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Pick the Perfect Professional At-home Masks

Contact Author Lydia Sarfati January 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Pick the Perfect Professional At-home Masks

One of the most important aspects of a professional facial treatment is the application of a facial mask. When chosen and applied correctly, utilizing a facial mask during your treatments can help provide moisture to the skin, draw out impurities, exfoliate, brighten, tighten and tone.

Dry and dehydrated

On dry and dehydrated skin, consider using a cream mask to help calm and restore a glowing complexion. Moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid and shea butter along with vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), mango seed butter, water lily extracts, sunflower seed oil and coconut oil make an ideal skin-smoothing treatment. Cream masks are also excellent for sensitive skin types. A mask allows you to provide sensitive skin with delicate exfoliation. Look for a cream mask that helps gently remove dead skin cells without irritation.


For oily skin types, utilize a clay mask. Clay masks help to deeply cleanse pores and purify the skin. Kaolin clay helps to reduce oiliness and minimize larger pores. It also helps to absorb excess sebum and impurities, leaving skin clean and refreshed. To really help draw out impurities, look for a mask with ammonium bituminosulfonate. A mineral-derived mixture, this ingredient is mined from the Tyrolean Alps in Central Europe. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Clay masks help cleanse the skin from bacteria, leaving it clean, decongested and healthy.


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Today, masks can also be used to help aid with the extraction process. In the past, galvanic current was one of the only choices, which can be uncomfortable for some clients. A desincrustation mask can help to soften the keratinaceous horny plug and allow extractions to proceed easily with minimal trauma to the surrounding tissue. Added to your acne skin care treatment, this mask can provide beautiful results without irritation to your client.

Seaweed masks

Seaweed masks can be used on a variety of skin types. Laminaria digitata and Ascophyllum nodosum provide detoxifying, oxygenating, re-balancing, hydrating, anti-aging and renewing benefits. Codium tomentosum provides deep moisturization and Ulva lactuca seaweed provides skin-brightening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also helps to protect the elastic fibers to help slow the signs of aging. There is truly a seaweed mask for every skin ailment. (See Treatment How-to: Lift-off Seaweed Mask.)

At-home care

Following each and every treatment, it is so important to recommend at-home care for your clients. As a professional, you need to inform them about the importance of masking at home. In between professional visits, clients should be regularly masking with the appropriate mask for their skin type from your retail area. This is essential in order to maintain the benefits of their monthly in-spa facial. It is also important that your client knows how to properly use at-home facial masks to achieve optimum results.

First, instruct clients to apply their mask to a clean face—this is your opportunity to direct them to a facial cleanser that would be beneficial for their skin type. Then, using a tester, show your clients the amount of product they should be using when applying the mask.

Proper removal of a mask is essential, as well. Facial masks should be removed by splashing the face with clean water and then gently patting the face dry with a clean towel. Clients should not scrub off the mask with a washcloth, because this could cause damage to the delicate structure of the skin and add bacteria back to the skin.

Unmask success

Masking is such an important part of a professional skin care treatment and at-home maintenance. With the right products and techniques, you can help your clients’ unmask a healthy, beautiful complexion!

Lydia Sarfati, president and founder of Repêchage, is an internationally recognized skin care expert quoted in Vogue, InStyle, Glamour and The New York Times, and she has been featured on CNN, CBS and Fox. Sarfati has more than 30 years of experience as an esthetician, spa owner, manufacturer and consultant. She is also the author of Success At Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business (Publications, Inc., 2012).

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Treatment How-to: Lift-off Seaweed Mask

This mask will help improve the resiliency, firmness, contours and tone of your clients’ skin.

Cost: $75
Duration: 30 minutes
Contraindications: Any client who has an allergy to the ingredients in the treatment.

Equipment and supplies needed:
Medical-grade bowls

Products needed:
Freeze-dried seaweed packet
Seaweed gel packet

Step 1: To apply a lift-off mask, first combine a freeze-dried seaweed packet with a seaweed gel packet in a medical grade-bowl with your spatula. It is important to use gel instead of water because the purity and pH of water varies.

Step 2: Mix the ingredients together with the spatula. Whip the components to add a lot of air, creating a soufflé-like texture. Always start with a clean spatula.

Step 3: Begin applying the mask by imagining you are icing a cake; use smooth movements to apply and spread. Start on the larger parts of the face first—forehead, chin and cheeks—then, move to the nose.

Step 4: The nose can be a little tricky at first, but here’s a trick: Using your spatula, scoop some of your mask, then wipe your spatula clean on the inside of your bowl. Then, re-scoop the mask left on the inside of your bowl. This will help create an almost ball-like shape to the mask for easy application. Using your spatula, gently place the “ball” of mask onto the bridge of your client’s nose. Once it is applied, gently slide the mask down each side of the nose.

Step 5: It is also important to cover the area above the lips. Using a small spatula of mask, simply guide it across the top lip from cheek to cheek.

Step 6: Apply the mask to the throat using downward strokes, and with upward and outward movements on the face. Once the mask is fully applied, allow it to set for 7–10 minutes. This is the perfect time to either upgrade your client by applying a mask to the hands, or by simply providing them with a relaxing hand and foot massage.

Step 7: Once the mask is set, it is time for removal. To peel off the mask, dip your fingers into a bowl of water, splash the water off and place your fingers under the edge of the mask to gently release it. Remove the mask from the bottom and roll it upward. Take one piece of cotton, cut it in half and remove the residue.

Step 8: After the treatment, take the client to your retail area and recommend the proper at-home mask care they will need and book their next appointment before they leave.

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