Is the current obsession with face masks worth buying into? 

Face mask sales are through the roof and celebs are wearing them all over social media, but what's the fascination? Tory Frost explores

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By Tory Frost on

When on earth did we all get into face masks? "Who, me?" OK, maybe you aren’t a masker yourself, but you can’t have failed to notice the mask party going on. Celebs in sheet masks, bloggers in multi-masks (more later) and anyone who’s anyone in Charlotte Tilbury’s scary-looking Dry Mask – think Hannibal Lecter on a spa hol. Now, Google tells us face masks are officially the biggest beauty trend across the US, France and Japan in 2017.

Lady Gaga in a sheet mask

And it’s not just search data that’s soaring. When I spoke to Alexia Inge, co-founder of Cult Beauty, she told me: “We’ve seen around a 25 per cent uptick for face masks in the last year. That’s solid growth.” Too right! Debbie Jones, Harvey Nichols Beyond Beauty buyer, reports that, this year alone, they have sold over 12,000 sheet and targeted masks, while marketing intelligence expert Euromonitor predicts the sector will grow a whopping 50 per cent in the UK by 2020. So, why the sudden interest? 

Chrissy Teigen's a firm fan

Unlike lots of beauty trends I’ve seen (contouring, strobing, glitter in every orifice), face masks have always been on the radar, whether they lurk dustily at the back of a cupboard or were slapped on from a sachet by your teenage self. But, like almost any recent trend, the newfound hysteria can be blamed largely on social media.

Jessica Chastain's pre-red-carpet beauty essential

Simply put, "masking" is prime hashtag fodder. So much so that, in 2015, Origins, who sell one in every five masks in the UK, launched #maskmonday, encouraging customers to share their selfies to win some swag. 

Then came the sheet masks. Hailing from Asia, where Google says the trend first took hold, they give skin a hit of hydrating, plumping or glow-giving serum and don’t need washing off. Perfect for the celebrity make-up chair; perfect for a celebrity selfie. 

We also have YouTube to thank for mask mania. A 2016 study by digital agency Pixability, who place ads on YouTube videos, reported a 65 per cent increase in beauty views year on year, while a quick search for "face masks" today reveals almost 1.8 million videos. It’s understandable. Who has more time on their hands to try face masks than a vlogger, who’s sent beauty product by the boatload? Upload the results or, better still, Facebook Live its hilariously tricky removal, and masks are officially viral. 

The thing is, how much time does anyone with a full-time job, daily commute, kids, cats or obsession with Real Detective have to "get into masking"? 

My theory is the trend is led by a younger, more carefree and selfie-obsessed generation, for whom multi-masking (different types, all on one face) or mask-bingeing (multiple masks, one after the other) is a Sunday well spent. In reality, most of us are lucky if we squeeze in a face mask on special occasions; however, there are real benefits to doing a mask now again. So, with this in mind, here’s a line-up of some that offer big effects, whenever you get the chance.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Instant Fix, £12.99

This one packs a punch for its price – glycolic acid eats away surface dead skin cells, leaving your face smoother, brighter and ready to soak up skincare. It’s too strong for my sensitive skin but, if you’re more stable, it’s a fast-working option with immediate results. Try the afternoon of a night out (you may get some redness). 


Ren Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask, £28

If, like mine, your skin’s easily pissed off, you will know the itchiness, redness and mess of a flare-up. This mask makes everything feel and look a damn sight better, fast. It’s worth having on hand.


Sampar H20 ‘Emergency’ Masks, £21

Yes, the best part of £20 is ridiculous for three masks, but I look out for these in TK Maxx, where they’re only a tenner. They are BRILLIANT the morning after drinking, when your face is grey and barren. They plump, perk up and hydrate while you drink your coffee and take two ibuprofen with squash. 


Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask, £99

Before you think I’ve taken leave of my senses, I am in no way suggesting you buy this, unless you have gold bars holding your doors open. What I am recommending is, before your next flight, mosey on over to duty free and slather this all over your face for free. You’ll get off that flight with the skin of a pre-teen. Thank me at the tiki bar. 



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