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If you're the type of person who likes the idea of getting a facial but is afraid of what a mystery formula might do to your delicate complexion, you're in the right place. Today's over-the-counter face masks offer an effective, at-home solution for spa-like skin care treatments, and many are specifically formulated with sensitive skin in mind.
"Look out for anything oat-related, [as well as] aloe, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, and calendula," says licensed skincare expert Lauren LaPaglia, explaining that these ingredients are both hydrating and soothing.
Licensed esthetician Dana Murray of Babe + Beauty recommends steering clear of formulas with alcohol and added fragrance, whether it's synthetic or from a natural source, like essential oils. In addition to the ingredients LaPaglia mentioned, Murray is a fan of green tea, cucumber extract, allantoin, arnica, niacinamide, squalane, and cica (centella asiatica) for those battling dryness, breakouts, eczema, rosacea, or general inflammation.
Scroll down for the best face masks for sensitive skin.
Best Overall: SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask
Murray recommends the Phyto Corrective Masque from the cult-loved brand SkinCeuticals. Flaunting a blend of skin-soothing ingredients, the formula contains all-stars like calming dipeptides, anti-inflammatory botanicals, cooling cucumber extract, and ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid.
The versatile gel can be rinsed off or left on overnight, and you won't have to worry about it stinging or irritating your skin. While it's formulated for sensitive complexions, this brilliant face mask can benefit all skin types.
Benefits: Soothes, cools, reduces redness, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Dipeptides, hyaluronic acid, plant botanicals, cucumber extract | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Aveeno Soothe Oat Face Mask with Pumpkin Seed Extract
Murray is a fan of Aveeno for sensitive complexions. Formulated for dry, reactive skin types, the brand's Oat Face Mask contains nourishing pumpkin-seed extract, redness-reducing feverfew, and soothing prebiotic oat.
Benefits: Soothes, nourishes, hydrates, reduces redness | Active Ingredients: Prebiotic oat, pumpkin seed extract, feverfew extract | Skin Type: Dry/sensitive | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Drugstore: Yes to Cucumbers Cooling Jelly Face Mask for Sensitive Skin
This drugstore gem contains soothing, calming ingredients like cucumber and aloe vera, plus redness-reducing and mildly exfoliating willow bark extract. The Cooling Jelly Mask also hydrates the skin with standbys like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Benefits: Soothes, cools, reduces redness, gently exfoliates, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Aloe juice, glycerin, cucumber extract, willow bark extract | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 3 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Eve Lom Rescue Mask
Great for after-sun care
If you can swing the steep price, you might consider investing in Eve Lom's Rescue Mask. This award-winning clay mask is infused with itchiness-relieving and naturally cooling camphor, plus healing honey and finely ground sweet almond seeds for mild exfoliation.
Benefits: Reduces itch, cools, hydrates, gently exfoliates | Active Ingredients: Camphor, kaolin clay, glycerin, honey, sweet almond seed | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Hydrating: Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
If its hydration you're after, your best bet is Summer Fridays' Jet Lag Mask. The beloved formula calls on hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, and ceramides to deliver much-needed moisture, plus niacinamide and vitamin C for a radiance boost.
Benefits: Hydrates, boosts radiance, soothes | Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, niacinamide, ceramides | Skin Type: All | Size: 2.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
“The Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask brings the spa into your home with a moisturizing formula that can be used as a regular mask, an under-eye treatment, or even a primer.” — Melony Forcier, Product Tester
Best Cooling: Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask
Great for after-sun care
When your inflamed skin craves a cooling sensation, reach for this gel mask. With soothing cucumber, calming chamomile, redness-reducing aloe, healing allantoin, and softening papaya extract, it pulls out all the stops for sensitive complexions.
Benefits: Cools, soothes, reduces redness, softens | Active Ingredients: Cucumber extract, chamomile, aloe juice, allantoin | Skin Type: Dry/sensitive | Size: 5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Restorative: Klur Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask
Made with organic ingredients
Can be used weekly
It's nice to have a tub of Supreme Seed on hand for when your dermis could use a bit of TLC. Made with fragile skin in mind, this purifying face mask soothes, nourishes, and restores balance to the skin barrier.
Benefits: Soothes, nourishes, restores skin barrier | Active Ingredients: Aloe juice, green tea, cica, kelp, evening primrose oil | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Reparative: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask
If you're facing winter dryness, eczema, painful sunburn, or wind-chapped skin, you can count on First Aid Beauty to help it heal. This oatmeal-infused mask simultaneously moisturizes, soothes, nourishes, mends, and protects the skin barrier.
Benefits: Hydrates, soothes, nourishes, protects skin barrier | Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, sea buckthorn | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive, eczema-prone | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Conditioning: Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask
Great for beginners
Glossier's creamy, dreamy Moon Mask conditions the skin with replenishing squalane and hyaluronic acid. What's more, the fragrance-free formula contains earth-sourced moisturizers, plus healing honey and soothing aloe. The result? A calmer, healthier-looking complexion.
Benefits: Hydrates, soothes | Active Ingredients: Sweet almond oil, squalane, shea butter, honey, aloe juice, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Exfoliating: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
This Byrdie favorite from Glow Recipe provides ever-so-gentle exfoliation with naturally sourced lactic acid and glycolic acid. Thanks to soothing ingredients like watermelon and pumpkin extract, it fosters a glowy complexion without irritating sensitive skin.
