Black facial masks are trending in a big way right now, popping up on our Facebook timelines and advertised endlessly on Instagram. Their effects are particularly appealing to those of us who are prone to blackheads, as the masks supposedly attach to our skin’s surface and pull out any unwanted dirt that would otherwise prevent us from “looking our best.”
One particular video went viral when YouTuber Tiff decided to test out a black mask that was advertised to her through Facebook.
While the result is relatively amusing, there really is nothing funny about damaging the skin on your face just to attain the flawed standard of beauty that society pushes on us.
Why They’re Bad
First, lets break down the difference between a blackhead and sebaceous filaments. Sebaceous filaments are alternatively known as whiteheads, and they are naturally occurring micro hairline formations on your skin that send oil from your pores onto your skin to moisturize it.
Whiteheads lie just beneath the surface of your skin and develop when there is a buildup of either dead skin or cosmetics that plug the pores working to produce sebum. Blackheads are seen more topically and appear black because they are exposed to the air and oxidize.
So what’s the problem with pulling these filaments out? I spoke to Toni-Anne Leonardo, an aesthetician who studied at Humber College for Cosmetic Management and Esthetics/Spa Management, who said, “Well, every pore has a hair follicle in it. When you use a peel-off mask you are removing that hair, which can cause damage to the pore. This can lead to a dilated pore and cause damage to cells and create hyper pigmentation.”
The most beneficial ingredient in black masks is typically activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has made its claim to fame recently with the development of these masks and also its use as a natural teeth whitening alternative. The benefits of this carbon are endless and when you couple its qualities with skin care, it usually has a positive effect. Activated charcoal acts like a magnet to attract and absorb dirt and oil, and so when these are present in your pores and activated charcoal comes in contact with it, they will stick to it and wash away when you rinse.
Some people, frighteningly, are trying to mimic this infamous face mask by mixing PVA glue with charcoal powder. When your face feels smooth post facial mask rip, it just confirms that you’ve effectively stripped off a surface layer of your skin.
If you’ve partaken in this mask and are now concerned for your skin’s well-being, don’t worry. Facialist and aesthetician Andy Millward assures us that “the skin is a very sophisticated organ. It is more than capable of replacing the sebaceous filaments that have been removed.” But “this process can take up to 30 days, during which time the skin is obviously going to be a little more vulnerable.”
But Andy warns, “if you continue to use products that strip the skin of its natural oils (including harsh cleansers and exfoliants) then you’re likely to cause secondary issues.”
DIY Face Masks
Controlling what you put in and on your body is of utmost importance to your health and if you have a choice, choose natural. Major cosmetic companies don’t have our best interests in mind and their products are usually laden with toxic chemicals that can seriously harm our health over time.
It’s also important to note that the chemicals most often present in cosmetics are actually terrible for our skin. In our article “What You Really Need to Watch Out For on Your Cosmetics Labels,” I reference a study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas that demonstrated how taking even a short break from various cosmetics, shampoos, and other personal care products can lead to a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals present within the body.
Below I’ve listed a few natural face masks that you can create right from your kitchen!
Pore-Tightening Açai Berry Facial
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons açai powder or ¼ cup açai slush (a pulverized form of the berry; both sold at health-food stores)
- 10 fresh, whole berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a mix)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
With a potato masher, mash the sugar and açai powder or slush with the berries, then slowly add the olive oil; combine coarsely with a whisk. Massage into the face. Leave on for about five minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Flower and Clay Mask
- 2 cups Bentonite Clay
- 1 cup ground oats
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/8 cup dried lavender, ground
- 1/3 cup dried rose petals, ground
Grind oatmeal and almonds together using either a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee or nut grinder (leave grains just a little bit course to add an exfoliating element). You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the lavender and rose petals together, too. After all ingredients are ground, mix together in a bowl. Mix one teaspoon grains with water (or ACV) to make a paste. Massage the paste into your face. Let mask dry completely and then rinse with warm water.
Papaya Pineapple Face Mask
- 1/2 fresh papaya, peeled and seeded
- 1 cup fresh pineapple
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Juice papaya and pineapple in juicer if you have one. If you don’t have a juicer, you can mash the fruit together or put it in a blender. Strain out the pulp with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Gently wash your chest, neck, and face. Use a cotton ball to apply juice to these areas, avoiding the eyes. You can also do the backs of your hands at the same time. Lie down and let it work for 10-15 minutes. It will tingle and itch. Try not to scratch! Rinse with warm water and moisturize. Recipe creator highly recommends coconut oil.
Skin-Balancing Spirulina Facial
- ½ teaspoon spirulina powder
- 1 mashed ripe banana
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
With a whisk, mix the spirulina powder and banana, then add the lemon juice. Apply to the face and leave on for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
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