My Skin Care Routine Part 3: Masks, Spot Remedies, & Weekly Treatments
If someone had told my 16-year-old self that one day I’d have a skin care routine so extravagant that I’d have to write it up in 3 separate articles, I’d have laughed in their face. Then I would have touched up my crazy eyeliner and snuck off campus for lunch in the trunk of some senior’s car, or maybe had a cigarette in the girl’s bathroom. Yeah, I was a bad teen. But I did wear sunscreen every day, and here I am now, decades later, thanking my younger self for making at least one good decision, and also typing up part 3 of my elaborate skin care routine. For anyone just joining me, I’ve also detailed my daily morning and evening routines, which can be found here:
For part 3 of my skin care routine breakdown, I’m detailing the masks, spot remedies, and weekly treatments I use regularly. This includes products such as sleeping packs, sheet masks, rinse-off masks, and acid treatments. I’ll be listing some of my favorite “go-to” products for each category, as well as the rationale behind their inclusion. Unlike the products in my morning and evening skin care routines, I don’t have any “baseline” products for these categories. I do have favorites though, and I’ll be marking my favorite for each category with an asterisk (*).
My Skin Type & Concerns
My skin type is dry. I would characterize it as somewhat sensitive, though it’s nowhere near as sensitive as it used to be. A year ago I could barely tolerate any acids (BHA, AHA), and now those are my go-to actives.
I am highly prone to hormonal acne, especially along my jawline, and I am also very prone to hyperpigmentation. I get red marks from even the tiniest closed comedones, and without product assistance, they will linger anywhere from 4 to 12 months.
Without disclosing my exact age online, I am closer to 40 than I am to 30. I don’t have any issues with wrinkles. I have some fine lines beginning to develop in my eye area. I don’t have any visible sun damage.
My goals for my skin care routine, regardless of what products I’m using, are to maximize the overall health of my skin, achieve an even skin tone and texture, and prevent the effects of aging. For my masks and treatments, I look for products that accelerate the healing active acne, moisturize, brighten, or speed up the lightening of any hyperpigmentation spots I might have.
Masks, Spot Remedies, and Weekly Treatments
Sleeping Packs / Overnight Masks
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: of all the product types introduced to me via the world of Asian skin care, sleeping packs are the product revelation I adore the most. I have naturally dry skin and a limitless love of sleep, so overnight masks are a skin care dream come true.
I look for overnight masks that have moisturizing and soothing qualities above all else. My expectations for a high performing sleeping pack is that I will wake up with moisturized, calm skin with no redness or puffiness. Bonus points for any long or short-term brightening effects.
I use a sleeping pack at least 3 times a week. I find them especially helpful if I’ve overdone it with an acid or if the air is really dry (I use them up to 5 times a week in the winter). Some people like to use a sleeping pack in lieu of a moisturizing cream, but I personally still use a night cream on nights when I use an overnight mask. I’ll apply the moisturizing cream with the rest of my evening routine, and the sleeping pack just a few minutes before I climb into bed. I like to do some general mindless internetting for about 10 minutes to allow the sleeping pack to fully absorb before my head hits the pillow. Nobody likes a sticky pillow.
My favorite sleeping packs include:
Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask*
This is a recent favorite, and is currently the reigning champion over all my other sleeping packs. Using this sleeping pack keeps my skin looking smoother, calmer, softer, and brighter, and it smells exactly like fresh ginger. You can read my full review of it here.
Where to Buy: You can find this Sulwhasoo mask on the Neiman Marcus website, where it retails for $50.
This cream is also available at W2Beauty for $46. First time W2Beauty customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up: 025605.
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask (US) / Water Sleeping Pack EX (S. Korea)
I waited an embarrassingly long time to try this sleeping pack. You know how sometimes a TV show will get really popular, and all your friends try to strongarm you into watching it, but the more they pressure you, the more you don’t want to see it? I had a similar experience with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.
I eventually decided I needed to try it for myself, and you know what? It lived up to the hype. I get it now. This sleeping mask is amazing. Its texture is light and watery, and it provides an immense amount of hydration without feeling greasy or sticky. It smells super fresh, absorbs quickly, and plays nicely with my other skin care products. When I wake up after using this mask, my skin feels smooth, plump, toned, and hydrated.
Where to Buy: In the US, you can find the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask at Target, which recently started carrying most of the Laneige line (hooray!). It retails for $23.
You can also find it on W2Beauty, where it goes by its original Korean name, Laneige Water Sleeping Pack EX. It retails for $33. First time W2Beauty customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up: 025605.
Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask
This is the sleeping mask that made me love sleeping masks. It’s a thick, rich cream, most suitable for drier skin types. It makes my skin feel very soft and fully moisturized when I wake up, but with no greasiness. It is strongly fragranced, but I love the way it smells. The scent reminds me of cucumbers and jasmine. You can find my full review of it here.
