These 10 Face Masks Help Clear Breakouts Faster

A mask every few days keeps new pimples away.

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Red haired woman applying a green skincare mask
Photo: Stocksy/Adobe Stock

Dealing with acne can feel like getting the spinning wheel of death while working on your MacBook.

You load up your skincare routine with a deep-cleaning cleanser, an exfoliating serum, spot treatment, and oil-free moisturizer. These products eventually clear up your breakout, but then the cycle starts again. With a fresh new set of pimples that have just popped up on your chin.

And that's why face masks were invented.

Treating your skin with a mask full of acne-fighting and soothing ingredients a couple times a week can be worth the extra step. However, if you're using prescription acne products just check with your dermatologist first to make sure the formulas will jive.

"Sometimes acne masks can soothe and minimize acne by decreasing the inflammation involved in the papules and pustules," says Dr. Jeanine Downie, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Image Dermatology. And it doesn't just need to be for your face.

"Do not forget, acne masks are good for all acne prone areas and that would include the chest, shoulders, and back in those that have more significant acne," Dr. Downie shares.

The only catch Dr. Downie points out that you typically won't see much success for blackheads and cystic blemishes.

Just remember that when you're applying your treatment, slathering on a heavy layer of product isn't going to make the mask work any better. Typically, a little can go a long way.

Below, we've rounded up the 10 best face masks to help you "force quit" your breakouts.

Best Overall: SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque

SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque

The dermatologist-favorite brand's mask is here for you during every stage of a breakout. With a mix of clays, exfoliating BHA and AHA acids from fruits, and soothing aloe vera and chamomile, this treatment dries up existing pimples, clears pores to prevent future breakouts, and calms red, inflamed skin.

Best for Acne Scars: Obagi Professional-C™ Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask

Obagi Professional-C™ Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask

For anyone struggling with post-breakout hyperpigmentation, Dr. Downie is a fan of this multitasking exfoliating and brightening mask. It evens out both tone and texture for overall softer, brighter skin.

Best Overnight Mask: Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial

Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial

A product that lives up to its name, Allies of Skin's mask delivers on its promise to shrink zits overnight. A mix of BHA/AHA acids improves the appearance of pimples and breaks up the gunk that's clogging pores. Niacinamide, caffeine, peptides, and hyaluronic acid tag team to improve dullness, redness, and signs of aging.

Best for Oily Skin: Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Cleansing Mask

Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Cleansing Mask

Want to tackle zits and get your oily skin under control? This popular Clinique mask will do just that. Kaolin clay and salicylic acid cleanses and clarifies skin, so you're less greasy and prone to breakouts.

Best Natural: Indie Lee Clarifying Mask

Indie Lee Clarifying Mask

Clay is a popular ingredient in acne masks because it sucks up excess oil while also healing pimples. On top of zoning in on your existing breakout, salicylic and glycolic acids help loosen up the dead skin cells and oil that are blocking pores and exfoliate to prevent scarring. Since clay and BHA/AHA acids can be extremely drying, chamomile and red seaweed extract round out the formula to soothe and hydrate skin.

Best for Clogged Pores: OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask

OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask

With a combo of clay, antioxidant botanicals, and AHA/BHA acids, this cooling mask is a detox for clogged, enlarged pores. It clarifies and cleanses skin for refined pores and less zits.

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

This two-in-one cleanser and mask is packed with benzoyl peroxide, a tried-and-true ingredient that kills acne-causing bacteria. What's great about this treatment is that you can use it as a daily blackhead and breakout-clearing cleanser or a quick five-minute mask.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Caudalie Purifying Clay Mask

Caudalie Purifying Clay Mask

Say goodbye to your breakouts without irritating the hell out of your sensitive skin. Caudalie added calming chamomile extract and hydrating olive squalane and grape seed oils to its mask to minimize redness and dryness.

Best Charcoal Mask: GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment

GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment

The goat of charcoal face masks, GlamGlow's best-selling acne treatment unclogs pores, soaks up excess oil and has an impressive blend of six AHA/BHA acids to exfoliate skin for improved texture and even tone.

Best Steal: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque

With 2% salicylic acid, clay, and charcoal, The Ordinary's mask is powerful enough to cut through the oil that's clogging up your pores and suck up that extra sebum. Your skin will feel refreshed and clean — but definitely not tight. That's because this mask doesn't completely dry up when you let it marinate on your face. Even better: the decent-sized tube is just $12.

This is Winging It, where we're helping you master your favorite salon treatments and looks without having to leave the house.

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