rogue

I did 30 face masks in 30 days to find out if they actually work or are a waste of money.

My name is Hannah and I’m obsessed with skincare.

So much so, my fellow skincare-obsessed friend Nida from Caked To The Nines and I decided to set ourselves a 30 day Instagram face mask challenge.

Yep. One face and 30 face masks in 30 days.

Why, you ask? It’s a fair question and one I pondered myself from around day four onwards. Basically, I wanted to know if sheet masks, pot masks, clay masks, charcoal masks and all the other masks are really necessary or just a fancy waste of money.

Mamamia’s Amy Clark and Jess Wang tried the Glam Glow Glitter Mask and the results were… interesting. Check out what happened below, post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The challenge was simple: I had to use a mask every single day for the month of August and document each one. But to make sure my face didn’t fall off from over-masking, repeats of certain masks were allowed, as were eye, lip, hair and butt masks. We’ll get to that last one a bit later on.

Before we jump in, I’ll let you know a bit about my face. I’m a pretty seasoned active ingredient skincare user, but my skin type can be reactive, causing redness and cute little bumps.

Now, onto the challenge. From hyped Instagram masks to affordable ones you can get from the chemist, here’s how my 30 days of masking went.

Day 1: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, 50ml for $21.90.

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Sexxxxxyyyy. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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This mask claims to target lacklustre tone and textural impurities with salicylic acid, charcoal, and kaolin. It’s quite messy because of all the charcoal. I definitely felt a tingle! My skin was super smooth afterward, but needed some serious moisture.

Verdict: This mask clears up congestion, so is perfect the night before an event.

You can read Mamamia's review of The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque here.

Day 2: Patchology Get Dewy With It Mega Moisture Sheet Mask, $8 per mask.

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SO SERUM-Y. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

I got this sheet mask at the Patchology stand during Meccaland. I wasn’t expecting much because I thought all sheet masks were much the same. Wrong! My skin was REALLY bouncy and juicy afterward.

Verdict: I'm a huge fan and this might be my new favourite sheet mask.

Day 3: Skinstitut Hydrating Mask, 75ml for $49.

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HELLO hydration. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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This mask comes in a tube and gives intense hydration for moisture and radiance with shea, panthenol, chamomile, and cucumber. It sounded great on on paper...

Verdict: I was moisturised but a little itchy afterwards… reaction to the product? Or my skin telling me it needs a break? Stay tuned.

Day 4: Ohii Beauty Before and After Vitamin C Mask, approx. AU$36 plus shipping.

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A little bottle of magic. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Yay, fragrance free! Meant to be a five-minute facial for the morning to prep and brighten skin. Star ingredients are cucumber oil, rosehip oil, and oil-soluble Vitamin C derivative tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. I felt a tingle with it on, which is normal for me using Vitamin C products.

Verdict: My skin was radiant from within and makeup went on smoothly. You can buy on the US Urban Outfitters website as they ship to Australia.

Day 5: 16brand 16 Juicy Toks Peach Apple Mask Pack, $2 per mask.

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BEFORE... Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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05-16brand-Sheetmask-After
AFTER, and not happy. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

I had a peeling mask planned for tonight, but my skin wasn’t feeling it. Makeup was breaking up earlier in the day (a sign of dehydration) and I felt tingly. Then I put this on and the result was... terrifying.

Verdict: I was quite red and itchy from all the perfume in the sheet mask and I sincerely regret using it!

Day 6: Synth Labs Intl. Chill! Mask, 30 applications for $128.

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Now this is some skincare technology. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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This mask is really cool. Literally. It comes in a kit that you mix up and pop in the freezer. Once frozen, you go ahead and glide a grassy Calippo-esque ice block full of soothing ingredients over your face, then pop back in the freezer for next time.

Verdict: It was everything I needed.

Day 7: Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength, 60ml for $73.

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Look how surprised I am about how good this mask is! Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Green Apple Peel works with a blend of AHAs lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, and PHA gluconolactone. I skipped the more redness-prone areas of my face and stuck to the congestion prone areas instead. I went a little pink with it on, but the glow and smoothness were UNREAL.

Verdict: Delivered perfect glassy skin. I can’t quite believe it!

Day 8: Aceology Green T Infusion Gel Mask, $64 for 4 masks.

