Face masks have long been seen as a pampering luxury – the skincare step you wait all week for, with the appeal lying more in the self-care realm than actual performance. But recent years have seen brands really raise their masking game, developing highly efficacious, targeted treatments designed with powerful results in mind.
Gone are the days when a face mask was little more than an excuse to lie still for a few precious minutes – in fact, today’s best options are packed with potent ingredients to tackle myriad skin concerns, from premature ageing to dark spots, congestion and even the dulling effects of pollution.
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Of course, a good, consistent daily skincare routine should negate the need for obsessive masking, but today’s best face masks are the perfect emergency remedy for those sporadic issues that will inevitably arise from time to time – think seasonal dryness, monthly blemishes and (now, more than ever) stress-induced flare-ups.
Here, we reveal the masks that have earned a permanent place on our shelves, from iconic classics to new innovations.
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There aren’t many face masks that have garnered global recognition to rival Sisley’s Black Rose Cream Mask, and indeed, there are few things not to like about this cocooning cream.
While claims of ‘instant youth’ should be met with a firm eye-roll, this nourishing formula really does deliver when it comes to reawakening a worn-out complexion. The rose-scented cream envelops tired (or jet-lagged) skin in moisture, with black rose extract to neutralise free radicals and chlorella to calm and soothe.
After 15 minutes, skin is visibly brighter, plumper and better prepped for make-up application.
As blackheads are ‘open’ comedones (meaning they don’t sit beneath the skin), a simple clay mask is all you really need to absorb them.
Medik8’s offering is especially effective – it uses kaolin, which is mild enough for sensitive skin, and is boosted with bentonite for extra healing benefits.
Used by Dr. Gross in his own professional treatments, this mask really is the gold standard when it comes to hydrating skin. Once the powder and gel are mixed together, a potent blend of algae and hyaluronic acid is sealed into the skin, leaving you with a complexion that feels incredibly plump for days. The process is a little complicated, but incredibly efficacious. (Even better, the solidifying rubber texture means you can peel it off in one go, negating any mess.)
Of course, a weekly masking session won’t remove all traces of life from around your eyes (and nor should it) but if you’re looking to brighten, hydrate and temporarily plump before a big event, a hydrogel mask will do the job.
One of the most impressive new launches of the year, Sarah Chapman’s Platinum Stem Cell Eye Masks are instantly differentiated by their shape, sitting both above and beneath the eye to offer all-round benefits.
Designed to offer multiple benefits, these advanced masks employ platinum as a carrier to deliver a complex of nutrients further into the skin. Sea-fennel stem cells are said to boost hydration, while custom peptide complexes reduce puffiness, and a whopping five different weights of hyaluronic acid plump on every level.
Since its launch last year, Malin + Goetz’s brightening mask has quickly gained cult status. The lightweight gel texture contains a moderate – and crucially, non-irritating – concentration of fruit-derived alpha-hydroxy-acids, which help dissolve dead, dull cells, brighten uneven skin tone and ensure optimum absorption of anything you apply on top.
The effects are both immediate and cumulative, meaning a once-weekly treatment will eventually lead to brighter, more even skin. As with all Malin + Goetz products, it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin, and totally free from fragrance.
While harsh, mattifying masks may feel instantly satisfying on oily skin, they’re likely doing more harm than good, as sapping your skin barrier of moisture only triggers the cells to produce more sebum.
Tata Harper‘s clay and aloe-based mask is designed to decongest overloaded skin without stripping it of the nutrients and hydration it needs. 27 naturally derived ingredients, from broccoli extract to arnica, work together to balance and brighten – a feat of expert formulation.
As with all of Harper’s products, this one is sustainably produced and housed in recyclable packaging.
More than a quick pampering product, La Prairie‘s iconic mask is a serious investment in skin health. The brand’s signature Caviar Premier – a fusion of seven caviar-derived active ingredients – replenishes moisture loss and makes tired skin feel tighter and more toned by morning.
Leave it to work overnight, twice a week, for remarkable cumulative results.
Showcasing the more sophisticated side of K-Beauty, new brand Femmue combines no-nonsense ingredients with sensorial appeal.
All of the masks in the line are excellent, but this one is a stand-out for the way it calms and hydrates easily aggravated skin. The creamy, non-drying formula contains kaolin and sea mud to deep-cleanse pores, as well as green tea for an antioxidant boost.
It might sound gimmicky, but Charlotte Tilbury’s serum-free sheet mask is perfect for prepping skin for a full face of make-up. The nut and fruit butters inside work to intensely plump and hydrate the top layers of skin, while niacinamide brightens and algae locks in moisture to ensure your foundation looks dewy for hours.
This one contains shea butter, which means acne-prone skin might want to steer clear, but on dry complexions, it’s ideal.
Breakout-prone skin requires special treatment when it comes to masking – as a general rule, anything containing shea butter, comedogenic oils (coconut included) and fragrances should be avoided.
Specially formulated for skin prone to blackheads and blemishes, this gentle clay mask is boosted with herbal extracts that calm inflammation and absorb impurities. It’s creamy and rich, rather than drying, and works best when used on a weekly basis.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.
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