The 12 Best Face Masks of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask reigns supreme due to its ability to smooth skin texture, lighten dark spots, and effectively clean out pores.

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Best Face Masks

InStyle / Jaclyn Mastropasqua

Over the years, I’ve struggled with my skin. While serums, creams, toners, and cleansers have played a big role in my skincare journey, face masks have ultimately made the most noticeable impact on my complexion. Although it has taken time for me to find the right face masks that effectively cater to my needs, I can confidently say that my hard work has paid off — my skin is the healthiest it has ever been, and it's all thanks to this extra self-care step.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who can change their skin with the help of face masks. There are countless face masks on the market, complete with options specifically designed for different skin types and concerns. In order to find the best face masks, we recruited 21 testers to try and analyze 22 top-rated, bestselling products. Each tester reviewed the masks based on four important categories: Efficacy, feel, ease of application, and how the appearance of their skin changed after using the mask. After thorough testing that took place over two weeks, 12 face masks truly wowed us — with Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask being the overall favorite due to its affordable price point and dramatic results.

No matter what kind of face mask you’re looking for — whether you want to transform your dry, oily, aging, or acne-prone skin — find the 12 best face masks, according to InStyle testers.

Best Overall

ROSEN Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask

ROSEN Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask


What We Love: This affordable mask delivers incredible results, brightening skin and evening texture after just one use.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not ideal for people with sensitive skin since it deeply exfoliates.

If you’re looking for a face mask that does it all, you’re in luck: Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask goes above and beyond, addressing a handful of skincare concerns at once. Thanks to two powerhouse ingredients – lactic acid and licorice root extract – this mask works to fade dark spots and even out skin texture. On top of that, it deeply exfoliates, sloughing away dead skin cells while also cleaning out pores. The results? Bright, glowing skin that looks and feels smoother.

“This face mask is pretty incredible, and I was quite surprised by the results I saw after my first use,” our tester says. “The texture of my skin and its brightness improved significantly.” Plus, she noticed that after using the mask for two weeks, her dark spots began to fade. “My skin looks much brighter and feels softer using this face mask,” she adds. “I also like that it helps with acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.”

To get the most noticeable skin benefits, use this mask once a week. The texture is a bit thinner than you might expect (it’s more liquidy than jelly-like), so use two to three pumps as opposed to three to four as the label recommends. (This way you won’t waste any of the product.) Overall, we highly recommend this mask to anyone who is looking to give their skin some TLC. “It works as described, the application is efficient, and it's a GREAT value,” our tester shares.

Price at time of publish: $18

Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, Licorice root extract, Cucumber extract, Passionfruit seed | Key Benefits: Exfoliates, resurfaces, and brightens | Size: 2.2 oz.

Best Budget

The Inkey List Madecassoside Mask

The Inkey List Madecassoside Mask

The Inkey List

What We Love: This mask effectively hydrates and calms skin within 10 minutes.

What We Don’t Love: It’s made with menthol, which can irritate sensitive skin.

If there’s one skincare brand we can’t get enough of, it’s The Inkey List. This UK-based line features a slew of incredibly effective products, all for affordable prices. One of our favorite items from the collection happens to be the Madecassoside Mask. This hydrating mask cools the skin on contact, instantly reducing redness and inflammation. This is thanks to the key ingredient: Madecassoside – a component found within Centella Asiatica (a medicinal plant), which helps to reduce inflammation and redness, as well as hydrate and plump skin.

“This mask left my skin feeling smooth, refreshed, and soft,” our tester says. “It has a nice, instant cooling effect that is almost minty. It helped my skin tolerate some of my stronger skincare ingredients like retinoids and acids, and after using it for two weeks, my skin looks more even-toned and feels smoother.”

Pro tip: If your skin needs some extra hydration, keep this mask on for 30 minutes (as opposed to the recommended time of 10 minutes). When used as a leave-on treatment, it helps restore the skin’s barrier and lock in moisture. Though the formula is overall soothing, it’s worth noting that it does contain menthol, which has a strong scent and can irritate sensitive skin.

