The 8 Best Face Masks That Help Achieve Healthy, Glowing Skin

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Best Face Masks
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The Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial stands out from the rest.

Face masks are the best way to do damage control. It's a fact: Whether I'm dealing with a breakout, dullness and dark spots from said breakout, or my skin is extremely dry from sitting beside an air conditioner on full blast, I know I can rely on a face mask to deal with whatever is plaguing my skin at the moment. Plus, I know I'm not alone when I say that devoting 20 to 30 minutes to just chill always helps put my skin (and my mind) at ease.

Like most things, face masks can be both a blessing and a curse, namely because there are so many options to consider. From glow-inducing exfoliating treatments to calming hydrogel options, we took it upon ourselves to find the best masks for every skin concern. We considered ingredients, benefits, and method of application, as well as consulted board-certified dermatologist Shereene Idriss, M.D. and Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D. for their professional expertise. One mask that stood out among the rest is the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial for its ability to make skin look more radiant and less congested.

Keep reading for the full list of the best face masks for every skin concern.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
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Also available at Drunk Elephant, Sephora and Ulta

What We Love: The mask is the closest thing you can get to an at-home facial — it smooths uneven texture and brightens dull-looking skin.

What We Don't Love: At $79, it's pricey for a face mask.

If your skin is in need of a little TLC, this mask will provide just that. Formulated with a variety of alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs, for short), this mask acts like an at-home facial to target discoloration, uneven texture, clogged pores, and dullness in under 20 minutes. The dream team of acids includes a blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids to smooth skin texture while minimizing the look of pores, fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, chickpea flour, pumpkin ferment, matcha tea, milk thistle and apple help to brighten and smooth skin. As the name suggests, the result is baby-smooth skin that looks healthy and radiant.

One thing we wish we could change is the price, given that it's more expensive than most of the other options on this list. However, when you consider the potent cocktail of ingredients in this mask, it's totally worth it.

Active Ingredients: Glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, chickpea flour | Benefits: Exfoliating, resurfacing | Size: 1.69 fl. Oz.

Best Value: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Mask

Best Face Masks
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Also available at Target, Neutrogena, and CVS

What We Love: You can buy this mask in bulk.

What We Don't Love: Hydrogel masks can be slippery and have a tendency to slide down your face.

After using this hydrating hydrogel mask, dry skin doesn't stand a chance. The main ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which is known to plump, hydrate, and smooth skin. And, thanks to the fact that they're individually wrapped, these masks are perfect for a quick pamper sesh wherever the day takes you (mid-flight is our favorite). "This is a nice way to get a concentrated amount of the ingredient in a short amount of time," Dr. Bhanusali says. "Because the hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge and retains water, top your skin off with a moisturizer when you're done."

Something to note: hyaluronic acid has a liquid texture that can cause the mask to slip and slide on your skin. But it's nothing to be worried about, just put it back in its place if you notice any movement.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Hydrating, plumping | Size: 1 to 12 masks

Best For Dull Skin: Nudestix Tight + Bright Face Mask

Best Face Masks
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Also available at Ulta

What We Love: The superstar ingredient is mandelic acid, a gentle exfoliant that can be used by sensitive skin types.

What We Don't Love: The product's packaging is a little flimsy.

Clear, glowy skin doesn't happen overnight, but you can get a little radiance boost with this mask. The gel-like formula includes 10 percent mandelic acid and 10 percent niacinamide (which, respectfully, work to instantly exfoliate dead skin cells and fade dark spots over time). . Together with hydrating green tea leaf extract and soothing aloe leaf extract, these ingredients are effective, but not too harsh. In face, you can even use it a few times a week.

It's worth noting that the product comes in a flimsy lime green tube. But, because it's eco-friendly, biodegradable and recyclable, we're willing to look past it in the name of Mother Earth.

Active Ingredients: Mandelic acid, niacinamide, and betaine salicylate | Benefits: Exfoliating, clarifying and brightening | Size: 1.35 fl. Oz.

Best for Dry Skin: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

SUMMER FRIDAYS Jet Lag Mask
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Also available at Summer Fridays, Ulta, and Amazon

What We Love: The creamy, indulgent mask quenches dry, thirsty skin and leaves it smooth to the touch.

What We Don't Love: Some acne-prone reviewers found that it clogged their pores.

Yep, it's the face mask you see all over Instagram. The signature blue tube is more than just an aesthetic skincare product, though. The actual formula, which contains shea butter and glycerin, is super nourishing, smoothing, and leaves skin feeling really soft. Wear it for 10 minutes and rinse it off, or leave it on overnight when your skin needs some extra help.

We'd be remiss not to share that some acne-prone reviewers noticed that the mask made them break out. If you're prone to blemishes or just don't like the way a thick, buttery moisturizer feels on your face, you may want to skip this one.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Hydrating | Size: 2.25 fl. Oz.

Best for Uneven Texture: Tata Harper Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask

Tata Harper Sale
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Also available at Tata Harper and Nordstrom

What We Love: Pesky post-acne spots can become less obvious with continued use of this mask.

What We Don't Love: Some may experience a purging period.

Using an exfoliating face mask several times a week might sound like a direct route to dry, irritated skin, but not always. Case in point: this Tata Harper mask. Formulated with natural exfoliating ingredients like willow bark extract and pomegranate enzyme, the jelly-like treatment will leave skin more clear. And, best of all, those extremely stubborn post-acne dark spots will finally go away with repeated use.

The resurfacing mask is intended to help the skin shed its top layer, which caused some users to go through a purging period. As Dr. Idriss previously told InStyle, skin purging is common with exfoliants. The reasoning: it takes time for our bodies to produce new skin cells and shed dead ones. When using an exfoliant (like this mask), the cycle is accelerated, pushing up congestion and creating temporary inflammation. In other words, if you begin to purge, don't worry, it's natural — you just need to be patient in order to see results.

