The Best Face Masks For Every Skin Type & Any Budget
From sheet masks to clay treatments to decadently creamy moisturizers, face masks are the undisputed queens of skin care — which is probably why they hold one of the top spots when it comes to formula variety. Rather than sample your way through the metric ton on the market, The Zoe Report got in touch with the experts to figure out the best face masks for every skin type, whether you have generally dry skin, an oilier-than-average complexion, or anything in between. (This includes masks for acne treatment, too.)
Since masks are different than moisturizers, serums, and anything else already in your skincare routine. "A face mask allows for a shorter yet more intense experience, kind of the roller coaster versus the hill on the street," explains Dr. Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology. "Both can give you a thrill when you ride down them, but the coaster is faster, and more intense. In this same way, a mask delivers ingredients in a highly concentrated 'intensified' way over a shorter period of time."
Vichy Medical Consultant and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Erin Gilbert, puts it in more technical terms: "A face mask is defined as a skincare product that contains more concentrated, specific ingredients to address specific skin concerns. A moisturizer is more dilute, contains more water, and usually contains a bunch of common emollients like glycerin, sometimes oils, often plant extracts and plus/minus special ingredients or 'actives' like retinol [or] vitamin C," she explains.
But it's important to remember that regardless of your general skin type — dry, oily, something else entirely — your face can be more than one at the same time, or skew dryer or oilier on any given day. Regarding "combination" skin, celebrity esthetician Olga Lorencin says, "It all depends on what you need on what parts of your face. If you have a T-zone, you can a use mask for oily skin in that area and you can use a mask for dry skin on your cheeks. That’s just one example! What really is needed is a proper daily protocol so all the areas on your skin are balanced."
Below, the tools of the trade according to the pros.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Best Face Masks For Oily Skin
Dr. Gohara says she likes GlamGlow's SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment — a cult favorite that includes six unique acids, kaolin, and activated charcoal. "The mud sucks up the oils, and the accompanying exfoliating acids liberate the skin of excess oils," she explains.
Rhea Grous, Aesthetics Director and Founder of La Suite Skincare at Union Square Laser Dermatology, suggests the Eu-Seb Mask for oily skin, since it "leaves the skin feeling clean while it regulates oil production" — and helps decrease harmful bacteria while balancing your microbiome.
Candace Marino, celebrity facialist, says that this oil-absorbing mask "will address texture and congested pores without over-drying the skin. It features a dual-action clay based scrub mask that breaks through oil and dead build up to reset the skin for more clarity and radiance."
Best Face Masks For Dry Skin
According to Dr. Gohara, this affordable sheet mask is well worth its $5.99 — and then some. "This doesn't just moisturize, it makes the skin radiant," she says, nodding to the mask's hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants.
"The most important part for dry skin types is to avoid very drying clay masks. Olga Lorencin Ageless Facial in a Box combines an overnight no-rinse peel and an overnight no-rinse mask," says Lorencin. "This mask is so hydrating and plumping that a lot of our clients use it under their makeup during the day."
"Another great choice is Josh Rosebrook’s Advanced Hydration Mask," Dr. Gilbert adds. "It contains blue tansy extract, aloe vera, and Indian senna. Both of these masks can be left on overnight to reveal more hydrated, healthier, and happier skin in the morning."
Dr. Gohara calls Obagi's Professional-C Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask a "quintessential multitasker," explaining that the vitamin C and microdermabrasion work surprisingly well when paired together. "The [vitamin] C, an antioxidant, builds collagen and evens out tone. The microdermabrasion adds to this, plus rids the skin of dead skin cells so that oils aren't trapped, and a good balance of moisture is maintained," she notes.
"For combination skin (or for just general maintenance), I like the idea of a mask that provides chemical and mechanical exfoliation, or a mask with enough moisturizing ingredients while not causing acne breakouts," says Dr. Gilbert. She recommends the Naturopathica Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel for exfoliation, which "contains fruit acids and lactic acid to remove dead skin cells."
Want the spa experience at home? Try the Prime Renewing Pack from Valmont. "[It] contains titanium dioxide that acts like a blotting paper to the skin and helps rebalance the hydrolipidic film," says Grous. The formula's menthyl lactate stimulates microcirculation as well, according to the director.
Marino calls the Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque a hero product for hydration, skin-softening, and bacteria-busting. "When it comes to combo or oily skin types, most people automatically reach for drying mask hoping to clear and dry up the oily areas, but this can trigger a rebound effect, because when the skin is stripped it signals more oil production," she explains. "In my opinion, it's best to use ingredients that will address bacteria and oil production while hydrating the skin."
Best Face Masks For Acne-Prone Skin
Hats off to The Ordinary's under-$10 facial in a jar, a recognizably cranberry-red formula you've probably seen around if you're even slightly interested in skin care. "Love the mix of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to exfoliate the skin while loosening up those stubborn whiteheads and black heads," says Dr. Gohara.
Lorencin says she really likes this Dr. Dennis Gross Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask for acne-prone skin; it's made with an extremely powerful mix of colloidal sulfur alongside bentonite and kaolin clays.
Grous recommends Environ's Hydroxy Acid Sebu-Clear Masque, since it, too, contains kaolin. "This mask additionally contains salicylic acid, which helps exfoliate and regulate sebum production while targeting oil glands. It also serves as an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial ingredient," she explains.