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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • How Often Should You Really Use a Face Mask for Your Skin Type?

How Often Should You Really Use a Face Mask for Your Skin Type?

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Main image – Live That Glow

Whatever your skin type, there’s nothing quite like applying a face mask to give your skin a bit of a pamper. Cue: Meme of a woman choosing to stay at home instead of going out, cucumbers over her eyes, face pack on, looking zen. 

But contrary to what TikTok might have you believe, spending every evening donning a face mask in the name of good content can actually have a negative effect on your skin. And tailoring your face mask to what your skin actually needs is key.

Here, Dr Emmaline Ashley and Dr Sonia Khorana provide expert tips on how often you should be using one according to your skin type, what happens if you use one too often and how to get the best out of your face mask. 


How often to use a face mask on normal skin

You may think that just because your skin type is normal you can apply a face mask every day without experiencing any side effects. But Dr Ashley recommends otherwise. “Incorporating a face mask into your skincare routine about once a week is ideal as this frequency ensures that your skin can reap the benefits of the mask’s active ingredients without risking irritation,” she says.

“Regular use can help maintain the skin’s balance, keeping it looking healthy and radiant. But it does not replace a good and consistent skincare routine. Think of it as the little cherry on top.”


How often to use a face mask on oily skin

Dr Ashley says that breakout-prone, oily skin types should use targeted ingredients. “Masks containing clay, charcoal or salicylic acid can help manage oiliness and prevent breakouts to help keep the skin clear and minimise the appearance of pores without stripping the skin of its natural oils,” she says.

And it’s because of these ingredients that you should be careful about not over-applying them, so stick to once or twice a week. “If your mask has active ingredients to exfoliate (like salicylic acid) or has drying ingredients (like clay) and it’s used daily, it can result in dry, irritated skin,” warns Dr Khorana.


How often to use a face mask on combination skin

You can use more than one type of mask on combination skin. “The approach can be slightly tailored to address both oily and dry areas,” Dr Ashley says. “You might find it beneficial to use a hydrating mask on dry areas and a clay or exfoliating mask on oily or congested zones.”

But she says to take them in turns for balance. “It’s effective to alternate between types of masks weekly, depending on your skin’s current needs, to maintain equilibrium without over-treating any particular area.”


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


How often to use a face mask on dry skin

The rules are slightly different for dry skin, and you can up your usage to two or three times a week. “Dry skin types can benefit from more frequent use of hydrating and moisturising masks,” explains Dr Ashley. “These can be used more frequently than masks formulated to be exfoliating,” adds Dr Khorana


How often to use a face mask on sensitive skin

“Using a gentle, soothing mask once every week can be great,” says Dr Ashley. “Pay close attention to how your skin responds to a new mask by patch testing before full application and consider masks with calming ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile or niacinamide that can help soothe and protect the skin barrier.”

And always make sure you cater to your skin type, particularly with sensitive skin. “Caution is key,” adds Dr Ashley. “It’s important to select masks specifically formulated for sensitive skin to avoid irritation.”


What happens if you use a face mask too often?

However pampering and beneficial for the skin face masks are, sometimes they can have a negative effect on the skin, particularly if you apply them too much or they contain certain ingredients. “It’s very easy to overdo it with face masks,” warns Dr Khorana.

“I wouldn’t use face masks daily/too often if they’ve got active ingredients that are only meant to be used a few times a week (like a salicylic acid mask). This can disrupt your skin barrier, resulting in inflammation and irritation.”


3 tips on how to get the best out of your face mask

  • “Apply your face mask to clean skin after cleansing and, if you use one, after applying a serum,” advises Dr Ashley.
  • “For wash off masks, apply your mask, wait the recommended time, then follow up with the rest of your skincare routine, including moisturiser,” she adds.
  • “With overnight masks, replace your regular night-time moisturiser with the mask to let it work its magic as you sleep,” says Dr Ashley.


The takeaway

So it seems the general consensus is that most skin types need only use a face mask once a week to avoid irritation, with the exception of dry skin types who can use one more frequently – two to three times a week –  depending on the ingredients.

Overusing face masks could lead to irritation or counteract what you were trying to achieve in the first place, so treat yours as a bonus every so often, rather than as part of your daily skincare regime.  

Check the ingredients on the label and choose a face mask that suits your personal skin type, particularly if you have sensitive skin. And make sure your skin is clean before you apply your face mask to use it to its full potential.  


Meet the experts

Dr Emmaline Ashley is an award-winning cosmetic physician. As well as being a qualified medical doctor, she holds additional honours degrees in biology, surgery, dermatology, and aesthetics.


Dr Sonia Khorana is a GP with a special interest in dermatology, working as an aesthetic doctor, laser specialist and wellness & menopause lead. She is also the Dermatology Expert for Olay UK and Hero Cosmetics UK and a judge for this year‘s Glamour Beauty Power List Awards and Get The Gloss Beauty Awards.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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