Face masks have been around in some form or another for thousands of years. Besides their relaxation benefits (and selfie appeal), the reason for their longevity is in their ability to treat a variety of skincare needs, from deep cleansing to anti-aging to improving blood circulation to shrinking pores, just to name a few.
The tricky thing about face masks is that there are tons of them, which come in many different forms. You’ve got clay and liquid iterations that are closer to the masks applied by ancient civilizations, and their more modern scare-yourself-in-the-mirror plastic sheet counterparts.
To take the guesswork out of it, we delved into the world of skincare to find the best face masks and formulas out there right now. One of these will be your next skincare essential.
The nine best face masks and how to use them:
The Medicine Cabinet Flex
One of our favorite face masks is this one by Dr. Barbara Sturm. It’s designed to give an instant hydration boost to your skin whenever it’s needed, whether that be after spending time in the sun or after traveling, with a bunch of all-natural ingredients that include calming aloe vera and chamomile. Apply to the skin two or three times a week after cleansing. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse.
One for fans of the sheet mask, this silky option by Tatcha imparts an instant glow via lightweight rice germ oil (far cleaner than it sounds), botanical oils, and vitamin E. Perfect for dry skin, the ultra-fine microfiber sheet is designed to deliver serum into the skin with greater absorption. Fit the mask to your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Then peel off and massage the remaining serum into skin.
“I’m not 100 percent sold on the effectiveness of masks, but their psychological powers are immense: there’s nothing more capable of making you feel like a spa god. This one is my favorite because it fizzes in a way that makes me feel like I’m pouring a bottle of San Pellegrino all over my face.” – Thom Bettridge, Editor-in-Chief
The K-Beauty Flex
Those who fear the Halloween-ready variety of face masks probably won’t be fans of this one by South Korean brand Dr. Jart+. It uses its patented (and pretty thick) Cryo Rubber to increase both blood flow and the absorption of active ingredients, leaving the skin looking radiant and healthy, making it one of the best face masks out there. This two-step pack also includes hyaluronic acid to attract moisture from the atmosphere to the skin. Use together, applying the hyaluronic acid to the face first. Then fit the mask to your face, leave on for 30-40 minutes, and then pat the remaining residue into your skin.
The Cult Skincare Enthusiast
Cult skincare brands are thriving, and this is one of them. Caudalie whips up a moisturizing mask that offers intense rehydration and softness, bringing grape seed oil and plant glycerine together for a nourishing recipe for the face. Apply twice a week to the face and eye contour area. Remove excess after 15 minutes or leave on overnight.
The Costs-Less-Than-Takeout Option
The Ordinary has become widely loved for its all-natural and guilt-free ingredients, as well as its crazy-affordable price tags. This Salicylic Acid Masque, available for under $15, is designed to fight tired-looking skin and irregularities. Helping shift dead skin cells off the surface of oily and blemish-prone skin, this face mask packs vegetable charcoal and Amazonian clays. Impressive. Use once or twice a week on clean skin. Leave on for no more than 10 minutes and rinse.
The Skincare Snob
Face masks can be a thing of pure indulgence, so why not elevate your skincare routine by investing in a mask by Dior? It’s not all about the name, though. In just three minutes, this pink clay mask makes use of natural minerals to purify skin and minimize pores. Apply to skin and leave on for just three minutes. It’s recommended to be used two or three times per week.
The Old Faithful
This find on our list of best face masks counts Chloë Sevigny and January Jones among its fans, and for good reason. Made to be left on overnight, the mask is infused with hibiscus seed extract and ginger leaf, which help smooth skin and fight fine lines. The air-whipped, velvety texture is reason enough to buy, to be honest. Massage onto clean skin at night and leave it on while you sleep. In the morning, cleanse your skin as usual to remove it.
The Sleeping Beauty
Aesop delivers again with this sublime (in name and nature) night mask. Like the Kiehl’s option, this one also works its magic while you get your elevated beauty sleep. Enhanced with vitamins B, C, and F, Aesop’s face mask is suited for normal, dry, dehydrated, patchy, and fatigued skin. After cleansing and toning, apply it generously to the face and neck. Then put that phone down and shut your eyes.
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