Applying Masks in Your Esthetician Practice (Ampoules, Contour, Oatmeal, Oxygen, Thermal, Paraffin and More)



Masks have long been a skincare staple, which is why your esthetician toolkit isn’t complete unless it includes a host of mask product options for a variety of skin types.

Masks complement facials, balance the skin, reduce wrinkles and dryness, combat acne, and heal and calm skin affected by free radicals. They are an important component of any facial and they complement topical skincare products, giving us that fresh glow we crave.

In short, masks are a must, so earning a spot as the go-to mask specialist can help your esthetician practice reach new and exciting heights.

Types of face masks, their purposes, their ingredients, and application procedures are always part of any comprehensive esthetician program that meets the training requirements for state licensure.

However, staying on top of the latest trends and products is always a good idea for estheticians with an entrepreneurial mindset and a focus on providing their clients with the newest trends in skin care.

So Many Different Masks for So Many Different Purposes

The type of mask you use will largely depend on the skin types of your clients and their goals. The types of masks estheticians frequently use include:

Enter Zip:

Gel Masks

Gel masks, generally oil-free, are ideal for hydrating any type of skin type, including oily, combination, acne-prone, and dehydrated skin. The goal of a gel mask is to hydrate without adding oil. Because of their naturally cool temperature, gel masks are used for calming red, irritated skin.

Clay/Mud Masks

Clay masks generally consist of one or more oil-absorbing clays that draw oil, dirt, and other impurities from pores. Clay masks are often referred to as detoxifying or purifying masks for this reason and are usually used on acne-prone and dull skin. They are removed by wiping the skin with a warm, wet towel.

Some of the clay masks include zeolite, a naturally occurring mineral derived from volcanic rocks and ash that heats up when applied to the skin. Thermal masks (also called self-heating masks) work to open pores and increase circulation.

Cream Masks

Cream masks are rich in moisturizers to deeply hydrate dry to normal skin. Cream masks are ideal for fine lines and wrinkles or skin dehydrated from the elements, air pollution, and skincare products. Think of them as moisturizers on overdrive.

Sheet Masks

Sheet masks are hydrating ingredients soaked in thin cotton sheets that are placed on the skin. They are generally used for hydration purposes.

Peel-Off Masks

Peel-off masks are applied as gels that dry to a film-like consistency and are then peeled off. As the mask is peeled off, it takes with it dirt, oil, and other impurities that clog pores.

Algae Masks

Algae masks nourish the skin and are ideal for dry and normal skin.

Collagen Masks

Collagen masks come as collagen strips that are applied to the skin for exceptional moisturizing. The collagen strips are moistened with water (often combined with essential oils and herbs) to activate the collagen and adhere the strips to the skin. The mask is then peeled off after about 30 minutes.

Contour Masks

Contour masks are used to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Consisting of a gum base, contour masks come as a powder that is mixed with water to form a gel. They often contain enzymes and herbal extracts. Contour masks are applied using a soft brush. Once the mask is applied, a pulsating feeling is often felt. The mask is left on for about 30 minutes and removed with a mild skin cleanser.

Ampoules and Masks

Ampoules are small containers filled with highly concentrate ingredients. Most ampoules contain botanicals, vitamins, and enzymes. Many estheticians combine ampoules with masks to enhance treatment results and provide clients with personalized treatments. Ampoules are usually in a gel or oil base and are applied to the skin in a thin layer. The mask is then applied on top of this layer.

Understanding the Ingredients that Go Into the Masks You Apply

Masks are not one-size-fits-all beauty products. Depending on their formulation, they can remedy any number of complexion issues. Best of all, as an esthetician, you can mix and match any number of ingredients to provide your clients with their own unique mask recipe.

Mask ingredients include:

  • Clays: Clays are used as absorbing and tightening agents. They absorb excess dirt and oil and draw out impurities in the pores. The most commonly used clays include:
    • Kaolin: A yellowish powder of hydrated aluminum silicate
    • Bentonite: White talc-like substance
    • Diatomaceous earth: Porous silica comprised of algae
    • Fuller’s earth: Brownish powder of aluminum magnesium silicate
  • Gums: Gums are used to bind the mask’s ingredients together and help them dry on the face.
  • Herbs: Herbs added to masks provide an array of benefits. They detox, soothe, and balance the skin. Common herb ingredients include:
    • Camphor
    • Aloe Vera
    • Chamomile
    • Juniper
    • Sage
    • Witch hazel
  • Lubricants: Lubricants, such as oils and creams, are used to soften the skin. Common lubricants in face masks include:
    • Petroleum
    • Lanolin
    • Vegetable oils
  • Minerals: Minerals include sulfur, which is used as an antiseptic for blemishes, and zinc oxide, which is used as an antiseptic to soothe skin and eliminate redness an irritation.
  • Moisturizers: Moisturizers, including glycerin, paraffin, and collagen, bring much needed hydration to the skin.
  • Acids: Acids like salicylic and glycolic acids are often added to masks to remove the outer layer of skin and reveal the fresher, more vibrant skin underneath.
  • Nutrients: A large number of nutrients are added to masks to nourish the skin, such as:
    • Vitamins (A, B, C, and E)
    • Enzymes
    • Wheat germs
    • Algae

Simple ingredient masks of egg whites, buttermilk, wheat germ or oatmeal remain popular masks for refining pores and refreshing the complexion.

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