We get it: Life is hectic. It’s the reason “hacks” are one of the most searched terms on Pinterest. Our days are long on to-do lists and obligations and short on time for just about anything else. But while we’re all looking for ways to skip an extra step in our routines—and often our skincare routines—there are two key products that are worth the minutes it takes to apply them: face toners and face masks.
Yes, there’s a reason that no professional facial is complete without them—because skincare experts know that they make a big difference in your complexion, both immediately and over time. Whether you’re yearning for instant gratification or want to boost the efficacy of your current skincare regimen (and who doesn’t?), a toner and mask are two steps that will make a world of difference.
Here, the most important things you need to know about face toners and face masks, how to use them, and the incredible beauty benefits they provide every day in your skincare regimen.
What is toner—and do I really need it?
It used to be that face toners were considered essential only if you were a teenager trying to achieve a squeaky-clean complexion when your hormones were igniting angry breakouts. Back then, they contained high concentrations of alcohol to remove oil. The problem is they often over-stripped the skin, leaving it raw, red and flaky. Fast forward to today, when toners are the very opposite of drying—in fact, these fast-penetrating liquids deliver a quick blast of hydration, sweep away impurities left behind after cleansing, and help skin reach its healthiest pH balance (essential to a soft, clear, healthy complexion.)
Skin looks and feels its best when it’s at its natural acidic state, between 5 and 5.5 on the pH scale. This is important because the skin’s barrier, also known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping skin moisturized while blocking out germs and bacteria. Pollution, the environment, makeup—just living life—alters our pH in ways that result in fine lines, dry patches, acne, and redness. The problem is that even the water with which we wash our faces has a pH of 7, so cleansing to remove all the ick from the day does not bring skin back to its peak pH. Face toners help do just that, and actually work like a sheer primer to create a smooth canvas for whatever you’re applying next.
“I personally use a toner once a day, in the morning after cleansing,” explains Rosalba Martone, Perricone Director of Education. “Our No:Rinse Intensive Pore Minimizing Toner is excellent for anyone with enlarged pores due to aging skin, congested skin, or excessive oil production. The DMAE, salicylic acid, and copper complex visibly shrink pores and leave skin looking firm and matte. I also love the Pre:Empt Oil-Free Exfoliating Pore Refiner for minimizing enlarged pores that are due to a build up in oil, dirt or impurities. It contains natural forms of alpha hydroxy acids that are gentle but very effective. The citrus extract refines skin tone and makes skin brighter without the damage you get from an abrasive scrub.” Just saturate a cosmetic pad, then smooth a face toner over your face and neck. Allow it to dry before applying your serum or moisturizer. Or, opt for Perricone’s DMAE Firming Pads, which puts the face toner in the pads for you. These treatment pads are loaded with citric acid and alpha hydroxy acid for a mild exfoliation.
Are masks more than a pampering feel-good?
In a word, YES! We concede that there’s something infinitely luxurious about taking the time to slather on a potion that smells divine and feels fantastic, laying back, and letting it sink in for a relaxing 15 minutes. As hard as it is to believe that while you’re doing nothing, the face mask is doing quite a lot, it really truly is. In fact, face masks may well be one of the hardest working elements of a skincare regimen.
Dryness, inflammation, redness, acne, fine lines—there is nary a skin condition that can’t be treated by a mask. One of the best perks of facial masks is that results are often visible immediately—plumped, smoother skin, a healthy glow, an airbrush effect on usually enlarged pores. One reason for the instant boost is that, unlike other products in your skincare regimen, masks are occlusive, meaning they blanket the skin and drive active ingredients deeply into the pores. Masks can deliver higher concentrations of these potent ingredients to plump, hydrate, refine, and balance the skin.
Another perk? It’s easy to customize multiple masks for your particular skin issues because they’re thick enough to stay where they need to without migrating to other areas of your face. For example, if you have a greasy T-zone that’s prone to excessive oil production and breakouts but your cheeks are dryer, you can apply an intensely purifying gel-to-clay pore mask like Chlorophyll Detox Mask directly where you need it. The Chlorophyll-enriched microcapsules burst upon application to help rebalance oil-prone skin while minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores.
A hydrating, lightweight facial mask like H2 Elemental Energy Firming Foam Mask can be applied all over, or solely on areas more in need of firming and moisturizing. The foaming face mask leaves skin baby soft and visibly brighter, thanks to Perricone’s proprietary H2 Energy Complex™.
If you want to take your multitasking to a new level while still reaping the benefits of a face mask, you’ll love Pre:Empt Oil-Free Refreshing Shower Mask, which is applied in the shower and actually uses the heat and steam to your skin’s advantage. Ideal for oily and combination skin, it not only protects skin from the overdrying effects of hot water, but hydrates, improves texture, smoothes and brightens so you actually look refreshed after stepping out the shower.
One mask is equal parts treat and transformational—the Cocoa Moisture Mask. It invokes a deliciously decadent mug of hot cocoa, but its ability to plump and firm skin in minutes is what’s truly yummy. The combination of cocoa extract-infused microcapsules, DMAE, and hydrating hyaluronic acid are like a big drink of moisture, deeply nourishing skin so that fine lines appear visibly smoothed[AM1] and dullness is replaced with a youthful radiance. This is a non-negotiable when prepping for a big night out.
How often should you be applying a mask?
“Of course, a mask is great prior to a special event because of the instant visible difference in the skin, but using it regularly as part of your routine will yield big improvements,” says Martone. “A good rule of thumb is to apply any mask that’s detoxifying, or for oily/combo skin types, up to 3 times a week, non-consecutively (so skip a day in between). Normal to dry skin types can use these 2 times a week non-consecutively. All other masks that are more hydrating, or promote radiance or lifting and firming benefits can be incorporated into a routine daily.”