Just when you think you have your skincare routine sussed, another must-have seems to come along and throw it into chaos. Primers? Pore strips? And now face masks? Although it feels like the latter has been around forever, a quick glance at your Instagram Explore tab alone will tell you that we’re living in a brave new world of eternal innovation and questionable gimmicks, from foaming masks with a mind of their own to scary sheets that make you look like poor Leo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask.
In our list rounding up the best face masks on the market, we’ve banished the weird and not-so-wonderful, and got to the heart of what really works. Gone are the single-use face packs of sleepovers past, which left your face feeling taut and tingling rather than smooth and glowing. Today’s offerings are smoothing, plumping, purifying, detoxifying, hydrating, and offering something for almost every skin complaint imaginable.
If your skin is dull, tired-looking, and generally in need of a little TLC, you needn’t go for anything too heavy. Look instead for a combination mask and exfoliator, which will slough off dead skin cells and leave you feeling renewed. Those of an oilier disposition should look for masks featuring clay or mud, which will soak up excess sebum and restore a bit of balance, while dry skin will benefit from a mask specifically for hydration, packed full of nourishing natural oils.
1. Bobbi Brown Radiance Boost
A brightening and exfoliating mask for more get-up-and-glow
Best for: Tired skin | Skin type: All | Mask type: Cream | RRP: £33.00
For instant glowing results, look no further than this radiance-boosting beauty from Bobbi Brown. Using ultra-fine walnut grains, this mask exfoliates as you remove it, waking up the skin and sloughing off flaky bits in its wake. A combination of oil-absorbing kaolin clay and quenching algae extract mean it strikes a good balance between the needs of different skin types, while all faces in need of a little boost will appreciate the zingy orange oil.
2. Manuka Doctor ApiClear Purifying Facial Peel
See what all the buzz is about with this naturally-sourced peeling mask
Best for: Smoothing | Skin type: Dry | Mask type: Honey peel | RRP: £29.99
Manuka Doctor’s ApiClear Facial Peel is the latest in a long line of products harnessing the power of the bee — in this case, its venom. With its scary-sounding active ingredient meant to accelerate the recovery of damaged skin cells and boost collagen formation, this gloriously sticky peel-off mask leaves skin softer, smoother, and plumper-looking after just one use. It's not too tough on blemishes though, so for more noticeable blackhead-reducing action, try the Masque Bar Charcoal Peel-Off Mask.
3. Crystal Clear 10 Minutes Glow Mask
Start the countdown to crystal clear skin with this fast-acting mask
Best for: Party pick-me-up | Skin type: Dry | Mask type: Cream | RRP: £25.00
The super-speedy 10 Minutes Glow mask from Crystal Clear is the ultimate pre-party treat for lacklustre skin in need of a quick boost. It cleanses, hydrates, and minimises the appearance of enlarged pores in record time, and when the time comes to remove it (although we’re not sure you’ll want to) it peels away easily from the skin, a far cry from the rough treatment some masks require. If you've only got a little bit of time to get your skin in prime condition before a big event, this is ideal.
4. Willow Organic Beauty Hydrating Super Gel Mask
Pampering your skin with luxe organic ingredients? It’s only natural...
Best for: Mature skin | Skin type: Normal, dry, combination | Mask type: Gel | RRP: £48.00
Using one of the world’s most expensive and sought-after oils, that of the Barbary Fig, it’s no surprise that this 100% naturally sourced mask comes with a hefty price tag. Its ingredients read like a white witch’s shopping list — burdock root to detoxify, marigold essence for inflammation, and marshmallow root to regenerate — but unlike some naturally-derived products, it delivers. Smoothing and firming, it’s a little luxury that gives mature skin, especially, a well-deserved lift. If you can't justify the cost, Origins' re-texturising mask still packs some plant power, and is a slightly more purse-friendly alternative.
5. Masque Bar Luminizing Charcoal Peel-Off Mask
The peel-off mask giving tough love to congested skin
Best for: Detoxing | Skin type: Normal | Mask type: Charcoal peel | RRP: £19.99
You might have seen an abundance of charcoal peel-off mask reviews popping up on YouTube recently with, more often than not, an accompanying grimace — but don’t let that put you off. This Masque Bar offering is perfect for congested, blackhead-prone skin in need of a little tough love, and it works wonders to get rid of gunk. The minty smell is pleasantly different, and it feels refreshing on the skin, which is left soft to the touch (if a little tender) after use. The best face mask for blemish-prone skin on our list.
6. GlamGlow Gravitymud Firming Treatment
A firm (and firming) favourite with a luxurious feel
Best for: Firming | Skin type: Normal, oily, combination, dry | Mask type: Mud peel | RRP: £39.00
Glam by name and glam by nature, Gravitymud Firming Treatment is probably the most luxurious on our list. It comes with an applicator brush for that spa feel in your very own bathroom, has a pleasantly fruity smell, and dries to a pearlescent silver finish — but of course. But the real beauty is that you can feel it working, and skin is left feeling considerably firmer after use, with a healthy-looking glow to boot.
7. Origins Original Skin Retexturising Mask with Rose Clay
A brilliant rose-scented re-texturiser packed with organic ingredients
Best for: All-round performance | Skin type: Dry, normal, oily | Mask type: Clay | RRP: £24.99
The holy grail for combination skin, this all-singing, all-dancing mask is just what the doctor ordered for an all-round boost. The subtle rose scent is scrumptious, the texture feels opulent, and the potent blend of active ingredients leave skin feeling cleansed and smooth. And, like the number one on our list, it’s a mask and exfoliator in one, with its jojoba beads working to lift impurities and refine the texture of rough skin. Not sure which mask is for you? It's this one.
Once your skin is prepped and glowing, check out our guide to the Best Make-Up Primers to guarantee flawless make-up application.