Encyclopedia of Face Masks


The western skincare scene has usually been limited to clay, mud, charcoal, cream, gel kind of masks. Move to the east and we have a whole new innovative category of masks. Starting with the more traditional sheet masks for various parts like face, hands, feet with different materials to a rather new age innovative Oxygen bubbling, Splashing or Patting, Rubber modeling, Spot treatment, Lip masks!!!! Below I have a list of masks based on various consistencies and textures:

  • Clay, Mud, Charcoal
  • Powder aka Ubtan
  • Cream
  • Gel
  • Sheet – face and eye – cotton, gel, sea weed/kelp, hydrogel, foil back sheet mask
  • Sleep or Overnight – cream, gel or bouncy textures, water pack
  • Peel off mask – Gels
  • Rubber modeling
  • Oxygen Bubbling
  • Splash or Patting
  • Mousse pack – too cool for school eg mousse pack
  • Nose pack – mainly for white and black heads
  • Spot treatment
  • Hand & feet
  • Lip mask

In terms of why we mask, its simple – immediate crash injection of whatever skin needs. Below are some outcomes expected of masks, and the gobbledygook it’s usually marketed with:

  • Repair, Rescue
  • Detoxifying, Decongesting, Purifying, Deep Cleansing, Mattifying, Clarifying, Pore Correction
  • Exfoliating, Resurfacing, Retexturizing
  • Radiance, Brightening, Glow, Luminous
  • Hydration
  • Moisture
  • Firming, Lifting, Shaping
  • Self Tanning Sleep Mask

I’ll talk about my current masks on rotation based on their purpose in life and intended outcome for my skin. Here I have a decent mix of price points and regional availabilities. Of course if all else fails, diving into your kitchen and whipping up one of your own creations is always an option. I have a post on DIY masks you could refer for some ideas and inspiration.


Charcoal, Clay and Mud Masks

I hate paying ridiculously priced clay, mud or charcoal masks! They are the cheapest ingredients and formulating a mask with them as a base doesn’t cost an entity as much moolah. Large mark up zone, so beware and ensure you read inci list here. Look for life changing ingredient (as if they exist – eye roll) to justify a price tag.

Generally formulated with some soothing, hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. This category of masks can leave the skin dry and parched. This happens because the mask is left on too long. These masks should be left long enough for it to work but not to the point where they are bone dry. By doing so it is drawing moisture from skin. Once you let it dry completely to the point you cannot move your face, you would need a bloody chisel to break through (exceptions: Aesop, SkinFood NZ, Sanctuary Spa). Therefore I prefer slapping these on when I intend to step in the shower. With the steam and clay/mud/charcoal it draws impurities to surface and truly detoxifies the skin. Plus its easier to remove and goes down the drain instead of messing up the sink.

Great for oily, combination, congestion prone skin. Alternatively also good for skin who need a detox. Drier skins need to be slightly careful with masks, add couple of drops of facial oil to avoid any post-mask tightness or dryness.

Quick blurb on all masks pictured above: Dr. Organic Virgin Olive Oil – too drying, hard to work with; Good Things Manuka Honey – purifying yet leaving skin supple; Nip+Fab Kale Fix – seriously softens the skin; Caudalie Purifying – too strong essential oils, not crazy about this one; Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus – smells amazing but results are mediocre; Moreish – another Kiwi fave mask, almost creamy and leaves skin supple; Cattier – limited availability outside France, good basic clay mask; Mahalo Bean (limited edition) – not available anymore but left skin radiant; Andalou Naturals – great drugstore option; Aesop – long time fave, wonderful detoxifier; SkinFooz NZ – the best mask truly, not drying, applies nicely, very mild exfoliating and nourishing; Derma E – exfoliating particles not for sensitive skins; Sanctuary Spa – warming sensation, easy to remove; Colleen Rothschild Detoxifying – minty freshness, leaves skin refreshed and purified.


