Have You Been Using Leave-on Masks Wrong All This Time?

All your overnight mask myths, debunked

Myth 1: I can use a leave-on mask nightly as an SOS treatment.

Truth: You can have too much of a good thing. “Generally, masks are not meant for everyday use,” advises Dr Heng Wee Soon, medical practitioner at IDS Clinic. “Excessive use will reduce the effectiveness of the masks and may cause skin irritation and breakouts.” When in doubt, go by the usage instructions on the packaging. 

Myth 2: I’ll use a leave-on mask under my makeup instead of a moisturiser because my skin is very dry.

Truth: Though most leave-on masks work by locking moisture into skin and contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than moisturisers, they should only be applied on thoroughly cleansed skin. Best used after exfoliation, so the active ingredients are absorbed better. After your usual skincare routine, apply a thin layer of your chosen overnight mask as the last step. 

Myth 3: I’m going to use an overnight mask with multiple benefits so I won’t apply any of my usual skincare products before.

Truth: You shouldn’t skip your toners and serums. “Overnight masks complement and enhance other aspects of a skincare regimen, and should not be used alone,” says Dr Heng. Dr Georgia Lee, director of TLC Lifestyle Practice, adds “Toners act as a supplementary cleansing step; some have additional benefits such as oil control. Serums also exert another layer of functionality. Both should not be cut out of your routine.”

Myth 4: There are different masks for different skin types, so there’s one for everyone.

Truth: It’s important to understand your skin type and pick products that will work for you. Unfortunately, Dr Lee says that overnight masks are not suitable for everyone, especially those who are prone to acne.

Myth 5: It’ll work better if I leave it on for longer.

Truth: You might think you’re getting more out of your mask by leaving it on, but be sure to check the ingredients list first. “Depending on the formulation, key humectant ingredients such as glycerine and sorbitol can cause skin to dry out when left on for long periods of time — they start drawing out moisture from the skin instead,” says Dr Lee. “Ingredients such as peptides and essential oil extracts can also cause bumps, clogs and breakouts when left on skin for prolonged periods.”

Photo: Imaxtree

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