Are facial masks really necessary?

Facial masks were initially created and marketed as a deep cleansing skincare product which came in a jar or a tube.

It had one purpose - to keep your pores squeaky clean and help your favourite moisturiser work effectively.

Today, the masks come in creams, muds or gels, or in sheets, and in a variety of flavours and scents. You can leave the mask on your skin overnight, wash it off or peel it off.

Unlike earlier masks which were used once a week or twice a month, some of these newer masks can be used on a daily basis or even several times a week.

The newest facial masks have also evolved into a multitasking product. Some offer added functions such as moisturising, pore refining, anti-ageing and even treating acne.

With these additional claims that blurs the line between skincare products it will leave you wondering if you actually need to buy that extra moisturiser or pore refining product!

Following reviews by staff:

Photo: Lancome

Lancome Absolue Precious Cells Revitalizing Night Ritual Mask

Before applying this cream mask, I had to first rub my palms together and warm my face and neck with them. Usually, I have little patience for extra steps in beauty routines, but for the purpose of this review, I dutifully followed the rules. Upon applying the velvety mask with the handy soft applicator, there was a cool sensation, coupled with a refreshing floral scent. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, I wiped off the remaining mask with cotton. The brand lists the product's effects as "plumps, firms and gives out a luminous glow". After six applications, I didn't really feel any major glowing effect but my skin does look a little brighter and more hydrated overall. - Wong Li Za

Photo: Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Mask Boost

With its refreshing scent and texture, the mask can easily come across as a regular moisturising cream. It spreads easily and blends well into skin. I like how it leaves a light coat without a sticky feel on skin. With a high content of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, the mask absorbs quickly and delivers a cooling effect onto skin. After five minutes, I gently wiped off the mask with cotton. What I like about the product is its lovely scent, light texture and how it helps to keep my skin moisturised. After using it three times a week, my skin feels refreshed, radiant and revitalised. - Sheela Chandran

Photo: Philosophy

Philosophy Total Matteness Pore-minimizing & Mattifying Cleanser & Mask

This product can either be used as a daily cleanser, or a weekly mask - I chose the latter and have used it three times. It's easy to apply and remove and smells pleasant. There is a slight stinging sensation right after application but it doesn't burn (even after I spent four days baking in the sun on the beach) and if I didn't have a timer on I would have forgotten it was there. Upon removal my skin felt super soft and really, really clean. I'm not sure about the pore-minimising claim, as I don't really see much of a difference in that area, but my skin definitely looks and feels less greasy than before I was using it, and this is after only three uses. - Nasa Maria Entaban

Photo: Sulwhasoo

Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask

This is one of my favourite brands, so I was quite excited at trying it out. What I like about overnight masks is that if you've had one of those days where your skin needs a pick-me-up, you can put it on, go to sleep and wake up magically to perfect skin. At least that's how it should be! This product is supposed to nourish and replenish your skin and you don't really need to use much of it. After you've done your nightly skincare ritual, squeeze about a hazelnut size and spread evenly. There's a cool tingling sensation after you apply it on and it absorbs easily. I like the herbal scent but the best part was that when I woke up the next morning, my skin was all glowy and luminous. It's recommended that you wash your face with just water in the morning, but I found that rather strange, so I think maybe a gentle cleanser wouldn't hurt the glowy effect. My skin still looked luminous. After using it a few times, I would say this is a good product for an immediate effect the next day. - Dzireena Mahadzir


Clarins Hydra Quench Cream Mask

This is the very first time I've used a cream mask and as I have slightly dry skin, was delighted to know that it offers deep moisturisation. I must admit, however, that I was a little confused as to its application as masks are usually a once-a-week affair and this product seemed to be for daily use. I quickly learnt that its proper use is to slather on a thick layer of cream over the face so that you resemble an iced cake and to leave it on for about 10 minutes. You will find that the cream settles and your skin will begin to look more like a regular glazed donut. Food references aside, after quickly rinsing off the excess cream, my skin was dewy and soft and remained that way without additional moisturising. A definite thumbs up for those wanting a mask that is gentle yet effective. - Nadine Fernandez

Photo: Shiseido

Shiseido Ibuki Beauty Sleeping Mask

The overnight leave-on gel contains condensed vitamin capsules; one spreads it on the skin before sleep so it stays for long hours. Besides being formulated with encapsulated vitamins C and E, it also comprises a phytoplakton extract which revitalises the skin for a plumped, well-rested look by morning. After a particularly stressful week, I was more than keen to try this. Users are encouraged to close their eyes and breathe in its light fragrance, and also press acupressure points along the eyebrows to induce slumber. So, not only do you wake up looking more radiant, you (hopefully) get a good night's snooze. When morning came, I did notice my mien looking a tad more refreshed. Highly recommended for fans of sleeping masks. - William K.C. Kee

Photo: L'Oreal

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 Night Cream-Mask

This mask claims to correct lines, smoothen skin and reduce pores, and restore skin bounce and tightens skin. I like its springy cream texture and that I don't need to spend time waiting to wash it off as it's a sleep-in mask. I've tried it for 21 days straight since it can be applied nightly. My combination skin felt very hydrated and the best thing I noticed in the morning was smaller pores and slightly firmer skin. It also left my skin feeling properly cleansed and a lot smoother. Were the lines on my face corrected? I might have to use it longer to notice! I used it during the busy Chinese New Year celebrations and when I was caring for a demanding new puppy so I didn't have time. I left my face without moisturising for a week during the day and my skin didn't feel dry throughout, which was a pleasant surprise. Would I buy this? Definitely. - Sandra Low

Photo: Sephora

Sephora Bubble Mask Detoxifying & Oxygenating

Bubble masks are apparently a trend now. They fizz when exposed to air and deeply cleanse the skin of impurities. This one is said to contain white tea extract and a vitamin E derivative, of which have antioxidant properties. It comes out as a gel, but bubbles into a froth after being applied. Unlike clay masks, you don't need to leave it on for long - just two or three minutes. While my skin does feel way cleaner, I have not noticed any other perceptible difference (it claims to make the complexion purer and more luminous) even after using it once a week for a month. The tingling and tickling sensation of the gel bubbling did feel fun though. - Bervin Cheong