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In our experience, no one will ever say no to testing drugstore makeup. If eyeliner is smooth, inky, opaque, and only $5, most everyone will stock up on it without hesitation. The same goes for the lash-defining mascaras, colorful lipsticks, and high-coverage foundations that line the drugstore aisle. The less they cost, the better, right?
That bargain-hunting spirit doesn't quite extend to drugstore skincare products, though. We've seen beauty buffs hesitate to buy a $10 moisturizer, choosing instead to spend five times that on a high-end formula elsewhere because they're suspicious of the former's efficacy. No judgment—we're guilty of doing that, too. Sometimes the lure of a fancy glass-bottled skincare product is too strong.
Nonetheless, that doesn't mean we should write off drugstore skincare products. In fact, we recommend doing just the opposite because those fluorescent aisles abound with products that are effective, budget-friendly, and worth buying, especially when it comes to face masks. And many of these masks contain the same active ingredients you'll find in their high-end counterparts, such as vitamins C and B3, charcoal, and hyaluronic acid. Whether you're looking for a skin-quenching sheet mask or a pore-refining clay mask, there's one out there for you.
Keep scrolling to see the six best drugstore face masks for every skin concern.
Best Overall: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask
Made from a unique 100% hydrogel material
Contours to your skin
Instantly quenches the skin
Might irritate some skin
First things first: This Neutrogena mask is only $3. That's it. Beyond the affordable price tag, it drenches skin in hydration thanks to the hyaluronic acid it contains. For anyone who doesn't know, hyaluronic acid is a mega-moisturizing molecule that occurs naturally in our bodies. And, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water (if you're interested, here's a bit more about its benefits beyond hydration).
Take it from the reviewers. One writes, "I love this particular face mask by Neutrogena. The hydrogel boosting mask revitalizes and transforms your skin from dull and lifeless, to radiant and glowing. Leaves face so soft and silky, clean and hydrated. One of my absolute favorites."
Benefits: Hydrating and Skin-Quenching | Skin Type: Dry | Dosage: Apply to skin after cleansing and before applying facial serum | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Pacifica Mattify Prep Face Mask
Clears oil and clarifies without drying skin
Brightens skin tone
Not the best for sensitive skin
Anyone with oily skin knows the struggle. You cleanse, apply makeup, and head out the door. Then, less than an hour later, you need an oil-blotting sheet. Sigh. That's why you might appreciate this vegan sheet mask from Pacifica. It actually mattifies the skin, helping to keep oil at bay and providing lightweight hydration with (you guessed it) hyaluronic acid. As one reviewer put it, this mask is "great [for] daytime before makeup or just alone for a glow without oiliness."
Benefits: Brightens and tones while soothing sensitive skin | Skin Type: Normal | Dosage: Apply to skin after cleansing | Size: 1 pc. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: L'Oréal Paris Pure-Clay Detox & Brighten Face Mask
Brightens the skin
Included charcoal draws out impurities
Fades acne scars
For clogged pores, look no further than one of the beauty industry's favorite ingredients: charcoal. It draws out impurities, keeping new breakouts at bay. For only $10, this mask is a Byrdie team favorite. It gets the job done, doesn't ruin our bank accounts, and leaves our skin feeling clean and smooth. Reviewers agree.
Take it from the one who writes, "Maybe it's coincidence…but since using this product my skin is less oily, I have A LOT fewer breakouts, my acne scarring has faded and I've noticed brighter and even skin tone. Honestly, I'm shocked that something that only costs $10 has helped my skin so much. I use it two to three times a week and spot-treat acne. It smells great, too, and leaves my skin feeling so soft. Do yourself a favor and TRY THIS."
Benefits: Detoxifies the skin | Skin Type: Dull | Dosage: Apply to skin in even layer after cleaning and drying skin | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin: Nugg Youth Boost Antioxidant Gel Mask
Full of natural ingredients
Brightens, balances, and calms irritated skin
Goes on easy on the skin
Hard to remove
Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) works to improve skin texture by boosting moisture and increasing keratin.
Here's the thing about Nugg face masks. I've seen them hundreds of times throughout my weekly Target trips, but I hadn't tried any until the recommendation by a couple of friends. The single-use packets are convenient and effective, targeting a range of skin concerns, though this one is a personal favorite. The Youth Boost mask contains white tea extract and vitamin B3 to brighten, calm, and balance red, irritated skin.
Benefits: Addresses the signs of aging with antioxidants | Skin Type: All | Dosage: Apply entire content of pod onto clean and dry skin | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Dull Skin: Yes To Grapefruit Single Use Mud Mask
Full of antioxidants
Made from 95% natural ingredients
Hard to apply
If dullness and hyperpigmentation have you down, reach for a mask with vitamin C, an antioxidant that naturally brightens the skin. We like this grapefruit mud mask, which is perfect for using at home or when traveling (since it's single-use). Vitamin C, grapefruit, and pink kaolin clay work together to brighten, exfoliate, and illuminate. "It helped control my shine and did brighten up my skin. I also noticed that it minimized my pores and evened out my skin. A plus is that it left my skin soft even the day after I used it," wrote one reviewer.
Benefits: Brightens, exfoliates, and illuminates | Skin Type: Dull and Uneven | Dosage: Apply entire content of pod onto clean and dry skin | Size: 0.33 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What to Look For in a Drugstore Face Mask
It occurs naturally in your body, but adding hyaluronic acid to your skincare routine can have huge benefits. This little molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water and is considered a hydration superstar. Additionally, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, MD, says that "hyaluronic acid is a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells making them 'plump.'"
This antioxidant does everything from protecting skin from future damage to helping create a more even skin tone and promoting collagen production. Since we can't produce it on our own you'll have to add vitamin C to your routine—like in a face mask—to reap its benefits.
You may have heard of this ingredient under the names niacinamide and nicotinamide. It's used to help treat skin issues including acne and dark spots and can help improve the skin's barrier function. Needless to say, it's the perfect addition to a face mask.
It was popular years ago as an internal ingredient, but charcoal is also excellent at removing impurities from your skin's surface, in addition to inside your body. Experts generally recommend using masks that have charcoal as an ingredient, rather than the harsh peel-off charcoal masks that may be too irritating for some. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Noelani González, MD, FAAD, says that "charcoal masks (either wash off or peel-off) work by drawing out any bacteria, dirt, and oil from the skin to help keep it clean and clear."
Are store bought face masks good for you?
Store-bought face masks are a wise choice to boost up your skincare routine. They can't solve all your problems at once, but they can provide a hit of moisture, remove impurities, and/or help to brighten your skin and give you a healthy glow, depending on the ingredients. Sheet masks are particularly easy to use.
Do dermatologists recommend face masks?
Dermatologists generally agree that the beneficial ingredients in face masks can provide a quick upgrade to your routine. But like all things, moderation is key. Doing them too often can result in over masking, which should be avoided. Use face masks occasionally, not daily.
Do V line face masks work?
These masks are used for face slimming more so than cleansing. They're used on just the lower part of your face, unlike the standard full face mask. They're useful for a temporary improvement in the appearance of your face, particularly through your jaw and chin areas; as for long-term changes, dermatologists say those results are more subtle.
John HE, Price RD. Perspectives in the selection of hyaluronic acid fillers for facial wrinkles and aging skin. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2009;3:225-230.
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