Face mask chemistry 101

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I’ve fond memories of school chemistry – flunking it that is. Not knowing my beaker from my burette, accidentally tipping over the Bunsen burner and scorching my lab partner/eyebrows/teacher and struggling to remember that endless table of elements, I thought I’d never need chemistry once I left school.

Turns out I use it every day of my life – smearing and smudging it all over my face in fact. And so let me present today’s chemistry lesson: my favourite tried and tested face masks.

Spa Sanctuary 5 Minute Detox Thermal Face Mask

If you are of a certain age (ahem), you’ll remember the weekly coalman delivering fuel door to door. That may have been 20-odd years ago now and yet here I am revisiting its sooty cousin, charcoal – but this time liberally spreading it all over my face in the name of beauty.

Spa Sanctuary’s 5 Minute Detox is a thick, grey mask that self-heats once applied to the skin. The heat helps open up the pores so the charcoal and kaolin clay can help draw out the impurities. The instructions advise leaving it on for five minutes, but I have been known to sit through an entire episode of Girls (21 minutes FYI) without it doing my skin a disservice. In fact, once rinsed off my skin feels fresh, clean and incredibly smooth.

Mario Badescu Silver Powder

I’ve been a long-time fan of products from Mario Badescu – the New York-based chemist turned skincare specialist. I suffered with adult acne in my early twenties and turned to his products to help clear up my skin. One of my all-time favourites is his silver powder for those stubborn enlarged pores. This really is a chemistry miracle in a pot – the combination of calcium carbonate, kaolin and zinc oxide help draw out excess oil and nasty blackheads.

I use the silver powder once or twice a week by tipping a small amount into my palm and adding a little water to make a paste before applying to any congested areas. After 10 minutes, remove with a toner for visibly reduced pores. Swoon!

Dr Hauschka Cleansing Clay Mask

This is my all-time favourite mask. I’ve been using it for 15 years and a tub of the stuff lasts forever. The Cleansing Clay mask uses a combination of loess clay with witch hazel extract to draw out impurities.

Dr Hauschka recommends using the mask after steaming the face as the pores are open and leaving it on for about 10 minutes. But if you are a pore totalitarian like me, mix the clay with a little of the Dr Hauschka toner, leave on for 20 minutes and literally watch those pores shrink before your very eyes. Pores, I will defeat you!

What are you favourite face masks?



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