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Face masks were suddenly everywhere this year—if they didn’t show up in self-effacing memes about self-care, they popped up in lovingly curated Instagram posts, nestled among arsenals of pricy face serums. Thanks to powerful active ingredients, the best face masks change your skin in ways other products can’t. Here, our picks for the top face masks.
Best Overall: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial
The beauty world is full of hyperbole, but this really is the closest thing to a miracle product, with a 4.5 star rating on Sephora’s site. The Babyfacial is an unheard-of 25% AHA and 2% BHA—a powerful blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids that slough off dead skin for a baby-faced complexion.
The oatmeal-colored mask comes in an airtight pink pump. There’s a warm, tingling sensation when you first apply that quickly goes away. Instructions advise leaving the mask on for up to 20 minutes. The exfoliating action is powerful though, so make sure to slather on sunscreen and limit to once or twice a week.
Best Budget: Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
Another acid mask, this time with a gentler formulation of pumpkin enzyme, manuka honey, and glycolic acid to resurface skin. The Andalous Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask is less aggressive and more affordable than the Babyfacial, but just as satisfying with its results. It imparts a tingling sensation when first applied, but goes away within a minute or two. Reviewers with both oily, acne-prone skin and sensitive skin enjoyed the mask, praising its abilities to calm breakouts and reduce the appearance of pores. Bonus: It smells like pumpkin pie, just not the cloying kind, and feels like a rich pudding.
Best Drugstore Option: Vichy Double Glow Peel Face Mask
Most drugstore masks are too abrasive, but not this one from Vichy. The Double Glow Peel Face mask isn’t so much a peel as it is a chemical and physical exfoliant in one, but the radiance-inducing claim holds true. The mask uses AHA-rich plant extracts like blueberry and maple sugar to exfoliate as volcanic rock particles gently scrub away dead skin. Mineral-rich thermal hydrates and nourishes. Apply a thin layer to dry skin, then massage in circles once dry for even skin tone, less congestion, and reduced inflammation.
Best for Acne: Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
White willow bark and fruit enzymes like papaya and pineapple (gentle, effective AHAs and BHAs) clarify and exfoliate skin without irritation. The blue tansy is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce redness. Aside from clarifying, the Blue Tansy Mask gently decongests skin and sloughs off flakes to even out texture. The instructions seem counterintuitive at first—apply the mask daily for the first three or four days before switching to once a week afterward—but the mask is gentle enough that it doesn’t freak out your skin.
Best Overnight Mask: Huxley Good Night Sleep Mask
Korean brand Huxley, named after the “Brave New World” writer, bases its entire skincare line on prickly pear extract, a fruit-producing succulent rich in anti-inflammatory Vitamin E. Prickly pear also reduces redness and heals wounds, which is good news if your skin has been going through it—Korean flight attendants love the skincare line as an antidote to the stresses of constant travel. The lightweight Good Night Sleep Mask comes in a convenient squeeze tube and works its magic over night. Apply as the last layer in your skincare routine before bed, and wake up with brighter, calmer skin.
Best for Brightening: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask
The unique texture of this brightening mask resembles a milky jelly pudding that molds back to the shape of the container after you dip the spatula in. The jelly consistency helps it cling to skin before you rub the mask in. It works as an overnight treatment as the last layer of skincare, or even a moisturizer if your skin really needs the hydration. When used alone, the mask leaves dewy, healthy-looking skin, but results are more incredible when paired with a vitamin C serum.
Best for Dry Skin: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
Even with all the skincare innovations available to us, a full night’s sleep is still one of the best things you can do for your skin. That being said, if you can’t manage that, there’s always the Jet Lag Mask, which treats puffy, tired, dehydrated skin that’s not not unlike the results of a brutal red-eye. The Summer Fridays mask contains a hydrating, soothing cocktail of ceramides to fortify skin, anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce redness, and vitamins C and E for radiance. Richer than a gel but lighter than a cream, the mask comes in a compact blue-gray tube.
Best for Blackheads: Sand & Sky Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask
This combination of pore-vacuuming Australian pink clay, Kakadu plum extract, and licorice purifies skin while evening out your complexion. The Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask comes with an applicator brush to spread the mixture on your face (which, when it comes to clay masks, is probably preferable to using your fingers). The clay cuts through oil and grime and whatever else you have in your pores, while also reducing redness and even calming existing acne. It can be used two or three times a week, but people with sensitive skin should limit to once a week.
Our writers spent 62 hours researching the most popular face masks on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different masks overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers, read over 60 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 3 of the masks themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.