There are countless face masks for purifying and clarifying, for brightening and tightening, for exfoliating, toning, detoxing, and firming. But recently, on a particularly cold and windy day that left my already flake-prone skin parched, I didn’t want acids, I didn’t want clay, I didn’t want peels — I just wanted to slather on 20 minutes of pure moisture. I tore through my (sizable) skincare collection in search of a hydrating mask and came up empty, leading me to wonder: Where are all the moisturizing masks? The ones with ingredients that plump and hydrate, no more, no less? The rich creams for thirsty skin to slurp up in seconds?
Moisturizing masks that don’t make your skin slippery (like too-big or too-wet sheet masks) are surprisingly hard to find, so I decided to research, test, and put together a definitive guide to purely hydrating face masks — with expert advice from dermatologists, of course. “Face masks often contain the same types of hydrating ingredients that your moisturizers contain, only at higher levels,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at Zeichner Dermatology in New York City, tells The Zoe Report. “Look for emollients like hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge to bind 1000 times its weight in water to hydrate and plump the skin.” His top pick? Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Overnight Face Mask.
Other star ingredients include natural oils (like sweet almond and avocado), butters (like shea and mango), and aloe juice — almost all of which are present in Glossier’s much-loved Moisturizing Moon Mask and Josh Rosebrook Advanced Hydration Mask.
While there’s really no wrong time to moisturize, Dr. Zeichner says the skin is more receptive to hydrating masks in the late afternoon and evening. “We know that the skin undergoes normal circadian rhythms, where specific activities occur in the morning and others occur in the evening,” he explains. “Skin hydration levels start to decline in the afternoon and continue throughout the evening, which is why a nighttime moisturizing mask can be very useful.” Grown Alchemist Age Repair Sleep Masque, with hyaluronic acid and skin-plumping peptides, is my new favorite for overnight hydration; but it can be used anytime as a 30-minute mask, too. (May I suggest applying a thick layer while you soak in an early evening bubble bath?)
Ahead, 15 masks to reach for when all you want is major moisture, plain and simple.
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This Grown Alchemist mask is my holy grail product when I'm in need of intense hydration. It's meant to be used while you sleep — but instead, I layer on a thick coat during the day and let it soak in for 20 to 30 minutes. The result? Lots of moisture (care of hyaluronic acid) and more even texture (thanks to amino acids and peptides).
I added Glossier's mask to my collection a few years ago when it first came out, but never restocked. After recently repurchasing, I don't know how (or why) I ever lived without it on my #shelfie. The genius blend of aloe leaf, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and squalane oil is exactly what the name claims — moisturizing — and everything my dry winter skin needs.
A new personal favorite, Summer Fridays' just-released R + R Mask features a unique texture that's more oily than creamy — which is a good thing if your skin is dry, red, or peel-y. It's rich in Omega- 3, -6, and -9 fatty acids to build up the skin's barrier and lock in hydration (you can thank argan, sesame, and avocado oils for that), and even features powdered rose petals to gently exfoliate.
Neutrogena's derm-approved sleeping mask boasts a high dose of hyaluronic acid in an innovative gel formula (so it won't rub off on your pillow). Slather it on and wake up with supple skin.
An infusion of skin-softening and hydration-boosting rose makes Sisley's high-end face mask one of the best on the market. You don't even have to rinse — just wipe off the excess after 15 minutes, and let what's left sink into the skin.
There's no reason not to treat yourself to this gorgeous, teal-colored miracle mask once a day. It gets its hue from blue tansy oil, which is notoriously hydrating (and delicious-smelling). Blended with ashwagandha, turmeric root, lavender, and more, it's like a daily supplement for your skin.
The best byproduct of being perfectly moisturized? A dewy glow, of course. Emma Hardie's mask takes the luminous look to the next level with ingredients that plump (hyaluronic acid), protect (moringa seed oil), and hydrate (red algae).
With a name like Deep Hydration Mask, you know exactly what you're getting: a bevy of botanical oils — like olive, jojoba, and evening primrose — to quench thirsty skin.
This one's a cult favorite for a reason: Rosewater soothes, calms, and moisturizes while glycerin, a humectant, carries that moisture deep into the inner layers of the dermis. Even better: It's so gentle, you can use it every damn day.
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from a glass of red wine? Well, Kahina Giving Beauty's Moisture Mask does that for your face. Packed with red wine grape extract — which is high in anti-aging resveratrol — and mushroom extract to plump and smooth skin, I'd call it a necessary evening indulgence.
Any product that's described as having a "lavish bisque" texture tops my must-try list — and the Restorative Radiance Masque does not disappoint. Its blend of plant-based oils and waters alongside moisture-locking beeswax is to die for; *and* it's clean, all natural, and organic.
The texture appears thick and creamy in the jar, but it glides on like a light-as-air balm. Layer it over your nighttime skincare routine to reveal glowier skin in the morning via natural alpha-glucan yeast (it soaks up bacteria and impurities on the skin's surface) and macqui berry extract (which deposits moisture).
Current obsession: Lovinah's Super Green Smoothie Mask. While it's not a straight-up moisturizing product (it includes detoxifying clay and polishing matcha), this mask features probiotics to repopulate and repair skin's microbiome — which translates to skin that's better equipped to hold in hydration.
Hydrating honey and glycerin come together to pack a moisturizing punch (that thankfully doesn't feel sticky at all). When used once a week, this natural face mask softens dry patches and seals in hydration, since honey has humectant properties.
Honestly, just *looking* at this jar of algae-packed goodness makes my face feel better. It's made with sea minerals to prevent future dehydration, and a protein called antarcticine (extracted from glacial ice) to keep moisture locked into the skin's inner layers.