Brightening, Radiance, Firming Mask

Texture wise this category varies between gel, cream and whipped mousse. Ingredient base will usually have some form of AHA, or Enzymes to allow the surface exfoliation which results in brightening and radiance. Occasionally some masks include physical exfoliation aspect as well, in this case its M61 Skincare Vitablast C Scrub & Mask. I tend to slap it on, leave it for a while and then gently massage/exfoliate the skin. Given its formulation with Vitamin C it helps brighten the skin. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey mask is an unusual one in this category, whilst Antipodes claim it to be purifying as honey draws impurities to surface I prefer this mask for subtle glow and brightening my skin. Easy cream application leaves skin soft, supple and glowy.

Blurbs on others: Andalou Naturals Berry Enzyme – again great drugstore alternative without hefty price tag; Forest Essentials Yogurt Purifying – stings skin slightly, smells yummy, whipped yogurt texture and results are meh; Dr Lewinns Reversaderm – sure shot radiance with runny blue lotion like consistency; Natio 10min Brightening – so good, but limited to Australia; Farmacia Barcelona Gold Mask – slightly gimmicky with gold ‘powder’ but decently hydrating; Nip+Fab Bee Sting – nothing firms skin like this fella, taut skin; Chantecaille Fruit and Flower – smells amazing, feels creamy and leaves skin glowy. love.


Hydration Boosters

Hyaluronic acids, Glycerin, fermented ingredients or masks formulated with serious humectants are all about major hydration. Absolute treats for skin and sensorial experiences include Mahalo Petal – the smell is heavenly, apply and step in shower and the whole bathroom smells divine. Words are not enough to describe the scent. In terms of hydration its a mild everyday use mask. May Lindstrom The Honey Mud classified as cleanser, but No its too lush to go as cleanser hence a sweet spicy honey mask. An inexpensive treat is Super Facialist Una Brennan Rose Hydrating mask and Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses mask.

The beauty of these masks is you can use everyday (if your skin needs it). Leave it on for as long as your heart desires and skin is left hydrated, nourished and smooth.

Serious hydrating masks are – Bioderma Hydrabio (nothing like this fella), Rodial Dragons Blood Hyaluronic Acid (overnight leave on mask), Natio Ageless Vitamin C hydration and The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture mask.


Powder masks

The purpose could vary from mere cleansing, exfoliating, detoxifying to enzyme radiance. Recently I wrote about cleansing powders aka ubtans could also be used as masks. Since the ingredients are in dried powder form this one has greater shelf life but can be messy to use. At the same time it gives you the flexibility and allows creativity on the liquids to use for mixing. May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is enriched with spices and oils and tends to self heat (due to spices) when applied to the skin. Love this mask for its ability to decongest and purify skin.


The new concept of splashing or patting unadulterated concentrated ingredients on skin for crash radiance. The methods of application can be as creative as they can get, but what remains consistent is the result on skin. Bright, radiant skin like someone slapped it to life! This product is truly tailored for clumsy individuals like me. Definitely look into this, now available in Sephora too, so you can try a sample.

Click here for my detailed review


Sheet Masks

These masks are now becoming all the rage in western markets whereas they have dominated the east Asian market for decades. Made with various materials, ingredients these masks pack a punch and truly feed the skin. The beauty of these masks is you can get it for absolutely any skin concern. Sheet masks are also made specifically for neck, hands, feet, eye, and lips.

Personally I love using these after acid tone stage, as my skin drinks up all the essence in these masks, follow with serum or ampoule and finish off with oil or moisturizer. The fits and sizes of these masks can vary for a lot of non Asian faces. In some instances, the forehead is not big enough or nose is tiny, or mask in general is smaller. They are made with Asian faces in mind however the outreach of these masks is phenomenal.

Whilst Korea dominates the sheet masks domain, Asian countries like Japan (HadaLabo, SKII, Shiseido, Harihada, Biore), Taiwan (My Beauty Diary, Naruko, Neogence, Silk Whitia), Singapore (DrGL, BioEssence, RachelK), Hong Kong (Hiruscar,Wai Yeung Tong) are not too far behind and worth giving a try.

