12 Peel-Off Masks That Aren't a Pain (Literally) to Remove

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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.

Best Overall: Glamglow Gravitymud Firming Treatment Mask

Glamglow Gravitymud Firming Treatment Mask

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Changes color when it dries

  • Potent formula

  • Includes an applicator brush

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Who else recommends it? Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and Who What Wear all picked the Glamglow Gravitymud Firming Treatment Mask.

“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.

Benefits: Lifts, firms | Active Ingredients: Licorice, marshmallow | Skin Type: Balanced, oily, combination, dry | Size: 0.5 oz., 1.7 oz., or 3.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Use it before putting on makeup for a more defined contour.

Best Drugstore: Aveeno Clear Complexion Purely Matte Peel Off Face Mask

Aveeno Clear Complexion Purely Matte Peel Off Face Mask

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Potent formula

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to remove

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.

Benefits: Unclogs pores, exfoliates, reduces shine | Active Ingredients: AHAs, soy, pomegranate | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 0.35 oz. or 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Exfoliating: NEOVA SmartSkincare Serious Glypeel

Neova Serious Glypeel Peel-Off Masks

 Courtesy of Neova

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Fragrance-free

  • Hygienic packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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.

Benefits: Exfoliates, smooths texture, reduces lines and wrinkles, minimizes pores, calms irritation, hydrates | Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, sodium PCA, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl palmitate, sodium hyaluronate | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Hydrating: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Modeling Mask

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Professional-grade formula

  • Quick results

  • Easy to peel off

What We Don't Like
  • Must mix the product yourself

Key Ingredients

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.

Benefits: Hydrates, calms irritation | Active Ingredients: Algin, sodium hyaluronate, magnesium | Skin Type: All | Size: 4x 1.58 oz. (cushion gel) and 0.12 oz. (activating powder) | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Nassif MD Dermaceuticals Charcoal Peel-Off Face Mask

Nassif MD Dermaceuticals Charcoal Peel-Off Face Mask

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Hygienic packaging

  • Quick results

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to remove

Key Ingredients

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.

Benefits: Unclogs pores, exfoliates, fades hyperpigmentation, prevents acne | Active Ingredients: Charcoal, caviar lime pearl, willow bark extract, phytic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin B3, bakuchiol | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 4 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Firming: Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Firming Mask

Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Firming Mask

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Cute packaging

  • Includes a spatula

  • Potent formula

What We Don't Like
  • Shaking makes application time longer

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.

Benefits: Firms skin, improve elasticity, boosts collagen | Active Ingredients: Retinol, OxyForce Cellular Active | Skin Type: Oily, combination, sensitive, dry, balanced | Size: 0.68 oz. (super booster) and 1.25 oz. .(firming liquid ampoule) | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Brightening: Boscia Cactus Water Peel-Off Mask

Boscia Cactus Water Peel-Off Mask

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Hygienic packaging

  • Vegan

  • Artificial fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to remove

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.

Benefits: Hydrates, softens, fades hyperpigmentation, boosts radiance, boosts collagen production, reduces fine lines and wrinkles | Active Ingredients: Queen of the Night Cactus, sea fern algae extract, vitamin C, peptide complex | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 2.8 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Keep it in the fridge to make the whole experience extra refreshing.

Best Anti-Aging: Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Skin Mask

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel and Reveal Skin Mask

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Quick results

  • Easy to peel off

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic packaging

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.

Benefits: Provides antioxidant protection, boosts radiance, calms irritation, exfoliates, softens, hydrates, unclogs pores, fades hyperpigmentation, reduces fine lines and wrinkles | Active Ingredients: Cabernet grapeseed extract, botanical complex, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, natural sugar extracts, aloe vera | Skin Type: Acne-prone, combination, dry, mature, balanced, oily, sensitive | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Skin: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay

Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay

 Courtesy of First Aid Beauty 

What We Like
  • Hygienic packaging

  • Quick results

  • Easy to peel off

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy

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.

Benefits: Unclog pores, boosts radiance, provides antioxidant protection | Active Ingredients: Red clay, rosemary leaf oil, glycerin, FAB Antioxidant Booster | Skin Type: Balanced, combination, oily, acne-prone | Size: 3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Soothing: Florence by Mills Charcoal Mind Glowing Peel-Off Face Mask

Florence by Mills Mind Glowing Peel Off Mask

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Easy to peel off

  • Cute packaging

  • Gentle

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic packaging

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 help purge pores of impurities, 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.

