Are Magnetic Face Masks Instagram Bait or Actual Skincare?

If Madonna is into them, you should be, too.

The skincare industry, perhaps even more than any other sector of the beauty world, is known for its claims. You know the ones: “99 percent saw reduced wrinkles, 99.9 percent noticed their skin looked smoother.” And so on. 

Oftentimes, these claims are based on the inclusion of new revolutionary, groundbreaking ingredients like snail mucin, bee venom and (of course) unpronounceable chemicals. As consumers, we have every right to be skeptical. But that doesn’t mean we’re not also enticed by the newest trends, no matter how gimmicky they might seem. Which brings us to magnets. Yes, the things we “decorate” our refrigerators with. But should you put them on your face? Let’s find out.

According to dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, NYC-based celebrity dermatologist, and a member of the Dr. Brandt Skincare Advisory Board, magnetized skincare is not the new, invented-for-Instagram fad you think it is. In fact, “magnet therapy dates back 2,000 years,” she claimed.

She explained further: “[Magnets] have been known to help healing wounds and calming inflammation and are a very hot area of research right now.” And in fact, there is now scientific evidence, “supporting its use, whereas before, benefits were mainly anecdotal.”

As for skin, the same benefits can apply. Magnetized skincare is beneficial to all skin types and a solid pick for both anti-aging purposes, and detoxification. The pull of the magnet helps draw out impurities from the skin, and combat pollutants, while the lack of water means that the potent ingredients deposited are left on the skin, and continue to penetrate after the mask is magnetically removed. These masks leave skin noticeably softened and there’s a post-use glow factor, making them a good choice for prepping for a night out, or a big event. Still, if you’re someone who doesn’t like feeling product on your skin, the intentional residue left behind with these masks mean they aren’t for you.

For your reference, we’ve gathered three of the main masks on the market in this category. They’re not the only ones in existence, but they are the best-known. Watch this space though: Madonna’s recently launched, only-in-Japan skincare collection includes a magnet mask, and is said to be slated for a stateside release in the months to come.

Dr. Brandt’s MAGNETIGHT Age-Defier ($75)

Magnetight Age-Defier

Magnetight Age-Defier Courtesy of Dr. Brandt Skincare

The Age-Defier mask is infused with “iron magnetic particles that draw out toxins and daily residue trapped on the skin, while electromagnetic interactions simulate a ‘force-field effect’ that tighten the skin,” Dr. Bowe explained.

When the magnet lifts the mask off the skin, it creates a small electromagnetic interaction, which “support[s] skin’s natural recovery process.” This creates a subtle change in chemical messengers and that change supposedly enhances circulation. When the black tourmaline and iron powder are lifted from the skin it leaves behind a blend of peptides that firm and antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. So you’re getting that small electromagnetic shift that ‘wakes up’ the skin, but you’re also benefitting from the firming peptides left on the skin.”

Dr. Harold Lancer’s Younger Revealing Mask Intense ($250)

Lancer Mask

Lancer Mask Neiman Marcus

Dr. Lancer’s luxe take on the trend comes in the form of four single-serving (and single-use) packets of mask, plus one big magnet. The product, he explains, first came into play “3-4 years ago in reaction to the idea of using iron oxide powder as a delivery system, removed with a magnet.” He’s quick to stress the high quality of the iron oxide used in his product.

“The concept of this delivery system was a truly innovative idea, so I sought out to create this high-quality method of delivery for this active ingredient.” The combination of the tool and the active is where the magic happens: the mineral powder acts as the rocket launch to delivery the capsulized ingredient—an active type of retinoid—Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate.”

Dr. Lancer explained exactly how it works: “We wanted a specific tool to remove the transmitting rocket, which leaves the capsule of actives totally untouched. That’s what makes it totally unique, in that you have a specific mineral that’s tuned into to the magnetic frequency of the tool used to remove it. It’s actually creating an acoustic vibration, which is the electric current and tingling sensation you feel, that helps stimulate and allow the product to better penetrate the skin. So you’ll see, the powder and magnet are designed to work in conjunction and complement each other.”

That’s some complicated beauty science right there—but it really just reiterates the fact that the benefits are emphasized by the fact that the mask is never rinsed off.

Milky Dress, Black Luster Mask at Memebox, $52.00

Milky Dress Black Luster Mask

Milky Dress Black Luster Mask Courtesy of MemeBox

If you don’t know about Memebox, the site serves as a veritable mall of the latest innovations coming out of the famously speedy and extraordinarily savvy Korean beauty world. The site is one of the fastest ways to access Korean beauty trends in the states, and while it’s unclear if this mask is the first Korean one of its kind, or the only one, it’s not at all surprising that the K-beauty scene has a more affordable offering for the trend-thirst among us. This mask focuses a little bit more on deep cleansing (as it’s made with clay from the dead sea) than the anti-aging purposes of its magnet mask competitors, and works a little bit more similarly to a standard clay mask than a high-tech anti-aging treatment. Still, the differentiating factor lies in the 24 nourishing and skin-protecting minerals left behind.