These masks are wildly creative with the ingredient formulation too, from oils to fermented ingredients to animal by products (donkey milk, snail mucin, abalone serum), EGF factors, etc. The price points can also range from a $1 to $40 per sheet mask.

The new trend also includes cleansing gel, peeling gel, aqua or milk peel swab (aka acid tones), essence and sheet masks making it a one stop shop for convenience and travel friendly. Reme G, Ettang, Papa Recipe, Somoon, The Saem are some brands which have got on board with this concept.


Not a huge deviation from above mentioned Sheet Masks, these Eye patches specifically address puffiness, bagginess and brightening eye area. Common ingredients that are often used are caffeine, retinol, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, bamboo water and other fermented ingredients.

On a disgustingly warm day, keeping any sheet mask in fridge for few minutes before application can seriously feel amazing, slapping on cool sheet mask whilst everything around you is boiling and feel like your insides are melting. Amazing for travel, excellent short cut to an elaborate routine without compromising on results.

How innovative and experimentative are you with masks? I’d love to know in comments below is there any category of mask or brand I absolutely must try.



Budget Skincare: Australia Pharmacy/Chemist

Priceline 1

A mission to curate skincare on a budget, not only in USA but also UK and Australia. I have collaborated with ever so lovely and fabulous Sal aka Ummbaby to find skincare options that don’t burn a hole in our pocket. Below I have a run down on all Aussie budget skincare finds. If you’ve missed USA and UK version, click on the links.

In Australia, there are a number of avenues to explore what we call “Budget Skincare”. Sold in venues like Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths, Coles, Kmart, Target, Local chemists, etc. Unfortunately I won’t be talking about each product in detail, this post will aim to provide you with some pointers at certain products and brands. Whilst I have not used every single product mentioned in this post, I have reviewed each ingredient listing. Even if you’re not on a budget and love to mix and match high end and drugstore skincare, this post will help you fill in those gaps.

Priceline 2

Some brands will feature repeatedly in each category and some products in these brands are worth a looksie. The brands include, A’kin, Moreish, Goodness Labs, Trilogy, Antipodes, Sukin, Dr.Lewinns, Botani, Swisse, Natio, Manuka Doctor, People for Plants, Innoxa, Nu’trir, Essano, QV, Lucas Papaw. By the very nature of globalization of businesses, there will be brands that overlap (e.g.: Nip+Fab, Indeed Labs, Burts Bees, Derma E, Olay, Yes to). 

Priceline Bourke Street Mall

First Cleanse

The very foundation of removing all war paint and daily debris from face. Some prefer micellar water (which requires a cotton pad) and some prefer cleansing oil (lazy person’s preferred method – one pump, massage and shifts all war paint from face). Cleansing Oils can be emulsified with water or removed with hot cloth. Needless to mention but my chosen method is the latter.

Micellar Water: Many brands do micellar water such as Simple, Garnier, Sukin, Swisse, Essano Micellar Water, L’oreal and Nivea Micellar Water. However not all move the makeup and dirt in same way. My preferred is Bioderma, however in spirit of ‘budget options’  I prefer Garnier, Simple, and Sukin (smells lovely).

Cleansing Oil: Some prefer basic coconut oil from supermarket however, basic oils like those may be comedogenic for some. You can look into Swisse Moringa Cleansing Oil, Nu’trir Nourishing Cleansing Oil (not typical texture, develops light foam upon contact with water), Dr. Lewinn’s Essentials 4 Fusion Cleansing Oil, Innoxa Restore Hydrating Facial Cleansing Oil.

Second Cleanse

Typically used to nourish and feed the skin all the goodness of ingredients. The price bracket is slightly higher than first cleanse. Look for cleansers with decent ingredients that you’d like to ‘feed and nourish and nurture’ your skin with. Removal method is hot cloth again!.

