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Behind the Paper Mask — Rejuvenate Skin With The Hada Labo Tokyo Ultimate Anti-Aging Facial Mask

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Forget slathering your face with a thick green or purple mask, waiting 25 to 30 minutes for it to dry, then rinsing your face for another 10 minutes to remove all traces of the substance. The latest skincare craze is centered on pre-moistened, single-use cotton masks (also called paper masks) that can simply be positioned atop the visage and removed after 10 or 15 minutes, without any need to rinse upon completion of the treatment. The fact that these eliminate the often laborious rinse-off process and the messy clean-up thereafter— whereby you wind up having to run a  rag over the bathroom counter and the edges of the sink to eliminate any pesky mud, Matcha tea, creamy avocado, papaya, or yogurt mask dollops —is appealing enough to give  these masks a whirl. And they eliminate the need to relive the tired girl-answers-the-door-with-a-green-or-purple-face-mask trope seen in countless chick flicks (for example, when a hung-over Julianne opens her hotel room door to find her bestie George in My Best Friend’s Wedding). Sure, these masks make you look a bit like a living mummy but, should the FedEx man ring your doorbell in the middle of a treatment, you can easily remove it, set it aside for a couple of seconds, and resume the session after he departs.

One of my current favorites is the Hada Labo Tokyo Ultimate Anti-Aging Facial Mask ($15 for 4-mask box; available at Ulta.com, Target.com, and Drugstore.com). Each 100% cotton mask is drenched with a full 0.7 fl. oz. bottle of serum so that, during your 10-minute treatment, all of those concentrated ingredients in the serum are penetrating the upper layers of the skin and working to increase elasticity and firmness while also improving the skin’s texture. These anti-aging ingredients include: Super Hyaluronic Acid, a proprietary blend of three types of hyaluronic acid, all of which work as “moisture magnets,” with each molecule holding up to 1,000 times its weight in water and then effectively infusing this moisture into skin cells; Soy Peptides, which help to boost collagen production and increase the skin’s hyaluronic acid levels, thereby helping to attain smoother, plumper-looking, more taut skin; Collagen, which helps to reduce the depth of fine lines and wrinkles and to make skin appear bouncy and youthful; and Vitamin A, a potent antioxidant that protects skin cells from free radical damage, naturally exfoliates the skin (thereby removing dull-looking surface cells and revealing a layer of younger, unblemished, smooth skin), repairs the cellular structure of the epidermis to ensure greater protection from damaging UV rays, and stimulates collagen and fibroblast production to resurface the skin and soften existing lines and wrinkles.

Each box contains four masks, each packaged in its own foil packet. To use, you simply have to open the foil packet, remove the pre-soaked mask, unfold it, and place it atop the face. The mask is pre-cut so that it has holes in the eye area, an open flap below the strip designated for the nose (so your nostrils are never obstructed and you can breathe easily), and an opening for the mouth area. Using these as guides, it’s simple to position the mask properly, aligning it to suit your own facial structure. Once the mask is situated in the right place, you can press down on its surface so that it adheres to the skin (it will do so even before you smooth the mask with your palms, but the idea here is to maximize its performance by making sure the mask is as close to the skin surface as possible). Then, you simply kick back and watch TV, read a book, check your e-mail or peruse your Instagram feed (so a search for #papermask and you’ll find pics of countless folks who look just like you at that precise moment!). After 10 to 15 minutes have elapsed, you can lift the mask off your face and toss it. At this point, your complexion might feel a bit sticky since it will still be covered in serum, but you need not rinse or dab off any product. Instead, you can pat the serum onto your face and wait for it to be fully absorbed. This, in turn, can take another 10-15 minutes, during which your visage might feel a bit gummy, but the sensation is fleeting and, once that serum is fully absorbed, you’ll be astounded by how soft your skin feels and how supple, radiant, and revitalized it looks.

Ideally, you should use this mask 1-3 times weekly. I’d recommend starting with one treatment per week and then working your way up to 2 or 3 times per week. After a few uses, you’ll notice a pleasant difference in your skin’s appearance. Besides, each mask treatment feels so indulgent that you’ll look forward to it!

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