In recent years, face masks have evolved from a somewhat frumpy treatment performed behind spa doors to a regular part of trendsetter beauty routines.
Celebrities post Instagram selfies wearing a sheet mask, and the skincare industry is catching up with this trend, offering a growing variety of products that provide manifold desirable effects. In Asia, many K-Beauty and Japanese beauty products regularly include face masks as an inherent part of the daily beauty treatment. This trend is now rapidly catching on in other regions of the world. Both men and women are looking for mask treatments that leave the skin soft and radiant. Face masks can provide moisture, reduce acne, refresh, and even whiten, depending on their ingredients.
One important feature that unites all face masks is ease of use and an agreeable skin feeling. This is achieved by the addition of a thickener. The choice of the thickener depends on factors such as purity, colour and smell, as well as on its rheology profile. Increasingly, customers also expect their products to fulfil other criteria, including natural formulations, Non-GMO raw materials, ethical, and animal-friendly status.
With its ideal rheology profile, xanthan gum is the thickener of choice for face masks. This fact sheet explains why.
Rinse-off versus sheet mask
Face masks can be separated into two categories: the traditional rinse-off mask as emulsion, gel or suspension with direct application onto the skin, and the new trendy sheet mask. Sheet masks usually consist of a cotton sheet soaked with a liquid phase containing a concentrated serum with active ingredients. The sheet prevents quick evaporation of the water phase and thus extends the penetration time. Due to its functional design the sheet mask acts as an incubator, holding and protecting active ingredients. Its high water content gives it an intense cooling effect. Besides being convenient and simple to use, sheet masks also have soothing, calming, and moisturising properties that replenish damaged and dehydrated skin.
Thickeners in cosmetics and toiletries
Thickeners are used to enhance the stability and performance of a cosmetic product, as well as to improve consistency, volume and viscosity. In terms of their chemistry, thickeners can be divided into natural thickeners obtained from sources like xanthan gum; chemically modified natural thickeners known as semi-synthetics; and purely chemically synthesised polymers. All thickeners serve the following main functions. Primarily, controlling viscosity enables formulators to produce a strong cream or a fluid lotion. It influences stability and phase separation or particle segregation. The rheology and flow behaviour of a cosmetic product are significantly modified by adding a thickener which might hold a cold cream in its jar or allow a shampoo to flow easily out of its bottle without shaking. The choice of thickener also influences product appearance and consumer acceptance.[