Grooming, Skincare

Masked Men

Masked Men

Girls’ pyjama parties and Jim Carrey’s The Mask come to mind when masks crop up in men’s daily conversations. There is something about a bunch of women, with facial masks on, gossiping in bed that puts facial masks in a box labelled “For Her Only”. Perhaps the possibility of turning into a rambunctious green-skinned Casanova after putting on (any) mask might also be too much for men to handle, but The Mask did score the bombshell, Cameron Diaz, in the eponymous movie, did he not?

Coincidentally, this is also known as the masked-man fallacy, which infers that since men know that women use facial masks, the benefits are only for women. Men are constantly plagued by “this-is-not-for-me” syndrome when it comes to grooming, seemingly sure that a better version of himself is impossible. When Mr Perfection becomes Mr Wrinkles, Botox and other costly cosmetic procedures would then be the only viable solutions for the reversal to Mr Near-Perfection.

So what exactly does a facial mask do? For starters, one can consider it a fountain of youth that can be adopted into one’s grooming arsenal. The daily three-step skincare routine of cleanse, tone, and moisturise is necessary for maintaining healthy-looking skin, and the facial mask functions as a booster to push beyond that base level. Think of it as a special weapon one needs to beat a stage boss in a role-playing computer game. Yes, the facial mask does indulge the superficial, but nobody said getting Diaz’s attention was going to be easy either.

Men probably are not always conscious that the skin is composed of several layers. In succession, it consists of the epidermis at the outermost layer, the dermis, and the hypodermis. Basic three-step grooming products mainly work on the first two layers due to their solubility with the products, but they rarely go beyond that before evaporating into the environment. This makes the hypodermis, comprising fats and connective tissues, the hardest to reach. It also is the cause of two major skin problems – oiliness (contributing to breakouts and unsightly open pores) and dull skin (due to the lack of nutrients).

Facial masks mainly target these two issues by taming oiliness and infusing nutrients, but the consequential effects are multifold. With oil levels in the hypodermis within control, one’s skin could be more easily cleansed of dirt and dead skin cells. Then, skin can better “breathe”, and pores would tighten to put an end of the cycle of accumulation of dirt, dead skin cells, and oil, then open pores. Whereas with the infusion of nutrients, the skin is nourished to promote skin renewal, which improves blood circulation and put skin on the pathway to a healthy, bright outlook.

For most men, navigating the vast available options can be befuddling, but one only needs to look out for facial masks that combat these two issues.

To tame oily skin, there are clay, charcoal and peeling masks. While all these are deep cleansing in nature, a charcoal mask contains activated charcoal that binds to dirt and pulls them out of pores and a peeling mask doubles as an exfoliator that removes dead skin cells.

For skin nourishment, there are gel and sheet masks. Think of these as super toners that work on overdrive for 15 to 20 minutes to infuse all the vitamins and antioxidants throughout the different layers of the skin, instead of having them evaporate upon application. The difference between a gel and sheet mask is that one would have to wash off  a gel mask while sheet mask can be taken off immediately. However, these days, gel masks also come in a convenient “sleeping mask” version. One can literally wear the mask to sleep and wash it off in the morning.

There are also various masks that target specific skin problems, so one needs to decide which is the direst skin issue at hand that he wishes to deal with the convenience of a mask. For men who prefer the most convenient option to deal with his dull-looking skin, try sleeping gel masks. Brand-wise, its best to go with a facial mask that is also in the similar range of his usual skincare products.

When one’s skin becomes issue-free, it is also in a better condition to absorb skincare products from the three-step routine so that maintenance can be kept to a minimum. If you need more incentive than the above, using a face mask could potentially also be the best excuse to relax. A session typically requires 10 to 20 minutes before the mask can be removed or washed off; indulge in some mindless television during these golden minutes, and stop toggling between devices for work and entertainment. Furthermore, it instils discipline as one needs to set aside time once or twice a week for a facial mask treatment, which also forces him to take a break.

That said, this writer does not recommend using mask-time as an excuse to get out of working overtime. After all, one still needs a job to have the coins to afford facial masks.





Sign up for weekly updates on what to wear, watch, dine, and listening to.