While not an essential part of your skincare routine, face masks can do more than just make for a pleasant self-care experience. Choose one with specific ingredients that work to target your skin concerns, and it could make a meaningful difference in the look and feel of your skin. But like all skincare categories, selecting the right face mask for you depends on several factors, like your skin type, skin concerns, and lifestyle.
So, we put some of the most popular and highly-rated options on the market to the test over the course of two weeks and evaluated them based on application, efficacy, feel, and appearance. Ahead, we’re sharing which ones ranked the highest and earned the Byrdie stamp of approval. From rinse-off options to overnight masks and hydrating formulas to powerful exfoliators, find a wide range of options to help you make a wise purchasing decision below.
ROSEN Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask
Packaging features a pump for easy and hygienic product dispersion
Calms redness and brightens skin after one use
Makes noticeable reduction in dark spots
Accessible and affordable
The simple act of applying a facemask and relaxing with it on can be a powerful form of self-care, but that’s made even better when the mask produces a noticeable improvement in the look and feel of your skin. That’s exactly what this mask formulated with lactic acid did for our tester, who absolutely raved about her experience using it. She said the lightweight, jelly texture was easy to apply and comfortable on her skin, and she noticed that after just one use, it worked to significantly calm redness and illuminate her complexion. After using it consistently once a week as part of her skincare regimen, she shared that her hyperpigmentation was visibly reduced, her skin tone appeared brighter overall, and the texture of her skin felt smoother.
Considering that this mask delivers on all of its claims, is easy and efficient to apply, and is accessible and affordable, it's no surprise that it’s our top pick.
Price at time of publish: $18
Benefits: Exfoliates, fades dark spots | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“This facemask is pretty incredible, and I was quite surprised by the results I saw after my first use. The texture of my skin and its brightness improved significantly.” —Mariah Freire, Product Tester
The Inkey List Madecassoside Mask
Provides cooling, refreshing sensation
Soft, creamy consistency
Doesn’t leave greasy residue behind
Provides instant relief to stressed skin
Can be used as a leave-on treatment or wash-off mask
Some people might find the cooling effect to be slightly too intense
Whether you’re experiencing a flare-up of redness and irritation or you’re simply craving a soothing treatment for your skin, we recommend checking out this affordable mask for when your face needs some extra support. It’s formulated with madecassoside, a component found in centella asiatica, a medicinal plant known for its skin-soothing benefits. The mask works to temper redness and inflammation and hydrate the skin while providing a cooling sensation that’s incredibly refreshing. It can be used as a leave-on treatment that you can sleep in or as a rinse-off mask—making it super versatile. It’s also housed in a squeeze tube, making for easy and mess-free application.
Our tester absolutely loved this product, saying it instantly helped to calm her redness and soothe her skin. The creamy texture was simple to apply and felt comfortable and non-greasy, and she really enjoyed the cooling sensation it created once applied. After using it for a few weeks in a row, she noted that her skin felt softer, and she even noticed that she was better able to tolerate her retinol cream without irritation.
Price at time of publish: $12
Benefits: Calms redness and inflammation | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask
Mess-free and easy to apply
Excellent for helping with dryness and dry patches
Makes noticeable improvement in hydration and feel of the skin
Visibly plumps skin
Could be slightly heavy for those with oily skin
If you’re willing to indulge in a face mask and make this part of your self-care routine more luxe, this pricey pick has our Byrdie stamp of approval. While it’s quite expensive, our tester raved about it and explained that because a little bit goes a long way and it’s not a wash-off product, she considers it to be a fair value.
The ultra-creamy formula is pillowy soft, and easy to apply, and our tester with combination skin said it worked wonders in the areas of her face that are prone to getting dry patches. “Since using this product, I have yet to experience dry or flaky patches on my skin,” she explained. It worked to significantly increase hydration, and she even noticed a visible difference in the plumpness of her skin. She noted that it did feel slightly oily in her T-zone, so while it’s suitable for all skin types, those with oily skin might want to use it sparingly.
Price at time of publish: $180
Benefits: Smoothes, brightens, hydrates | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Then I Met You Rosé Resurfacing Facial Mask
Gel texture feels refreshing on the skin
Skin feels noticeably softer after using it
Helps to visibly brighten the complexion
Easy to remove
Doesn’t make a noticeable difference in skin texture
While dull skin isn’t nearly as frustrating as consistent blemishes or flaky, dry patches, it can make it challenging to feel like your best, most confident self. If you resonate with this, we recommend trying this brightening mask formulated with a blend of glycolic and lactic acids and antioxidants. The gel texture is easy to apply and feels incredibly refreshing and a bit cooling on the skin, and it doesn’t dry down to a tight or uncomfortable finish. In fact, our tester loved that it was so comfortable and mess-free that she could walk around and get things done around the house while wearing it.
