Masks vs. Peels: Which Is Better?

A woman wearing a mud face mask

Face masks or peels…which one is better?

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Both masks and peels can help promote healthier, rejuvenated skin.  But which one do dermatologists say you should be using?

Masks vs. Peels: The Difference

Peels gently remove the outermost layer of your skin, producing a smoother texture and sometimes helping to even out dark spots, such as acne scars. They may also help fade fine lines.

Masks can clean out pores and detoxify the skin, enhance moisture, absorb excess oil, and deliver antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or acne-fighting treatments to the skin.

Both masks and peels are applied to the skin and left on for a specific length of time, increasing the amount of active ingredients that penetrates the skin.

It’s important to talk with a doctor or esthetician about your specific skin care needs so that you can find the best product for you.

What Are The Most Effective Mask/Peel Ingredients?

While ingredients tend to work differently on different people (based on such issues as skin type, skin sensitivity, etc.), dermatologists agree that there are certain ingredients that tend to be universally effective:

• Emollient ingredients, such as hyaluronic acids, ammonium lactate, squalane, ceramides, glycerin, and dimethicone, help build barriers that keep moisture in the skin.
• Acids such as alpha hydroxy acid (glycolic or lactic) or beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) can help prevent acne and promote smoother, clearer skin.
• Clay is great for removing impurities from the pores. Also, it is infused with silicates that leave a slick residue on the skin’s surface, making it temporarily feel smooth.

Masks vs. Peels: The Side Effects

The FDA has standards for the percentages of active ingredients in peels and masks allowed in over-the-counter products. For example, glycolic acid and salicylic acid are limited to 10% and 2%, respectively. Be wary of masks or peels with higher percentages, which should not be used without a doctor’s supervision.

With peels, the degree to which the bonds between dead skin cells break apart and disappear is determined in part by how long you allow the acids to work. This is why it is best to use peels sparingly. The biggest mistake women make is applying peels daily. Daily application over stresses the skin. Peels can contribute to sun sensitivity too.


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