Benefits: Gently exfoliates, soothes, boosts radiance | Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, pumpkin extract, watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 2.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"This stuff works! Whether overnight or just for 10 minutes, it 100% plumps and brightens the skin." — Emily Algar, Product Tester
Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: Topicals Like Butter Mask Hydrating Mask
Eczema can be a real drag. Since the cause isn't always apparent, it's good to have something in your arsenal to address flare-ups. This small but mighty little tube soothes irritation, minimizes redness, nourishes stressed skin, and replenishes the moisture barrier.
Benefits: Soothes, reduces redness, nourishes, restores skin barrier | Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, cica, ceramides | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive, eczema-prone | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Hyperpigmentation: Pholk Beauty GlowUp Mask with Apple + Hibiscus
When it comes to treating hyperpigmentation, Pholk's GlowUp Mask is just as good as a spa facial. Containing malic acid and oat flour, it gradually clears dark spots and soothes inflamed skin.
Benefits: Gently exfoliates, fades hyperpigmentation, soothes | Active Ingredients: Malic acid, oat flour, kaolin clay, hibiscus oil | Skin Type: Dry, acne-prone, sensitive | Size: 2 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Overnight: CosRx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask
If you want something that works while you get your beauty sleep, your best bet is the Overnight Spa Mask from CosRx. Boasting a blend of rice extract, niacinamide, and allantoin, the fragrance-free formula calms, hydrates, and boosts radiance all at once.
Benefits: Hydrates, reduces redness, boosts radiance | Active Ingredients: Rice extract, allantoin, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Sheet Mask: Inna Organic Organic Rose Geranium Soothing Facial Mask
Made with organic ingredients
Great for after-sun care
Easy to use
Partial to sheet masks? Inna Organic's Rose Geranium Mask has your name on it. Each absorbent cotton sheet is soaked with anti-inflammatory ingredients sensitive complexions crave, like chamomile, aloe, and betula pendula sap.
Benefits: Soothes, reduces irritation, aromatherapy | Active Ingredients: Aloe juice, chamomile, betula pendula sap | Skin Type: All | Size: 0.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque (view at Amazon) is by far the best face mask for sensitive skin. The professional-grade formula calls on anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe, calm, moisturize, and heal stressed complexions. If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, go with Aveeno's Oat Face Mask (view at Amazon). And if you're in the market for a formula that hydrates without irritation, your best bet is the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask.
What to Look for in a Face Mask for Sensitive Skin
When it comes to skincare for sensitive skin, the most important thing to consider is the ingredients list. According to Murray, people with reactive or inflamed complexions should look for products containing colloidal oatmeal, calendula oil, centella asiatica, niacinamide, aloe vera, squalane, arnica, green tea leaf, cucumber extract, chamomile, allantoin, bisabolol, and marshmallow root.
When shopping around for face masks, you'll want to consider the application. Some formulas are meant to be rinsed off after a few minutes, while others can be left on for hours (or even overnight). Then there are sheet masks, which you place on your face for up to 30 minutes, then rinse off.
Another thing to think about is the container. Many face masks come in small glass jars or plastic tubs. Each time you dip your fingers in, the product is exposed to bacteria, which is a concern for sensitive skin. If you struggle with eczema or have experienced bacterial skin infections in the past, you may want to look for a face mask with a more hygienic container, like a tube or a pump bottle.
What types of face masks are best for sensitive skin?
The best face masks for sensitive skin are soothing, cooling, and calming, which is why it's crucial to look for anti-inflammatory ingredients. In addition to minimizing irritation, many formulas provide other benefits like hydration. "If you are able to balance your hydration and redness with sensitive skin, most of your unwanted side effects subside," says LaPaglia.
Some face masks also offer gentle exfoliation. However, Murray tells Byrdie that "papaya enzymes or polishes with rice powder are a better option" for those sensitive to AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids).
What ingredients should you avoid in face masks if you have sensitive skin?
"While many people are OK using products with synthetic/natural fragrances and essential oils, they can be sensitizing," explains Murray. Additionally, she recommends steering clear of formulas with simple alcohols. "I also would avoid using harsh scrubs that contain large exfoliating granules," she adds.
Do face masks for sensitive skin expire?
Like all skincare products, face masks for sensitive skin will eventually expire. Most last roughly 12 to 24 months after the manufacturing date, though it depends on the formula, container, and what preservatives are used. Look for the PAO (period-after-opening) symbol on the back of the container. The number in the symbol tells you how long it'll last after you open it.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is a freelance writer specializing in commerce, self-care, and beauty. For this story, she interviewed two licensed estheticians and researched various formulations, ingredients, and packaging types for face masks. She looked at dozens of products from a myriad of brands and combed through user reviews before landing on her final selections. As someone with a daily skincare routine nearing ten steps, she has tried a handful of products on this list, including Glossier, First Aid Beauty, Glow Recipe, and CosRx. Theresa has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers skincare, haircare, and makeup.
Meet the Expert
- Dana Murray is a licensed esthetician, product developer, and beauty blogger. She is the creator of Babe + Beauty, a lifestyle site focusing on wellness and skincare.
- Lauren LaPaglia (aka "Estie Bestie") is a licensed skincare expert and esthetician. She specializes in vegan and cruelty-free products and offers virtual skincare consultations.
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