As for the results, she noticed that immediately after using this mask, her skin felt softer and more hydrated. She also noted that her usual dry, dull skin looked more radiant on the mornings after she used this mask before bed. After consistent weekly use over the course of our testing period, her complexion looked more lively and bright, and her skin felt softer to the touch. The one thing she was slightly disappointed in was that it didn’t seem to make a noticeable improvement in her skin texture. However, if you’re on the hunt for a face mask that will help you achieve a healthier-looking complexion, we absolutely recommend this one.
Price at time of publish: $56
Benefits: Brightening, exfoliating, calming | Size: 1.8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer
Texture is easy to apply and comfortable to wear
Provides manual and chemical exfoliation
Works to visibly improve skin texture
Helps to make the skin look more glowy
Can be a bit intense upon first application
Takes a bit of effort to remove
This popular exfoliating mask is an editor favorite, and unsurprisingly, our tester also had tons of positive things to say about it. It provides dual exfoliation as it’s formulated with pumpkin enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids for chemical exfoliation, as well as aluminum oxide crystals to physically polish away dead skin cells. The thick, gel-like texture has a fine grit to it which makes application easy and ensures that the physical exfoliation isn’t overly harsh. It also has a delicious pumpkin scent that isn’t overpowering; rather, it adds to the masking experience in such a pleasant way.
Our tester shared that while the mask felt pretty intense at first, even causing a slight burning sensation upon her first application, it quickly subsided, and she didn’t experience the same discomfort after the first use. It’s definitely a powerful formula, so it can take some time to build up a tolerance to it. After keeping it on for about five minutes and then washing it off, she noticed how soft her skin felt and how glowy it appeared. It worked to remove dead skin cells and leave her complexion looking even and refreshed. If you’re in need of a powerful exfoliating treatment mask to rid your skin of dry patches and help you achieve more uniform, bright skin, we absolutely recommend this mask.
Price at time of publish: $60
Benefits: Exfoliating | Size: 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Peach Slices Snail Rescue Intensive Wash-Off Jelly Mask
Lightweight, cooling texture is refreshing and comfortable to wear
Gel consistency is easy to apply and remove
Leaves skin feeling hydrated
Doesn’t produce noticeable long-lasting results
Whether you’re coming from a sweaty gym session or a long day at work, sometimes applying a refreshing face mask and putting your feet up is just the pick-me-up you need. We love this one because it’s pretty affordable, has a lightweight and cooling texture that instantly calms the skin, and features a gel formula that’s simple to apply and painless to remove. It’s formulated with 95 percent snail mucin, which contains glycolic and hyaluronic acid properties to help hydrate and exfoliate the skin.
In addition to the invigorating sensation that it provides, our tester said this mask helped to hydrate her skin and leave her with a bright, toned complexion. She said the overall user experience was really pleasant, though she didn’t see a noticeable difference in texture, pores, or dark spots. If those concerns are what you’re targeting, there are better options for you, but if you’re looking for a mask that will feel refreshing and help to hydrate your skin and leave it looking radiant, we think you’ll love this one.
Price at time of publish: $17
Benefits: Hydrates, brightens, targets dark spots | Size: 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Kiehl's Calendula Petal-Infused Calming Mask
Lightweight, cream-gel texture
Helps calm redness and stressed skin
Leaves skin feeling extra hydrated
Easy to apply and remove
Doesn’t produce long-lasting results
Soothing masks are great when your skin looks and feels irritated—think redness, flaking, and itching. We love this one because it’s formulated with calendula, a plant known for skin healing, as well as aloe vera to soothe and calm the skin. It has a creamy gel texture that feels incredibly soft as you apply it and once applied, it produces a slightly cooling sensation that feels amazing on stressed skin.
Our tester loved how comfortable it was to wear, and she noticed that her skin looked healthier and felt more hydrated after her initial application. As she used it over the course of two weeks, she shared that her skin continued to feel great after application, noting how smooth and plump it appeared. Although she didn’t notice a lasting difference in the hydration levels of her skin, this mask is a great option for situations where you’re in need of some TLC and a quick hydration boost.
