Mud masks are a new trend in movies -- ''Bugsy,'' ''The Fisher King,'' and ''Twenty-One'' feature characters that use the skin-care product

Who are those masked men? There’s Warren Beatty in Bugsy and Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King. (And there’s a masked woman, Patsy Kensit, in Twenty-One.) Three movies, three stars in mud masks. Trend alert!

Why are movie characters suddenly putting their faces on the lime? ”The films are reflecting the reality that people these days are more concerned with skin preservation,” says Anne Thompson, vice president of publicity and sales for the Georgette Klinger skin-care salon in Manhattan. ”We’ve found that men especially have become more skin-care conscious.”

Stylishness aside, a mask was used in Bugsy because the pampered gangster Benjamin Siegel was said to have a penchant for mud on his mug. Cheri Minns, Beatty’s makeup artist for the movie, says she ”tested many shades of green, ice blue, gray, pink, and even a black mud from the Dead Sea, because colors come out differently on-screen. We also had to pick one that you’d be able to recognize Warren in.”

Does Beatty use mud off-camera? ”No,” says Minns, ”he didn’t have a clue what I was doing to him. But I definitely noticed an improvement in his skin after we were done shooting.”