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While a face mask may not necessarily be an everyday staple in your skincare routine the same way, say, a cleanser or sunscreen might be, there’s no denying that it’s a very beneficial add-on. Packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients, it’s one of the easiest ways to give your complexion a little extra TLC, stat. (Not to mention that masking always makes for a great self-care moment.)
When it comes to finding the right formula, your options are, quite literally, endless. No matter whether your complexion concern is spots, sagging, dehydration, dullness (you get the picture), there’s a mask for that. Plus, you can also pick from a plethora of different formats, ranging from single-use sheet masks to creams in a tube. The sheer amount of choices can be overwhelming, so to make the process easier we narrowed down the playing field to these top face masks.
Keep reading to discover the best face masks out there, and get ready for great skin days to come.
Best Overall: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Baby Facial
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this truly is one of the best skincare products we’ve ever used. It blends a powerful concentration of alpha-hydroxy acids (25% of a glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric combo) with 2% beta-hydroxy acid (salicylic). We know, it sounds intense, but it’s worked wonders for anyone we know who’s ever tried it—even those with sensitive skin.
That’s because the acid blend is formulated at an ideal pH of 3.5 to minimize the likelihood of irritation, and the mask also comes with a vial of the brand’s pure virgin marula oil to help further soothe skin afterward. Use it once per week for 20 minutes and prepare to watch your skin change in front of your eyes.
Best for Oily Skin: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Facial & Body Mask
Clay is one of the best ingredients out there for absorbing excess oil; this formula contains clay and only clay. More specifically, it’s 100% natural calcium bentonite clay that hasn’t been diluted or mixed with any other ingredients. Mix it with water until you achieve your desired consistency, then leave it on for up to 20 minutes to let it do its thing and deeply purify pores. Also nice: It works great as a hair or body mask, as well as a bath or foot soak.
Best for Combination Skin: Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Clay Mask
If your complexion has some spots that are oily and some that are dry, reach for this pick, on recommendation from Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue. It strikes the perfect balance of being detoxifying yet hydrating, no easy feat. Spanish clay does the detox duties, pulling out unwanted gunk and grime. At the same time, essential oils help hydrate skin so it doesn’t look or feel stripped. Not to mention that all of this happens in just 10 minutes.
Best Exfoliating: Peach & Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask
Xue likes this exfoliating powerhouse for its smoothing and brightening benefits. A top-notch trio of alpha-hydroxy acid, beta-hydroxy acid, and blue agave work in tandem, cleaning out pores and optimizing cell turnover to keep your complexion bright. Meanwhile, hydrating hyaluronic acid and three different soothers (aloe, chamomile, and centella asiatica) ensure skin doesn’t ever get red or irritated from said exfoliation.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask
Sulfur is one of the best anti-acne ingredients out there thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits. The only issue? It smells freaking terrible. But despite the fact that this formula contains a 3% concentration of sulfur, it actually smells good, just slightly citrusy. Paired with brightening azelaic acid and protective green tea, it works lightning fast to calm down blemishes and clear up clogged pores. In our experience, it’s even made huge, honking pimples look noticeably less obvious after just one 10 minute application.
Best for Hyperpigmentation: Algenist Dark Spot Correcting Peel
Despite the fact that this is called a peel, you basically use it the same way you would a mask, hence its appearance on this list. It’s considered a peel because of how effective it is at fighting hyperpigmentation, which is also why it earned a spot on this list.
The standout ingredient is a new form of vitamin C derived from spirulina that’s super pure and potent, working to effectively combat spots and even out skin tone every time you use it. There’s also a blue-algae derived antioxidant in the formula for even further brightening benefits. The gel-like texture feels nice going on, and while it does tingle a little, it didn’t irritate our sensitive skin.
Best for Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty Arnica Relief & Rescue Mask
The first thing you’ll notice about this mask is how nice it feels going on—creamy and innately cooling, both soothing and refreshing at the same time. Reach for it anytime your skin is red or stressed; arnica, calendula, and centella asiatica work in tandem to help quickly calm irritation. It’s also dermatologist-tested and fragrance-free, always important when you’re dealing with sensitive skin.
Best Natural: Golde Clean Greens Face Mask
Talk about natural—this mask contains four certified organic ingredients and nothing else. Made with mango juice powder, marshmallow root extract, spirulina powder, and chlorella powder, this is essentially a green smoothie for your skin (and to that point, the ingredients are actually edible).
It leaves your complexion clean and glowing, while, in true green smoothie form, delivering plenty of essential antioxidants. DIY fans will also appreciate that it comes as a powder meant to be mixed with water to create a gel-like consistency; you can also swap water for yogurt or even honey.