Price at time of publish: $47
Benefits: Soothes, hydrates | Size: 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Enlarged Pores
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment
Provides significant exfoliation without creating harsh irritation
Provides physical and chemical exfoliation
Texture is easy to massage on the skin
Effectively reduces the appearance of clogged pores
Leaves the skin looking glowy
Initial feeling on skin can be a bit harsh
Chances are, you’ve heard about this treatment mask or at least seen it on social media if you keep up with what’s popular in the skincare industry. It’s been a long-time player in the exfoliation category, and considering how effective it is, we get the hype. It’s formulated with a blend of fruit enzymes, lactic acid, and salicylic acid to provide chemical exfoliation, as well as silica to physically buff away dead skin cells.
When she first applied it to her skin, our tester experienced some stinging. The brand warns users that it will cause some tingling and potentially redness initially, but our tester was surprised by how intense it felt. People with sensitive skin: keep this in mind. However, these sensations didn’t last long, and our tester found that the formula worked wonders at exfoliating her skin to remove dead skin cell build-up and visibly improve the appearance of her pores without feeling stripping. She said that after using it, her skin looked really even and glowy. If you’re not bothered by the possibility of experiencing a bit of discomfort at first in the name of smooth, bright, exfoliated skin, we say this product is absolutely worth trying out.
Price at time of publish: $28, $98, $205
Benefits: Exfoliating, helps clear pores | Size: 0.5, 2 or 5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask
Works to visibly reduce the appearance of pores
Leaves skin looking even and bright
Somewhat fine, gritty texture makes application easy
Can be used as a scrub or a detoxifying mask
Gritty particles could be slightly abrasive on sensitive skin
Products that can be used in multiple ways earn extra points in our book, and this exfoliating and brightening mask is one of them. It has the texture of a scrub, so it can be used as such in the shower or whenever you wash your face, and it can also be used as a treatment mask that you can leave on for about two minutes. The formula contains turmeric extract to help brighten the complexion and target hyperpigmentation, mineral powder for physical exfoliation, and aspen bark, a naturally occurring beta hydroxy acid (BHA) for chemical exfoliation.
The gritty texture strikes a nice balance between being too harsh, where it could cause damage, and too fine that it would be ineffective. Our tester noted that thanks to the even, gritty particles, it’s easy to apply without slipping and sliding around. Though she found the scrub component of this product to be really effective and not painful on her skin, she noted that she could see it being slightly abrasive for those with super sensitive skin. After applying it, she was extremely impressed by how even and radiant her skin looked—her pores appeared smaller, dead skin cells were removed, and her complexion looked brighter overall. We also love that if you do choose to use it as a treatment mask rather than a scrub, you only need to leave it on for two minutes, making it a great on-the-go option.
Price at time of publish: $62
Benefits: Brightens, exfoliates, helps fade dark spots | Size: 1 or 3.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Sensitive Skin
Tatcha Violet-C Radiance Mask
Didn’t cause burning or tingling on our testers’ sensitive skin
Luxe, creamy texture is easy to apply and comfortable to wear
Leaves skin looking glowy bright
Is a bit pricey for a product that doesn’t leave super long-lasting results
Like many skincare actives, vitamin C can be sensitizing on sensitive skin, but our tester, who has very sensitive skin, said this formula didn’t create any stinging or burning sensation—something she usually experiences upon initial application with similar products. She raved about the thick, creamy texture and how luxe it felt on the skin, not to mention the gorgeous purple color that adds a fun touch to the user experience.
The formula contains a mixture of two types of vitamin C, antioxidants, and a blend of fruit-derived AHA’s to help brighten the skin and provide gentle exfoliation. Our tester noticed an immediate improvement in the radiance of her complexion after using this mask, though she noted that the radiance didn’t seem to last more than a few hours after use. She also shared that it helped to calm red patches on her skin and help to even her tone.
Though it’s pricey for a product that doesn’t create major, long-lasting effects, we think it’s a fantastic option for people with sensitive skin who are looking to incorporate vitamin C into their skincare routine. It’s also undeniably luxurious, so it’s great for elevating your self-care routine.
Price at time of publish: $70
Benefits: Brightens, gently exfoliates, helps fade dark spots | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask
Pillowy soft, gel-cream consistency
Does an excellent job at deeply hydrating the skin
A little bit goes a very long way
Helps to smooth the appearance of pores and fine lines
Leaves a minor tacky feeling on the skin
Face masks that you can apply before bed and let work their magic while you sleep are serious time savers, and this one is fantastic. It has a seriously unique texture that’s incredibly soft and gel-like while also remaining creamy, and it’s formulated with niacinamide to help even skin texture and pores, as well as blueberry seed oil for a dose of antioxidants.
