Facial Mask or Facial Peel – What’s the Difference?

by | Updated: March 9th, 2021 | Read time: 4 minutes

Skin gets dirty. Pores get clogged. And if you have oily skin or tend to sweat a lot, you may have more trouble than others keeping your complexion clear and healthy. No matter what your skin type, though, it’s important to have a good cleansing routine in place to protect your skin and keep it glowing.

That means you may need to look into using high-quality facial cleansers, products with hydrating properties such as hyaluronic acid, acne-fighting products like those with salicylic acid, and different facial peels and masks to get rid of dead skin cells and improve moisture.

When it comes to choosing the best clean beauty products for your routine, it helps to understand the differences between the types of formulas available. Here’s what you need to know about masks and peels – and how each can benefit your skin.

Woman Who Learned What is a Facial Peel Applying Mask to Face at Table With Mirror | Vitacost.com/blogWhat is a facial mask?

A face mask is an over-the-counter skincare product that can be easily applied at home. Some medical-grade face masks also can be purchased from dermatologists for at-home use. Masks with stronger ingredients, however, may only be applied at a physician’s office. So if you’re looking for something more powerful, be sure to chat with your dermatologist about it.

Face masks usually involve viscous liquid substances applied to the skin, and they can be made with a variety of different ingredients to address different skincare goals. Charcoal, for example, is a popular option for deep cleansing and detoxification and can be helpful for those with oil or acne-prone skin.

Dr. Anna H. Chacon, a board certified dermatologist who serves on the advisory board for Smart Style Today, explains that the main active ingredient in charcoal masks is carbon, which is a detoxifying agent that can help get rid of debris and oil from the skin. She personally uses one once per month.

While charcoal is great for getting rid of oil buildup, masks containing hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, olive oil or jojoba oil are better for those with dry skin. You’ll also find masks for brightening skin, lifting and firming, and energizing your complexion.

What is a facial peel?

A facial peel, also known as a chemical peel, calls for the application of one or more chemicals, usually a medical-grade acid, to the skin.

“Peels are mostly performed on the face but can also be used on other areas of the body such as the upper chest, V-neck area, arms and hands, and they are used for mild skin resurfacing,” Chacon says.

Peels are ideal for clearing away dead skin cells and creating cellular growth and moisture, giving your skin a fresh, dewy look, a softer and smoother texture, greater collagen production and youthfulness to eye.

Facial peels work well for anyone, but the benefits are especially big for people in their 30s or 40s suffering from mild acne, blemishes, and dyschromia. Peels can help rejuvenate the skin, boosting cellular growth and keeping the skin taut, moist and youthful in appearance.

Facial peel benefits

Facial peels offer many benefits, but perhaps the most notable is that they help make your other skincare products more effective. Because you’re eliminating dead cells from the surface of your skin, it’s then better able to absorb products better moving forward (allowing you to maximize those benefits!). With a fresh “slate,” you’ll be able to prevent acne and blemishes, deeply hydrate your skin and enjoy anti-aging perks reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Another facial peel benefit is the ability to reduce dark circles under the eyes or dark pigmentation on the skin, caused by sun exposure or damage. Of course, a peel isn’t a replacement for sunscreen, but it can help get rid of the dark patches temporarily. For extensive darkening, other treatments (such as laser) may be preferred. (Bonus tip: Vitamin C is also great for fighting discoloration and dark patches on the skin.)

Types of facial peels

Facials peels are grouped into several categories including: trichloroacetic acid peels, alpha-hydroxy acid peels and phenol-croton oil peels. Strengths and percentages are titrated based on tolerance, results desired and individual skin characteristics. A dermatologist or esthetician can help you determine which is the best type of peel for you based on your needs.

For example, according to Chacon, “Salicylic acid peels are known to be effective for mild to moderate acne, while glycolic acid peels tend to be helpful for an overall brightening effect, and a reduction of pigmentary abnormalities.”

Salicylic-based facial peels are best for those with acne and scarring, as these types of peels address clogged pores and blackheads.

How often should you do a facial peel?

You will see results after just one facial peel. Consider doing a peel just before a special occasion to clear your skin and get that dewy, youthful look. But it will be more effective if you do it regularly as part of your skincare routine.

“I perform peels on myself regularly, about once a month,” Chacon says. You can keep it on the calendar for a once or twice a month facial peel appointment—think of it as a date night for yourself!

Featured products:

InstaNatural Glycolic Peel | Vitacost.com/blog

Yeouth Salicylic Acid Face Peel 20% with Tea Tree Oil & Green Tea | Vitacost.com/blog

Derma E Essentials Overnight Peel AHAs | Vitacost.com/blog