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Do I look like Martha from MAFS now? Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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This mask hydrates, refines, and refreshes with green tea, seaweed, and evening primrose. I was bouncy and pore-less afterward. I wanted to try it because of Martha Kalifatidis from MAFS' Instagram post in it. It was epic.

Verdict: Aceology masks are as good as they look on social!

*Full disclosure – I did a sponsored Instagram story with this brand, but I genuinely rate the brand and their awesome products.

Day 9: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, 80ml for $69.

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Gee, she's pretty. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

By this point, I was OVER IT. I did the simplest skincare routine – removed makeup with some micellar wipes and popped Watermelon Glow on before promptly going to sleep. I woke up smooth and hydrated but with no irritation whatsoever. This magic comes courtesy of loads of hyaluronic acid (hence the gel texture), then a little exfoliation from small amounts of glycolic acid, lactic acid, and some nutrient-rich fruit and veg.

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Verdict: I could see myself using this almost every night!

Day 10: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, 64g for $73.

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Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

This tube mask rebuilds your skin’s barrier with ceramides, phytosphingosine, and cholesterol. It hydrates and soothes stressed-out skin. If your skin’s not used to this type of ingredient, you’ll be blown away. I would use this mask on my skincare-averse mother to even out and plump her skin pre-event makeup.

Verdict: The Jet Lag mask is one of those things where you’ve seen it all over Instagram and you wonder… is it that good? Or is it brilliant social media strategy? This is what keeps me up at night. In short, Jet Lag is both.

Day 11: Ole Henriksen PHAT Glow Facial, 50ml for $68.

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How's my PHAT glow? Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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PHAT exfoliates and brightens similar to the Juice Beauty, but using gluconolactone (PHA) only. This means it’s gentler as the PHA is a larger molecule and doesn’t penetrate the skin as deeply. Allegedly.

Verdict: It gave impressively good, pore-less glow but I definitely felt a tingle! So, here's a kind reminder that if you use any acids on your skin, you need to use at least SPF30 to protect it for a week afterward.

Day 12: Skin Republic WILD Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Koala Sheet Mask, $7.99 per mask.

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Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

You can pick up Skin Republic from Kmart or Chemist Warehouse while doing your regular shopping, and they’re so tempting. This sheet mask hydrates with water-grabbing trifecta hyaluronic acid, glycerin and panthenol (vitamin B5). The koala vibe is very cute, and very wet!

Verdict: My skin was bouncy afterward, and the mask contains minimal fragrance which meant no irritation. I want to try all the animals now!

Day 13: Asarai Earth Tones Australian Red Clay Mask, 75ml for $35.

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I look like I've been rolling around in red sand but I love it. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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Earth Tones claims to detoxify, smooth, and brighten, and that it did! It also pulled a lot of moisture out, like with any clay. Key ingredients are red clay, kakadu plum, and desert lime – really Australian, which I love.

Verdict: I looked smooth and pore-less afterward, and marched straight over to my moisturiser.

Day 14: Aceology Frose Infusion Gel Mask, $64 for 4 masks.

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Frose o'clock. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Frose soothes and hydrates with rose petal, centella, chamomile and sea buckthorn. They are not playing! It’s also quite photogenic, so I spent a GOOD part of the half hour relaxing time taking selfies in it.

Verdict: There is nothing I love more than the bouncy skin I get right after a good sheet mask, and this is it.

Day 15: Dr Lewinn’s Jellyfish Collagen Hydrating Sheet Mask, $9.99 per mask.

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I'm so, so sorry little jellyfish. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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Yes. Jellyfish. It’s rich in collagen! The mask also contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin, things that often pop up in hydrating skincare products.

Verdict: My skin was hydrated and not irritated at all, but I felt sad for the dissolved jellyfish. That said, the mask is 100 per cent biodegradable, and this type of jellyfish is overpopulated.

Day 16: Societe Rejuvenating Peptide Gel Mask, $149 for 5 masks.

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Getting my peptide on. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

I received this mask at an Adore Beauty Skin Masterclass event with @teganmac.skin, who says she uses it post-procedure for its magical barrier strengthening and irritation reduction. It also adds moisture. By this point in the experiment, I wondered if the irritation might be coming from the onslaught of different masks and potential irritants? Every single day? But we’re past halfway now so no going back.

