Beauty

Are peel-off charcoal masks just a wax strip for the face?

An investigation...

By Meg Bellemore
Peel-off face masks

Unless you've been on a social media hiatus, you will have noticed an influx of ads promoting black, pore-refining facial masks clogging your Instagram and Facebook feeds lately.

Ever since beauty Vloggers started feeding the frenzy, the face masks have gone viral, and not necessarily because they are effective.

Our pick of the YouTube demonstrations? Tiff's here, because she is legit all of us trying to master this new skincare trend. LOL.

After witnessing what quickly turned into a terrifying, full-facial waxing experience, we were left wondering if these masks are all pain, no beauty at all.

To set the record straight, we turned to Dermatologist Dr Mei Mui Tam of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

After close inspection of the ingredients used in these peel-off masks, Dr Mei Mui Tam confirmed the adhesive that makes them so difficult to remove is often listed as Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) — the same ingredient you see in wood glue.

"Peeling the mask off stimulates the skin to produce collagen, as it thinks it is injured after the peeling," explains Tam.

"These setting masks make people happy — they see dead skin and black heads stuck on as visual feedback that something is happening. Unfortunately, the skin will be clear for a short time before the skin and blackheads just regenerate."

The use of charcoal (besides making the whole process look dramatic), is supposed to draw out toxins, impurities, bacteria and dirt from the skin.

"This is probably based on the use of activated charcoal for drug overdoses, to absorb the drug and prevent it from being absorbed," explains Tam.

While many beauty brands are advocates for the natural ingredient, Tam maintains there's not a whole on of evidence indicating that it can reverse the barrier function of the skin and draw out toxins.

So what are the benefits of using the cult-mask? It's satisfying, it is a physical exfoliator, (meaning it will provide instant albeit short-lived results,) and incidentally, it gets rid of those tiny hairs that can come in the way of a super smooth foundation finish.

Worth the money? We'd prefer to watch other people come to that verdict for now!