Where to Buy: You can find this Missha Sleeping Mask on eBay from seller RiniShop for $17.
You can also find it on W2Beauty, where it retails for $26. First time W2Beauty customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up: 025605.
My interest in sheet masks tends to ebb and flow. Sometimes I’ll do one every day for a month, other times I’ll forego them for weeks on end. I use them a lot more often in the winter or when my skin is irritated or misbehaving. When I use them, I look for sheet masks that are soothing, and help with redness, and add extra moisture to my routine.
Here are my all time favorites:
Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Mask*
This is the sheet mask I reach for the most. It’s not as moisturizing as my other favorites, but I love how it calms any facial redness I have, and reduces any inflammation I might be experiencing from active acne. It’s also extremely soothing.
Where to Buy: eBay seller I am Love Shop offers a 10 pack of the Snail Bee High Content Sheet Masks for $17.
Klair’s Soothing Moisture Mask
I used the Klair’s Soothing Moisture Mask a lot this past winter. It’s a really soothing, hydrating boost of humectant moisture, and when my skin is parched from the dry air that comes with central heat, this mask plumps it back to life. I also think this mask would work wonders for skin that’s been in the sun all day, though that’s just a hypothesis. I can’t remember the last time I spent all day in the sun. What can I say? I’m an indoor lady.
Where to Buy: You can find the Klair’s Soothing Moisture Mask on Wishtrend, which offers it for $2 a mask.
You can also buy a 10 pc. pack of these masks from eBay seller trend_wish (Wishtrend’s eBay presence) for $27.
My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird’s Nest Mask
In general, you really can’t go wrong with a My Beauty Diary Mask. I have so many MBD favorites, and they change on a whim. I didn’t want My Beauty Diary not to get a mention just because I can’t decide on a favorite, so I’m picking the one I last fell in love with. The Imperial Bird’s Nest Mask is both moisturizing and brightening. I saw some immediate temporary brightening with my first use, but I also experienced some longer term brightening when I went on a 20 day spree with this mask back in November. If you’ve never tried a My Beauty Diary sheet mask, The Imperial Bird’s Nest Mask is a great place to start.
Where to Buy: You can find My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird’s Nest Masks on Amazon for $13. They are available for Prime shipping.
I have a weekly ritual for my rinse off masks. I’m generally a night showerer, but I skip it on Friday night specifically so I can wake up and do a face mask on Saturday morning, then shower afterward. Most of the time the sink just doesn’t cut it for a rinse-off mask, and I wind with water all over my bathroom and/or a sink full of clay. If I have the luxury of free time for a face mask two days in a row, I’ll do a different one on Sunday.
I have a shamefully large collection of rinse-off masks. Surprisingly, I use every single one of them. They all have their place and time to shine. Some are great for moisturizing and reducing redness, others do a fantastic job calming active acne or drawing the contents of a pimple to the surface, while others serve to exfoliate. Some temporarily brighten my skin tone, some make my skin appear smoother, and some just seem to give me an overall radiance that’s visible but difficult to pinpoint. I had a really hard time paring down my list of favorites to only three, but in the end, I chose the three that I reach for most often:
Skinfood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask*
I am generally more of a chemical exfoliation kind of gal, but I do have a weakness for an amazing sugar scrub. This one in particular is so spectacular that after the first time I used it, I was a little pissed that no one told me about it before. Then I fought the urge to run into a public place with it, like the mall or a major airport, and hold it up to people’s faces as I shook them by the collar and screamed, “MY GOD, HAVE YOU SMELLED THIS? IT SMELLS JUST LIKE STRAWBERRY PRESERVES! IT’S LIKE EXFOLIATING WITH STRAWBERRY PRESERVES!” I was able to restrain myself, and instead I just bought 10 of them and then passed them out to everyone who I thought would enjoy it. I don’t want to be the girl that didn’t tell anybody about this scrub.
I use it 2 or 3 times a week, but it’s a struggle. I want to use it every day, but my skin really doesn’t need that much manual exfoliation. The Strawberry Black Sugar Mask is less abrasive than its cousin, the regular Skinfood Black Sugar Mask. It also smells better – I personally think the original Black Sugar Mask smells a little bit like a dryer fire.
To use the Strawberry Black Sugar Mask I apply it to damp, freshly cleansed skin, and spread it around. You’re supposed to leave it on for 10 minutes, and I try to do this as often as I can, but I frequently wind up skipping the wait time and using this product as a regular old facial scrub. The only difference is that it’s less abrasive if I wait 10 minutes. My skin looks amazing either way.
Where to Buy: You can find the Skinfood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask on Amazon from seller Package go Fast, where it retails for $10.
You can also get it from eBay seller Ruby Ruby Shop for $15.
Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant
On the opposite end of the smell spectrum, we have Masque Vivant by Biologique Recherche. This mask is a thick, brown, paste made from fermented yeast, and that’s exactly what it smells like. I always see people describe the smell negatively, using words such as “weird,” “stink,” and “strange.” I personally think it smells exactly like Marmite, which I happen to like (with butter on toast points, please), so it actually makes me kind of hungry. It contains lots of B vitamins and amino acids, and I find that it does a wonderful job moisturizing, brightening, and calming my skin. It’s said to be best for combination, oily, or dull skin. My own skin is dry, but I get great results with this mask. It’s a particular favorite of mine around that time of the month, when my hormones get wonky and my skin pays the price.
Where to Buy: I get all my Biologique Recherche Products from either Rescue Spa or Vicki Morav. This mask retails for $61. Both retailers have excellent product knowledge, incredibly fast shipping, and send a crazy amount of samples with your order. Vicki Morav also offers a 10% discount for orders of $150 or more with the code Happy2014.
Shea Terra Organics Moroccan Lava & Camel’s Milk Nomadic Secret Face Masque
A large portion of my rinse-off mask collection is comprised of Shea Terra Organics masks. Shea Terra makes some really amazing ghassool clay masks, which are terrific for active acne. I have nearly every mask that Shea Terra makes, but this one is easily my favorite of the bunch. It contains camel’s milk powder, which contains vitamins as well as lactic acid. This mask has a lovely brightening effect, and it makes me skin feel soft, even, and smooth when I use it.
To use it, I mix a little of the powdered mask in a ramekin with a little rose water. I smear it over my face, wait 15-20 minutes for it to dry, then wash it off in the shower.
Where to Buy: You can find this mask on the Shea Terra Organics website. It retails for $28, but if you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get a monthly 30% off coupon code. This month’s 30% off coupon code is June2014.
I use a weekly AHA acid treatment in addition to my daily acid toner and BHA. It makes a huge visible difference in my overall skin quality, and accelerates the lightening of any PIH I have at an impressive pace.
Paula’s Choice Resist 10% AHA Weekly Resurfacing Treatment*
There’s only one weekly acid treatment I use, and I’m extremely loyal to it. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s the Paula’s Choice 10% AHA Weekly Resurfacing Treatment. I rave about it often because it’s so effective. If I had to pick my top 5 products that changed my skin most dramatically, this would definitely be on that list.
To use it, I apply it in the evening for my acid step in lieu of the BHA. Then I wait for 20-25 minutes and continue my skin care routine as usual, minus my BHA and retinoid. I should probably skip my acid toner too, but I usually don’t (I have a fairly high tolerance for acids these days). You can find my full review for this product here.
Where to Buy: I get my Resist 10% AHA Weekly Resurfacing Treatment from the Paula’s Choice website, where it retails for $30. New customers can use my referral link to receive $10 off your first order.
My spot treatments are all over the place, and the one I choose on a given night depends entirely on what my skin needs at the time. Sometimes I need spot treatments for active acne spots, and other times I want a spot treatment for PIH. I’ve tried a lot of different spot treatments, but only a few have worked well enough for me to keep purchasing them.
For active acne spots, I like:
Paula’s Choice Resist BHA 9*
This stuff is fantastic. It has a higher concentration of BHA than Paula’s other liquid exfoliators, but it’s housed in a sustained release, non-drying, anti-inflammatory formula. I get all the wonderful benefits of a high % BHA product without any of the irritation. If I’m dealing with a standard, run-of-the-mill, non-cystic pimple, 2 night of BHA 9 is usually enough to reduce it to a flat, impotent, nearly empty, spot. I’ve tried it on cystic pimples as well, and though it helped with some of the swelling and redness, the cystic breakouts still healed at their same old excruciatingly slow pace. I still wouldn’t be caught without my BHA 9 though. For regular breakouts, this stuff is magic.
For PIH or any discoloration, I like:
Ciracle Red Spot White Serum*
I can’t wait to do my full review of this serum – the before & after pictures I have for this stuff is amazing. My second bottle is on its way to me now and it can’t get here fast enough. This Vitamin C based serum lightened some particularly heinous PIH marks on my chin in almost record time. I find that the formula is too strong to use all over my face like a regular serum (possibly because of its alcohol content), but as a spot treatment it’s phenomenal for my PIH.
Where to Buy: You can this serum from eBay seller Ruby Ruby Shop for $28.
You can also find it on Wishtrend, where it sells for $39.
Masks, Spot Remedies, and Weekly Treatments Summary of Favorites
Sleeping Pack / Overnight Mask
Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask ($50)
Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Mask ($17 for 10 pcs.)
Skinfood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask ($10)
Weekly Acid Treatment
Paula’s Choice Resist 10% AHA Weekly Resurfacing Treatment ($30)
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