Benefits: Unclogs pores, calms irritation | Active Ingredients: Charcoal powder, lavender oil, witch hazel | Skin Type: Balanced oily | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best With Vitamin C: skyn ICELAND Arctic Hydration Rubberizing Mask with Vitamin C

skyn ICELAND Arctic Hydration Rubberizing Mask with Vitamin C

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Potent formula

  • Quick results

  • Includes recyclable mixing tray

What We Don't Like
  • Must mix the product yourself

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.

Benefits: Hydrates, calms irritation, boosts radiance, restores skin barrier, cools | Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, sodium hyaluronate, wintered red algae complex, arctic cloudberry seed oil, Icelandic Complex | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.59 oz. (gel base) and 0.16 oz. (treatment powder) | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best K-Beauty: I Dew Care Disco Kitten Illuminating Diamond Peel-Off Mask

I Dew Care Disco Kitten Illuminating Diamond Peel-Off Mask

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Easy to peel off

  • Quick results

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic packaging

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.

Benefits: Boosts radiance, exfoliates, calms irritation | Active Ingredients: Diamond powder, white water lily extract, turnip leaf extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 2.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What to Look for in a Peel-Off Mask

Skin Type

Just like with any skincare product, look for a peel-off mask that suits your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to choose one that is easy to remove and contains gentle, clean ingredients. Those with acne-prone skin should look for a peel-off mask formulated to help with breakouts. Some common ingredients in acne-fighting masks include charcoal and willow bark.

Active Ingredients

Although a lot of the action in peel-off masks seems to be the removal, choose one that also contains active ingredients that address your skin concerns. You can find peel-off masks with AHAs and BHAs, moisturizing ingredients, anti-aging components, and more. First, consider what you want out of your peel-off mask. Some are formulated to address hyperpigmentation, dullness, and boost radiance, while others address dryness, aging, and irritation. Check the labels and the ingredients to see which will meet your needs.

Removal

It’s worth considering how easy a peel-off mask is to remove. Some people may experience irritation and other adverse effects from a mask that is difficult to remove. You do not want to have your mask pull and tug at your skin as you remove it. If you don’t want to peel off your mask, you can always choose to wash it off with a damp face cloth.

FAQ
  • Are peel-off masks good for your skin?

    Gentle, well-formulated peel-off masks can have benefits for some skin types. Just be careful not to pull aggressively on your skin to remove the mask as this may lead to irritation. Your peel-off mask shouldn’t be difficult or painful to remove.

  • Do peel-off masks remove acne?

    Peel-off masks do not “remove” acne blemishes that are currently on your skin, and if you have an active breakout, avoid using a peel-off mask until it’s healed. However, peel-off masks may be able to remove dead skin cells and grime that can clog pores and lead to future breakouts.

  • Can I use peel-off masks daily?

    It’s not usually ideal to use a peel-off mask every day. Peel-off masks are a form of exfoliation, and too much exfoliation can aggravate the skin and lead to breakouts or irritation, redness, and dryness. Use a peel-off mask one once or twice per week, depending on your skin’s sensitivity, and be sure it’s gentle and formulated for your skin type.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The best peel-off masks that are actually good for your skin. Harper's Bazaar. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/skin-care/g26456388/best-peel-off-face-masks

  2. The 13 best peel-off face masks for glowing skin. Elle. https://www.elle.com/beauty/g40045716/best-peel-off-face-maks

  3. From clogged pores to dryness, these peel-off masks are satisfyingly effective. Who What Wear. https://www.whowhatwear.com/best-peel-off-face-masks

  4. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin. Molecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

  5. Sudha PN, Rose MH. Beneficial effects of hyaluronic acid. Adv Food Nutr Res. 2014;72:137-176. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-800269-8.00009-9

  6. Sanchez N, Fayne R, Burroway B. Charcoal: An ancient material with a new face. Clin Dermatol. 2020;38(2):262-264. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2019.07.025

  7. Shara M, Stohs SJ. Efficacy and Safety of White Willow Bark (Salix alba) Extracts. Phytother Res. 2015;29(8):1112-1116. doi:10.1002/ptr.5377

  8. Georgiev V, Ananga A, Tsolova V. Recent advances and uses of grape flavonoids as nutraceuticals. Nutrients. 2014;6(1):391-415. doi:10.3390/nu6010391

  9. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866

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