How to stay warm but look cool: The 11 best beauty cures for your winter blues!

Feeling low? You are not alone. According to research, this is the most depressing time of the year. It’s cold, it’s grey and those holier-than-thou resolutions are laughing in our face. So, we could really use something to beat the blues right now.

Right?

So, come with me and let the smiling begin!

beauty-winter-mood-boostersTry the “happiness molecule”

Euphoryl – a molecule developed by Laboratoires Sérobiologiques – has the beauty world abuzz with its mood boosting promises. It is said to stimulate the production of dopamine and endorphins, which promote happiness, energy and sex appeal. An easy way to get your fix? The Physician’s Formula Happy Booster Blush ($10). Forget the science bit – the pretty pink hearts have us feeling more cheerful already.

Take a decadent dip

Bubble baths will warm you up mentally and physically. Especially when coupled with Champagne and some cozy tunes. No time for the tub? Fill a bowl with warm water and a squirt of bath gel. Soak hands only, palms up, while you feel the stress slipping away from your whole body.

Armed with aromatherapy

One of the best beauty cures for winter blues lies in the world of aromatherapy. Fruity scents – such as lemon and watermelon – are usually associated with the happiest, most carefree times in our lives, like summertime and vacations. Plus, the scent of fruit sends your body a message to release certain chemicals that create a state of blissful relaxation. So, create your own blend of cheery scents with a mix of essential oils or try a pre-blended product: use a citrus body cleanser or face wash like Soap & Glory’s Sugar Crush Sweet Lime Body Wash ($12) or stash a lusciously scented body lotion in your desk drawer.

Slather chocolate all over

The smell of chocolate releases seratonin in the brain, which works as a natural antidepressant. Give yourself an at-home chocolate massage, scrub or shower with these easy recipes or order up a scrumptious off-the-shelf treat. A couple of feel good finds? Hershey’s Cocoa Bath Set ($20) or The Body Shop’s Chocomania Scrub ($14).

winter beauty productsColor therapy

It’s said the right colour can turn a frown upside down so opt for bright hues. Result: an instant jolt of energy. The easiest switch is a red lipstick, whose association with fun and sexy times is full of positive energy.

The taste test

Something as simple as a new lip gloss in a flavour you love can bring out the cheerful! Citrus ones get bonus points for their uplifting aroma.

Show some massage love

A stress-busting massage sends messages to your brain, triggering the release of feel good chemicals that produce a sense of relaxation and well being. And that’s not all: massage also improves blood circulation, steps up lymphatic drainage, relaxes the muscles and boosts the immune system.

Embrocation creams

Sometimes, there is nothing more depressing as having to pile on layers and layers of heavy woollens to keep the cold at bay. Imagine how much time would be saved if we could skip the whole put-on-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat and then take-off-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat and then put-on-thermal-and-pullover-and-tights-and-coat-all-over-again four times a day? And what when that cute cocktail dress really, REALLY demands bare legs? When it’s freezing outside?

Then you turn to embrocation creams – the stuff those cute spandex-shorts-clad cyclists use to trick their legs into thinking its 30 degrees warmer outside. Embrocation creams call upon blends of circulation-boosting ingredients like clove, capsica, peppermint and menthol to create a long lasting sensation of warmth that means bare legs can take the streets even in the dead of winter. Added bonus: the shea butter base hydrates winter-worn skin and gives it a super-sexy gleam. Happiness much? Look for DZnuts In-Heat Embrocation ($19.10) or Chamois Butt’r Hot Embrocation ($16.80).

Happy hair

Your hair products go a long way in deciding how you are feeling. That’s because skin absorbs upto 60% of what we put on it, and the scalp has some of the most fragile skin anywhere on the body. So, choose your ingredients carefully and sail through the day cocooned in bliss. Mint and menthol-spiked hair products offer the perfect wakeup call, and will leave you refreshed. Seeking comfort? Lemongrass and tea tree oil create a slightly warming sensation, which combines with their aromatherapy qualities to relax the scalp muscles and make you feel calmer.

