If your #spasunday or travel beauty routine involves a face mask, you might be missing some crucial steps to getting the most nourishment for your treatment. It’s not all about applying and waiting; taking the time to properly prep your complexion can be just as essential as the mask itself. Read on for five dermatologist-approved, pre-mask best practices.

1. Gently exfoliate before the treatment. Though most mask directions suggest you start with a clean face, you should also slough off dead skin. “Exfoliation can make the mask more effective by minimizing the surface buildup so the ingredients can penetrate better and achieve more,” according to NYC-based dermatologist Hadley King. Consider using a gentle sponge instead of a physical exfoliant so you avoid irritation. “A konjac sponge can be used with water or a small amount of cleanser to mildly exfoliate the skin,” recommends San Diego-based dermatologist, CEO, and founder of Curology, David Lortscher.

2. Tone your skin. Prepping your face with a toner or essence can help with product penetration because the skin absorbs more when it’s been hit with extra moisture. That said, turning to a toner that contains alcohol can reverse this benefit. “Avoid a toner with any alcohol in it because it can dry out or irritate the skin,” Lortscher says.

3. Hop in the shower. “It’s great to apply a mask right after you shower because the steam helps to open the pores and the water in the skin will help the ingredients in the mask penetrate better,” King explains. If you can’t swing a shower, wash your face right before masking to mimic the same steam and moisture levels.

4. Read the label. Just because you leave on your favorite clarifying clay product for 15 minutes doesn’t mean that all clay options are created equally. “Leaving a mask on longer than the stipulated amount of time can lead to irritation,” warns Lortscher.

5. Use a brush. Follow your esthetician’s lead and skip using your fingers to slather on the mask. “Use a soft brush to evenly, cleanly apply the product without wasting any on your hands or fingers,” recommends King. “You can even use a soft-bristled, clean paintbrush in a pinch.”

Now that you’re ready to treat yo’skin, give a Grammable mask a go (and prepare to post a selfie or five). Formulas with shimmer, holographic vibes, glitter, or crazy colors look best in photos — just saying.

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(Photo via Getty)