Are you one of those people who have never had “perfect” skin, or at least not since before they began puberty?
If so, you’re not alone. Believe it or not you’re one of the many people who motivate us to create these guides covering different skincare topics and answer questions any people have.
Attaining a healthy and radiant complexion can do wonders not only for the way you look but also for your self-esteem by transforming the way you see yourself. This is especially true if you’ve always been someone who’s struggled with less than ideal skin.
We believe everyone can improve. Sometimes, taking that one extra step is all it takes and using the right facial mask might be that extra something you need.
What Can Facial Masks Do?
A better question is what can’t they do. There’s so much variety in the different types available, some serving a specific skin type or need and others which can do a whole lot more, that it gets a little confusing choosing the best one for you.
Whether you have dry skin that needs some hydrating, dull skin that needs some brightening up, or sensitive skin that needs some soothing, the right facial mask will address your needs and leave your skin looking better than before.
They’re also incredibly useful for reinforcing another part of your skincare routine. For example, if your skin is really oily and your cleanser or exfoliator doesn’t seem like it’s doing the trick, you can apply a facial mask and then kick back and relax as it soaks up oil and draws out impurities.
For the most part, you won’t be using a mask more than once or twice a week along with whenever those bad skin days or emergencies pop up. Although certain types of masks can be used more often, stronger masks do more harm than good by overusing them.
“So what kind of facial masks are there and which is the best for me?”
Glad you asked!
Types of Facial Masks
There are essentially 7 different types of facial masks:
Let’s find out which is best for you.
Clay (AKA Mud Mask) Benefits
Best Used For: Oily skin, acne and blemishes.
Whiteheads and blackheads be gone!
Clay masks (sometimes also known as mud masks) are among our favorites for treating shiny and greasy skin that just can’t get a break. If you live somewhere really humid or those hormones have your skin looking like an oil well then clay masks are just for you.
Most masks use a type of clay called bentonite or green clay bentonite. These clays purify your skin by soaking up any oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells left behind and are great for treating those annoying blemishes.
Some clay masks are made specifically for acne and contain salicylic acid which also exfoliates to remove older skin cells and reveal the younger, fresher looking skin underneath. If your clay mask is missing salicylic acid you can try combining it with the mask for better results. This isn’t completely necessary though since most masks work well enough by themselves.
That being said, there are a number of other types of clays out there including, Kaolin (sometimes known as white clay), Rhassoul, and French Green Clay. They each do the same thing – soaking up oil, filth, and dead skin cells off your skin – with the main difference between them being the unique minerals found within each type of clay.
Some products combine more than one type of clay along with other ingredients to make sure your skin is getting everything it needs. As always, try out different kinds of masks before settling on one to find what works best for you.
When you first apply a clay mask it’ll feel soft and slightly wet. By the time you’re done it will have hardened up letting you know it’s time to take it off. You can also tell it’s finished by the change in color – it turns lighter in color as it dries.
One more thing we want to address before we leave clay masks is the whole “wait for it to harden vs taking it off earlier” debate. Some experts argue that waiting until the clay is completely dried to remove is overkill for your skin. The thinking is that clay masks almost work too well and by waiting too long they’ll completely soak up all oil off your skin which will leave it feeling tight and dull afterward.
Our opinion is that you should be moisturizing after using a clay mask anyways which will rehydrate and improve the elasticity of your skin making this not that big of a deal.
Cream Mask Benefits
Best Used For: Dull, dry, and mature skin
Cream based masks are among the most common types of facial masks available. Their main benefit is being able to moisturize and hydrate making them particularly useful for skin that looks like it needs some cheering up and “life” injected into it. This means aging skin, wrinkles and fine lines can all be improved upon and minimized by using the right cream mask.
Look for cream masks which contain these two ingredients: hyaluronic acid and collagen.
Collagen peptides are among the most important ingredients needed for skin elasticity and maintaining the youthful appearance of your face. Our skin naturally produces less collagen the older we get which is why your skin gets wrinkly and saggy.
Learn more about collagen peptide supplements for skin here.
Hyaluronic acid is another, perhaps lesser-known, ingredient that deserves attention. It’s sometimes used as an injectable dermal filler and it has properties similar to collagen. Like collagen, it’s also naturally found within your body. It serves as a support structure for your skin and at the same time acts as a moisturizing lubricant improving its firmness and suppleness. Together they are the perfect ingredients for older skin.
Learn more about the benefits of hyaluronic acid for skincare here.
Fighting aging isn’t all these masks can do. Some creams can smooth out your complexion and also target blemishes. You can use them to spot treat and they’re pretty gentle compared to clay masks so not only can you use them more often but you can also leave them on overnight letting your skin completely absorb the cream.
Nighttime is when your skin heals and regeneration is at its peak. That’s why we highly recommend adding a night time cream mask to your PM skincare routine right before you go to bed. Stress, environmental toxins, and dead skin cells pile up taking a toll on your skin as you go through your day which can all get taken care of by an effective cream mask.
Charcoal Mask Benefits
Best Used For: Exfoliation and deep cleansing.
