Cleanser? Check. Toner? Check. Moisturizer? Check. There you have it—the complete skin care regimen. Right? Actually, there's something missing here, and it's missing from many of your customers' routines: the facial mask.

Facial masks provide deep nourishment to the skin, so why do so many people neglect this pampering product? Because it takes time—most masks need to remain on the skin for about 15 minutes, notes Joni Keim, technical director of Natural Resource Group, the parent company of Beauty Without Cruelty based in Petaluma, Calif. "Not many people are looking for ways to add time to their skin-care routine," she says, but she points out that with a little effort and education, retailers can help their customers understand just what a nourishing treat a mask can be.

Need more PC know-how? Visit NFM's Personal Care Guide.

And the benefits are many. Masks can be used to moisturize, detoxify, increase circulation and replenish nutrients. But above all, they add an extra dimension to the skin-care routine, and they are truly pampering. "It's something [people] can do at home that will give them the effect they would get at a spa," says Joshua Onysko, CEO and founder of Pangea Organics in Boulder, Colo. "It's a treat for them—something a little bit out of the ordinary."

The first step in helping your customers choose the correct mask is to identify their skin type and find something that will work for them. "You want a mask that is going to fill the needs of your skin, so obviously someone with acne doesn't need a hydrating mask because they already have too much oil," advises Linda Upton, president of Börlind of Germany, with U.S. headquarters in New London, N.H. "Figure out what dimension of care [your customer's] skin still needs, and find a mask that's designed to meet that need."

The following roundup of facial masks is broken down by skin type to help retailers navigate the latest offerings.

Mature skin
Börlind LL Vital Cream Mask. This rich cream mask replenishes nutrients and oils in dehydrated skin as it supports cell renewal and improves circulation. This is a great mask for people with broken capillaries—it contains menthol, camphor and rosemary to stimulate blood flow and prevent circulatory congestion.
www.borlind.com

Zia Natural 15 Minute Face Lift. This mask is designed to give mature skin a pick-me-up. Cornstarch, wheat protein and silk powder firm the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance for up to 10 hours, the company says.
www.zianatural.com

Dry skin
Beauty Without Cruelty Hydrating Mask. The natural humectants in this rich cream mask draw moisture to the skin and hold it there. Emollients like sunflower and jojoba oils condition the skin, and gentle herbs like German chamomile and lavender rejuvenate and nourish. This mask is mild enough to be used daily, according to Keim.
www.beautywithoutcruelty.com

MyChelle Fruit Fiesta Peel."A peel is a mask that will dissolve and digest dead skin cells while accelerating exfoliation," explains MyChelle's founder Myra Eby. This peel uses alpha and beta hydroxy and fruit enzymes to remove dead skin cells; the antioxidants and vitamins then nourish the skin.
www.mychelleusa.com

Combination skin
Aubrey Organics Sea Buckthorn and Cucumber with Ester C Moisturizing Mask. Formulated for combination skin, the botanicals in this mask were chosen because they won't dry out the skin or clog pores. Oatmeal and ground walnuts and almonds gently exfoliate and moisturize.
www.aubrey-organics.com

Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Mask. Made with a blend of botanicals grown using biodynamic methods on the company's own farm, this mask is designed to maintain the natural balance of the skin.
www.jurlique.com

Oily skin
Alba Botanica Deep Sea Mask. Gently absorbant Chinese kaolin clay and super absorbant green clays work to unclog pores by drawing out excess oil and impurities. Aloe vera and sea algae tone and provide nourishment.
www.albabotanica.com

Burt's Bees Pore-refining Mask. Your customers can shrink pores and stimulate skin with this green-clay facial mask. Eight select dried herbs and flowers work together to renew and revitalize the skin.
www.burtsbees.com

Acne-prone skin
Astara Blue Flame Purification Mask. Tea tree and tangerine oils along with red clover and lemongrass provide antibac?terial and antimicrobial effects that help keep blemishes at bay. The mask can also be used on the back and chest to prevent or treat blemishes.
www.astaraskincare.com

Kiss My Face Organics Pore Shrink, Deep Pore Cleansing Mask. Bentonite and kaolin clays draw impurities from the pores while the astringent properties of clove, tea tree and lemongrass oils act as anti-inflammatories for the skin and control acne.
www.kissmyface.com

Sensitive skin
Ecco Bella Organic Dark Chocolate Mask. For the customer looking for true indulgence, offer the good stuff: chocolate. Rich in iron, magnesium and antioxidants, this mask nourishes and cleanses while removing dead skin cells and buildup. It leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth, and best of all, it makes the lucky user feel like she's having a facial in a high-end chocolate shop.
www.eccobella.com

All skin types
Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Goji Berry Mask. A well-balanced, gentle clay mask, Pangea's sole offering in this product category is neither too drying nor too hydrating. The formula is based on superfoods and antioxidants and is what Onysko describes as a "smoothie for your face."
www.pangeaorganics.com

Weleda Iris Intensive Treatment Masque. This mud-free mask doesn't dry out skin so it works to soothe and repair stressed skin. Cucumber and birch extracts tone the skin while almond and jojoba oils moisturize.
www.weleda.com

6 steps to healthy, glowing skin

You've helped your customer choose the perfect mask for her skin type. Now you need to teach her how to use it. Boulder, Colo.-based aesthetician Irena Fomenko, co-owner of Flamingo Master Studio, offers the following advice on how best to apply a mask:

  • Start by cleansing the skin. "Use some sort of acid cleanser so it will take dead skin off and allow the mask to penetrate," Fomenko says.
  • If your customer has the time, advise her to steam her face for a few minutes either by using a facial steamer or by draping a towel over her head and leaning over a sink full of hot water. This will allow for deeper mask penetration.
  • Apply the mask. Beauty Without Cruelty's Keim likes to do this before getting in the bath—first because it minimizes the mess and second because the steam from the bath keeps masks from drying out. "If they stay warm and moist, [masks] are very active," she notes.
  • A few minutes before it's time to remove the mask (go by the manufacturer's instructions), apply a hot compress to the face, and leave it on until it's time to wipe the mask off.
  • After removing the mask, moisturize the skin. For customers with dry skin, recommend a heavy nourishing cream. For normal to oily skin, go with a light serum. Follow with sunblock.
  • Repeat two or three times a week for acne or very oily skin.For normal skin, once a week is fine.

—D.S.B.


Deirdre Shevlin Bell is a Denver-based freelance writer and editor.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 3/p. 112,114