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The Truth About Face Masks

 
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Who doesn't like to slip on a robe and cover their face in a mask that's supposed to make you look younger and tighten your pores? All you have to do is sit back and relax and the mask does all the work, right? But what happens if you leave your treatment on for too long? All face masks have a recommended leave-on time, especially masks that contain chemicals like glycolic acid. But is it dangerous to let it sit on your face for longer than you should or can you get better results? We spoke to Washington, D.C.-based dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi to find out if it can be damaging to your skin.

In most cases, leaving a mask on longer than recommended is not going to be harmful, just unnecessary," says Dr. Tanzi. "However, if it is a mask that contains glycolic acids then it must be removed as recommended because moderate to severe skin irritation can result if you leave it on longer, particularly to people with sensitive skin. In fact, if sensitivity is an issue, I would recommend doing a 'test spot' for a few minutes on a small area of the face. But typically it's recommended that you leave glycolic acid on for 15-30 minutes, max."

Dr. Tanzi also recommends keeping your eye out for ingredients like lactic and salicylic acid. "Along with glycolic acid, these can be the most irritating to skin. If you are concerned, it's best to check with your dermatologist first," she says. Acid free-facial masks, like edible masks you can make at home, can be left on for the recommended time or a little longer, without any worry that they will harm your skin.