For many of us, self-care includes a focus on skin care. Our skin is our largest organ, so taking care of it is just as important as any other health and wellness self-care that we practice. Part of those practices often include face masks. There are many benefits of masking, but can you do it too much?
What Is The Skin, Exactly?
Our skin is made up of multiple different components - proteins, lipids, water, minerals, and chemicals. It is composed of a few different layers:
- The stratum corneum - This is the very outer layer of the skin, the one you can physically touch. It is actually made out of dead skin that has been pushed up from the layer right below it.
- The epidermis - The epidermis is the first layer of living skin cells, and it is also the thinnest. It is actually made up of four different, very thin layers - stratum germinativum, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, and stratum lucidum. All of these layers work together to protect the skin from the outside world, and is where skin cells like melanocytes (makes melanin, which helps determine skin color), keratinocytes (makes keratin, which makes the skin strong), and Langerhan cells (which help stop foreign bodies from getting in).
- The dermis - The dermis is the middle layer and is unfortunately the layer where wrinkles come from. It’s made up of hair follicles (and yes, the face has hair on it regardless of gender), blood vessels, fibroblasts (create collagen and elastin to keep the skin firm), and oil glands. The dermis also has the nerves that allow the skin to sense pain, temperature, and touch.
- The subcutis - Also known as the hypodermis or subcutaneous, this is the deepest layer of the skin. If the subcutis gets thin, the skin starts to sag and wrinkle. It conserves the body’s heat, protects the organs, and contains the sweat glands.
The Importance of Skin Care
You’re never too old or too young to develop good skin care practices.
In addition to the aesthetic reasons why people take care of their skin, skin care is important for a variety of other, health-based reasons.
As you’ve likely figured out, the entire purpose of our skin, whether on our arms, legs, face, or toes, is protection. The skin is what stops the external environment from impacting our insides too much, and also what keeps our insides from sneaking out! It’s literally the barrier between all of the essential things that make us human and all of the toxins and dangers of the outside world. It’s our shield.
Our skin exists in a permanent state of growth, constantly turning over old cells for new ones. In fact, it regenerates itself roughly every 27 days, giving us a chance every single month to do better at taking care of it.
What Impacts Our Skin?
Literally almost everything!
Every aspect of our lives has some type of impact on our skin. Obviously, the external environments that we spend time in make a huge difference. If we live in a city with a lot of pollution, we are likely in contact with more toxins and free radicals than those who live in the country. If we spend time outdoors, we’re subjecting our skin to more ultraviolet (UV rays) than people who spend more of their time indoors.
In addition, the way we eat and the amount of water we drink also is a major factor. Diets that include healthy, whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins lead to happier skin than diets with a lot of processed foods. Drinking water keeps the skin hydrated, so people who drink more water tend to have plumper, less crepey skin than those who are perpetually dehydrated.
The Benefits of Using Face Masks
There are so many benefits to using face masks that it’s difficult to pick just a few to focus on!
- Unclogs your pores - If you don’t take care of the skin on your face, the pores will start to become bogged down with dead skin cells, dirt, and all of the makeup and skin care products that haven’t been washed off appropriately. Using a face mask helps to clean out those pores, which not only keeps the skin healthy looking but also decreases the risk of acne caused by gunk in your skin (especially for those already prone to it).
- Helps with circulation - Certain face masks, especially those that you peel off, can help improve the circulation of blood in the face. Even the act of scrubbing off a dried face mask stimulates the tiny blood vessels under the skin, which expand and create radiance through increased oxygen flow. That’s where those rosy cheeks come from after you mask!
- Relaxation - We’d be remiss not to mention one of the most important benefits of using face masks isn’t actually a facial benefit at all! Masks allow you to take time out for self care, which is so essential to maintaining your mental health. Put on a mask, light a candle to help promote good vibes, draw yourself a warm bath, and spend that time focusing on yourself. You deserve a time out from life, and you’ll come out of that time not only looking better but feeling better as well.
- Helps reduce the side effects of wearing a mask - If you have to wear a face mask for protection most of your day, you’ve likely noticed some of the side effects. There’s even a name for it: maskne. Maskne is caused by the constant friction and pressure caused by the material of the mask on the face, but using skin care masks as recommended can help improve some of those issues. We all need to wear masks to keep us safe, but that doesn’t mean you need to deal with the negative side effects on your skin.
Unfortunately, despite all of their amazing benefits, using face masks too often can actually harm your skin. Using them more than once or twice a week can dry out the skin. While face masks usually contain plenty of moisturizing ingredients, too much of it starts to disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier. Think of it as similar to how your skin gets all pruney if you spend too much time in the bath. You really can have too much of a good thing.
What Else Can I Do For Facial Self-Care?
In addition to regularly using face masks, there are a few more tips that anyone can use to help make their skin as radiant and healthy as possible.
Facial rollers are one popular skin care option that is not only effective but easy to use. Choosing a facial roller that also makes use of crystals known for their healing benefits, like sodalite, can further ramp up those benefits.
Rolling the skin helps to keep the skin looking firm and youthful. The addition of sodalite adds healing, soothing properties as well.
Proper skin cleansing is also important. According to most dermatologists, a good skin care routine should include three things - cleansing, toning, and moisturizing.
- Cleansing - Cleansing is the physical act of washing your face. Be gentle when washing it and resist the urge to scrub. Use lukewarm instead of hot water, a cleanser without a lot of fragrance, and pat dry instead of rubbing.
- Toning - Toning helps to “balance” the skin. It helps further remove dead skin cells, balances the pH, shrinks the pores, and starts to rehydrate the skin after cleansing. It also creates an even cleaner canvas for the next step.
- Moisturizing - Moisturizing hydrates and softens the skin. When purchasing a moisturizer, look for one with a high water content, humectants (lactic acid is a good one) that help draw more water into the skin, and emollients (like jojoba oil) that smooths the skin.
And finally, to maintain great skin, make sure that you always wear sunscreen. Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach! Wearing it regularly can help reduce the risk of skin cancer, prevent premature aging, and protect you from the pain of a sunburn. Include it as part of your morning skin care routine, and reapply frequently if you spend regular time out in direct sunlight.
To further protect your skin, wear a hat when you go out as well! With thousands of people dying every year from melanoma, which is often preventable, you’ll not only look your best but also increase your odds of living a long, healthy life.
Face masks are an excellent way to help maintain facial self care, but they’re not the only way!
In addition to using masks once or twice a week, you should also invest in a good face roller and develop a quality skin care routine.
Our skin is our largest organ, and we should always protect and take care of it just as much as it protects and takes care of us!