Gel Cleanser – Sukin Sensitive Cleansing Gel, Botani Purify Facial Cleanser, People for Plants White Tea, Aloe, Witch Hazel Cleanser & Makeup Remover, Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser, Trilogy Balancing Gel Cleanser, A’kin Sandalwood & Neroli Facial Cleansing Gel.

Milk and Cream Cleansers – Sukin Cream Cleanser, Moreish Cream Cleanser, Goodness Every Day Cream Cleanser, Essano Rosehip Cream Cleanser, Natio Renew Gentle Toning Facial Cleanser, A’kin Rose & Geranium Creamy Cleanser & Toner, Antipodes Hallelujah Lime & Patchouli Cleanser, Trilogy Enzyme Cleanser & Cream Cleanser.

Balm Cleanser – Natio Cleansing Balm (doesn’t emulsify however cleanses skin well), Trilogy Makeup Be-Gone Cleansing Balm, Sanctuary Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser, Antipodes Grapeseed Butter Cleanser.

Mud Cleanser – Sukin Charcoal Cleanser.

Face Mask

Masks are intended to address specific concerns of skin in a ‘crash course’ format and of course with continued use you will see noticeable improvements. Generally, clay or mud masks are great for congested, oily, combination skins. Hydration is for dehydrated skins, but sometimes also adds that boost that makes you look alive. Radiance masks would be expected to have ingredients that exfoliate the surface of skin, such as enzymes or aha’s. Sheet Masks, are obviously an asian beauty staple and perfect for my multitasking brain, slap it on and continue moping, cleaning, laundry etc.

Clay or Mud Masks – Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Clay Mask or Sukin Oil Balancing Charcoal and anti pollution mask, Sanctuary Deep Cleanse Facial 5 min Detox Mask, Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask, Moreish Emergence Clay Mask, Natio Clay and Plant Face Mask Purifier, Premium Spa Face & Body Mask White Clay, Rosehip & Chamomile.

Hydration – Burts Bees Intense Hydration Treatment, Natio Ageless Hydrating Mask with Vitamin C and Restore Mature Skin 10 Minute Moisturizing Mask, NIP+FAB Bee Sting Fix Lifting Mask or Kale Fix Dry Skin mask.

Radiance – Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, Nu’trir Detoxifying Enzymatic Radiance Masque

Sheet Masks: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Mask (5 pieces), Skin Republic Sheet Masks (particularly love their brightening vitamin c mask).

TIP 1: Sometimes the whole face doesn’t need a specific type of mask, you can apply clay mask on T-zone, while radiance or hydration mask on forehead and cheeks. Listen to what your skin needs and cater accordingly.

TIP 2: You don’t necessarily need to spend money on this category, there are umpteen number of home made options, all you need to do is explore your kitchen cabinets. I have a post on DIY Masks, click here.

Acids for Exfoliation

Regular readers know my LOVE for acids, if you would like to know about more AHA and BHA please refer to a separate post where I explain their basics. If  you’ve used highend acid peel pads you will know the pads surface are a lot softer on skin and companies invest a bit more in packaging. In the drugstore space, some pads can feel slightly abrasive, some pads don’t feel as well soaked and in some packaging is just meh (basic plastic jars).

Nip+Fab Glycolic Acid and Night Pads Extreme (glycol acid), Dr Roebucks Tone (with glycolic acid).


Once you acid exfoliate (where the acids lower skin’s ph 3-5), you need to bring your skin’s ph balance 5.5, (still slightly acidic) back to normal and hydrate skin. If the skin’s ph balance is higher than 5.5 (alkaline) it may result in skin being dry, sensitive and inflamed skin. Chemistry lesson Over!

Personally I wouldn’t spend a lot of mooolah in this category. Basic Rose Water (how to choose right rose water is simplified and explained here).

Natio Refreshing Face Mist, La Roche Posay Serozinc (can’t believe this is now available in Priceline), Sukin Clarifying Balancing Facial Tonic, Mario Badescu Facial Spray Aloe, Herb and Rosewater, Swisse Deep Sea Hydrating Mist Toner, People For Plants Rose Otto, Burdock, Green Tea Mist Toner.