Love winter? Loathe winter? How do YOU cope with winter?

17 beauty products that have been around for more than 100 years!

Which brand would you trust more? One that’s been around for just a few years? Or one that’s been around for a few centuries? Of course, the lure of the new, the shiny, the technologically state of art is massive but remember that brands that have stood the time have done so for a reason: They are already so perfect that nobody felt the need to tinker with their formula at all. And they still continue to sell… often, outpacing their younger rivals by acres of competence, efficacy and well proven results.

These then, right here, are the world’s oldest beauty products. And don’t be fooled by appearances… they may have donned new robes on the outside but inside are the same classic formulas that have been around for a 100 years or more!

Each one is a cult formula that everyone should try at least once.

Santa Maria Novella Acqua della Regina, 1533

Literally the world’s oldest continuously existing pharmacy, Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is now well into its eighth century.

Yes, eighth century.

Like. 800. Years.

The Florentine institution was constituted by Dominican friars in the early 1200s to make medications, balms and pomades from herbs grown in the monastery’s gardens. As its reputation spread, Santa Maria Novella caught the attention of Catherine de’ Medici. Acqua della Regina, the signature scent created in 1533 for her marriage to Henry II, the future king of France, remains one of the best selling products for the pharmacy till date.

santa-mariaOther ancient notables that go back centuries include Acqua di Rose (rosewater), Alkermes liqueur and Elisir di China (post-dinner digestif). Most of the flowers and herbs are still sourced from the monastic garden. And you can still browse the shelves of the old pharmacy in Florence – part of which is one of the most gorgeous beauty boutiques in the world.

Farina Eau de Cologne, 1709

Farina didn’t just invent a single fragrance, it invented an entire category that continues to rule the shelves and our hearts till today. It was the Italian born and bred Giovanni Maria Farina who first created Eau de Cologne, as an attempt to recapture the sensory soul of his hometown while living in Germany. His exact words, in a letter to his brother: “I have found a fragrance that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils and orange blossoms after the rain.”

The fragrance was composed with the essential oils of lemon, bergamot, tangerine, orange, neroli and grapefruit married with dashes of tobacco, petit grain, lavender, jasmine, thyme and rosemary. It immediately caught the fancy of a populace that was desperately trying to subdue the not-so-pleasant aroma of unwashed bodies and wanted something crisp and fresh, rather than the heavy, musky fragrances of the time. Farina named the composition after Cologne, the city of his residence, and was soon supplying to every royal family across the world. And it was worth a pretty penny: one vial cost the equivalent of half the year’s wage of a civil servant!

Yardley London Lavender Soap, 1770

Yardley may be innocuous today but it’s the oldest registered beauty brand in the world. In fact, records show that even though the company was officially founded in 1770, its story actually began in the 1600s, when King Charles I granted a young man the concession to supply all the soap for the City of London.

Sadly, the particulars were lost in the Great Fire of 1666. Only one detail remained: the key ingredient in Yardley London’s soaps was lavender, known for its soothing properties. Till today, there is a special species of lavender – Lavandula augustifolia – that is exclusively grown for Yardley London in the South of England. No wonder the brand continues to enjoy royal patronage, with Kate Middleton being the latest purveyor.

Bonus fact: In 1971, Yardley sponsored the British Racing Motors team in the Formula 1 Grand Prix. In 1972 the company moved on to McLaren, which it sponsored till 1974.

Pears Soap, 1807

Founded by Andrew Pears in 1789 as a barber’s studio in SoHo, London, Pears was originally reserved for a very exclusive set of peers and nobles. In 1807 (that’s almost 210 years back, people!) came the world’s first transparent soap bar, which was initially billed as an ‘English Complexion Soap’, due to its ultra-gentle formula comprising of glycerin and other natural products. It took three months to make (still does!) and won the prize for soap at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

pears-soap-historyThayers Original Witch Hazel, 1847

Thayers has been a household name ever since Dr. Henry Thayer created his proprietary witch hazel extract. What set it apart from a slew of businesses that were capitalising on the multifarious benefits of this shrub was that Thayer’s extract was made from non-distilled witch hazel, thereby maintaining the highest quality of therapeutic tannins. Till today, more than 150 years later, few facial toners can compete with the skin boosting properties of this non-alcoholic astringent.