Verdict: My skin was really irritated and this mask soothed the burning!

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Day 17: Allies of Skin Fresh Slate Purifying Cleanser/Masque.

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This little grey tube is amazing. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Fresh slate moisturises, unclogs pores, and stimulates circulation with Manuka honey, cacao, clay, hemp seel oil and hyaluronic acid. This one’s also fragrance free, and I know I can trust it. Sadly, this mask is currently discontinued, but a new iteration is due out in 2020.

Verdict: I was getting a spot and I believe this shrunk it! It gave glow, without dryness or irritation.

Day 18: Bawdy Beauty Squeeze It Brightening and Rejuvenating Butt Sheet Mask, $14 per mask.

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Please accept this in place of a photo of my actual butt. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

My face really needed a break today, so I sheet masked my butt instead. I have included a visual from the brand’s website so you get the picture. This mask is meant to even skin tone and brighten dullness with lemon, grapefruit, cucumber and liquorice extract. Think about it – when do you ever give your butt this much attention?

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Verdict: Can confirm everything was looking smooth and bright, but will spare you the pictures.

Day 19: Summer Fridays R + R Mask, 64g for $80.

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Paint me like one of your French girls. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

The R + R mask gives good glow, and brightens and buffs skin with vitamin C, rose petal powder, argan oil and safflower oil. It smells like Turkish Delight and feels like a rich, oily sugar scrub for your face.

Verdict: This mask is good oily and nourishing. The granules can be a bit sharp so caution is key, but it leaves a gorgeous layer of moisture on removal.

Day 20: Patchology Eye Revive FlashPatch 5 Minute Hydrogels, $23 for 5 patch sets.

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Eye patch chic. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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Containing caffeine and collagen, these eye gels are a fast fix for tired and puffy eyes. I definitely looked more awake, but I think this was a waste using them at bedtime.

Verdict: They would make a great morning pick-me-up for nights I didn’t sleep well.

Day 21: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, 64g for $73 (repeat).

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It's not Friday but I'm using this mask again. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

I needed serious restoring, so I repeated the Jet Lag mask. My skin was getting more and more sensitive as the challenge went on, so I’m here for those barrier repairing ingredients. Woke up happier.

Day 22: Allies of Skin Fresh Slate Purifying Cleanser/Masque (repeat).

At this point, I’m trying to ward off any impending breakouts my skin might be brewing to punish me. Please don't hate me.

Day 23: Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask, 50ml for $104.

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My first and last violet selfie. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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Tatcha Violet C seems universally beloved and I know I see purple mask selfies at least once a week on Instagram. I had to know what the big deal. I slept in my makeup the night before, oops, and I thought a light exfoliation, some clay, and some vitamin C would be perfect to draw out yesterday’s pollution and oil, and put back some vitamins. I was right there, I did have a nice, even skin tone afterward with no dryness but… I was itchy again from the perfume!

Verdict: I have to say… it’s not for me. Sigh. I’m sure many skin types that are less irritation prone could love this mask but alas, this will be my first and only purple mask selfie.

Day 24: NOTHING.

I skipped because I just needed a break, OK! We created the challenge with 30 days in a 31 day month for this reason – one day of grace. Thank goodness.

Day 25: Aceology Frose Infusion Gel Mask, $64 for 4 masks (repeat).

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Not sorry. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

I popped this on to get the photo for an upcoming sponsored post and was pleasantly surprised at how happy my skin was afterward. It’s quite cold in Melbourne so the mask itself was cold to touch and that took a lot of heat out of my skin.

Day 26: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, 64g for $73 (repeat).

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My old faithful. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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I put aside a lot of masks for this month and I thought if I spaced out exfoliation to twice a week I’d be fine. I was not fine at all. So Jet Lag it is – something I know and trust, something I can reach for to help rebuild the carnage that was over exfoliation in the first two weeks. My skin is relatively calm. Jet Lag is my face mask happy place.

Day 27: Aceology Frose Infusion Gel Mask, $64 for 4 masks (repeat).

I'M SORRY BUT I HAD TO REPEAT THIS ONE AGAIN.

Day 28: St Tropez Self Tan Express Sheet Mask, $6 per mask.

