Question for the Expert: Do face masks really make a difference to your skin or is it only a temporary effect?

Asked by Jackie Murray

Answer:

There are so many face masks on the market and most have just a temporary effect, however there is are many exciting products coming on to the market that claim to make a long term difference. Traditionally skin masks were used for weekly deep cleansing, these have a temporary freshening and brightening effect.  Skin care is a multi billion pound industry and millions are being ploughed in to the latest technologies and ingredients to unlock the secret to anti-ageing.  The array is fascinating and for me, some don’t have a place on our shelves, such as nightingale droppings and the baby’s foreskins. Scientists are fighting to find the most potent anti-oxidants from nature to lure us into buying their latest developments.

There is no one individual product that will be the miracle cure but as part of a skin care regime and healthy diet, I believe that some of the new masks on the market will help.  If you look at the claims that companies make they are never specific, to give definite claims would put them alongside drug companies and require stringent testing with hundreds of participants in trials. I’m always surprised to find that many trials of some of the biggest beauty houses are performed on less than 100 people.   Interestingly, it is believed that collagen and hyaluronic acid can only work superficially as their molecules are too large to penetrate to the deeper levels. One of the key buzzwords is peptide, you hear it everywhere - peptides are chains of amino acids that have a molecular structure small enough to penetrate into the dermis, where new cells are formulated. There are questions as to whether even these can penetrate in sufficient amounts to actually make a difference. Most of the trials are done by cosmetic houses themselves and dermatologists can be scathing of the research. "The short answer is there isn't any evidence", says Stephen Shumack, the Honorary Secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. Shumack doubts that today's cosmeceuticals do anything different from yesterday's cosmetics. "Personally I would recommend people save their money for a nice holiday and use vaseline and sunscreen," says Shumack. I wonder if he has ever actually tried his recommendation, it certainly isn’t for me and I firmly believe that even a small amount of the right ingredients can play a part. 

I first trained in aromatherapy in 1978, at this point doctors said that using aromatherapy oils could not have any effect.  Aromatherapy is now main stream and the oils are readily accepted as being able to penetrate the skin.  Aromatherapy works on the basis of just a few drops of essential oil in a carrier oil, homeopathy works on minuscule amounts, so I would definitely give the new era of face mask with active ingredients the thumbs up. Ingredients to look for: For a dull skin Grape extract: dissolves the material that holds dead skin cells together. Cell renewal Palmitoyle pentapeptide: is said to synthesise collagen , Katafray bark: encourages the production of a protein essential to forming new cells - new cells retain more moisture, and Maple tree extract: acts as a humectant to draw moisture to the skin. For congested skin Glycolic and citric acids: to remove oil, dirt and dead cells.

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Kathryn Danzey

Written by: Kathryn Danzey, Anti-Ageing Expert