Facial masks have been around for ages, and are popular enough to get stocked in supermarkets in the UK. But they are still exotic enough that you can’t assume people know what they are. The idea of putting a clothe soaked with a fluid on your face and leaving it there for about 20 minutes still seems to be something of a minority taste. Part of the problem is that people aren’t exactly sure what it is that they are supposed to do. And judging by the way some of the products in the category are marketed, it doesn’t look like the makers have a much better idea.
A lot of the fabric facial masks I have seen have strident fragrances and are loaded up with pointless tip ins of plant extracts the purpose of which are obscure. A more obvious use would be to use them to deliver actives to the skin, and there is a rather obvious one that would fit well with the nature of the product. I have written before about how humectants work. Fabric facial masks ought to be the ideal way of getting glycerol into the skin.
The way this would work is you would have to have a fairly high level of glycerol in the fluid so as to give you a concentration gradient. I don’t know the best level to use. It would take a bit of experimenting to get it just right.
The only fabric mask I have found that makes a story of the humectants is Olay’s Total Effect 7. Interestingly these masks score rather well on Makeup Alley and the kinds of effects the reviewers report are the sorts of things you’d expect them to say if their skin had got a good dose of humectant. One person said their skin was better moisturised and glowing.
I don’t know if Olay are the only brand that have worked out this strategy. It probably isn’t worth bothering with very cheap options which would be using relatively low glycerol levels. And if you have had a disappointing experience with one brand, it still may be worth trying another.
Keep the mask on for long enough to get the benefit. I’d say that 20 minutes is a bare minimum. When you remove the fabric it makes most sense to massage the remaining fluid into your skin rather than rub it off. I’d be interested to hear people’s experiences.