There's no shortage of face masks lining the shelves of your local Sephora, but seeking out the best formula for your specific skin type can feel a lot like the beauty equivalent of Goldilocks and the Three Bears—one is too drying, another leaves your skin too oily. How many more jars will you have to try until you find one that's just right? To help take the guesswork out of the skincare aisle, we compiled a list of the most-popular face mask formulas, the differences between each, and how to tell which ones are best for your complexion. Scroll down to get all the details.
1. Mud Masks
Chances are, the very first face mask you ever used was of the mud family. When your favorite acne-killing treatment just isn't cutting it, a mud mask will help draw out any excess oil, dirt, as well as general impurities. They're ideal for oily skin types, but won't leave your complexion completely parched if it happens to be on the drier side.
Try: Formula 10.0.6 Deep Down Detox Ultra Cleansing Mud Mask, $6; ulta.com.
Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment, $69; sephora.com.
Miracle Skin Transformer Revival Mud Treatment Mask, $38; nordstrom.com.
2. Clay Masks
Similar to mud masks, clay masks are also fantastic at removing unwanted oil from your skin and killing acne-causing bacteria, but tend to be slightly more drying, so heed our warning if you need that extra bit of moisture. If excess shine is an issue for you, 10 to 15 minutes wearing a clay mask once a week will help to keep it under control.
Try: Philosophy Total Matteness Mask, $27; drugstore.com.
Bliss Multi-Face-Eted Anti-Aging Clay Mask, $50; macys.com.
Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask, $70; nordstrom.com.
3. Peel-Off Masks
If you've ever wished you had a blackhead strip that could cover your entire face, then a peel-off mask is for you. Available in formulas catering to just about any skin issue imaginable, these masks stimulate circulation to give your complexion a more toned appearance overall. They're typically lightweight gels that dry to a film-like consistency, so you'll want to let it dry completely after covering your face to ensure the best results. After all the wet areas have disappeared, grab a corner, then peel the mask off either in one sweep (if possible) or individual sections. The peeling motion clears out anything clogging your pores, so if you're prone to the occasional black or whitehead, you'll be seriously satisfied once you're through.
Try: Boscia Green Tea Oil Control Mask, $34; sephora.com.
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, $26; sephora.com.
Freeman Pomegranate Revealing Peel-Off Mask, $4; drugstore.com.
4. Cream Masks
Consider a cream mask to be your favorite moisturizer working overtime. These ultra-rich formulas are packed with ingredients to soften and hydrate skin, making them ideal for mature, dry, or irritated complexions in particular. Because a little extra time wearing a cream mask can only do good, there isn't really a set limit to how long you should leave one on, and you can even opt for an overnight version if you're really going for that Sleeping Beauty vibe.
Try: Clinique Sculptwear Contouring Massage Cream Mask, $45; clinique.com.
Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask, $162; nordstrom.com.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Overnight Firming Mask, $88; macys.com.
5. Gel Masks
Like a cream mask, gel formulations are perfect for soothing irritation and raising your moisture levels, but are much more lightweight. The range of issues that can be tackled are vast, spanning from anti-aging to acne, and oily skin types that find cream versions too heavy will love the airy texture. Benefits of a gel mask are pretty comparable to those of a sheet mask without the slipping and sliding of the biocellulose layer, and even better, you'll clearly get more than one use out of them. Unlike a sheet mask, however, gel formulas will have to be rinsed off, otherwise things can get sticky.
Try: Erborian Bamboo Waterlock Mask, $43; sephora.com.
Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Mask, $12; target.com.
Fresh Rose Face Mask, $62; nordstrom.com.
6. Sheet Masks
You may look like Hannibal Lecter during the process, but the dewy, beyond-radiant end result of a 10-minute sheet mask session is unparalleled. These one-hit wonders are soaked in a serum-like formula, which delivers an insane amount of moisture deep into your skin. They don't have to be rinsed off afterwards, and we especially love them for travel in case that mid-vacation mask is needed. Sheet masks can be available as single servings, so they're the most budget-friendly of the bunch, and are great if you want to try a new treatment without the commitment of picking up a full jar. Besides, if Justin Bieber is down with the sheet mask movement, then what's not to love?
Try: Dr. Jart Brightening Infusion Hydrogel Mask, $8; sephora.com.
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask Single, $17; nordstrom.com.
Leaders 7 Wonders Carribbean Coconut Calming Mask, $6; ulta.com.