What do you think of when somebody says face mask? Probably a gentle, soothing concoction, smoothed over your face to leave your skin looking and feeling gorgeous. If that's the case, it's probably just as well you weren't alive in the 1600s!
Due to the high regard for very light skin - popularised by Queen Elizabeth I - women applied a face mask called Ceruse. It did achieve the desired effect, but at what cost? Ceruse was made by mixing together white lead and vinegar!
The pale skin trend continued well into the 1800s, as lighter skin was a sign of wealth, social standing, and youthful beauty.
By the 1900s, however, it was fashionable to have a glowing skin. This was achieved by using face masks made of raw meat, and by booking appointments for Kemolite Radio-Active Beauty Plasma. Described as a volcanic mud treatment, the latter actually involved wearing radium-infused face masks, sometimes daily! Imagine trying to do that now!
Thankfully, by the 1940s, famous beauty names such as Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden were emerging, and the use of face masks became decidedly less dangerous to your health. For salons today, face masks are an integral part of any facial or skin treatment.
It's possible that you've tried making your own face mask at some point, simply whipping something up in a blender and applying. For us anyways, it was usually better suited to a smoothie or a dessert than a face mask!
Having said that, there are some natural ingredients that are excellent for your skin, such as oatmeal, coconut, olive oil, and cucumber.
The beauty of a face mask is that is can be tailored to both your skin type and your specific skin concern. For example, a clay mask is awesome for oily skin or clogged pores. Clay is highly absorbent - which is great for soaking up excess oil. It can also draw out dirt and toxins from the skin, leaving it clearer and cleaner.
And best of all, a clay face mask will deliver a very generous serving of rich, natural minerals to your skin.
For normal or combination skin, it's actually harder to find the right product. You want something that absorbs excess oil, but won't dry out the dryer patches of skin. Honey is a great choice, especially teamed with turmeric. Honey is not only delicious to eat, but highly beneficial to the skin, as it is packed with minerals and has a gentle, hydrating, and calming effect.
For dry skin, you're looking for something that is deeply nourishing and hydrating. Again, honey is a great choice, especially when mixed with a good natural oil, such as coconut.
Of course, these are very basic recipes. Beauty salons and spas offer many more choices combined with the latest science to achieve more dramatic and longer-lasting effects than at home recipies can. A beauty therapist can advise on the best choice for your skin type. They will have face masks to brighten your skin, treat acne, discolouration or redness, and get rid of blemishes. There are collagen face masks to improve the elasticity of your skin and masks to treat pigmentation or rosacea.
Generally, you don't go to a spa or salon just for a face mask. It will be one part of an entire relaxing, indulgent, totally delicious treatment. Face masks are far more effective when you thoroughly cleanse and tone first. You may also get a facial massage, too, or a steam session, to open up the pores.
There are anti-ageing face masks, non-surgical face lifts and ultra-hydrating face masks. There's seaweed, mud and clay, not to mention herbs, oils and fruits.
One thing's for sure, face masks are extremely popular. So if you're not planning to have one soon, why not?