Best Purifying: Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant
It may be the P50 toner from this brand that gets all the buzz, but Byrdie’s Senior Editor Hallie Gould says this mask is a sleeper hit. Using yeast extract, clay, lactic acid, and witch hazel, it gives even the most clogged pores a serious deep clean. Top tip: You can even mix in a tiny pinch of baking soda to help further up the detoxifying benefits. Gould is also a fan of the brand’s Masque VIP 02; try mixing the two if your skin is slightly drier or more sensitive.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask
We like this pick not only for the very affordable price tag but also the fact that, unlike many other drugstore masks, it’s made of a hydrogel material that won’t fall off your face. As the name suggests, it’s insanely moisturizing, thanks to a hefty dose of hyaluronic acid that also has the added benefit of temporarily plumping fine lines.
Try using it before applying makeup for a smoother canvas.
Best for Dry Skin: Elina Organics Skincare Sahara Soufflé
The star ingredient here is camel milk—yes, as in the desert animal. Hold your hump day jokes, because it’s a legit skincare ingredient that’s been used for centuries for its hydrating and nourishing abilities. It’s paired with plant-based oils to make this formula super moisturizing, though because camel milk is also a natural source of lactic acid, you get a tiny bit of exfoliation to help brighten skin, too.
Best Overnight: Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask
If there’s no time to mask during the day, reach for an overnight formula and simply use it in lieu of your night cream a few times per week. Ideally, make it this pick which offers some serious anti-aging benefits. It contains bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that works almost exactly like retinol when it comes to thwarting wrinkles and spots, but doesn’t have any of the same irritating side effects.
Byrdie Editor Favorite: Circumference Green Detox Mask
There are lots (and we mean lots) of great clay masks out there, but this one is a Team Byrdie staple. The formula uses a French green clay, equally effective as other clays, just slightly gentler on the skin, and pairs that with a litany of antioxidant-rich and hydrating ingredients. A winner of our 2020 Eco Beauty Awards, it’s always a great pick for clean beauty queens.
Best Fast-Acting: Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial
Sorry, but that whole ‘I don’t have time to do face mask’ excuse just won’t fly anymore. When time is of the essence, slather on this mask, which gets the job done in as little as 30 seconds. In fact, the longest you should leave it on is just three minutes; adjust your time based on how sensitive your skin is. It contains a laundry list of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids along with plant-based exfoliating beads to leave skin smoother and glowier. It’s our go-to anytime we’re getting ready (and rushing) but suddenly realize our complexion looks a little blah.
Best Sheet Mask: Loops Face Masks
Byrdie’s Senior Editor Lindsey Metrus is a fan of this new brand (as are celebs like Gabrielle Union and Ashley Greene) which makes masks and masks alone. There are five variants to choose from, each featuring four active ingredients and targeting a specific concern: anti-aging, brightening, deep cleansing, calming, and glow-enhancing.
You get five masks in each pack; there’s also a variety pack that features one of each if you want to take them all for a test run. Made with an innovative hydrogel material, they stay put and won’t slide down your face, and are also completely compostable.
Best for Travel: C’est Moi Mellow Marshmallow White Clay Face Mask
This mask originally caught our eye thanks to the innovative delivery system; each pack comes with six, solid, floral-shaped tablets that you mix with water. It’s a cool concept (and one that makes this option very travel-friendly) but it’s not just gimmicky. Our reviewer found that the formula delivered all the purifying benefits of a clay mask, but didn’t leave skin feeling overly-dry or stripped.
Best Post-Sun: Talika Bio Enzymes Mask After Sun
This not, we repeat is not, a free pass to go ahead and get sunburned, but we get it— some days you just get a little too much sun on your face, despite your best sun protection efforts. It’s times like these when you’ll want to have this soothing mask on-hand, another one of Xue’s faves.
It’s not only the ingredients that are noteworthy—hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing chamomile, and arnica—but the actual mask itself. The unique bio-cellulose material both retains and delivers a higher amount of those ingredients. The result? Calmed, soothed skin in just 15 minutes.
Best Clarifying: Beneath Your Mask Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask
For clearer, smoother skin ASAP, reach for this powder mask. Its formula—which is jam-packed with superfoods, plant botanicals, and clay—detoxifies, moisturizes, and smooths your complexion after just one application. It's also cruelty-free and made without parabens, phosphates, and sulfates. To use it, just mix a half-tablespoon of powder with the same amount of water (or slightly less), apply it with the included brush, and leave it on for 20 to 40 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water to reveal radiant skin.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find the number of face masks from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses needed to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.