most likely to benefit from the moisturizing, barrier-restoring effects of hydrating face masks. Also, the gentle, natural ingredients in many hydrating masks may also benefit those with sensitive skin, who may experience irritation from other types of face masks.

Hydrating masks may exacerbate sebum production for oily skin types, causing oil buildup and clogged pores – and potentially triggering acne breakouts. However, this skin type can choose hydrating face masks with water-based formulations.

Selecting the best face mask that contains ingredients appropriate for your skin type will help minimize your risk of experiencing irritation, breakouts or allergic reactions.

Dry Skin

Those with dry skin should select masks containing gentle hydrating ingredients such as HA, glycerine and plant oils.

Ingredients suitable for dry skin type include Vitamins A and C, HA, aloe, plant oils, ceramides, glycerine, honey, green tea, oats, collagen, elastin and keratin.

Cream formulations offer a more powerful occlusive effect than lightweight gels, serums and lotions, and will reinforce the skin’s protective barrier, further protecting against moisture loss.

Sheet masks that contain bacterial cellulose (also known as bio-cellulose) can also provide potent benefits to those with dry skin.

The fibers in these masks are highly absorbent and can store many times their dry weight in water, which makes them effective at delivering large doses of cooling, hydrating ingredients.

One study found that these masks safely and effectively increased skin moisture uptake by 7–28%.

Oily Skin

Oily skin tends to respond well to products that are non-comedogenic, including lightweight gels, lotions and serums.

The best masks for oily skin contain ingredients suitable for oily skin type include Vitamins A and C, green tea, oats, collagen, elastin and keratin.

Those with oily skin may also benefit from antibacterial or anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as oats, green tea and vitamin A, which can help reduce the risk of acne breakouts.

Sheet masks are not suitable for oily skin, as they are not breathable and encourage acne-causing bacteria to remain in contact with the skin.

Cream-based and overnight masks also tend to be unsuitable for oily skin, as they contain ingredients that can exacerbate oil buildup and clog pores. 

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin will benefit from soothing, hydrating ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties, such as ceramides, honey and vitamin E.

Ingredients suitable for sensitive skin type include Vitamins A and E, aloe, ceramides, glycerine, oats, honey, green tea, collagen, elastin and keratin.

That being said, most of the ingredients in hydrating face masks are gentle and unlikely to cause irritation. Even those with very sensitive skin should rarely experience side effects from their use.


Should You Use A Hydrating Mask?

Hydrating masks can, for the most part, be used by all skin types, however, some ingredients and masks should be avoided by some. For example, those with oily or acne-prone skin should avoid ingredients and masks that smother the skin, such as rich waxes, oils, creams or sheet masks.

Those with sensitive skin should select masks with as few potentially irritating ingredients as possible to avoid triggering allergic reactions or worsening dryness. Common skin irritants include:

  • Fragrances
  • Soaping agents
  • Alcohol
  • Synthetic preservatives

For all skin types, immediately rinse off and stop using a face mask if any unpleasant side effects occur. These may include:

  • Burning, stinging or itching
  • Severe redness
  • Swelling
  • Dryness or tightness
  • Breakouts
  • Hives


How Often Should I Use a Hydrating Face Mask? 

Hydrating face masks can be used about twice a week. It is recommended that masks are used just once a week for those who have extremely sensitive skin. 

While we want to reduce breakouts and deal with dry patches, face masks are designed to deliver potent ingredients into the skin in a short amount of time. As such, it is very easy to overdo it and this could be doing more harm than good. 

‘Over-masking’ can lead to breakouts, itching, redness, as well as dry, flaky and peeling skin – the very symptoms that the masks were intended to treat in the first place. Overuse can cause harm and skin sensitivity as the skin is stripped of its protective oils and friendly bacteria which are incredibly important in maintaining healthy skin. 

Thus, pay attention to your skin, make sure that the ingredients used are suitable for your skin and do not ‘over-mask’ to ensure the best results. 


Do Hydrating Face Masks Actually Work? 

The simple answer is yes, face masks do work. However, it also depends on the face mask that you are using as well as what you are trying to achieve. 

Face masks are one of the most effective ways to deliver an intensive amount of nourishing and therapeutic ingredients to your skin in a highly concentrated form. 

As they work by covering the face with the ingredients for a set time (usually 10 to 20 minutes), the masks trap moisture and ingredients that help to moisturize and hydrate the skin. This allows the ingredients to better penetrate the surface of the skin. 

Hydrating face masks should be used along with other effective skincare products to maintain healthy skin. Remember to choose one that has ingredients that are suitable for your skin.


Bottom Line

Hydrating face masks are formulated with ingredients that encourage moisture retention in the skin.

Hydrating masks are highly unlikely to cause irritation, however ingredients such as fragrances, preservatives and alcohol may trigger negative reactions for some. Avoid products containing these ingredients – especially if you have sensitive skin.

Professional hydrating mask products are easy to use and tend to provide more powerful results. Hydrating masks can also be made at home with natural ingredients, and carefully formulated to address your skin’s needs.

With love,

Coreenna Ong

Coreenna Ong

Co-founder and Head of Research

Ms Ong has more than 25 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, and production process development. She is currently the Head of Research and Development at aspurely skincare.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish, Nature’s Spa: DIY Beauty Treatments and Nature’s Treats: Recipes for Wellness, which are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed many readers’ skincare issues and concerns, offered beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.


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