what are bubble masks

Have you ever used a bubble mask? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re in for a treat.

“That’s so freaking cool!,” I squealed in delight as bubbles started covering my entire face. I had just slathered on Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask. In the pot, it looked like your ordinary, muddy clay mask. But as soon as you put it on, it starts foaming into a bubbly lather that turns your face into a cloud.


But is it effective, too? I mean, do the bubbles do anything – apart from making you reach for your phone to take a selfie? No matter how cool something is, when it comes to skincare, I want a mask who gives my skin a pick-me-up, helps fight wrinkles, and deeply hydrate my skin. Can bubble masks do all that? Let’s see what the science says:

What Is A Bubble Mask?

Bubble masks are cleansing masks that forms bubbles and turn your face into a cloud thanks to a social oxygenation process. These masks have a cleansing effects that remove dirt and makeup from your face, leaving it clean, soft, and glowy. Depending on what else is in the formula, they can have a brightening or anti-aging effects. Bubble masks come in different formats, including sheet masks, clay masks, and creams.

How Do Bubble Masks Work?

The simplest way I can explain it is to think of bubble masks as soda water. When you open your can of Coke, the pressure drops, releasing gas that makes it fizzy and bubbly. The difference? Soda water uses carbon dioxide gas, a gas that dissolves in water. Skincare prefers oxygen. But oxygen doesn’t dissolve in water that well.

Enter perfluorocarbons. Perfluoro… what?! Perfluorocarbons are a family of chemicals that dissolve 20x more oxygen than water. You put the oxygenated perfluorocarbons in the can and seal them in a pressurised bottle. (Fun Fact: if the mask is thick enough, no pressure needed). When you put the mask on your face, the oxygen turns back into gas, creating little bubbles all over your face. Cool, huh?

P.S. The most common perfluorocarbons in skincare are methyl perfluorobutyl ether and perfluorodecalin, but anything with “perfluoro” in the name will do the job.

Related: The Truth About Oxygen Facials: Do They Work?

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

What Does Oxygen Do For Your Skin?

Ok, the bubbling effect is super cool. You’ll squeal with delight the first time you use one of these masks. But does the oxygen do anything good for your skin? I guess you could buy a cheap bubble mask just for kicks once. But if you want to invest in a pricier mask, it’d better work, you know what I’m saying? So does it?

Yes and no. There’s a reason why I usually keep away from oxygen in skincare. Too much oxygen can cause free radicals, those little rascals responsible for premature aging. So excess oxygen is no good. Although, given the small concentrations of oxygen used in skincare, these side effects are insignificant.

Lack of oxygen isn’t good either. Your skin has ¼ less oxygen by the time you hit the big 3-0. When you’re 40, it drops to ½. Why does this matter? Well, your skin uses oxygen to make collagen and heal wounds faster. Rumour has it, oxygen may help with acne too. Some will tell you oxygen can reduce wrinkles but studies don’t support this. Still, it seems that the right amount of oxygen helps skin look and act its best.

Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Replenish Lost Collagen

how bubble masks work

Can Bubble Mask Help Deliver Nutrients To Your Skin?

Truth bomb: it’s not enough to put oxygen in a mask to boost collagen, heal wounds and treat acne. That oxygen must be able to penetrate skin. Can a bubble mask deliver oxygen into the skin or does it leave it on the surface to perform its cool magic acts only?

Sadly, the latter option is way more likely. Seeing all those little bubbles cover your face may give you the impression it’s working – but if the oxygen is reacting on top of your skin, chances are not a lot of it actually penetrates into your skin, where it can perform the real magic. Plus, these masks are designed to stay on the skin for only a few minutes. Even if oxygen could get in, chances are you’d be rinsing most of it away before it has a chance to do so.

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What Are The Benefits Of A Bubble Mask?

Depending on which ingredients they use, bubble masks deliver some benefits for your skin:

  • Cleanse skin and remove impurities
  • Absorb excess oil, helping to keep breakouts at bay
  • Moisturise skin, leaving it softer and suppler
  • Gives skin a subtle glow
  • Help deliver nutrients to the skin cells that need them, keeping your skin healthy

If your skin is looking dull and rough, a bubble mask can give it a pick-me-up.

How To Use A Bubble Mask

So you got a brand new bubble mask? Here’s how to use it:

  • Step 1: Cleanse skin with your fave cleanser, wash it off with lukewarm water, and pat skin dry.
  • Step 2: Apply the mask all over your skin and leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Wait for the bubbles to form and watch your skin become a cloud!
  • Step 4: Wash off the mask with lukewarm water.
  • Step 5: Seal everything in with your fave serum and moisturiser.

When Should You Use A Bubble Mask?

You can use a bubble mask in the evening, after cleansing, and before the rest of your routine. You can also use one before a special occasion to give your skin a beautiful pick-me-up.

How Often Should You Use A Bubble Mask?

It depends on the bubble mask. If it’s a clay bubble mask to absorb excess oil, you can use it up to twice a week to help prevent breakouts. If it’s a hydrating or anti-aging bubble mask, once a week is enough. You could use it more often, but it’s not necessary.

Who Should Use A Bubble Mask?

Due to their powerful cleansing properties, bubble masks are more suitable for oily and acne-prone skin.

Should You Invest In Bubble Masks?

As I said, if you want to try one just for kicks once, go ahead. Sometimes, skincare is just meant to be fun. I personally don’t bother to look for oxygen in my skincare. The only bubble mask I’ve tried is Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask because it has clays that can absorb the excess oil on my shiny t-zone. But I didn’t expect the bubbling effect to be anything more than a gimmick.

Related: How To Choose The Right Type Of Mask For Your Skin Type

What Are The Best Bubble Masks?

If you’d like to invest in bubble masks, pick one that does double duty – like turn your face into a cloud AND absorb excess oil/hydrate skin/brighten the complexion. You get the drill. Here are my fave picks:

  • Elizavecca Carbonated Clay Mask ($11.15): The original and first bubble mask ever, this clay mask removes excess oil, cleanses skin, and leaves your complexion soft and clean. Available at iHerb, Stylevana, and Yes Style.
  • Oh K! Bubble Sheet Mask ($3.00): A cleansing bubble mask with soothing ingredients to remove impurities without upsetting skin. Available at Beauty Bay and Ulta.
  • Purederm Clean&Bright Oxygen Bubble Mask ($0.77): A fun bubble mask enriched with antioxidants to keep premature wrinkles at bay. Available at Stylevana.
  • Some By Mi Charcoal BHA Pore Clay Bubble Mask ($22.50): A bubble clay mask enriched with centella asiatica to absorb excess oil and soothe inflammation. Available at iHerb, Stylevana, and Yes Style.

The Bottom Line

Bubble Masks are a nice gimmick that can make an ordinary mask so much more fun to use. Just make sure that’s not all it does!