BEFORE tan sheet mask. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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AFTER and damn I look good. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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OK, back to your regular scheduling of a new mask a day. This mask promises a light tan in five mins, medium in 10, or a dark tan in 15mins. I left it on for five MAX.

Verdict: The next day I had a nice glow, but it’s hard to get the mask out and on your face without getting tan hands. I washed my hands afterward but had a line on my wrist the next day, so highly recommend using gloves to work with this one.

Day 29: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, 80ml for $69 (repeat).

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Always be glowing. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Tonight was a *single cleanse, mask, and that’s it* kind of routine. I woke up smooth and moisturised. I really, really enjoy this mask, I think it’s something pretty special.

Day 30: 111 Skin Celestial Black Diamond Multi Acid Accelerated Peel, 100ml for $495.

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I call this: Leaf Me Alone. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.
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A chic sparkly, pink, PRICEY mask from Mecca, it claims to quickly brighten skin and speed up cell turnover, which slows as we age. I have to say this is the most drool-worthy, aesthetically pleasing texture, and I would LOVE to photograph it in hard sunlight. That doesn’t show up when it’s on your face though, I tried (see selfie). It was quite gentle but a little drying. Bonus points to 111 Skin for stating on the label that you need to moisturise afterward.

Verdict: I had a party the next day and I found this mask to give me that glassy forehead I need (because I love to show up to parties and blind people with it. Exfoliated forehead is the new highlighter).

Day 31: Go-To Skincare Transformazing Sheet Mask, $9 per mask.

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I am transformazing. Image: Supplied/Hannah English.

Bonus day, because I skipped a day on the 24th. This is one of my favourite ever sheet masks. I promise you, not all sheet masks are created equal, and this one is brilliant. It moisturises and contains skin-loving niacinamide (for cellular energy! So cool!) as well as soothing Tasmanian pepper leaf for even tone. Transformazing is intended for pre-event skincare, not just any old evening, so I save them for this reason. We even used it before my sister’s wedding!

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Verdict: My skin after this mask is so moisturised that I can use powder without looking dry, which is no small achievement, and you need to try it.

So, what have we learned about face masks?

I learnt a lot, but here's the Cliff Notes:

  1. Not all sheet masks are created equal. If there’s something your skin doesn’t like, the way sheet masks work means it will push it right into your skin. For me, this results in blotchy, inflamed skin and sometimes even breakouts.
  2. Just because everyone on Instagram loves a product, does not mean it will work for you. That’s okay. We’re all wildly different, and that’s great.
  3. Bombarding your face with new potential irritants every day is not… the cleverest strategy for healthy skin. I know. Groundbreaking.
  4. Listen to your skin. When my skin’s had enough, I feel heat and products that are normally fine will sting, and breakouts are not far away.

Side note - beauty guru Leigh Campbell weighs in on whether sheet masks actually work on the You Beauty podcast below. Post continues after audio.

Now the challenge is over, I’ll using gentle products for at least three weeks. This means gentle cleansing, one skin-supporting serum, eye cream, a no-frills moisturiser, and sunscreen. But before I go, here are my favourite masks from my 30 day challenge.

Best exfoliating face mask (strong): Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength, 60ml for $73.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Full Strength,
You’ll get the glassiest forehead! Image: Mecca.

Best exfoliating face mask (gentle): Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, 80ml for $69.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
The hype is so justified. Image: Mecca.
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Best soothing face mask: Synth Labs Intl. Chill! Mask, 30 applications for $128.

Synth Labs Intl. Chill! Mask
Gimmicky, but goooood. Image: Synth Labs Intl.

Best all-round face mask: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, 64g for $73.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
Simply the best. Image: Mecca.
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Best face mask for oily and acne-prone skin: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque, 50ml for $21.90.

The Ordinary Masque
Be sure to moisturise afterward even if you’re oily, and your skin will reward you with clear pores and even tone. Image: Priceline.

Best brightening face mask: Ohii Beauty Before and After Vitamin C Mask, approx. AU$36 plus shipping.

Ohii Beauty Before and After Vitamin C Mask,

Hannah English is a skincare obsessive and scientist with an honours degree in pharmacology of melanoma treatment working in clinical research. She also runs an Instagram account (ms_hannah_e) dedicated to incorporating sunscreen into beauty routines.

Have you tried any of the face masks Hannah mentioned? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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