Depends on your age and condition of skin around your eyes, you want to choose an eye cream with specific ingredients. Younglings can get away with basic hydration boosters and soothers. Slightly more mature individuals or individuals looking to prevent early want to look into eye cream with ingredients like Peptides, Retinol, Skin Hydrators, Niacinamide, and Vitamin C and E.

Local Brands: Sukin Antioxidant Eye Serum, Nude by Nature Bright Eyes, People For Plants Kakadu Plum, Calendula, Chamomile Eye Cream, A’kin Purely Revitalising Lifting Eye Creme, A’kin White Tea & Cornflower Eye Day Gel (niacinamide heaven).

Other overseas brands: Yes to Cucumbers Eye love Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel, Burts Bees Renewal Smoothing Eye Cream, Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum, Indeed labs Eyesilix.

Treatment Serum 

This is the only category I would really recommend to reserve a bit more to splurge on. Whilst budget skincare do dish up some decent options, I’d still say identify your particular skin concern and get one serum (moderately priced serum) to really notice a difference in skin. Something to look into – most of Olay products are high in Niacinamide compared to other drugstore brands, and are reasonably priced. If you’re interested I have a separate post on serums based on specific skin concerns and ingredients to look out for each skin concern.

Treatment Serums: Generally there would be serums to address your specific skin concerns however sometimes treating your skin to a weekly or bi weekly treatment can make a world of difference.

Derma E Overnight Peel (review linked- I’ve use  and have compared it to Sunday Riley Good Genes too (click here), Skin Doctors Gamma Hydroxy Forte (acids and retinol in a thick cream form), Skin Physics Luminosity Even Tone Illuminating Serum, La Roche Posay Redermic R (gentle retinol on skin – no dryness or peeling of skin),  Essano Rosehip Collagen Repair Serum (niacinamide heaven), Trilogy Age Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum.

Brightening & Radiance Serums: A’kin Pure Alchemy Cellular Radiance Serum, Manuka Doctor Facial Oil Brightening, Swisse Kakadu Plum Brightening Serum, Antipodes Apostle Skin-Brightening & Tone-Correcting Serum, Nude by Nature Nude Miracle Serum

Hydrating & Plumping Serums: Antipodes Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum, Billie Goat Soap Hydrating Face Serum, Moreish Glory Serum, Sukin Purely Ageless Botanical Hydration Booster.

Antioxidant Serums: Botani Acai Berry Active Antioxidant Serum, Antipodes Chia & Kiwi Seed Superfood Serum, Sukin Super Greens Facial Recovery Serum, Antipodes Worship Superfruit Antioxidant Serum.

Other overseas brands: Olay Regenerist, ROC Retinol, Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum, Indeed Labs Hydraluron, Peptabright

Face Oil 

Australian budget skincare is bursting with some seriously good face oils. Face oils are a short cut method to thoroughly moisturize your skin. Why I say this? Typical moisturizers have silicones, fillers, emulsifiers etc. However face oils (blend of carrier and essential oils) are 3-4 drops of concentrated moisturizer for skin and fabulous for Every skin type. I have a separate post on why I prefer Oils over Moisturizers, click here. Budget skincare do cater to some lovely oils, but make sure its all oils, no other ingredients are added.

Blends of several carrier and essential oils: People for Plants Argan, Pomegranate, Milk Thistle Face Oil, Sukin Facial Treatment Oil, Swisse Cranberry Antioxidant Facial Oil, Thursday Plantation Almond Oil Soothing, Nude by Nature Nude Oil, Thursday Plantation Brightening Oil Tone Correcting, Trilogy Age Proof CoQ10 Booster Oil, Sanctuary Youth Boosting Therapists Secret Facial Oil

Chia Seed – Goodness Labs (Certified Organic), Sukin Nourishing Chia Seed Oil, Swisse.