Price at time of publish: $12

Active Ingredients: Madecassoside, Sunflower seed oil, Ginger root extract | Key Benefits: Hydrates and calms | Size: 1.7 oz.

Best Splurge

Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask


Sisley Paris

What We Love: This mask deeply hydrates skin and provides long-lasting plumping effects.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not ideal for acne-prone skin.

When it comes to splurging, there’s one brand we will gladly give our money to: Sisley Paris. The luxe beauty line features hair care, makeup, and skincare musts, but their masks really shine. And though it’s difficult to choose just one, the Black Rose Cream Mask just might be our favorite. This anti-aging formula is made with black rose (which smooths skin), padina pavonica (which refreshes and replenishes the complexion), and shea butter (which nourishes and soothes the skin’s barrier). What makes this product stand out is its ability to effectively diminish the signs of tired skin — it quickly revitalizes complexions, leaving skin glowy, dewy, and luminous.

“This face mask worked well at hydrating,” says our tester. “There was a noticeable difference in my skin after using it: My skin feels softer, looks smoother, and is definitely plump.” She also notes that this product would be ideal for someone with aging and/or dry skin. “I noticed a difference in hydration levels after just one use. Mature skin would highly benefit from the plumping action of this cream mask.”

Because the mask hydrates skin so deeply, it ultimately makes it more supple and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which means you’ll be able to enjoy long-lasting results. However, it’s worth noting that if you have acne-prone skin this mask might not be the best fit. This is because it’s made with ingredients (such as geranium essential oil and shea butter) that can sometimes clog pores.

Price at time of publish: $180

Active Ingredients: Black rose, Padina pavonica, Shea butter | Key Benefits: Plumps, hydrates, and brightens | Size: 2 oz.

Best Brightening

Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask

Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask


What We Love: This mask incorporates two kinds of vitamin C – one that instantly brightens skin, and another that evens out skin tone over time.

What We Don’t Love: It’s recommended to use a generous amount of this mask, which means it could run out quickly.

If you want to glow, look no further than Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask. This bestselling product is safe for all skin types, and works to address uneven texture, lighten dark spots, and plump fine lines and wrinkles. Made with two kinds of vitamin C – one that’s water-soluble and instantly sinks into skin to add luminosity, and another that’s oil-soluble and stays in skin longer to provide ample protection against UV damage – this mask works hard to visibly brighten skin both immediately and in the long term.

“Face masks with high concentrations of active ingredients, like vitamin C, tend to burn or at least have a tingling effect on my sensitive skin, but this mask offered an amazing balance between hydrating and active ingredients,” explains our tester. “The texture is thick and creamy, and it doesn't burn or make my skin tingle whatsoever.” Aside from brightening and hydrating skin, the formula also targets uneven texture, smoothing the complexion over time.

As for the cherry on top: “There's no better mask to take selfies in,” our tester says. “It has a light purple hue that looks gorgeous on skin and doesn't cake.” Keep in mind that you’ll have to apply a generous amount each time you use it, so you may end up having to restock more often than other options.

Price at time of publish: $70

Active Ingredients: Japanese beautyberry, Fruit extracts | Key Benefits: Brightens and plumps | Size: 1.7 oz.

Best Exfoliating

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer


What We Love: This mask sloughs away dead skin cells, revealing a clearer and more youthful complexion.

What We Don’t Love: Because of the aluminum oxide crystals, this mask can be hard to wash off.

Brighter, healthier skin begins with exfoliation. If you’re looking to refresh dull skin, Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask is just the thing you need. It’s made with pumpkin enzyme, which smooths the skin's surface, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which deeply exfoliate, and aluminum oxide crystals, which effectively polish the skin and cleans out pores. “My skin felt really clean and refreshed after I used the mask,” says our tester. “It also had a nice dewy glow to it afterward.”

What makes this mask even better (aside from its ability to make your face glow), is that it’s not too harsh on skin. “The consistency is a bit gritty, but only mildly,” says our tester. “It's not too harsh and doesn’t require rubbing.” While we enjoy the mask overall, the removal process can be challenging.