Active Ingredients: Willow bark extract, pomegranate enzymes, and pink clay | Benefits: Softening and brightening | Size: 1.35 fl. Oz.

For Extra HydBest for Fine Lines: Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Face Mask ration: Summer Fridays Jet Leg Mask

Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Face Mask
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Also available at Shiseido and Macy's

What We Love: Each of the masks in the four-piece set has two parts, an upper and a lower, to ensure a perfect fit for every face.

What We Don't Love: The set of sheet masks comes with a high price tag.

If fine lines and wrinkles are getting you down, try one of these revitalizing sheet masks from Shiseido. What makes these masks so special? Each one delivers an effective dosage of radiance-restoring ingredients, like retinol and amino acids, to the skin in 20 minutes. Plus, to ensure the sheet mask fits every face perfectly, each one comes in two pieces — an upper piece for the top half of the face and a lower piece for the bottom half.

If we could change anything about this mask, it would be the price tag. However, if you factor in that one purchase gets you four masks (each mask being about $17), it becomes a little easier to justify the splurge.

Active Ingredients: Retinol | Benefits: Firming, Hydrating | Size: 4 masks

Best for Clogged Pores: Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Mask

Best Face Masks
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Also available at Fresh, Amazon, and Ulta

What We Love: It gently treats clogged pores and minimizes shine without overdrying.

What We Don't Love: It doesn't leave skin feeling invigorated like some other clay masks do.

For this category, we searched everywhere for a formula that is tough on clogged pores but gentle on the skin — afterall, the last thing you want to do is aggravate that balance even more. That's where this classic clay mask from Fresh comes in. Made with Umbrian clay, this mask helps remove the gunk and excess oil from pores without drying the heck out of the rest of your face. Bonus: It works great as a spot treatment — simply dab a tiny bit on top of a clogged pore and let it work its magic.

Because the mask also contains soothing ingredients like sandalwood oil, chamomile flower, and lavender water, some users wished it felt more aggressive on the skin. It doesn't dry down to a tight finish or leave the skin feeling tingly afterwards, which some crave from a purifying mask. With that said, this formula is a great choice for someone with sensitive, acne-prone skin in search of a gentle clay mask.

Active Ingredients: Umbrian clay | Benefits: Pore shrinking| Size: 3.3 fl. Oz.

Best for Irritated Skin: SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque

Best Face Masks
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Also available at Dermstore and Amazon

What We Love: A blend of botanicals calms all kinds of irritated skin.

What We Don't Love: Some users experienced a slight tingle after application.

Whether your skin is chronically irritated, you had a bad reaction to another product, or got too much sun, this is the mask to turn to when you have a seriously pissed-off complexion. Inside, there's calming botanicals like cucumber and thyme, cooling dipeptides, and hydrating hyaluronic acid to calm and reduce stress on the surface.

Since irritated skin is, well, irritated, some users shared that they experienced a tingling effect after applying the mask. While the sensation subsided after a minute or two, it's always best to perform a patch test on your wrist before trying a new skincare product to avoid a reaction.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Calming | Size: 2 fl. Oz.

What to Keep in Mind

Skin Type and Concern

As with any product you put on your skin, it's important to select a face mask based on your skin type and specific concerns. For those with dry skin, seek hydrating, nourishing ingredients like glycerin. "Hyaluronic acid is okay if you're in a pinch or for a red carpet event," Dr. Idriss says. "But for long term use, I prefer products that are glycerin-based since the ingredient is more hydrating for dry skin." For oily skin types, carefully read labels and look for face masks that say "non-comedogenic" and "non-greasy" as this indicates they won't clog pores or contribute to excess shine. To combat breakouts, Dr. Bhanusali says that masks containing clay — specifically kaolin clay — are great for drawing oil and debris out of clogged pores while still being gentle on the skin.

Type

Face masks come in a variety of forms. Options that come in tubs, tubes, and airtight containers work a lot like face creams, except they're often meant to be washed off after a certain period of time. On the other hand, sheet masks, which usually come in individual packages, are intended to be placed directly on your face and then peeled off. The right type of mask for you ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Ingredients

As far as ingredients are concerned, Dr. Idriss recommends playing it safe and avoiding face masks with fragrance, alcohol, and exfoliating acids at high concentrations. In order to truly find out if your skin will react well to a particular formula, it's best to perform a patch test. As board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, M.D. previously told InStyle, "Use a small amount [of the formula] and rub it into your wrist and wait 24 hours." If you have no reaction, the mask should be fine to use on your face without issue. If you see redness, or have irritation in the area, then you're having a reaction and should not use that particular mask.

Your Questions, Answered

Why should you use a face mask?

"Face masks are a quick way of getting a high concentration of ingredients to the skin," Dr. Bhanusali tells InStyle. "When you apply a face mask, the belief is that the ingredients will penetrate more deeply into the skin and address various skin concerns in a short amount of time."

How often should you use a face mask?

According to Dr. Idriss, how often you use a face mask depends on the type of face mask you're using. She shares that for hydrating masks, you can get away with daily use — which Martha Stewart, the queen of sheet masks, is famous for doing every morning. "For clay masks, once a week is a good standard to maintain a healthy balance with your skin's natural oils," she says. "As for exfoliating masks, two to three times a week is enough."

Why Shop With Us

Caitlyn Martyn is a commerce writer for InStyle, where she covers skincare, makeup, and fashion. With expert insight from a handful of dermatologists, she poured over product specifications and rounded up our top picks for this story. Caitlyn has experience researching, testing and writing about beauty products and has tried tons of different face masks, including several from the above brands, including SkinCeuticals, Summer Fridays and Nudestix.

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