“Hey babe! How’ve you been? Haven’t seen you in ages!” “I know, I’ve been really busy. Good but busy!” It’s the standard opening to my conversations these days. Hands up if you’re with me.

Our lives are hectic. Its gridlock traffic followed by meetings, deadlines, more meetings, then more traffic. Throw kids into this mix and it’s a constant spin. Then someone will look up from their computer one afternoon and exclaim “I can’t believe we’re already in May!” and your heart will do a little double flip. Where has this year gone to?

It’s easy to get caught in the tide and forget to breathe. I believe it is important to take moments for yourself, however, even if it’s just half an hour before bed.

This is why I love face masks. I rarely have time for a full in-salon facial so I rely quite heavily on masks to tackle dull, oily, congested, rough or dehydrated skin. Slap it on, read a book or catch up on a series, rinse it off. Done.

We’ve been having an endless summer in Cape Town and while I love myself some beach-day weather, these hot and clammy days turn my face into an oil slick. Now throw some city pollution into the mix. Hello breakouts! Weekly face masks with ingredients like clay, charcoal and AHAs work wonders to whip things back into shape, balancing oil, clearing congestion and removing dead skin cells.

I’ve picked four that I’ve found particularly impressive.

Re-energise your skin: Exuviance Bionic Oxygen Facial

R940 for dermastore.co.za

It mask is an absolute treat to use and your skin looks incredible afterwards.

It promises to energise and detoxify stressed skin, with a blend of oxygen and exfoliants gluconolactone and lactobionic Acid (a sugar acid). The treatment has a gel-consistency when you pump it out of the bottle. You apply a generous, even layer over damp skin. Once you start to massage, the product it turns into a dense foamy layer. After 5-10 minutes the foam will begin to break down and when it has completely dissolved, you rinse it off.

My skin looked radiant and polished after using it, and it still felt soft and comfortable. While it exfoliates, the mask also contains anti-aging, hydrating and conditioning ingredients. This means you can use it after an at-home peel or face-polish.

For the city dweller: Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque

R790 for 75ml, dermalogica.co.za

This is a great all-rounder face mask that will help to draw out excess oil and impurities, refine and smooth your skin, calm redness and target breakouts.

The key ingredient is activated Binchotan charcoal that works like a magnet, attracting toxins, impurities and sebum. It is especially ideal for city-dwellers who are consistently exposed to air pollution that attaches to your skin, causing inflammation and early aging.

They’ve also added sulfur (you’ll smell it immediately), which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it great for both acne-prone skins and eczema / rosacea sufferers. Meanwhile volcanic ash, sea silt and bamboo extract help to polish the skin, working alongside chemical exfoliants phytic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid. And finally niacinamide helps to calm your skin.

After cleansing, apply a generous layer onto dried skin. You can apply it to your entire face or to your T-zone only – I have dehydrated skin so I stick to the oily sections.  Leave for 7-10 minutes, then add a bit of water to loosen the product, massaging as you rinse it off for further exfoliation.

The mask can be a bit messy when you take it off so it works best to apply it before you take a shower.

Resurface and refine: Dermaceutic Mask 15

R950 for 50ml, dermaceutic.co.za

This is a hardworking chemical exfoliant that gets to work in minutes to smooth and refine your skin. It contains 15% glycolic acid which works to destroy the links between dead skin cells so that they shed quicker. The mask also contains Bentonite clay to remove toxins and impurities from your skin, and 2% salycilic acid, which helps to remove the build-up of oil and dead surface cells that can lead to congestion, breakouts and acne.

The mask is especially recommended for people who struggle with oily skin and acne. I love using it on my T-zone for a quick fix. Your skin feels incredibly smooth and soft afterwards.

You’ll apply it to cleansed, dry skin, leave it for about 2 minutes and then rinse off. Since it contains glycolic acid you can expect a tingling sensation when you apply it.

Pull out those impurities: Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque

R455 for 150ml, kiehls.co.za

This deep-pore cleansing masque is a goodie for normal to oily skin types, or on your T-zone if you have combination skin. It contains Amazonian White Clay that helps to purify and detoxify your skin, and is said to remove bacteria, toxins, excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog pores.

Apart from the White Clay, they have also added Bentonite clay, which absorbs oil and impurities, as well as Oat Kernel Four to absorb surface oil, and Aloe Barbadensis to soothe the skin.

I really enjoy using this mask. It has a smooth, paste quality that spreads thickly on your skin and it leaves your skin looking smoother, refreshed and mattified afterwards.

If you are worried about skincare brands tapping into the Amazon forest for clay, you’ll be happy to know that Kiehl’s responsibly sources Amazonian White Clay through a fair-trade partnership that helps provide economic support to the local community on Marajo Island. According to the brand they work with their suppliers to ensure that no negative environmental impact occurs in the collection of their ingredients.

Have you tried any of these masks? Or do you have a favourite you can recommend? Let’s chat some more in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.


  1. Arlene Beukes Reply

    I’m currently struggling with embarrassing breakouts. I’m definitely going to invest in Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque. Thanks so much for the great post, Liezel!

    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      I think it will make a massive difference. I absolutely love it, particularly for annoying breakouts. It is a brilliant all-rounder!

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