thayers-historyBourjois Little Round Pot Blush, 1863

In 1863, Parisian actor Joseph-Albert Ponsin created the world’s first powder blush based on a complex recipe: carefully combine a measured amount of of powder, water and mother-of-pearl, mix delicately, pour into rounded moulds and put in the oven to bake. Now, 150 years later, the little round pot of Bourjois blusher has gone beyond stage makeup to become one of the brand’s bestselling lines. And for collectors who just can’t resist those original iconic Little Round Pots, Bourjois regularly launches limited edition vintage series.

bourjois-historyPenhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet, 1872

As a brand that has not one but four of its original blends on the shelves more than a century later, it’s not a surprise that Penhaligon’s has received a number of royal warrants over the years. The perfumery was founded by William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornish barber who moved to London and set up shop on Jermyn Street in the late 1860s. His first fragrance was Hammam Bouquet, inspired by the heady aromas emanating from the Turkish bath next door.

Hammam Bouquet remains a customer favourite till date, along with Blenheim Bouquet (crafted in 1902 as a bespoke fragrance for the Duke of Malborough), English Fern and Douro (both 1911). Happily for lovers of history, even William Penhaligon’s bottle design remains largely unchanged, with the flash of ribbon taking us back down memory lane to the England of Queen Victoria.

penhaligons-historyVaseline, 1872

Would you believe that oil wells can be fashionable? In the hands of Robert Chesebrough, that’s a resounding yes. Cheseborough founded Vaseline when he was prospecting for oil at Titusville, Pennsylvania. The observation that oil rig workers used “rod wax” – the drill residue – to heal cuts and minor burns caught the chemist’s imagination. He then spent the better part of a decade refining the rod wax to the clear, white petroleum jelly that became Vaseline. The name came from a combination of the German wasser (water) and Greek oleon (oil).

However, drugstore owners were unimpressed and so Cheseborough took to the road, advertising the wares himself. The modus operandi? He would inflict wounds on his own body and spread Vaseline on the affected areas to show its efficacy (don’t try this at home!).

Soon, Vaseline was selling at the rate of a jar a minute and Queen Victoria knighted Chesebrough in 1883, telling the inventor that she used it every single day!

vaseline-historyBonus fact: Cheseborough ate a spoonful of Vaseline every day. Though I seriously wouldn’t recommend this, the inventor lived to be 96 years old.

Another bonus fact: In 1886, Manufacture and Builder reported: “French bakers are making large use of vaseline in cake and other pastry. Its advantage over lard or butter lies in the fact that, however stale the pastry may be, it will not become rancid.”

Listerine, 1879

Developed by Missouri chemist Joseph Lawrence as a surgical antiseptic, Listerine was named after Baron Joseph Lister, a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. Over the years, this combination of menthol, thymol (thyme), eucalyptol (eucalyptus) and methyl salicylate (wintergreen) has been used for purposes ranging from gonorrhoea and bathing surgical wounds to treating sore throats, soothing insect bites and cleaning the floor.

However, Listerine truly hit its stride in 1895, when it caught the attention of dentists. In fact, the word ‘halitosis’ (Latin for ‘bad breath’) was coined by Listerine staff and this became the first over the counter mouthwash to be sold without a prescription. At one point, they were even manufacturing Listerine cigarettes!

Today, the 138-year-old liquid remains the oldest product in the Johnson & Johnson portfolio.

listerine-historyIvory Soap, 1879

When chemist James Gamble, of Procter & Gamble, whipped extra air into a batch of Ivory soap bars, he not only created the world’s first floating soap (advantage: it wouldn’t get lost while bathing!) but also one that was 99.44% pure. Going strong for 138 years now, Ivory soap also has another well documented use: the soap flakes have been a staple to create “snow” for Christmas trees since the 1920s.

Bonus fact: The name ‘Ivory’ was adopted by Harley Procter after he heard the 45th Psalm at a Bible reading.