The soft consistency of the mask spreads like butter, meaning that a tiny bit goes a long way, something that pleasantly surprised our tester. Aside from that, she adored how well this formula worked to deeply hydrate her dry skin, noting it’s helped her prevent dry patches. In fact, it hydrated her skin so well that she noticed a plumping effect, saying it worked to smooth the appearance of fine lines near her mouth. She also appreciated that it helped to blur the look of enlarged pores and left her complexion looking more radiant and even overall.
Once applied, it can be very slightly sticky on the skin, but our tester shared that it didn’t feel uncomfortable and did not get all over her pillowcase or sheets. The tacky feeling is extremely minimal and is almost non-existent if you don’t over-apply—it’s a very small price to pay for some excellent results.
Price at time of publish: $26, $44
Benefits: Smoothes, hydrates, brightens | Size: 0.85 or 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“What I really liked [while using it], was that my skin felt more hydrated than it has recently. I think this mask was really able to lock in moisture, which was a contributing factor to why my fine lines have smoothed out.” —Lauren Harano, Product Tester
Our top pick is the Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask because it’s affordable, has functional packaging, and features an effective formula that works wonders for calming redness and improving the appearance of dark spots. If exfoliation is more your goal, try the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. And if you’re in the market for an overnight mask that provides an extra boost of deep hydration, we recommend the Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask.
Meet the Expert
- Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD is a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
How We Tested
In order to determine which face masks are best, our testers each took home one mask and used it according to the manufacturer instructions consistently for two weeks. They evaluated the masks based on application, efficacy, feel, and appearance, and those that scored the highest are on this list.
Other Options We Tested
Versed Doctor's Visit Instant Resurfacing Mask
Though the texture of this jelly mask feels comfortable on the skin, our tester didn’t notice any improvements in her skin texture from using it consistently.
Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel Mask
While our tester did note some minor improvements in the brightness of her complexion after using this popular face mask, she felt it was simply too pricey considering that it didn’t create noteworthy results.
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
We appreciate how easy this viral mask is to apply and remove, making the user experience pleasant, but our tester didn’t find that it did all that much in terms of hydrating or calming her skin.
What to Look for When Buying a Face Mask
Like with all skincare products, it’s important to consider the ingredients in a product before you buy it. Understanding your skin type and skin’s needs will help you determine what ingredients to seek out and avoid. Dr. Madfes, a board-certified dermatologist based in NYC, says that people with sensitive skin should avoid masks containing fragrance as it could be a potential irritant. For people with dry skin, she recommends seeing out masks that focus on hydration, like the Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask, which contains vegetable glycerine and phyotsqualane, two ingredients known to hydrate the skin. When it comes to oily skin, Dr. Madfes recommends trying clay masks or formulas containing gentle acids, like the Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask, which is formulated with glycolic acid.
Formula and Application
It’s also important to consider the formula and application method of the mask you choose, which will largely depend on your lifestyle. For example, if you enjoy using masks as part of a self-care routine and you have some time to relax while wearing one, then a wash-off mask, like the Rosen Skincare Smooth Jelly Mask or The Inkey List Madecassoside Mask, is a great option for you. If you’re tight on time, a mask like the Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask that you can quickly apply with your fingers and leave on overnight is your best bet.
Do dermatologists recommend face masks?
Oftentimes dermatologists will recommend keeping your skincare routine simple, but according to Dr. Madfes, if used correctly, face masks can be beneficial. “Face masks give a little extra attention to one’s facial regimen,” she says.”The benefit of masks is to achieve a higher concentration of actives.” So, if you’re struggling with a specific concern, like dryness or dark spots, adding a face mask that’s designed to target that concern into your routine can be really beneficial. Why? Because masks often contain high concentrations of the ingredients that work to address these concerns.
How often should you apply a face mask?
The proper way to apply a face mask depends on the type and formula. If you're using a sheet mask, take it out of the packaging and unfold it. Using the eye holes and mouth opening as a guide, carefully place it on your face.
While the most accurate answer to this popular question depends on the specific product you’re using, Dr. Madfes suggests using a mask once per week—she loves using them on Sunday nights to start the week strong. Use this as a general guideline, but be sure to refer to the manufacturer directions on the packaging of your mask as well.
Why Trust Byrdie
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has tested dozens of face masks, including several on this list. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry as well as fashion business marketing. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.