“First, I tried to rinse the mask off simply by splashing water on my face, but it was pretty thick and not easily removable,” our tester explains. “I had to wipe it clean with a washcloth and rinse many times to get the entire grit completely off.” If you don’t mind taking the extra time to rinse this off, the results are surely worth it.

Price at time of publish: $60

Active Ingredients: Pumpkin enzyme, Alpha hydroxy acids, Aluminum oxide crystals | Key Benefits: Brightens, exfoliates, and clarifies |  Size: 5 oz.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer

InStyle / Mandy Wood

Best Hydrating

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Moisturizing Moon Mask


What We Love: This nourishing mask helps smooth the appearance of fine lines over time.

What We Don’t Love: It’s made with silicones.

If you’re on the hunt for a face mask that will revitalize skin and provide it with dewy hydration, look no further than Glossier’s top-rated Moisturizing Moon Mask. This creamy mask effectively nourishes skin from deep within, providing complexions with a supple glow that lasts long after the product is washed off.

Made with sweet almond oil, plant-based squalane, and hyaluronic acid, this mask works overtime to plump skin and smooth the appearance of fine lines. Plus, it’s formulated with licorice root, which lightens dark spots and evens out skin tone. As an added bonus, honey and aloe vera can also be found in the supercharged mask to clean out pores and provide an extra boost of long-lasting hydration. However, it’s worth noting that this mask contains silicones. Although silicones help give this product its creamy texture (which we love), they can also clog pores — so you may want to avoid this mask if you have blemish-prone skin.

“My skin looks and feels a lot smoother after using this face mask,” our tester says. She also notes that she got the best results when she used this product as an overnight mask (as opposed to washing it off after 20 minutes as the brand suggests). Though, if you’re looking for a little moisture boost throughout the day, apply this mask whenever you please. You’ll notice that your skin will instantly be more glowy and nourished.

Price at time of publish: $24

Active Ingredients: Shea butter, Plant-derived squalane, Sweet almond and Soybean oils, Licorice root, Hyaluronic acid | Key Benefits: Hydrates, plumps, and brightens | Size: 3 oz.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

InStyle / Chantia Murphy

Best Calming

Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask

Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask


What We Love: This mask is made with handpicked calendula flower petals, which are known to calm and soothe the skin.

What We Don’t Love: It can make skin tingle, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can feel uncomfortable to some.

Instantly soothe skin with the help of this Kiehl’s favorite. Made with handpicked calendula flower petals and aloe vera, this hydrating mask works to refresh and renew skin in no time. Just apply the gel-like formula to skin, leave it on for five minutes, and rinse it off with warm water. You’ll notice that your skin feels more supple, soft, and nourished.

“The mask felt great on my skin. After the first use, I noticed that my skin was completely renewed,” our tester marvels. Aside from making her complexion glow, this product also deeply hydrated her skin. “I'm so happy to see the appearance of a healthy-looking complexion since I started using this mask.” As for the best part, it’s free from parabens and fragrances.

While calming masks rarely make skin tingle, this one can cause a slight sensation. It’s more invigorating than irritating, but something to keep in mind if you don’t like that feeling.

Price at time of publish: $47

Active Ingredients: Calendula extract, Aloe vera | Key Benefits: Hydrates, calms, and softens | Size: 3.4 oz.

Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask

InStyle / Anna Knief

Best for Sensitive Skin

Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Jelly Mask

Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Jelly Mask


What We Love: Made with 95 percent snail mucin, this mask deeply hydrates the skin.

What We Don’t Love: Because this mask is made with snail mucin, it’s not vegan.

If there’s one skincare ingredient we can’t get enough of, it’s snail mucin. Complete with hydrating, brightening, anti-aging, and even wound-healing benefits, this natural ingredient has got it all. In terms of products that harness the power of this ingredient, there’s one we hold dear: Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Mask. This bestselling mask addresses a slew of skin concerns at once, including clearing skin, targeting dark spots, providing deep hydration, and minimizing pores. Plus, it gently exfoliates, leaving your complexion brighter and smoother than before.

