When it comes to masks, there's always a solid DIY option (we love a good hydrating yogurt-and honey mix any day!). But with so many cool new varieties on the market (particularly from the Korean beauty world), it's also fun to experiment with store-bought options. To navigate the fancy new bells and whistles, we turned to a pro for tips: Sarah Lee, co-founder of K-beauty website Glow Recipe. The result? A choose-your-adventure guide to face masks based on their benefits. Happy masking!
Our Pick: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($23; target.com)
What it is: "A mask that can be applied at night and left on until the next morning,” says Lee. “Sleeping masks should be used instead of the moisturizer step of your nighttime skincare routine."
Benefits: Since sleep masks work overnight when the skin is most receptive to repair, all the active ingredients—which are often antioxidants, vitamins, or botanicals, according to Lee—are extra potent. Plus, application is super simple: There’s no rinsing or peeling off required with this sort of mask.
Traditional (Spreadable) Mask
Our Pick: Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask ($70; charlottetilbury.com)
What it is: When you think face mask, you probably think of a formula like this: Spread it on, let it do its thing for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse it off. "After using a traditional mask, your can resume your skincare routine and apply products like eye cream, serum and moisturizer,” says Lee.
Benefits: "These masks often have nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or shea butters to help replenish the skin,” says Lee. Traditional masks earn points for variety—if you've got a skin concern, there's a spreadable formula for it.
Cotton Sheet Mask
Our Pick: Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask ($7.50; sephora.com)
What it is: “It’s essentially a cotton sheet heavily soaked in serum that, when left on cleansed skin for 15-20 minutes, provides an instant and lasting glow,” says Lee. Her pro tip: Since sheet masks literally “wrap" the skin for a prolonged period of time, look for paraben-free offerings.
Benefits: Cotton sheet masks create an evaporation-free barrier to help actives absorb into the skin more easily, according to Lee, who suggests them as a quick fix for dull skin. "They're a great way to instantly plump, rehydrate and brighten," she says.
Biocellulose Sheet Mask
Our Pick: Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask ($28; sephora.com)
What it is: "Biocellulose sheet masks are derived from medical technology used to create breathable patches,” says Lee. "The latest versions are made of fruit-derived jelly."
Benefits: Though the aim is similar to that of cotton sheets, the gel-like texture of these masks mean they can hold more of that same soaking serum. The material also allows for these types of sheets to adhere more closely to the contours of the face.
Our Pick: Blithe Patting Splash Mask in Yellow Citrus & Honey ($48; glowrecipe.com)
What it is: Derived from a centuries-old bathhouse tradition of splashing botanical-steeped water onto the face after cleansing to help plump and brighten, splash masks consist of a concentrated liquid with lactic acid (for smoothing) and a blend of botanicals and glycerin (for hydration). Splash a capful directly on your face and gently pat it in, advises Lee.
Benefits: If your schedule is so jam-packed that spending 20 minutes with a mask on just isn’t in the cards, opt for this instead: You get similar benefits in a 15-second splash.
Our Pick: Lindsay Modeling Rubber Mask ($6; glowrecipe.com)
What it is: These unique formulas are a blend of alginate, diatomaceous earth, calcium sulfates, and various mineral powders. "The first three ingredients react to water, which causes the rubberizing of the mixture,” says Lee. "The resulting rubber creates an evaporation-free barrier, which helps the ingredients permeate the skin before being lifted away."
Benefits: The minerals can deliver pore-minimizing and skin-refining benefits without irritation.