‘Hydrogel’ is a specialised polymer-gel with the capacity of retaining a huge amount if liquid in proportion to its size – in fact studies show it that can hold liquid up to 500 times its size - a vast improvement on older style Cotton-sheet masks.
Hydrogel has been used extensively in the medical field for a number of years, where it speeds up the healing process by acting as a hydrating barrier to protect the wound from inflammation and infection whilst preventing the surface area from drying out.
Ignore this next bit if the sience is not of interest to you:
Technically, Hydrogels are cross-linked polymers that have hydrophilic groups. Often these polymers contain carboxylic acid groups. One common polymer used to make hydrogels is sodium polyacrylate. The chemical name for this polymer is poly-sodium propenoate.
The polymer chains usually take on the shape of randomly coiled molecules. However, in the absence of Sodium (Na+) ions the negative charges on the oxide ions along the polymer chain all repel each other and the chains tend to uncoil.
Water molecules are attracted to the negative charges and retained by hydrogen bonding.
It is in this state that the hydrogel can absorb over five hundred times its own weight of pure water - but less salty water.
When salt is added to the hydrogel, the chains start to change their shape and water is lost from the gel. As more salt (for example sodium chloride) is added to the hydrogel, the positive sodium ions take up places next to the negative oxide ions and there is less space for the water molecules.
This makes the hydrogel lose some water. The negative charges along the chain repel each other less in the presence of the sodium ions and so the chains become more coiled up. This also squeezes out water from the hydrogel. The result is that a small change in salt concentration can have a significant effect on the amount of water leaving the hydrogel.
Such small changes are exactly what happens when the hydrogel mask is applied to the skin, with the extruded water (and dissolved ingredients) becoming available to act on the skin.
With-in the beauty and aesthetics arena, application of a hydrogel mask as part of a skin-care regime ensures hydration and helps boost the cellular function of the dermal layer.
Dehydrated (dry) skin results in development of lines, wrinkles and breakouts. – This is why moisturisers are so commonly used and part of the reason why we are all encouraged to drink water. But water alone does not provide an optimum solution, as improved and longer lasting results can be obtained by combining the hydration liquids with other ingredients to nourish the skin – ingredients such as:
- Hyaluronic Acid - a powerful humectant (aka moisture-binding ingredient) that keeps skin plump and hydrated and young-looking. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) in the human body.
- Ceramides - Lipid molecules that are found in high concentrations within cell membranes. In the top layer of the skin, ceramides hold skin cells together, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture. (Think of skin cells as the bricks and ceramides as the mortar.
- Vitamins – Vitamin A, C, D, E & K all have proven benefit to skin structure, metabolism and appearance
- Glycerin - a humectant, meaning that it attracts moisture to the upper layer of the skin where it is applied. In this way it prevents dryness and scaling by maintaining the skin's barrier against the elements, and is often used to treat medical conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis, as well as dry skin
The hydrogel mask structure provides the perfect medium to support these active ingredients in a suspended form where they can be absorbed into the skin over a reasonable time period - eg a 20 or 30 minute period.
At Aesthetic Masks, our hydrogel masks also include added Lavender.
This exceptional plant offers a range of additional benefits to the user. See here for more details