TRIED & TESTED: Face Masks

TRIED & TESTED: Face Masks

Face masking is a necessary part of any skincare routine. When it comes to mine, I am a firm believer in trying and testing various kinds for optimum benefits. Currently, I have three on rotation and they each happen to offer my skin very different but equally satisfying results. Before getting into what each one is used for, let’s delve a little deeper into why the beauty industry is crazy about face masks and how you can go about choosing the right one(s) for yourself. 

There’s a face mask for just about any skin type or skin issue you can imagine. Whether your motivation is to lighten, clarify, moisturize and/or cleanse, you’re definitely one easy step away from indulging in a list of benefits for your skin. But no matter the type, masks have a duty to blanket the skin in an effort to help active ingredients deeply penetrate.  Depending on the type of mask, they can be applied for an average of about 10 to 15 minutes but there are some that only require a mere 5 minutes while others such as hydrating masks can be used as an intense overnight treatment. Today we’ll be looking at three key ingredients: clay, charcoal as well as herbs and fruit, namely cilantro and orange extract, to see how they benefit the skin.


If you have oily or acne-prone skin, a clay mask is a must-have. When searching for the right one, be on the look out for the ingredient KOALIN. Koalin clay is a natural component of soil and is known for its ability to draw out impurities, absorb excess oil, and remove dead skin cells. And while clay masks also make for funny Instagram pictures, it’s important to know the correct way of using them.

skinceuticals clarifying clay masque 2016

You’ll be tempted to slather it on and let it dry to its hardened shell while sipping a glass of wine. Don’t do this! There are three phases you ought to pay attention to when applying your clay mask. The first is the initial damp phase. This is when your skin absorbs all the beneficial minerals from the outside. The dry phase begins as the mask cools and contracts and this process exercises our capillaries and stimulates blood flow. The danger with letting clay masks fully harden is that the surface layer of moisture in our skin begins to be drawn out and this causes dryness and irritation both of which are very uncomfortable sensations.  It is better to rinse the mask off once it starts to get lighter in colour and its texture turns a bit sticky.


Clay masks are a favourite along t-zone as this is where I tend to become the oiliest. Applying this sort of mask anywhere else would just dry out areas of skin where moisture is needed the most. I have been loving the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque (R1 250). Along with kaolin clay it also contains salicylic acid, an active acne-fighting ingredient. Perfect to be used once a week, I also love the fact that it’s lightweight and does not immediately feel suffocating on the skin. I also am obsessed with the idea that you can use this on your neck all way down to your chest area. And while it does sit comfortably on the skin, I still prefer to rinse it off in it’s sticky, just lightened phase.


Superfoods are a big trend this year. The premise is that great skin begins from the inside and is reflected on the surface. But while leafy greens the likes of kale and spinach make-up a liberal portion of your post-workout shake, herb and fruit extracts happen to also harbour intense beneficial ingredients which your skin would be happy to absorb. And while the use of herbs like cilantro (aka coriander or Chinese parsley) is very common in Asian and Thai dishes, cilantro extract is great when it comes to strengthening the skins barrier in an effort to keep it replenished and hydrated.

kiehl's cilantro orange extract masque

Looking at a mask that was a recent addition to the Kiehl’s nature-powered masks collective, the Kiehl’s Cilantro & Orange Extract Pollutant Defending Masque also contains orange extract which is a great antioxidant responsible for blocking daily aggressors like pollution which attach to the skin and cause further damage. One thing to note: if you are not very tolerant of smells, give this a sniff before purchasing as the herb is quite pungent.

You can also choose to use this mask in one of three ways.

After all your skincare at night, apply a thin but visibly green layer, wait 10 minutes, wipe off excess and go to bed without washing it off.


After all your skincare routine but just before moisturizer, apply a thin but visibly green layer and go to sleep. This mask would replace your moisturizer.


Apply a slightly thicker layer after cleansing, leave on for about 30 minutes, then rinse off.


Charcoal is another powerful purifying ingredient and activated charcoal became increasingly popular this year. In short, they look dirty but clean up nice, however, in order to determine its effectiveness, factors such as the concentration of activated charcoal and the length of contact with the skin ought to be considered. Like kaolin, it also works to draw pollutants and impurities to the surface layer of the skin and ultimately helps to fight acne and achieve a flawless complexion.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask in particular is made of Bamboo charcoal which is a powerful, detoxifying superfood often found in smoothers and juices. What I am most a fan of is that it encourages youthful, glowing skin – a necessity as we enter full steam ahead into summer. Its texture is quite thick and muddy. It applies damp onto the skin and like a clay mask, dries in three phases, plus also like to apply this all the way down my neck to my chest area.

Are you a fan of any of the face masks mentioned in this post? If you haven’t tried them yet, which one’s do you use often? Let me know in the comment section below!


  • Yolande

    Wow Cynthy – interesting reading about the clay masks. I’m a huge fan of these masks and always wait for them to harden and almost crack before removing them …. now I know that’s actually the incorrect way of using them and will refrain from allowing them to harden in the future.
    Luv your blog!!

  • Jaqueline Pillay

    I’ve been doing Clay Face Masks all wrong! (So embarrassed -hides head in shame).

    I’ve actually been considering adding a Charcoal face product to my skincare regime. I’m definitely going to be checking out the Body Shop mask.

    Thank You for this very informative post. You’ve just saved my skin Cynthy!


  • Deedeeh

    Always interesting reading your blog Cynthia. I love masks, haven’t used any of the mentioned above but I’d love to try them. One that I have is the body shop’s 3-in-1 it’s a face wash, scrub and a mask. I leave it on my face for 5-10min while I shower. One thing Iove about it is the texture. It’s very thick and that means the tube will last me and I the smell and my favourite part is that its made out of tea tree which fights acne.

    Your posts are awesome. You literally turning us into little beauty expects. Love you Cynthy ♥

  • Thabile Mhlongo

    Interesting, informative read indeed. Have not tried any types of masks but really keen to start adding it to my regime especially the clay and charcoal masks.

    Love your blogs Cynthia! 💕

  • Emizer Oka_Vin_k

    You have such a beautiful skin Cynthia and this was really helpful..

    Thank you so much 💜💜

  • Oshin Yassin

    Thanks for this. LEarmt a lot and will be more mindful when picking out a mask. I usually just go for any that seems good. Almost got a clay one today but as my skin is dry, I think I’ll look for something more suitable.