Ever wondered if a face mask is necessary, and how often exactly should one be used? We ask dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin, founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for her mask recommendations and tips on what are the skincare ingredients to look out for in your Korean face masks, sheet masks, sleeping packs and more.

Dr Teo is the founder and medical director of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre. She is a Ministry of Health accredited dermatologist, specialising in both medical and cosmetic dermatology and has also developed her own dermatologist-grade cosmeceuticals – Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.

From a dermatologist’s perspective, are face masks necessary?

The absorption of potent skincare ingredients is increased when in direct prolonged contact with the skin – as is the case when a face mask is left on skin for a period of time. It’s best to think of it as a way to intensively deliver highly concentrated doses of skincare ingredients into one’s skin. Masking is a beneficial step for people who want to boost the absorption of skincare ingredients and I always recommend this to my patients.  


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What should we look for in a face mask?

The ingredients that I would look out for in a face mask are pretty similar to what I would look for in a moisturiser, but with a comfortable texture for prolonged skin contact. We essentially want something that leaves the skin looking hydrated, plump and radiant. So the ingredients that one should look out for are glycerin, sodium hyaluronate and antioxidants.

Do you have a favourite face mask?

Before I formulated the Radiance Fluide Hydrating Emulsion and Amino Acid 360° Masque, I would actually blend together my own face mask. I would mix 1% sodium hyaluronate (compounded by a pharmacy for my practice) with a moisturiser that contains ceramide and apply that on my face with a damp cotton sheet as a mask.

Now, I love our new  Amino Acid 360° Masque because it contains a form of Vitamin C – sodium ascorbyl phosphate – that effectively treats acne and brightens skin. It also contains oligopeptides and an antioxidant-rich extract we call Larecea, a derivative of Brassica Oleracea, which is from the kale, broccoli and cauliflower family. Being dermatologist-formulated, ingredients in the mask are selected based on scientifically proven outcomes, and more potent concentrations of active ingredients can be used.

Tell us about your new face mask and how should it be used for greater efficacy?

I teach my patients to apply it when they are in the shower when leaving their hair conditioner on. The humidity helps with absorption and the mask can be rinsed off after 10 minutes.


I hear Korean celebs practice daily masking. Can you safely use a face mask every day?

I personally use the Amino Acid 360° Masque twice daily when I am in the shower. It makes sense, as what a mask does is simply an intensified version of your regular moisturiser.

When is the best time to use a face mask for the best effects?

I would say as often as you can. It is best to use a mask after dead skin cells are sloughed off as skin is best primed to absorb anything you apply on it then. For some patients who suffer from severe eczema, I actually prescribe a medical moisturiser as well as topical steroids when necessary to be used in conjunction with a cotton face mask sheet that would be slightly damp. This is to increase the absorption of the moisturiser, and this is done up to six times a day just to repair the skin barrier.

Can a mask replace your daily skincare?

I view masks as an addition to your daily skincare regime like cleansing and moisturising. It may be a time-saver however there is a scientific reason why we can’t just combine all the different products into one. Different ingredients can react with each other and to keep them stable requires them to be in separate formulas at times.

For optimal absorption into the skin, each ingredient also can require a different delivery method or need to be contained in a water- or oil-based product.

Face masks contain higher concentrations of bioactive ingredients as it is washed off after a period of time. Such high concentrations cannot be used in a normal moisturiser as that remains on skin for a long time and may be too irritating for the skin.

Derm in the house: Face Masks

Derm in the House:

Everything you want to know about your skin and skincare regime. We talk to accredited dermatologists to address A-Z topics about skin concerns most women have.

For more stories from this series, click here.

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