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F is for Fabric: Why Hydrating Sheet Masks are SO Very Good

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hydrating sheet masks_moisturizing face masks_fabric treatment masks

Serum-soaked hydrating sheet masks aren't new. However, they're not on the skincare radar for most of us. Lotions and creams are standard, but moisturizing face masks seem weird, like beauty's freaky Freddy-Krueger face, and frankly a bit of a hassle. So why should we bother?

I'll tell you why: fabric treatment masks are highly effective ways of getting your thirsty or undernourished skin to absorb a therapeutic dose of what it needs in a short amount of time. In a way, hydrating sheet masks "force-feed" the skin.

Creams and lotions usually contain ingredients, such as silicone or petrolatum, that sit on the surface of the skin to prevent the nourishing elements in the formula from simply evaporating away. In effect they bind the skin-food ingredients to your face so they have nowhere to go but in.

Serum-infused hydrating sheet masks work the same way, but more so. First, you're dealing with a serum, which has smaller, more easily absorbed molecules than a cream or lotion. Second, the fabric is saturated with far more product than you'd apply from your regular bottle or jar of moisturizer. A cloth sheet mask is designed literally to blanket your face and ensure your skin absorbs as much serum goodness as it can -- to the max -- in about 15 minutes. As manicurist Madge would say, "you're soaking in it," without having to face-plant into a bowl of hydrating stuffs and maybe drown.

Olay Pro-X Sheet Mask_Olay Face Mask_Olay Professional Pro-X Intensive Firming Treatment Mask

Every skin type can benefit from a hydrating sheet mask, including oily skin. Hydrating is about upping your skin's water content, which then turns up the glow in your complexion. Frugal tip: After you've removed the mask from its packaging, pop the packet into a resealable plastic bag rather than throw it out. There'll likely be a fair amount of serum left in the bottom, which you can use up by applying it before your regular moisturizer every day/night until it's all gone.

When you use a mask is up to your skin and your lifestyle. You don't need one every day unless your skin needs an intensive week-long regimen to get back on track. Once a week is probably about right, or once a month if your skin needs less attention. As to time of day, maybe you're heading out for the evening and want your skin to look enviable. Or you're bizarrely organized and have extra time on your hands in the mornings before work.

Me, I likey before bedtime, so that after I unmask, I can add a light layer of moisturizer and wake up with a radiant complexion, as though I'd been doing something most excellent the night before. Like sleeping. After getting my freak on.

My favourites: Olay Professional Pro-X Intensive Firming Treatment Mask ($60/5 at drugstores) and Neostrata Intense Moisture Rescue Sheet Mask ($40/8, drugstores). Tip: warm the package between hands before opening and placing on face. Otherwise the masks will feel really chilly going on skin!