Chia Seed Blend: Antiodes Chia and Kiwi Seed Oil

Rosehip Oil – Trilogy (Certified Organic), Sukin (Certified Organic), Essano (Certified Organic), Natio (Certified Organic), Natural Instinct (Certified Organic), A’kin (Certified Organic), Thursday Plantation (Certified Organic), In Essence (organic), Iluka, Swisse.

Rosehip Blends: People for Plants Rosehip, Calendula, Chamomile Face Oil, Antipodes Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip, Antipodes Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip, Model Co Rosehip + Luxury Facial Oil Hydrate & Balance, She Pure Botanicals Anti-Aging Rosehip Oil, Essano Rosehip Oil with Acai Berry Antioxidant Oil.

Argan Oil – Swisse Argan Face Oil, Moreish Liquid Gold

Maracuja Oil – Swisse Maracuja Skin Oil


I have limited experience in finding a good moisturizer, and I will not pretend and make recommendations. Based on the inci lists I think some of these could be decent options to look into:

Day Cream: Swiss CoQ10 Anti-Aging Facial Moisturizer, Natio Evening Primrose Moisturising Face Lotion, Sukin Sensitive Facial Moisturizer, Sukin Rose Hip Oil Hydrating Day Cream, Sukin Super Greens Nutrient Rich Facial Moisturizer, Natural Instinct Nourishing Moisturizer, Botani Olive Repair Cream, Goodness Every Morning Moisturizer, People for Plants Rosehip, Ginkgo, Shea Day Cream, Moreish Empathy Sensitive Moisturizer, Essano Rosehip Regenerating Facial Moisturizer

Night Cream: Sukin Purely Ageless Replenishing Night Cream, Swisse Hibiscus Anti-Aging Night Cream, Sukin Moisture Restoring Night Cream, Moreish Dream Night Cream, Billie Goat Soap Hydrating Face Cream Night


We all need a good lip balm or stick, I’ve been regular with Nuxe reve de miel for years however at $20 a pot, its far from an inexpensive option. We are in the land of Papaw ointment, in fact many of us grew up using it. These days however there are many more organic and petroleum free options to look into.

Papaw Ointments: Lucas Papaw Ointment, Nude by Nature, Models Prefer (flavours – Peach & Coconut), Nature’s Care (has higher content of Beeswax),

Beeswax Balms: Burts Bees would be an alternative to Nuxe Reve de Miel, Dr Roebucks Lips, People for Plants (flavours – peppermint & evening primrose, pomegranate & seabuckthorn, manuka honey & shea, pink grapefruit & sweet fennel, tangerine & juniper berry).

Lanolin: Lanolips

Other Blends of Lip Balms: Sukin Nourishing Lip Treatment, People for Plants vanilla and cocoa butter

Lip Balms with SPF Protection: Natio Moisturising Lip Balm SPF 30+, Natio Moisturising Lip Balm SPF 50+

Curated Budget Skincare Routine AUD $180-$200

Skin Type: Normal to Combination, needing a Radiance boost.

First Cleanse – Garnier Micellar Water $8.99 , Swisse Moringa Cleansing Oil $14.99

Second Cleanse Trilogy Cream Cleanser $21.99

Mask Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Clay Mask or Sukin Oil Balancing Charcoal and anti pollution mask $15.99 or Natio Ageless Hydrating Mask $18.95

Acid Dr. Roebucks Tone $19.99

Toner Natio Refreshing Face Mist $13.95

Eye Sukin Antioxidant Eye Serum $19.99

Serum Billie Goat Soap Hydrating Face Serum $16.99 or Swisse Kakadu Plum Brightening Serum $29.99

Face Oil Essano Rosehip Oil with Acai Berry Antioxidant Oil $15.99 or Sukin Facial Treatment Oil $19.99

Lips – Papaw Ointment $4.99

Treatment Derma E Overnight Peel $29.99 or Skin Doctors Gamma Hydroxy Forte $59.99 (optional)

Hope you’ve found this useful and informative and thank you for taking the time to read.