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Unlike a cleanser, SPF, or night cream, a mask may not be a skincare habit you’ve adopted over the years—and that’s OK. That said, whether you use a mask weekly or every other day, make it count by selecting one that will produce results.
Finding the right formula to combat dullness, dryness, and sagging that arises in your 40s will prove there are endless options on the market—and at varying price points. It’s a lot to navigate, whether you opt for a cream, peel, sheet, or all-in-one, so keep reading to discover some of the best face masks to try. (Trust me. I tried all 10, and I'm 40.)
Best Brightening: Tata Harper Resurfacing BHA Glow Mask
This best selling mask promises to brighten a dull complexion. The all-natural ingredients that produce that fresh-faced result are a mix of natural beta hydroxy acids (BHA) from white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes. Angie Seelal, a Physician Assistant specializing in Dermatology at Advanced Dermatology, PC, tells Byrdie that BHA works mainly as an exfoliant. “It causes the cells of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) to become loose, allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for the regrowth of new skin," Seelal says.
Seelal adds that BHA is primarily used in skincare to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin. Another star ingredient is pink clay that serves as a disinfectant while absorbing oil and buildup to refine pores. It also neutralizes essential sebum, which coats, moisturizes, and protects the skin. The earthy scent is clean and fresh, and if you’re like me, you’ll feel good about this green purchase. Get ready for baby soft skin, too.
Best Firming: Glamglow Gravitymud Firming Treatment Mask
This mask comes in a pretty purple jar with an application brush, so I felt fancy right off the bat. Simply paint your face and allow 20 to 30 minutes of self-care (or multi-tasking if you prefer). You’ll notice as the mask hardens, it changes from a pearly-white to chrome, which is super cool. Teaoxi licorice and marshmallow leaf helps your skin look and feel firmer, while gentle witch hazel cleanses and tones. After you peel it off, you’ll see instant results and feel tighter, firmer skin that even appears lifted. I did.
Best for Stressed Skin: Biologique Recherche Masque VIP O2
This investment skincare product is worth every penny. So when I had the chance to try a sample of Biologique Recherche's Masque VIP02, which contains an oxygenating complex that stimulates epidermal regeneration, I was pumped. (In my next life, or house, I’ll have a mini-fridge in the bathroom—because like so many of my favorite skincare products, this one is ideal for chilling before use.) Specifically recommended for stressed, tired, and dull skin, this refreshing anti-pollution mask encourages your skin to breathe thanks to its oxygenating properties.
Top-tier ingredients include marine elastin, and according to Seelal, it offers a wealth of pampering power. “The nutrients in ocean plants like seaweed, kelp, algae, and phytoplankton are some of the greatest sources of skin-friendly ingredients that increase the elasticity of your skin and work against wrinkles by strengthening the supporting tissues.” She also notes that marine elastin has glow-ifying power.” Extra: I’m all about the cucumber extract because it soothes the skin, resolving inflammation.
Best Rejuvenator: OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge Pore Mask
Interesting fact: This formula was inspired by the "cold plunge" area of a Scandinavian sauna cycle. The cooling clay mask detoxifies, controls oil, and reduces the look of pores. I dubbed this one a mini science experiment because it contains alpine willowherb and snow lotus (both are antioxidant-rich botanicals that soothe, mattify and refine pores). Plus, after 15-minutes, you simply add cold water, and the turquoise clay mask thaws into a lavish lather and serves as a cleanser to remove excess oil and impurities. But it’s the “cold plunge” language in its name that serves up those instant results. “Cold water helps to reduce the size of your pores and tightens your skin,” Seelal says. “You will retain those oils to keep your skin moisturized, leaving it smooth and healthy.” The best way for me to describe this mask, in a word, is invigorating.
Best for Sagging Skin: Joanna Vargas Eden Instant Lift Mask
This hydrating face sheet mask helps firm and smooth skin to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Joanna Vargas, an esthetician and beauty expert, tells Byrdie that peptides are purposely present in this mask. “These proteins strengthen one’s own collagen and elastin. We need these building blocks to help reinforce our collagen since its synthesis wanes with age,” she says. Vargas adds that stem cells are clinically proven in certain forms to stimulate the body's ability to produce collagen. “This function lessens with age, so we need stem cells to be a part of our daily routine. I have stem cells in my Eden Instant Lift Mask and encourage clients in their 40s and 50s to use them at least once a week after exfoliation.”
Best Overnight: Youth to the People Superberry Dream Mask
You had me at “overnight mask.” With this formula, sleep and skincare combine to produce glowing morning after results. A thin, even layer of this mask deeply hydrates and plumps to reveal youthful skin. But it’s the potent “THD” that gets the most credit. “Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD Ascorbate) is a more stable form of vitamin C than L-ascorbic acid—and it’s fat-soluble,” Seelal explains. “That lipid formulation also helps it to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. This is because the skin's barrier is made up of skin cells held together by lipids, and lipid-soluble ingredients can move through those lipids more easily than water-soluble ingredients.” The invigorating citrus smell of this vegan, cruelty-free mask is a bonus.
Best Hydrator: Versed Skin Look Alive Hydrating Plumping Mask
It has to be said that as a 40-year-old mom, I’m really into the packaging. (The squeeze pouch reminds me of the applesauce containers I keep in the fridge—and it’s just as convenient with its resealable cap.) As for the consistency, I love the way the slick and soothing aloe-infused gel mask feels on my skin, but it’s the anti-aging ingredients that won me over. “Rosehip Seed Oil is an amazing source for naturally occurring retinoids that are the cornerstone for a good anti-aging skincare regime,” Dr. Ava Shamban, Cosmetic Dermatologist, tells Byrdie. “Retinoids help to visibly smooth fine lines and wrinkles, diminish hyperpigmentation, and positively affects the content of collagen in your skin.” This vegan mask will hydrate, plump, and soothe your skin to reveal a youthful glow.
Best Pore Refiner: Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
If your face covering irritates your skin, recover with this all-natural mask. Dr. Shamban notes that blue tansy oil contains camphor and sabinene–both anti-inflammatory ingredients–which speaks to its ability to calm irritated skin and reduce redness. Additionally, white willow bark extract unclogs pores with a natural BHA and high levels of salicylic acid, while fruit enzymes help to remove dead skin cells for smooth and soft skin. The container is simple and chic, perfect for displaying on your vanity.
Best Exfoliating: Peach & Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask
It deep cleanses, exfoliates, and purifies my skin for next-level results. “The potent amount of 10% glycolic acid is a superstar ingredient for mature skin because it’s known to combat lines and wrinkles while retexturizing and resurfacing skin,” founder Alicia Yoon says. She adds that this is vital for mature skin as cell turnover slows down as we get older (and wiser). If you’re worried the formula might irritate your skin (I was), Noon explains that the glycolic acid is balanced out with soothing chamomile, blue agave, eggplant, aloe, and turmeric. “It’s suitable for even those with very sensitive skin, or more mature skin which can become thinner with age.” Noon says it best: “It leaves your skin hydrated and bouncy.”
Best for Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty Fab Pharma Arnica Relief & Rescue Mask
Between environmental factors, mask-wearing, and products containing retinol, I can always use a gentle mask to lend TLC to my face. What I love about this product is the way it feels when you slather it on it—silky with a refreshing chill. Arnica, calendula, and centella asiatica are a triple threat against aggravated skin and work together to calm and soothe stressed-out skin. It’s also fragrance-free, so you can truly sit back and relax.