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There’s no denying that masks, in general, are an excellent way to give your skin a little extra TLC; loaded with active ingredients, they work quickly and effectively addressing any and every kind of complexion concern. How do they differ from all of their other counterparts? Most start off as a liquid or gel that gradually transforms into more of a rubbery consistency as it dries, allowing you to ultimately peel it off in one large piece.
This simple act of peeling it off can do great things for your skin. Think of how a lint remover works by grabbing and removing all kinds of fuzzies on your clothes; a peel-off mask essentially does the same thing, sticking to dead skin cells, gunk, and grime sitting on the surface of your skin and lifting it off as you remove the mask.
Here, the best peel-off masks on the market that are as easy to apply as they are to remove in one fell swoop—sans pain.
“Most peel-off masks seem gimmicky, but this one actually left my skin feeling ridiculously soft, smooth, and bright,” says Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue. It’s also very aesthetically pleasing—it actually changes color from white to a vibrant chrome while it dries—and the targeted formula works overtime to lift and tighten the skin. Still, this is a choice option for all skin types, given that it boasts both hydrating (glycerin, hyaluronic acid) and oil-absorbing (witch hazel, clay) ingredients. The included brush makes application a breeze, too.
Use it before putting on makeup for a more defined contour.
As a general rule of thumb, all peel-off masks will have some level of exfoliation, simply by way of that peeling action. But this really steps up the game, with a high concentration of glycolic acid, one of the best chemical exfoliants out there. Still, it also has soothing aloe and hydrating hyaluronic acid to minimize the likelihood of any irritation. Added antioxidants (vitamins A and C) are just the icing on the cake.
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Peel-off masks may generally be known as best for exfoliating or skin-clearing purposes, but this is an especially great moisturizing option. The professional-grade formula features a cushy hyaluronic acid gel that you mix with an activating powder to create a bouncy formula that you spread across your entire complexion.
(FYI, the thicker you apply it, the easier it will be to remove.) This two-step process creates an occlusive barrier on the skin that locks in hydration, making your skin look smoother, plumper, and dewier, not to mention also improves the look of pores and wrinkles. So much so that in a consumer study, 97% of the participants agreed that their skin felt more hydrated after using this mask just one time.
This single-use mask will cost you just a few bucks, the perfect quickie add-on to your skincare routine when your complexion could use a little TLC. (We also love it for travel, given the portable packet and fact that you can use it anytime, anywhere.) The purifying formula works in just 20 minutes; it becomes clearer as it dries, a helpful indicator. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, and there’s also an equally affordable variant for acne-prone skin.
Activated charcoal is created from carbon-rich materials burned at high temperatures, like coal, coconut shells, and wood. In skincare, there are claims that it binds to and removes impurities from the skin, but more research is needed.
Battling breakouts? Reach for this formula, which combines a long list of skin-clearing ingredients. Charcoal acts like a magnet to pull out impurities lodged in pores while willow bark extract (a natural form of salicylic acid) dissolves excess oil. It also contains bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that has similar effects as retinol, and a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids. Also nice: The ingredients help to fade dark marks left over from old blemishes, too.
Yes, the whimsical packaging here is super cute and fun, but it’s also very practical. You mix the included booster and ampoule in the cup to create a freshly-made mask that’s extra potent and effective. The straw is actually a spatula you can use to apply an even layer of the mask (which transforms into a rubbery texture) all over, and let the active ingredients get to work. More specifically, retinol and a proprietary cellular ingredient to boost collagen and improve elasticity for firmer, tauter skin.
Green tea is a botanical derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The active components of green tea are polyphenols (also called catechins) that are believed to benefit the skin due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For those who have sensitive or combination skin, peel-off masks can sometimes be too intense. That’s where the beauty of this option comes in. The T-Zone contains higher amounts of oil glands, making it more prone to oiliness and congested pores, even if the rest of your face is dry or sensitive. Apply this formula just in that area to deeply clarify skin, without risking irritation or unwanted dryness elsewhere. It uses a combo of superstar ingredients—avocado, cucumber, aloe, green tea, bamboo—to decongest, protect, and condition.
This gel-based option uses both vitamin C and sea algae extract for a seriously brightening boost, combating dullness in just 30 minutes. It’s also a top hydrating pick; the namesake cactus water quickly conditions and rehydrates dry skin. Pair those two benefits and you’ve got yourself a great choice to use before a big event. Byrdie Boy Andy Verderosa loved it so much he said the effects made his skin feel like, “a refurbished iPhone, restored to factory settings.” Talk about high praise.
Keep it in the fridge to make the whole experience extra refreshing.
There aren’t a ton of peel-off masks to be found at the drugstore, but happily, you can nab this standout. Alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic) help to both unclog pores and tamp down excess shine, while the brand’s unique total soy complex evens out both skin tone and texture. There are also anti-aging and brightening variants available.
Who doesn’t want to get multiple benefits from one skincare product? This mask does just that, thanks to a blend of exfoliating glycolic and salicylic acids that help clear out pores, reduce dark spots, and fight fine lines and wrinkles, too. But it doesn’t stop there: Soothing aloe vera extract calms redness and inflammation, while cabernet grapeseed extract packs a hefty dose of antioxidant protection. It’s an ideal pick for any and every kind of skin type and works in as little as 15 minutes.
If you have oily skin and your complexion needs a refresh, opt for this peel-off mask from First Aid Beauty. Red clay works overtime to remove dirt, oil, and grime while licorice root extract and vitamin C brighten the skin and protect against free radical damage. Just apply a thin layer to your skin, wait about 20 minutes for the mask to dry, peel it off, and rinse with warm water to reveal a noticeably radiant complexion.
Purifying skin is great, but stripping it, eh, not so much, especially if your complexion is easily irritated. If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to proceed with caution when it comes to peel-off masks, so stick with this one. Comfrey root soothes sensitivity and provitamin B5 creates a protective barrier to ward off other irritants. Zinc extract offers yet another type of protection against environmental aggressors, and it’s worth pointing out that there’s also no fragrance—which can be a big issue for sensitive skin—in this mask. It’s a little bit on the pricier side, but you do get four separate applications.
You wouldn't normally think of peel-off masks as being particularly calming, but this option from Florence by Mills— the beauty brand launched by Gen-Z idol Millie Bobby Brown—certainly does the trick. Its gentle formula contains charcoal powder to detox pores, but it gets its soothing feel from ingredients like witch hazel and lavender oil (which is one of Brown's go-to beauty staples). The lavender packaging is also super cute.
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is known for its ability to enhance skin tone while shielding you from free radical damage. It's also a key ingredient in this mask, along with wintered red algae, arctic cloudberry seed oil, and sodium hyaluronate for a hydrating boost.
To apply, just squeeze the gel base and the treatment powder into the included tray, mix for about 30 seconds, and spread an even layer on your face with the spatula. Leave it on for 20 minutes—in this time, the mask will dry down into an innovative rubber texture that locks in moisture—then peel it off to reveal radiant skin.
Chances are you've seen this buzzy product from Korean beauty label I Dew Care on Instagram, but it's more than just a shiny mask in pretty packaging—take our word for it. The star of its formula is diamond powder, which draws out impurities and illuminates the skin. From there, oat and a white flower complex (featuring lily, orange flower, elderflower, and magnolia) work together to even, soften, and strengthen the skin.