We love masking for so many reasons, but high on the list is the spa-like aspect of the experience. Perhaps even more than any other part of your skincare routine, masking is all about dedicating time to yourself and basking in renewal and self-care. With spring on the horizon, we’ve got renewal on the mind more than ever. Next time you treat yourself to the ritual of masking, here’s everything you need to know about what to do before, during, and after masking.

Before

There’s a mask out there for every need, so make sure to choose the right one based on your specific skin concerns. Here’s a quick primer of our favorite EL masks and what they do:

Must: cleanse! The most important thing to do before masking is to cleanse. If your skin is not clean and dry, you’ll end up putting the mask on over dirt and bacteria, which obviously defeats the purpose of masking. Don’t forget to wash your hands, too – unless you’re using a blending stick to apply a mask like our Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment, of course. Though really, you probably want to wash your hands either way.

Optional: shower. If you’re in the mood for it, a shower first can be another relaxing part of the masking ritual. Plus, the warm water and resulting steam opens up your pores, making your face more receptive to the ingredients in the mask. Don't forget to cleanse your face while showering to be fully prepped before applying the mask. We recommend this method for especially deep cleansing mud masks, like our Pore Cleansing Clay Mask.

Application pro-tip: Spread a thin, even layer of the mask across your whole face, making sure to steer clear of eyes and lips. To make the most of your mask, apply to your neck and décolletage as well.

Optional: steam. If you want to get steamy without showering, soak a washcloth in very warm water and place it on your face for a few minutes.

Optional: exfoliate. If you really want to set your skin up for optimum ingredient absorption and are using a hydrating mask, use an exfoliant prior to application. This removes dead skin cells to allow for even better absorption. If your mask’s main task is to detox and/or exfoliate itself, however, then skip this part, as it’ll essentially be overkill.

What about toning? You can actually do this before or after; it’s all about what you prefer. Toning before can clear away any dirt or grime your cleanser might have missed while prepping your skin for absorbing the mask. But if you choose to tone after, the toner will help lock in the effects of the mask, keeping your skin feeling smoother and looking younger, as well as prepping your skin to allow for optimal moisturizer absorption. And you can always do both!

During

What now? Time to sit back and unwind as the mask works its magic! Some masks, like the Exfoliate & Detox Hydrogel Mask and Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment, are meant to stay on 15-20 minutes, plenty of time to listen to the latest episode of your favorite podcast, catch up on some Netflix, or squeeze in a chapter or two of the book you’re currently reading.

If you want to unplug while you’re masking, 15-20 minutes is also a great amount of time to spend meditating. If you’ve never tried it before, the app HeadSpace features simple-to-follow guided practices that are perfect for beginners.

And, of course, a glass of wine. Maybe skip the wine if you’re meditating, but a glass of merlot is basically the perfect accompaniment to any mask. 

After

Must: rinse with lukewarm water. Lukewarm water is the Goldilocks temperature for rinsing! Repeat this step a few times to make sure you’ve removed all traces of the mask. Make sure to check around your nose, hairline, and chin. Be careful not to scrub, as skin tends to be particularly sensitive post-mask, so you want to avoid anything that could lead to irritation or redness.

Optional: splash with cold water. While not as crucial as lukewarm for rinsing, cool water is refreshing post-mask and it can help close pores.

Must: moisturize! The reason that masks work so well is because they are formulated to deliver their active ingredients with precision and power. How do you seal them in? By making sure to apply moisturizer! It helps inhibit water loss and locks in the ingredients, which is key to even better results and a longer-lasting mask glow.

Must: relax! Here’s where you pick up wherever you left off during masking. Second glass of merlot, anyone?

Spring is in the air, so channel the spirit of renewal by adding a luxuriously refreshing mask to your skincare routine. From hydrogel masks to overnight sleep masks to mix-to-activate powder masks, masking is the perfect way to indulge.