WTF fact: Researchers asked children to do a soap taste test in 1994 and Ivory soap tasted the least disgusting. Ummm… !!??

ivory-soap-historySmith’s Rosebud Salve, 1892

Invented by Dr. GF Smith as an all-purpose salve to help with issues such as chapped lips, razor burn, haemorrhoids and diaper rash, Smith’s Rosebud Salve is still one of the most multipurpose products out there. I personally use it for everything from dry skin to makeup (every single makeup artist backstage will tell you it makes for the best highlighter!).

And while the salve now comes in more efficient tubes as well, nothing can drag me away from the cool, vintage, pharmacy-type tins. Little wonder that 3,500 tins of Smith’s Rosebud Salve continue to be sold somewhere in the world every day!

Shiseido Eudermine, 1897

Established in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhar in Ginza, Tokyo, Shiseido was not only Japan’s first “western style” pharmacy, it was also the one that launched ice cream in the country. The Shiseido Ice Cream Parlour branched off in 1928 and is still in business today.

The brand’s first beauty product – a softening lotion called Eudermine – was launched in 1897. This lotion can still be found on the Shiseido counters 120 years later and in the original packaging style if you look hard enough.

Another cult product – the Shiseido Rainbow Face Powder – is being launched as a limited edition just in time for its centenary. This was one of the world’s first color correcting and mood lighting face powders!

eudermine-shiseido-historyPond’s Cold Cream, 1907

Pond’s Cold Cream goes back to 1907 but as if that’s not old enough, it’s origins date back even further – to 1846, when pharmacist Theron T. Pond extracted a healing tea from witch hazel that was perfect for healing small cuts, rashes, minor burns and other skin ailments. This ‘Pond’s Extract’ became the origin for what we, our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and great, great grandmothers came to know as Ponds Cold Cream, used for everything from moisturising to removing makeup.

Why “cold”? Because this was the world’s first moisturiser that did not require refrigeration.

ponds-cold-cream-historyLabello Lip Salve, 1909

The precursor to Nivea Lip Care, Labello introduced the slider mechanism to the world of lip balms in 1911. Till then, lip care products were sold as a wedge wrapped up in a bit of paper, to be applied by hands. Later, in 1963, the brand evolved this into today’s twist mechanism. The brand is owned by German Beiserdorf and its name is a combination of labium (lips) and bellus (beautiful).

Nivea Crème, 1911

It all started with a butter churner. The butter churner that German pharmacist Dr. Oscar Troplowitz and dermatologist Prof. Paul Gerson Unna used to combine water and oil with Eucerit (ancient Greek word for ‘beautiful wax’), a new emulsifying agent, to create the world’s first stable water-in-oil skin emulsion. Water-in-oil emulsions are the best way to tackle dry complexions as they moisturise while simultaneously creating a skin barrier.

The word ‘Nivea’ was derived from the Latin nix, nivis, which means ‘snow white’, as an ode to the cream’s pure white colour. And that little blue aluminium pot, which made it’s entry in 1925 (before that Nivea came in a yellow pot), has it’s own ticket to history: It’s distinctive blue is one of the very rare colour marks protected worldwide.

Noxzema, 1914

The ubiquitous cobalt blue jar, which has been a staple of every family home since the last century, was launched in the same year that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, leading to the beginning of the first World War. Invented by Dr. Francis J Townsend in Ocean City, Maryland, this greaseless cold cream, which soothes skin and acts as a mild pain reliever, was originally called Townsend R22 and was prescribed to resort-goers for soothing their sunburn.

Soon, it was being called upon for everything from chapped and irritated skin to remove makeup and deep cleanse, keep wrinkles at bay and treat acne. It has had a near religious following amongst generations of devotees and a famous consumer quip that, “It knocked my eczema”, led to the name Noxzema (“no eczema”). Many women left it on overnight, making it the original sleeping mask.

noxzema-historyAcqua di Parma Colonia, 1916

When Italian aristocrat Carlo Magnani commissioned a crisp, fresh and citrusy fragrance from a small perfumery in Parma, little did he know that his legacy would go on to last more than a century. Today, Acqua di Parma Colonia remains unchanged from the original 100-year-old composition. In fact, it is still made by hand in small Italian factories, its signature yellow packaging paying homage to the colour that’s graced the facades of Parma’s most elegant buildings since the 18th century.

