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Layering Masks 101: Intermediate-level beauty lesson in progress! 

Beauty students, you’re already accustomed to layering standard skincare – even applying several serums at once – so the next logical step, really, is to master mixing and matching multiple facial masks at the same time.

Ready? Here’s the only “rule” you should memorise, mask-wise: Always apply a rinse-off product, regardless of what its purported benefits, before your clay or mud masks. “If you apply a thinner textured emulsion after a mud mask, it’ll never be able to properly penetrate the paste,” notes Nicolas Travis, founder of Singapore grooming brand Allies of Skin.

(Incidentally, the impermeability of “heavy” kaolin particles is also why the instruction labels of most mud masks recommend topping off with a toner to remove all traces of clay from your face.)

So we’ve established that order matters and that mud masks go on last. What else? List down your cosmetic concerns, then “beat” them using a one-two punch: A cream- or lotion-type formula for hydration and fine lines; then a detoxifying clay mask to purge your pores of grease and gunk.

Incredibly intuitive, right? Here are some killer combos in my beauty repertoire that have worked wonders for me. Check ‘em out:

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FLAKY SKIN x BREAKOUTS = HYDRATING MASK + MUD MASK

Cruel conundrum: Most acne meds tend to dry out your skin. The unenviable result? Painful pimples plus peeling and flakiness.

Try this two-pronged approach to alleviating acne. First, quench parched skin with a moisturising mask. Single out stuff with soothing additives like the botanical blend found in Fresh’s fantastic Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, $144, which comes crammed with “cooling” collagen-boosting lychee seed, rejuvenating jicama root juice and antioxidant actives courtesy of a black tea brew.  

Let your hydrating mask marinate for a bit, splash off and follow up with a blemish-busting mud mask. If you have a particularly bad case of peeling, “spot” treat by layering on the second mask only on acne-prone areas, like your cheeks and chin. This targeted approach addresses excess sebum and congested pores without aggravating the sensitive skin on other parts of your face.

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Product recommendation-wise, I’m gaga over GlamGlow’s Thirsty Mud Hydrating Treatment, $92, a delicious-smelling, near-magical mix of calming oats and olive leaf, brightening orange blossom honey and hydrating skincare superstar hyaluronic acid.

Insider info: You know this is as good a cult fave as any when I have makeup artist acquaintances beseeching me to stock up on tubs of this hugely hyped Hollywood staple the next time I’m holidaying in the Big Apple!

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DULLNESS x OILINESS = BRIGHTENING MASK + CLAY MASK

Another abhorrent complexion combo: Dull skin that’s also slick as a frying pan. First, reanimate lifeless skin with a brightening balm; gun for a gently exfoliating formulation like Peter Thomas Roth’s Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask, $83. Stuffed with a suite of potent stem cell actives said to regenerate and rejuvenate, I love how luxurious this lightly perfumed potion feels on my face. Talk about a skin treat!

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Got your go-to brightening mask on? Good. Relax, rinse off, then slap on a clarifying clay mask to sop up sebum. My money’s on Fresh’s Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask, $80, which boasts a naturally occurring, mineral-rich mud said to annul acidity and purify pores. Top tip: I like stirring in a dollop of pimple-clearing ceramide cream into the mix for a turbo-charged custom concoction. 

These are just two of the myriad mask medleys you can try your hand at, with the sole proviso being that you reserve the clay-type product for application last. Such a simple concept, but a bona fide skin-changer, if you ask me. Have fun mixing and matching your masks, and good luck!