“I was curious how a product made of 95 percent snail slime would feel on my face,” shares our tester. “It feels light and cooling and is especially refreshing at first. Over the 15-minute wear time it tightens slightly as it dries but it doesn’t make my face itch or uncomfortable.” As for the end result, our tester has this to say: “I enjoy using this face mask. It helps hydrate and tone my skin, and brighten my complexion.”

Plus, what really makes this mask stand out is that it’s completely clean and free from sulfates, fragrances, alcohol, formaldehyde, dyes, colorants, parabens, mineral oils, and silicones. On top of that, it’s cruelty-free — but keep in mind that because snail mucin comes from, well, snails, the mask isn’t vegan.

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate, Licorice root extract, Hyaluronic acid | Key Benefits: Brightens, hydrates, calms, and minimizes pores | Size: 3.4 oz.

Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Jelly Mask

InStyle / Maria Emmighausen

Best for Dull Skin

Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask

Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask

Soko Glam

What We Love: This mask is made with salicylic acid, which works to clean out pores and gently exfoliate skin.

What We Don’t Love: Because this is an acid treatment, it can make skin red after use.

Give your skin the pick-me-up it needs with this resurfacing face mask. Made with both glycolic and lactic acids, the formula instantly exfoliates the skin, ridding it of dead skin cells. On top of that, it’s formulated with salicylic acid, which works to clean out congested pores and make skin brighter. But, it doesn’t stop there: This product also incorporates resveratrol into its ingredient list (a plant compound that acts as an antioxidant), which helps strengthen and hydrate the skin barrier while also working to prevent premature aging.

“When I woke up on the mornings after using this, my skin had a pretty glow and felt very soft,” says our tester. “I'm prone to dry, itchy skin, but after using the mask, my skin looked brighter and more radiant, and my skin felt moisturized and soft. Using this makes me feel like I'm doing something good for my skin.”

Keep in mind that because this treatment contains a slew of acids in the formula it can make skin initially appear red, but it should fade after a few minutes.

Price at time of publish: $56

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Lactic acid, Sugarcane extract, Glycolic acid, Salicylic acid | Key Benefits: Brightens, exfoliates, and softens | Size: 1.7 oz.

Then I Met You Rose Resurfacing Facial Mask

InStyle / Jessica Fleming

Best for Large Pores

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

 Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment


What We Love: This mask is safe for all skin types.

What We Don’t Love: It can sting when first applied.

Large pores don’t stand a chance against this Kate Somerville mask. Made with lactic and salicylic acid, as well as an innovative blend of fruit enzymes, this mask effectively cleans out clogged pores after just one use. Here’s the scoop: Papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin enzymes work together to gently yet efficiently exfoliate the skin without overdrying it, while lactic and salicylic acids provide chemical exfoliation to lift and remove dead skin cells. Plus, the inclusion of aloe vera, honey, and vitamin E help to soothe, smooth and hydrate skin.

“The performance of this product goes above and beyond,” says our tester. “My skin doesn't feel stripped, rather it feels as if I had just managed to get a good breath of fresh air for the first time in a long while.” On top of that, this mask is ideal for anyone who wants to even out their skin texture or banish dark spots. “I would recommend this mask to those who might have bumps and/or acne scars in their complexion," adds our tester. "The effectiveness of exfoliation combined with the healthy afterglow would also be great for anyone who is looking to rehab their skin for a more natural makeup routine in the future.”

While we love this product overall, our tester did note that the mask stings when it’s first applied. “The bottle does say that the mask would tingle, however, I was surprised at how fast my skin reacted,” she explains. “I washed it off within 45 seconds (it recommends a full one to two minutes) and while I was washing it off, I could feel dead skin wash off with it. (Success!)”

Price at time of publish: $98

Active Ingredients: Papaya, Pineapple, and Pumpkin enzymes, Lactic and Salicylic acid, Aloe vera | Key Benefits: Exfoliates, shrinks pores, and brightens | Size: 2 oz.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

InStyle / Sophia Noulas

Best Multitasking

KORA Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask

KORA Organics Turmeric BHA Pore & Brightening Treatment Mask


What We Love: This mask cleans out pores, evens skin texture, lightens hyperpigmentation, and minimizes dullness.