We like to think of activated charcoal as the “secret weapon” in our skin care routines. We’ve already talked about how to use activated charcoal to give yourself whiter teeth in our teeth whitening guide but here we’re interested in the absolute wonders it does for your skin.
A brief primer: This form of charcoal is commonly ingested and used to treat food poisoning because it makes the toxins inside your body “stick” to the substance removing them out of your system.
Of course we’re not going to be swallowing the charcoal but we will be using it’s unique properties to take out all the unwelcome grease and grime off your skin. By applying the activated charcoal topically, it acts as a sort of super cleanser which will leave your skin looking fresh for the rest of the day guaranteed.
Charcoal masks are commonly used as alternatives to clay masks. Oftentimes the two are even combined together in the same mask for some deeply penetrating exfoliation.
Sheet & Peel-Off Mask Benefits
Best Used For: Large pores, acne, dry, and aging skin.
Sheet masks have long been used in Asian countries as a staple in their skincare routines but they’ve only somewhat recently begun making rounds elsewhere. Slowly they’ve gained popularity around these parts and for good reason. Sheet masks are different from the previous types of masks we talked about because they use a pre-cut sheet of cloth paper which you wrap around your face already coated with the ingredients needed to cleanse, moisturize, or tighten your skin.
A benefit these types of masks have over others is that they eliminate any external influences from coming between your skin and the mask which can affect it’s effectiveness. The cloth sticks firmly to your skin making sure it absorbs everything and nothing evaporates into the air. They also make less of a mess and usually don’t require rinsing after you take them off.
Also similar to sheet masks are peel-off masks which quite literally peel off your skin like a bad sunburn after you’re done using one. We have to admit the “peeling off” part is one of our favorite things about using this type of mask.
There are actually a variety of peel off masks available including clay and charcoal based ones which we already talked about and also some special wax-based peels. When you first apply one to your skin, it feels almost as if it’s wet but like other masks it’ll soon dry up turning almost “rubbery” as it tightens up your skin.
These types of masks are particularly good for blackheads and clearing up any pus stuck within your pores. The only difference really between peel-off masks and the other “normal” masks is simply the peeling sensation.
Gel Mask Benefits
Best Used For: Dry, dehydrated, & sensitive skin.
The signature quality of gel masks is they’re soothing and cooling effect once applied to your skin. This makes them ideal for sensitive skin prone to irritation, damaged skin that’s been sunburned, or dehydrated skin that needs moisture.
In some regards, they’re similar to cream masks. They’re also often concocted using collagen and hyaluronic acid as well as antioxidants that help firm and rehydrate dry skin.
The biggest difference between gel masks and cream masks is the texture and feel of the mask when applied. The cool sensation can be thought of as a sort of ice pack which is why gel masks are often used for the eyes to reduce puffiness or the redness of irritated skin.
DIY Mask Benefits
Best Used For: Anything and everything!
Whether you choose to use a store-bought mask or make your own at home, both can work exceptionally well.
We have a great list of some of our favorite DIY Homemade mask recipes to get you started or at least give you some ideas.
If you ever run out of product or need to make a makeshift facial mask on the fly, these recipes can hold you over. Most make the use of everyday foods like fruits and vegetables. You can also add essential oils like tea tree, lavender, or rose oil to spice them up and get even more out of them. Experimentation is the key to finding out what works best for your skin.
Another benefit of making your own masks is you know exactly what ingredients they contain. This way you can avoid harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, and other synthetic and petrol based chemicals.
If you can’t be bothered to make your own, are afraid of messing up somehow, or simply find that store bought masks work better for you then use those instead. Whatever works best for you is what you should use.
How To Use Your Facial Mask
- First things first, you need to get your skin to a clear state. This means doing step 1 of your skincare regimen by removing any makeup or sunscreen you have on. Even if you don’t have anything on sometimes it’s still a good idea to cleanse your skin beforehand so your pores aren’t clogged up and so the mask can do it’s job properly. Exception is if you’re using a clay mask or exfoliating.
- Now that your skin is ready, you’ll want to spread and massage the mask all over your face or on a specific problem area in a thin and even layer while avoiding the eyes and lips. (Seriously, don’t get it in your eyes.)
- Once the mask is on your face you can sit back and relax or get other things done while you wait for it to dry. Depending on the type you’re using, you’ll either leave it on for a set amount of time, until it gets absorbed, or if it’s clay, until it dries.
- Once it’s finished, either rinse with water or peel it off depending on the type of mask.
- Pat your face with a towel and continue on to the next step in your skincare routine (likely moisturizing).
Not Just for Women…
One last thing we want to address is that facial masks aren’t solely meant for women. If you’re a guy don’t make it harder for yourself to look good by shying away from quality skin care products.
Unfortunately most people associate looking after your skin as being a “feminine” quality but really… why shouldn’t you use a facial mask if it’ll help you look better? You don’t have to tell anyone just do your routine and go about your day.
It’s not something to be ashamed about but we know some guys reading this will think “Hmm is this acceptable for me to use?” Yes. Yes it is. Don’t worry you aren’t going to a spa or be seen using it in public.
If you’re struggling with poor skin, stop neglecting it and do something about it!