Bonus fact: That logo? It’s the coat of arms of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma (1816-1847), who helped develop the perfume and glass industry of Parma.

Am I missing out anything here?

Why sugar hates your skin (and how to quit it without going crazy!)

If it wasn’t bad enough that sugar wreaks horrors on our health (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, mood swings, candida, hormonal balances, cholesterol… anyone?) research now shows that it’s terrible for our skin as well. An excessive intake of processed sugars can fast track the aging process, leading to dark circles, wrinkles, fine lines and loss of radiance.

Don’t believe me? Read on.

sugar-and-skinFirst, let’s look at the way sugar wrongs our skin

  • Sugar leads to premature ageing: When sugar enters your blood stream, it binds to proteins in a process called glycation. Glycation destroys the flexibility and density of collagen and elastin (skin’s protein-based building blocks), thereby leading to wrinkles and sagging.
  • Sugar breaks down antioxidants: This breakdown in proteins and collagen also weakens the body’s natural antioxidants, leaving it vulnerable to all kinds of environmental damage.
  • Sugar increases dark circles: The process of glycation produces toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products (commonly shortened, appropriately, to AGEs) that are directly responsible for dark under-eye circles, yellowing of skin and dullness.
  • Sugar suppresses the Human Growth Hormone (HGH): HGH helps regulate body composition, muscle and bone growth, fat metabolism and even the heart function; low levels make you look and feel older.
  • Sugar leads to chronic inflammation: A diet high in sugars is associated with inflammation, which leads to all sorts of skin and health issues (like loss of skin elasticity, broken capillaries and breakdown of cells). The result? Fast track ageing.
  • Sugar decreases the lifespan of skin cells: The sudden spikes in energy intensify the activities of cells and tissues, making them divide more rapidly and thereby decreasing their lifespan.
  • Sugar causes acne: Finally, sugar can also contribute to acne flare-ups, since they rev up all the body’s functions, including oil production.

How much is too much?

Ideally we should eat no processed sugars at all. Instead, sugar should come from  a wholefood diet such as grains, fruit and natural food. The American Heart Association recommends most women get no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day. That’s about 6 teaspoons (or 100 calories) – a little less than the amount in one can of soda. However, the average American woman eats more than 18 teaspoons of sugar every single day.

And exercise? Sorry to break the news but current medical opinion stresses that unless the exercise is extreme and the food is eaten directly afterwards, it is has little effect on blood sugar.

Fresh vegetables salad with croutons and chickenHorrified about the thought of giving up the sweet stuff? There is good news on this front. Forsaking sugar doesn’t have to be a miserable and tasteless existence. Neither should it give you the shakes, destroy all hopes of comfort food or take away the promise of chocolate. Rather, kicking the sugar habit should kick your mood and energy through the roof. So here are my tips to kick sugar without hating your life!