What We Don’t Love: It can be difficult to wash off.

If you’re looking for a one-and-done face mask, we have just the thing for you: Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask is all you need to address a number of skin concerns at once. Made with turmeric extract to lighten hyperpigmentation and promote bright, glowing skin, it evens out skin tone both instantly and over time. Plus, it’s made with gritty mineral powder, which deeply exfoliates the skin and cleans out pores. As for the kicker, this mask is also formulated with aspen bark, a naturally occurring BHA that’s rich in salicylates and helps to visibly refine the skin’s texture. Thanks to these strategic ingredients, this product works quickly to make skin brighter, smoother, and healthier.

“This product says it brightens skin, and it does exactly that,” our tester confirms. “It purifies and removes dead skin cells, allowing your face to shine in the best way. I noticed it gives my skin a very natural glow for days after use, and it makes my complexion look more supple and dewy.”

Ultimately, this mask is ideal for anyone who wants to get their skin in good shape before an event. It exfoliates, clarifies, and smooths skin, making it healthier and more luminous. You may need more than just a splash of water to rinse this off, though, so make sure to keep a washcloth on hand to remove every last trace of it before continuing on with the rest of your skincare routine.

Price at time of publish: $62

Active Ingredients: Turmeric extract, Mineral powder, Aspen bark | Key Benefits: Brightens, exfoliates, and clarifies | Size: 3.4 oz.

KORA Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask

InStyle / Lauren Harano

Best Overnight

Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask

Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask


What We Love: This vegan and cruelty-free mask works to minimize pores and plump skin.

What We Don’t Love: This mask can sometimes make sensitive skin break out.

Make the most of your beauty sleep with the help of an overnight mask. This Farmacy favorite works to improve skin texture, minimize pores, and strengthen and support the skin’s moisture barrier. Made with 10 percent niacinamide, the mask first and foremost evens out skin texture and balances oil, but it’s also formulated with up-cycled blueberry seed oil, which renews and restores skin, making it brighter and smoother. Plus, this mask provides deep hydration, ultimately plumping skin.

“After using this mask a few times, I notice that my pores are smaller,” says our tester. “It also makes my skin smoother and even softens some of the fine lines under my eyes. What I really like is that my skin feels extremely hydrated. This mask is really able to lock in moisture, which is a contributing factor to why my fine lines have smoothed out. Overall, my skin looks more supple and hydrated.”

For best results, use this mask once a week when skin is in need of some added moisture. If you want to give your complexion a boost of hydration before an event or before doing your makeup, simply put this mask on for 15 to 30 minutes and then wash it off. You’ll still get all the great benefits, even if you don’t leave it on overnight. While our tester didn’t experience any breakouts, it’s worth noting that some people with sensitive skin have said that this mask caused their skin to purge a bit.

Price at time of publish: $57

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, Panthenol, Beta-glucan, Blueberry seed oil | Key Benefits: Hydrates, softens, and brightens | Size: 1.7 oz.

Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask

InStyle / Lauren Harano

Other Options You Might Like

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

If you’re on BeautyTok, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen this viral Summer Fridays mask. It’s made with a combination of good-for-your-skin ingredients including niacinamide (which works to reduce the appearance of both fine lines and pores), glycerin (which nourishes the skin from the inside out), and hyaluronic acid (which deeply hydrates and plumps skin).

