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What’s the difference between a scrub and a mask?

What’s the difference between a scrub and a mask?
Holly James
Beauty Writer4 years ago
View Holly James's profile

With most of the nation having opened up their very own at home spas (uniform: sweat pants), we are doing our best to keep all of you stand in spa technicians educated with the tips and tricks from industry experts so that you can get the same flawless results as you would from the salon. This weeks training, scrubs and masks.

Although most masks come with a description of what they do and how they should be used, very little tell you when to use them in your wider skincare routine. Similarly, it's widely known that scrubs help exfoliate dead skin cells, but why do we need this and how often? Just like how we advise you save the 'quarantinis' until you've logged off for the day (or at least until you've finished your last zoom call), scrubs and masks too have a time and a place in your isolation routine.

How and when to use a face scrub

Unless you have extremely sensitive skin, it's recommended that you exfoliate with a scrub twice a week (reduce this to once a week for sensitive skin). Doing this on a bi-weekly basis is the optimal amount of time between the build up of dead skin cells which the scrub works to remove, clearing the pores and revealing the smoother, fresh skin below. By revealing the healthier skin and removing any debris on the surface, including dirt and unblocking the pores, it will be far more receptive to any products applied afterwards (such as a face mask), meaning you're likely to see better results.

We love the Decleor Green Mandarin Exfoliating 2 in 1 Mask for gently but thoroughly removing dead skin cells and impurities using natural sugars, zests and seeds. The 100% Green Mandarin Essential oil in the mask has strong anti-oxidant properties and is also widely effective in helping alleviate anxiety.

Step 1: After cleansing your face in the morning, and while your skin is still a little damp, apply your chosen scrub to your face using the finger tips. Be careful to avoid the eye and upper lip area where skin is extra sensitive. If you're using the Decleor Green Mandarin Exfoliating 2 in 1 Mask, let it sit on the skin for 2-3 minutes before moving onto the next step to allow the Essential Oil and Botanical Oils to really get to work on the skin.

Step 2: Using the lengths of your fingers, gently massage the scrub into the face in circular upward motions. This action will also help stimulate circulation in the face, making the skin look plumper and refreshed. 

Step 3:  Rinse your face with lukewarm or cold water, never use hot water on your face! Cold water is great for helping close the pores alongside your usual toner. If you have one, use a damp cleansing cloth to help you gently remove the scrub.

How and when to use a face mask

It's recommended that you use a face mask once or twice a week to treat your skin, however this is more personal depending on your skin type, what works for you, and which mask you are using. Some masks do specify how often they should be used, so if the instructions are there, follow it! As for when to apply your mask in relation to your other skincare products, the best time is either after cleansing, or better yet, after your scrub! The skin will be more receptive and sensitive to the ingredients in the face mask following a scrub, meaning it will be more effective at treating the skin. Similarly, after cleansing or scrubbing, the pores will be clear and unblocked, allowing the active formula in your face mask to get deep into the epidermis.

It's also suggested that you apply your targeted face mask before your night cream or serum, to help enhance the effects of both products. As our cells renew whilst we sleep, applying a face mask before your serum will not only keep the skin extra hydrated, but could also make the serum work faster, giving it a little added boost.

Of course, no two face masks are the same, there are different textures, timings and removal methods from peel offs to even masks that are removed with magnet. Each face mask contains the correct amount of active ingredients for a specific skin concern, therefore the instructions will be put together to make sure you are getting the correct dose and aren't overpowering your skin. Our favourite mask for hydration has to be the Hydra Floral Multi Protection Expert Mask by Decleor. The blend of Essential Oils with naturally derived Hyaluronic Acid melts into the skin, intensely hydrating and soothing any irritation or tightness. The mask is best used just before bed as there's no need to wash it off, meaning you can let it moisturise until morning.

Top tips for applying a face mask

  • Always cleanse or scrub your face before applying your mask.
  • Tie your hair out of the way with a bobble or head band to avoid any of the formula getting into the hair (this can get very messy!)
  • Always read your instructions and follow timings; leaving your mask on for too long or too little can make it less effective or irritate the skin.
  • If you are applying your mask with your fingers, make sure they are properly clean before touching your face.
  • If you are using a clay or cream textured mask, transfer some into a small bowl before hand and use a brush to apply it so that you can spread it evenly around the face without having to try and squeeze more product out with mask covered hands.

Unless it is a leave on, follow your mask with the remainder of your skincare routine; applying any toner, serums and moisturisers that you usually would after cleansing.

Shop the full range of face masks on lookfantastic here.

Holly James
Beauty Writer
View Holly James's profile
Working with brands at LOOKFANTASTIC for over two years I have developed my knowledge of all things beauty from key skincare concerns to niche makeup tricks and haircare hacks. I have a major passion for finding effective solutions that are easily accessible to everyone so that we can all achieve our best, glowing complexion.