Most Americans don't include masks in their at-home skin care routine, but this often overlooked step is essential to maintaining healthy, glowing skin.

Masking is not just for Halloween. It is an important part of your weekly beauty ritual that can actively improve your appearance and help you zero in on areas of concern. A mask can be used three to four times a week or even daily depending on the type of mask you choose. Follow these easy steps to choose a mask that works for you — it's fun to explore the options!

  1. First, you must choose the proper mask for your skin type. There are masks for dry, oily, sensitive, acne-prone and aging skin. Zero in on masks that target your specific skin concerns, and consider the next steps to narrow down your exact choice.

  2. allParenting skin masking

    Choose a mask that offers some type of exfoliation, whether it be manual exfoliation (like a mask that has rice bran beads or crushed almond meal) or a gentle chemical exfoliation (like lactic or salicylic acid). Avoid harsher exfoliants such as crushed nut shells as these can cause micro-tears on your skin. Gentle and mild exfoliation on a weekly basis helps slough off dead skin cells and aids in skin renewal.

  3. Next, you'll want a mask that hydrates your skin. Whether you have oily or dry skin, maintaining skin moisture balance is necessary. For drier skin types, shea butter, mango butter, olive oil, essential fatty acids from seed and nut extracts and skin humectants like honey are all ideal natural moisturizers. For oilier skin types, look for ingredients that have sebum-reducing properties but won't strip the skin of its natural oils, such as kaolin clay, ichthammol, lemongrass and cucumber oil. Avoid heavy, pore-clogging masks that contain petrolatum or lanolin as well as harsher masks that strip skin with ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and sodium lauryl sulphate.

  4. Add a mask to your routine after your daily facial cleansing. To multitask, you may mask while you shower or before bedtime while watching your favorite TV show or catching up on your Facebook timeline. Leave a mask on for five to 10 minutes. The important thing is that it becomes part of your weekly beauty ritual and not something you do once in a blue moon.

Check out my DIY at-home mask in my previous article, How to cook up your own spa treatments in the kitchen.

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