  • Drink water: Sometimes those sweet cravings are actually a sign of dehydration. So, instead of the sugar-laden beverages, opt for filtered water, coconut water or green tea.
  • Read the ingredient labels: Sugar is hidden in unlikely foods, from salad dressing to deli meats. Do a quick scan of the the ingredients and don’t just look for sugar –  it’s often disguised as glucose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar, fructose, dextrose, caramel or syrup.
  • Switch to low GI foods: Low GI (Glycemic Index) foods like whole grains and nuts, release glucose more slowly and steadily. This avoids the drastic spike and crash normally associated with sugary ingredients. The crash makes you crave even more sugar, thereby creating a vicious cycle.
  • Have a pre-meal: Eat a protein-based snack like hard boiled eggs, or an apple with a dash of almond butter, before hitting a party. This will keep you from making bad choices later in the night.
  • Experiment with spices: Not all spices are hot. Many – like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – will add natural sweetness to your food. Certain spices, such as cinnamon, will also help to lower the blood sugar.
  • Eat every 4 hours: Fill up on healthy foods at periodic intervals so you are able to maintain stable blood glucose levels and don’t get have sugar-rich cravings. The more you eat sugar, the more you’ll crave sweet stuff.
  • Go easy on the booze: Alcohol is metabolized as pure sugar. Plus it makes you hungry, likely to overeat and prone to making poor choices. So, try to cap it at 2 drinks and drink water between refills.
  • Rid your kitchen of sugar: Throw out or give away any foods in your kitchen that contain added sugar. Out of sight, out of mind!
  • Relax: Because when you’re exhausted or sleep deprived, the body craves sugar-laden carbohydrates.
  • Slow down: For many of us, sugar has become an emotional crutch, a comfort zone, a reward or a way to relax. Instead of falling upon this sweet poison, slow down and decode your cravings. Identifying the real need behind the sugar is the key to kicking your sugar habit for good.
  • Go gourmet: If you simply have to indulge, stick to dark chocolate or truffles over high sugar candies. When baking, use unrefined sweeteners such as natural honey, molasses or maple syrup.

You slipped up… now what?

However, if you are like me and are reduced to tears with the mere thought of a life lived without chocolates and cupcakes, there is still some hope. What we need is moderation in our diet along with products that can neutralize sugar’s damaging effects on the skin. And the beauty industry is fast coming up with solutions.

How much sugar are you consuming on a daily basis?

16 hacks to make your sheet masks infinitely more effective!

Sheet masks. The breakthrough genre that has made #masking a verb comes with its own set of challenges.

When to use a sheet mask? Which one to use? How to make it stay on the face? Do I rinse afterwards or not? What about moisturising afterwards – yes or now? Should I really #sheetmask everyday? Is pricier always better? Can I skip all other skincare if I use sheet masks regularly? Are all sheet masks good? Are they for everybody?

So. Many. Questions.

Let’s start looking at the answers.

Start with a clean canvas

It sounds like the most common of logic but I know at least two friends who regularly slap on sheet masks without washing their face first, unless they are wearing makeup. But makeup or not, you need to start with a squeaky clean canvas so that skin can best absorb all the active ingredients. Plus, without a good wash you also run the risk of trapping in impurities and forcing them deeper into the skin. So, at the very least wash with a gentle cleanser right before masking. And if you want to go the extra mile, use a toner to really mop up the grease and soften the skin to make it more receptive to the mask’s benefits.

One mask does not fit all

Like traditional masks, different varieties solve different skin issues. So take a look at the ingredients and pick out exactly what you need:

  • Dryness: The most hydrating masks are those that contain hyaluronic acid, which makes skin retain more moisture. And skip anything with alcohol or irritating fragrances, which will further dry out your skin.
  • Dullness: To bring back the glow, look for brightening ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide and pearl powder or extracts.
  • Sensitive or irritated skin: Anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera and other soothing botanicals will help calm down your skin.
  • Anti-aging: Opt for nutrient-rich masks, especially those which list collagen or vitamin B12 as a prime ingredient.

Look at the ingredients…

While sheet masks are a super-potent way of getting maximum skin benefits in minimum time, they are not perfect. Many of the generic versions contain chemicals that are damaging both for the skin and our overall health. Some to avoid: alcohol, parabens, synthetic dyes, mineral oil and preservatives such as ethylhexylglycerin and phenoxyethanol.

… and the sheet itself

Sheet masks come in all forms, from paper and fiber to tin foil and bio-cellulose. Those made from “clingy” ingredients like hydrogel, coconut, sea kelp and bio-cellulose adhere to the skin most tightly, forming a tight seal and delivering the ingredients most effectively. They are also the easiest to apply, as they don’t keep slipping off the skin like the fiber and foil versions. Even if you’re going for fiber, try and make sure it’s unbleached and 100% cotton, to minimise toxic materials from touching your skin and leading to toxic issues.