While this mask did in fact moisturize our tester’s skin, she didn’t think the product lived up to its overall hype. “This is such a major, viral mask and I wanted to love it desperately, but I just don't think it did much,” she says. However, she did notice that her skin wasn’t as dry as it was before she used it. “I think it refreshes the skin and feels nice, but I wouldn't say the results are drastic,” she adds. Nevertheless, this is a great mask for anyone who wants to give their skin a pick-me-up. Plus, it's safe for all skin types, including acne-prone complexions.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Mask

SkinCeuticals is beloved by both skincare enthusiasts and dermatologists alike. Formulated with medical-grade ingredients, each product works to deliver impressive results to the skin. However, while we liked the brand’s Hydrating B5 Mask, our tester didn’t get the results she expected from a SkinCeuticals product. “I don't think the gel texture was working for my skin,” she reports. “I was expecting my skin to respond the way it does with creamy, moisturizing masks, but even immediately after rinsing off, my skin felt taut, and I needed to apply my moisturizer and a face oil overtop.” (It’s worth noting our tester has dry skin, which means this product might work better for someone with oily or combination skin since it’s a gel as opposed to a rich, hydrating cream.)

Nevertheless, this gel mask does have a majority of good reviews from other users. It’s made with a blend of good-for-your-skin ingredients including hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, which work together to attract and retain moisture as well as repair the skin from the inside out. Ultimately, opt for this product if you have oily or combination skin, and want a boost of moisture.

Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Night Cream with Vitamin C

If you want to wake up with hydrated, plump skin, try this Youth to the People night mask. It’s made with vitamin C (which brightens skin), both squalane and hyaluronic acids (which work to hydrate skin without clogging pores), and a blend of berries, including açaí, goji, and maqui, (which protect skin by combating free radicals). According to our tester, this mask provides noticeable benefits to their skin. “It helps smooth out dry patches and some imperfections,” they say. “Just after one night of use, I noticed my skin was much bouncier and glowy.”

Although this mask addressed some of their skin concerns, they did point out that it was difficult to apply. “It's not the easiest to spread — I basically take big goops and then spread it around,” she says. “It feels like I may be wasting product, but I want to make sure all of my face is covered.” To avoid this, try using your index and middle finger to scoop the mask out of the jar. Then, use your two fingers to evenly apply the product across your face.

Our Testing Process

To start, we researched the bestselling face masks across the top beauty brands. After reviewing the ratings, we rounded up the 22 most popular products on the market and put them to the test. Twenty-one testers analyzed the face masks on a scale of 1 to 5 for four important categories: Ease of application, how the mask feels on skin, the efficacy of the mask, and how much their skin changed due to using the mask over a two-week period. Once the testers provided their feedback, we were able to narrow down the 12 best face masks of 2023.

What to Keep in Mind

Skin Type and Concern

In terms of finding the right face mask for your skin, it’s important to consider your skin type as well as the skin concern you’re looking to address. “Face masks can range in use from hydrating to purifying, and can include a wide variety of ingredients aimed at unique skin problems,” explains plastic surgery physician assistant Courtney Brown.

“Those with sensitive skin or rosacea will want to pick a mask that has minimal active ingredients because these may cause further irritation and dryness. Masks that include aloe, chamomile, or squalene [like Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask] are more suitable for this skin type. However, individuals with oily, acne-prone skin will benefit from the exfoliating properties of salicylic acid and may want a more aggressive face mask to unclog pores and remove excess bacteria on the skin. [Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment is ideal for acne-prone skin],” adds Brown. The bottom line: Be sure you’re using a mask that’s safe for your skin type and won’t ultimately irritate, clog, or harm it.


When it comes to face mask ingredients you should avoid, there are a few that generally top the list. “Stay away from parabens, alcohol, and fragrances in your masks,” warns Julia Gialanella, aesthetician at Modrn Sanctuary. This is because these ingredients can dry out skin, cause irritation, and trigger acne breakouts.

On the flip side, there are certain ingredients you should look for depending on your skin type. If you have dry skin, seek out ingredients that deeply nourish and moisturize. “The best ingredient for dry skin is hyaluronic acid,” says Gialanella. (Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Mask and Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask both contain hyaluronic acid.) “It hydrates and rejuvenates the skin. Avocado or honey are great for dry skin as well.”

On the other hand, if you want to exfoliate your skin or clean out pores, look for a mask with ingredients such as alpha hydroxy, lactic, and/or salicylic acids. (Some masks with these ingredients include Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask, and Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Pore Exfoliating Treatment.) Alternatively, if you have sensitive skin, opt for soothing ingredients like aloe vera or calendula extract. (You can find both of these in the Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask.)

