When you think of beauty masks, options for the face immediately spring to mind. Whether the sheet versions or creams you smooth on from a pot, a mask promises an easy beauty boost from the comfort of your home.
While sheet masks have gained in popularity over the past few years, thanks to the proliferation of pictures and posts on social media, they have been a tool make-up artists have turned to for a long time, and are used to calm, soothe and prep the skin before applying cosmetics.
“It’s imperative to keep your skin sufficiently hydrated, especially in the hot desert climate,” says Edwige Gandin, a beautician at Pastels Salon, Dubai. “Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate go-to ingredient for those who need a boost of hydration, but glycerine also attracts and retains moisture. Masks that have either of these ingredients will keep skin well-hydrated.
“There are also several masks that include marine elements such as algae and seaweed extract, which claim to enhance and hydrate skin.”
But while lotions and potions for the face are perennially popular, there are many masks for other parts of the body, too. Here's our pick of the most important ones for your body.
Scroll through the gallery above for 14 masks for every body part, from the decolletage to the derriere
The largest range of beauty masks on the market are for the face, with options such as sheet, cream, clay, gel, exfoliating, mud and jelly. There are even masks that foam up on the face to offer an intense deep cleanse.
All skin types (dry, oily and combination), as well as skin conditions, such as acne, open pores, psoriasis and eczema, can benefit from the regular application of face masks.
Sheet masks are easy to use and deliver a concentrated and nutrient-rich boost to the skin, which is able to absorb the serum almost immediately.
“Many sheet masks include penetrant enhancers, which are designed to deliver the ingredients to the skin as quickly and in as high a dose as possible,” says Dr Hassan El Husseini, a dermatologist at Dr Kayle Aesthetic Clinic Dubai. “This can be very beneficial.”
A combination of soil, silt and minerals, mud masks tend to be antibacterial. They aid in detoxifying the skin by absorbing oil and unclogging pores.
Gel masks are best for hydration — ideal for hot countries such as the UAE — and are also used to target specific areas of the face, including the under-eye, lips and cheeks.
“Gel masks are excellent for hydration as they are absorbed easily and are a great tool for adding radiance,” says Catherine Gerber, general manager at Coya Spa & Salon. “As for the mud mask, it usually hardens on the surface, and is apt for blemish and acne-prone skin, and can reduce signs of ageing.”
Ridah Syed, a senior medical aesthetician at Skinfluencer, London, says: “Cream masks have a wider variety of active ingredients, including clays, and can combine water and active oils for a complete skin treatment.”
Masks for the tresses are used to moisturise and nourish, making them more effective for those with dry hair, or locks that have been damaged by excessive heat or colouring. Additionally, some can aid scalp health and address dry skin and dandruff.
“I recommend using a hair mask once a week,” says Sam Carpenter, a hair artist at Eideal. “Any hair type can benefit from that extra bit of nourishment, especially over-processed hair, bleached-out blondes, porous hair and hair that has been sun or water-damaged.”
These masks often use heavier proteins to revitalise the hair and so don't need to be used too often. Look for ingredients such as jojoba and argan oil, which most closely resemble the hair’s natural oils. Keratins are another effective ingredient and make tresses stronger.
Those with thin hair should not use heavier masks, as they will leave strands lank, while products containing silicon should be avoided, as these sit on the hair without seeping in.
“Hair masks do what conditioners can’t,” says Shakira Adams, a senior stylist at Pastels Salon. “The mask goes a little bit deeper and is crammed with problem-solving ingredients, as well as higher concentrations of active ingredients to give hair a real boost.”
Hand masks usually come in glove form for users to wear for a short period or overnight.
They are most effective at moisturising dry, chapped or cracked hands, as well as smoothing rough skin. However, there is no evidence yet that such masks can prevent or reverse natural signs of ageing such as wrinkles and dark spots.
Seek out hand masks that contain jojoba oil, green tea extract, aloe vera and snail slime. For overnight options, invest in a pair of cotton gloves, and generously slather on an intense hand cream before putting them on.
“Hands and feet cream masks are great to moisturise dry skin, and keep the skin soft and supple,” says Gerber.
The constant friction feet go through on a daily basis make them more susceptible to developing hard skin, dryness and inflammation.
Foot mask options include serums that peel, exfoliate, soften callouses and repair cracked skin. Options include sock-shaped masks and creams that can be slathered on and worn under regular socks, usually overnight.
For softening effects, choose masks with glycolic and lactic acid. For moisturising properties, look for serum-soaked socks infused with coconut, cactus and grapefruit extract.
Sheet masks designed for the decolletage and derriere will provide an additional layer of moisture, while cream or clay options will unclog pores and detoxify.
While such masks are unlikely to have an effect on cellulite, they are most useful for tackling uneven or bumpy skin, as well as conditions such as eczema.
For the body, look for ingredients such as clay and mud, while cucumber is a soothing addition that works well overnight.
“The mask you choose will determine how your body benefits,” says Syed. “A mask with fruit acid enzymes of AHAs will exfoliate and soften, while aloe vera, cucumber, hyaluronic acid and algae will nourish your skin. You can also get masks that include charcoal, which claims to help with heat-swollen ankles and heavy legs.”