How To Go On A Mask Binge, Like A Responsible Adult

Photographed by Ashley Batz.
The word 'binge' doesn't have the greatest connotation. A Netflix binge turns you into a sloth; a sugar binge makes you feel like shit; a drinking binge puts you in danger and makes you feel like shit. But there's one type of bender that people are going on in the hopes of major skin benefits: mask bingeing. Not to be confused with multi-masking, mask bingeing is the practice of applying your entire collection of face masks in one sitting, one right after the other. Its recent popularity makes sense, given that the mask category seems to be churning out weirder, cooler, and more Instagram-worthy iterations by the hour, and we're a generation that wants it all — and fast. But can you really tackle every issue at once without irritating the hell out of your face? Maybe, say dermatologists Joshua Zeichner, MD, and Robert Anolik, MD, so long as you apply the masks in the right order, don't use more than one with chemical and/or physical exfoliants in it, and stick to a maximum of three per session. How you go about layering your treatments really depends on your skin type: Normal To Dry Skin With No Active Breakouts
If you're looking to brighten or moisturize, start with your exfoliating mask. (You'll know it by the ingredients — salicylic acid, glycolic acid, clay, rough grains — or labels like 'clarifying' or 'purifying. This one's great.). Once you've used that, "the surface dead skin cell layer is thinned," says Dr. Anolik, which "allows for greater penetration of brightening masks." Look for one with vitamin C or potent plant extracts, like this one with licorice, then close out the night with a hydrating mask (try this) "to keep the brightening ingredients in place for a slightly longer window of time, as well as to help restore the skin surface which could be irritated by the exfoliant," says Dr. Anolik. Oily, Acne-Prone, Or Sensitive Skin
On the other hand, if you're looking to calm breakouts (or just calm your pissed-off skin in general), you're going to want to take Dr. Zeichner's two-step, reverse approach. "The first player should be a priming, hydrating mask to help soothe and calm the skin. A well-hydrated skin barrier is less likely to become irritated from ingredients like vitamin C or retinol," he says. Start with a cellulose sheet mask, then follow it up with a heavier, leave-on one. "The general rule is to apply the lighter consistency product first and the heavier or thicker product after," says Dr. Zeichner. Still confused? Here's an easy cheat sheet: If you have acne, go from a water-based, oil-free hydrating mask (like this one) to one with benzoyl peroxide (Dr. Zeichner picks this); if you're oily, your first step is the same as acne, but your second should involve an oil-free, mattifying clay; and if you're sensitive, a lightweight soothing mask topped off with an intensely moisturizing and repairing option (try this) is your best bet. You might be thinking, "Hmm, this doesn't feel like a true binge... Where's all the shame and gluttony and regret?" Well, good news: There is none! Think of it as an #alternativebinge — moderate, measured, and effective.

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