Super-charge your sheets

How and where you store and apply your sheet mask may double or triple its benefits. If your skin is irritated, inflamed, over-heated or simply needs a hefty pick-me-up, try to chill your mask in the refrigerator before applying. Or if you want to make it more hydrating, pop it on while you’re in the shower (or sauna). The water-charged steam particles will intensify the moisture plumping molecules.

Tweak your technique

To make the mask adhere most effectively and sans air pockets, start applying the sheet from the forehead, then line up with the eyes and work downwards towards the chin. But don’t stop there: for dull skin and anti-ageing benefits, lightly massage the sheet upwards to boost blood flow; for inflamed or irritated skin, go downwards and outwards to encourage lymphatic drainage.

A photo posted by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss) on

Customise your sheet

How many times have you struggled with a sheet mask that simply refuses to conform to the contours of your face? Know that it’s perfectly fine to snip or tear off tiny bits to make it sit flush against your face. I usually end up enlarging the mouth area as sheet masks tend to irritate my lips, which have some of the most fragile skin anywhere on the body.

Max out the essence

It’s the fluid in a sheet mask that holds all the skin boosting goodness. So, don’t waste a drop of this precious essence! Scoop out any leftover essence in the packet (there’s always some!) and slather it all over your neck, chest, hands and feet to spread the love.

Longer is NOT better

Always, always check the instructions on the back of the pack. If it says you should apply the mask for 20 minutes, don’t assume that leaving it on for longer will increase the benefits. On the contrary, once the mask starts to dry, it will start sucking out moisture from your skin. And it will also increase skin temperature, which can increase the bacteria count, leading to acne and other skin issues. So, make sure you watch the clock!

Consider multi-masking

If one sheet mask is good, are two better? When paired prudently, most definitely. Experts advocate starting with a purifying clay or mud mask to open up the pores and cleanse them of debris; then rinse it off and follow with a sheet mask to flood the skin with beneficial ingredients. This will super-charge the efficacy of the sheet mask, while also purifying the skin, the latter being something that sheet masks rarely achieve (more on this in a bit).

Pair sheet masks with an eye mask

In a similar vein of multitasking, pop on an eye mask under your sheet mask. Not only will it cut your masking time by half, it will also super-charge your eye mask with some hefty hydration.

Don’t wash it off!

Unless you have super-acne prone skin or have to head out of the house (that’s why I usually apply a sheet mask right before bedtime), don’t wash off the residue after lifting away the sheet. It may seem a little sticky at first but the leftover fluid is potent with beneficial nutrients and is meant to be absorbed into the skin. And for maximum benefit, don’t just pat it into the skin. Instead, use this as an opportunity to give yourself a mini facial massage – the creaminess of the serum will help the massage, while the massage will help the serum sink deeper into the skin. Double whammy!

What comes after a sheet mask?

Remember that a sheet mask is serum based. So, follow it up with a moisturiser to seal in the treatment and multi-charge the benefits.

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

But… remember that sheet masks can’t replace traditional masks

While sheet masks are the current super-heroes of skincare, there’s one thing that they can’t do well: deep cleansing or purifying the skin. That’s because they are loaded with serums that sink into the skin rather than, say a clay-based mask, that draws impurities out of the skin.

But… they can’t replace your daily serum

Unless you’re using a sheet mask twice a day, every single day – and not only will that get seriously expensive, you’re at risk of overloading your skin and clogging your pores by doing this – you still need your daily serums. So, think of sheet masks as more of a booster rather than a replacement for your daily skincare rituals.

But… remember that sheet masks may not be great for acne-prone skin

Sheet masks are loaded with sticky fluids, they may not be the best idea for acne-prone skin. Plus, the occlusion raises skin temperature (on an average, from 89.6 to 98.6 degrees), which boosts the growth of acne-causing bacteria. So, if you’re prone to pimples, first do a patch test and wait a couple of days to see if it aggravates the condition before going full steam with a sheet mask. And whenever you do use a mask, try and opt for a gel-based one rather than a cloth-based formula as that’s less likely to cause breakouts.

Which is your favourite sheet mask?