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In a perfect world, where cinnamon scrolls and chocolate croissants appear daily in letterboxes free from sugar and actual calories and children learn to change their own nappies at birth, I’d have time for a facial every month. There was a time when this was the case. Oh those heady days of endless time on the weekends and a permanent income to support spending an hour or two being cleansed, steamed and masqued. They were good times. Gloriously good skinned times. Fast forward to today and while I do try and schedule in a facial on a semi-regular basis, it doesn’t always pan out that way.

I’m well and truly aware of how important it is to take time out to take care of myself but finding the magical combination of aforementioned time AND the spare funds to afford a bit of pampering isn’t always a reality. That being said however, I’m still VERY thingy about my skin and want to keep it looking and feeling as awesome as possible. I’ve rambled on before about my theories on the time and cost saving benefits of great skin but just to reiterate (cos I love ramming a point home), the better your skin, the less imperfections will be present. This = less makeup and less time in front of the mirror as you’ll simply be able to swish on some tinted moisturiser and be doneski’s for the day. This is one of the reasons I prefer to invest more money in my skincare as opposed to my makeup.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your existing cleanse/moisturise routine is by adding in a weekly (or fortnightly.. or monthly) face mask. Think of it like a mega vitamin pill for your face. The right face mask goes beyond your standard nourishing/hydrating/brightening/tightening/mattifying face cream to deliver a whole heap of concentrated good stuff, right where you need it most. This is due to the intensive ingredients used to formulate the mask, pared with the fact that it spends an extended period of time in contact with your skin.

My favourite way to really utilise all the benefits is by popping on my chosen mask after cleansing and before hopping in the bath. All that steam helps those delicious ingredients penetrate even further into your skin and being out of action means you can leave the thing on for the required time, without needing to dash off, frantically wiping away the thick layer so carefully applied, and attend to a small child who has managed to release the dog out the front door and into the wider street at large (or does that just happen in my house)?

The mask you choose to use really depends on two things..1) your skin type and 2) what you’re hoping to achieve. Your skin type determines the formulation you use (cream/cloth/gel for example) while your desired result (brightening/deep cleansing/pigmentation reversal/anti-ageing etc) helps point you in the direction of the right product.

Here are my picks for the best in a bunch of different categories. I always like to have a few different types of mask handy so that I’m covered, no matter what my skin throws at me. I’ve used ALL of these (not all that once) and can vouch for their awesomeness!

Brightening/Radiance Boosters

A’Kin Multi-Fruit & Willow Bark Instant Radiance Facial Masque, $29.95

Formulation: Cream
Great for: All skin types in need of a boost. (though really sensitive skins should patch test first).
Result: Instant radiance boost. Ideal for using before a special event/night out (remember those fellow mamas?)

– The Jojoba Company Skin Refining & Brightening Face Mask, $49.95

Formulation: Cream
Great for: Normal to oily skin types.
Result: Tightening and brightening. The formulation helps refine skin tone and help even out things like age spots and darkened freckles.

SkinVitals C-Brighten with Vitamin C + Ginger, $3.99 single/$9.99 3 pack

Formulation: Cloth
Great for: All skin types
Result: Instant hydration and radiance. The combo of ginger and vitamin C ‘peps up’ tired skin on contact. One of my favourites!

Radiance Boosting Face Masks

Whitening/Pigmentation

Don’t be afraid by the word ‘whitening’ in the title. Skin ‘whitening’ simply refers to eradicating pigmentation or ‘dark spots’ on the skin. Dark patches (usually due to sun damage or hormonal changes, like pregnancy) have been found to be one of the primary factors in making skin look older than it actually is. Clear, uniform skin tone on the other hand usually equals a youthful looking complexion (regardless of things like wrinkles interestingly enough!)

 – SkinVitals A-Whiten, $3.99 single/ $9.99 3 pack

Formulation: Cloth
Great for: Mild pigmentation/dark spot and all skin types
Result: While a single use will help boost illumination levels, regular use will help improve mild to moderate pigmentation.

– Shiseido White Lucent Power Brightening Mask, $87 6 pack

Formulation: Cloth
Great for:
Moderate pigmentation. All skin types
Result: A single use will help boost radiance levels and leave skin looking exceptionally ‘glowy’. Regular use will help lighten pigmentation, especially pigmentation that is concentrated into a small area.

Whitening Face Masks

 Hydrating

 – SK-II Facial Treatment Masks – $28 single/ $140 6 pack

Formulation: Cloth
Great for: Lacklustre skin that needs a boost. All skin types.
Result: The creme de la creme of cloth facial masks. There’s not much SK-II can’t do. I used these weekly before my wedding and my skin was ridiculously smooth and glowing. Ideal for boosting hydration and radiance in the one hit.

 – Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, $50

Formulation: Cream
Great for: Dry skin in need of some TLC. Also great for oily, irritated types (due to the antibacterial Manuka honey content)
Result: Great for skin that’s acting all fragile but can’t make up its mind i.e. when you’re a bit dry BUT also battling a couple of pimples. Intensively hydrating and nourishing while also great for treating blemishes.

– Avene Instant Soothing Moisture Mask, $41.95

Formulation: Cream
Great for: Sensitive, irritated skin in need of hydration and restoration.
Result: Intensely soothing and hydrating, this thick cream is ideal for skin that’s irritated and scratchy. I’ve used this during and after long haul flights with great success, as well as on skin that’s been flared up by environmental concerns (sunburn/windburn etc).

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Acne treating

 – DMK Acu-Masque, $70.50

Formulation: Clay
Great for: Pimples! Acne prone skin but also suitable for sensitive types (I use it on my sensitive skin without any issues)
Result: While I don’t always have issues with acne, I can be prone to the odd breakout, especially during pregnancy. This thick clay is a bit of a miracle worker, opening pores and clearing congestion while absorbing excess oils and dissolving dead skin cells. I generally use this on the ‘oilier’ parts of my face (my forehead, nose and chin) to help treat and prevent pimples, or if I have a single, stubborn spot, dab it directly on to it and leave it overnight.

Natio Spa Green Clay Face Mask, $12.95

Formulation: Clay
Great for: Normal skin prone to the odd breakout
Result: Effective without being drying, this green clay based product is great for otherwise average skin prone to the odd breakout or attack of oiliness.

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