Your Questions, Answered

Why should you use a face mask?

Face masks offer a wide variety of benefits. “They can be a form of cleansing (exfoliation) or relaxation rituals, or used for moisturizing purposes as well offering healing power for a variety of skin issues from sun damage to inflammatory skin conditions,” says dermatologist Dr. Vladyslava Doktor.

“Face masks can be an excellent way to quickly hydrate and brighten your overall complexion or even target specific skin concerns such as acne,” adds Brown. “If you have dry, sensitive skin and need a boost in moisture, I recommend applying a gentle face mask one to three times a week for proper nourishment. However, if your goal is to take care of an acne flare or clogged pores, then use a clarifying mask with salicylic or glycolic acid for overall skin resurfacing once a week.” Essentially, face masks can treat and address different skin concerns.

How often should you use a face mask?

How often you use a face mask depends on the results you are trying to achieve. “Masks can definitely be used daily or just a few times a week,” explains Dr. Doktor. “For instance, traditional clay masks can be used daily, but exfoliating masks should be used a few times a week. They can strip the top layer of the skin and provide a constant source of irritation if applied daily.” Be sure you are also paying attention to the manufacturer’s instructions for how often you should use a specific face mask so you don’t unintentionally harm your skin.

In addition to the results you are trying to achieve, it’s also important to take your skin type into consideration. “Typically, I always recommend [using a face mask] one to two times weekly for upkeep, however for some, I might recommend using one on an as-needed basis,” says Sarah Akram, master esthetician and founder of Sarah Akram Skincare. “If your lifestyle allows it and you’re able to accumulate a range of different face masks bespoke to you — you can mask every single night or multiple times a week.”

Do face masks expire?

Yes, face masks expire. “This depends on whether they have any preservatives or are made from fresh ingredients,” says Dr. Doktor. (Also, it’s worth noting that most beauty products expire – including makeup and perfume – so be sure you check how long the product can last. You can find this information on the product’s packaging or online.)

Do you apply face masks before or after your skincare routine?

“Typically, you apply a face mask before the skincare routine if used for cleansing or exfoliative purposes,” says Dr. Doktor. “Masks are meant to be washed off after a period of time and then followed by application of moisturizer.” However, if you are using an overnight mask (like Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask), you would apply this mask either on top of your moisturizer or on cleansed skin. You would then leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning.

Are face masks safe to use?

“When used judiciously and correctly, face masks are a safe and effective way to refresh the overall skin complexion,” explains Brown. “However, it is highly important to always read the list of ingredients and choose a product that is suitable for your skin type. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cheap masks on the market and without being careful, these may cause breakouts, rosacea flares, and dermatitis. If you notice any excessive tingling or irritation when masking, you should immediately remove the mask and cleanse the skin with cool water.”

Overall, face masks are an effective and relaxing way to target specific skin concerns. “Choose the mask that is right for your skin, whether it's boosting hydration, brightening dark spots,  treating acne, etc, and add it to your routine one or two nights a week,” says Gialanella. “You’ll start to see a difference, and it’s like a mini spa night at home!”

What Is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it's really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle picks are products we love, and we've put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Why Shop With Us

Lauren Harano has over seven years of experience in the beauty industry, previously holding editorial positions at Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, POPSUGAR, and NBCUniversal; and writing beauty pieces for InStyle since August 2022. She is knowledgeable in skincare, makeup, and hair care, and has tested hundreds of products throughout her career.

For this article, Lauren interviewed four skin experts: Aesthetician at Modrn Sanctuary Julia Gialanella; plastic surgery physician assistant Courtney Brown; founding dermatologist of Skin Center Boston Dr. Vladyslava Doktor; and master esthetician and founder of Sarah Akram Skincare Sarah Akram. Each expert shared their insights on the best ways to properly and safely use face masks. Additionally, Lauren compiled insights from our in-house testers, poured over product reviews and specifications, and rounded up our top picks for this story. Each face mask on this list is effective, actively targets different skin concerns, and improves complexions.

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