While we will be eternally envious of those who use ‘just soap’ to achieve clear, glowy skin, for the majority of us, achieving a healthy complexion takes a bit more work.
Whether you abide by a strict self-care Sunday ritual or slip it in between Zoom calls, a skincare mask will take you well on your way to addressing your concerns. With hybrid working, you can use the 20 minutes between meetings to pop on a mask for a midday boost, or maximise any camera-off policy - your boss will be none the wiser.
Acting as a second layer on the skin, innovation in the beauty sphere has resulted in hi-tech formulations packed with complexion-boosting goodness that are a far cry from the makeshift masks of your childhood. While we will always look back fondly on the homemade concoctions that we whipped up in our youth, let’s leave it to the professionals with science-backed and plant powered products that will rejuvenate, regenerate and revitalise our skin.
There are many different masks on the market, all of which are suited to different skin types and targeted for specific needs. While texture is crucial - and we’ll get into that below - you want to look out for buzz ingredients like hyaluronic acid for a hit of hydration when skin is feeling parched - be it caused by the changing weather, or previous drying formulas in your routine, antioxidants like vitamin C for a radiance boost when a big event is looming or BHA-enriched clarity formulas for effective blemish busting. To tackle fine lines and a loss of elastin, look out for collagen in the component line-up.
No longer considered an indulgence, you will want to call on a mask when your complexion is feeling dull, dry or lacklustre to bring a concentrated cocktail of supercharged ingredients that are imparted through an effective delivery method.
What does a face mask do?
Dr Hasan Benar, dermatologist and founder of www.drelif.co.uk, explains “Overall, face masks improve your complexion, and are designed to help increase skin hydration, even out skin tone, refine pores and draw out impurities to name a few.”
Aparna Salaskar, Senior Beauty Therapist at Aesthetics International adds that they “deliver an intensive treatment of active ingredients and nutrients to the skin”.
How do face masks work and and are they effective?
Dr Benar continues, “They usually acts as an occlusive that seals your skin with a mixture of ingredients that harden and become dry without being harsh on your skin’s surface. Face masks work by delivering an intensive burst of nourishing skincare ingredients, which prevents trans epidermal water loss and keeps moisture in your skin.”
How often should you use one?
Dr Benar says, “It all depends on the purpose of the mask and your skin type. However, I would recommend using face masks about twice a week.”
Can you walk through the different types and how they vary?
Dr Benar breaks it down:
Charcoal masks are incredible for clearing impurities from your skin and removing blackheads and whiteheads.
Gelatin face masks are great for improving collagen production. It has wonderful skin plumping benefits, and when dried, it improves the elasticity of your skin
Exfoliation face masks work to get rid of dry, flaky skin whilst rejuvenating a tired, clogged up complexion. They’re usually packed with skin-loving ingredients, however exfoliating too frequently can hurt your skin, so I would recommend using these once a week and a peel-off face mask once every two weeks.
Gel masks usually have high moisture content and are great for boosting the skin’s hydration levels, but only for a short time.
Sheet masks are great for soothing sensitive and inflamed skin. They’re also a single use treatment, meaning their quick and easy to use in the morning or night. Compared to face masks (which comes packaged in a pot or tube), sheet masks come in a thin, pre-cut mask that is soaked in serum and natural ingredients.
Which is the best texture for each skin type?
“For those with oily skin, I would advise using a natural clay face mask. The clay will draw out all of the excess oil and impurities and help lock in moisturise”, reveals Dr Benar. “If you have dehydrated skin, look out for face masks that contains hyaluronic acid - known to hold 100 times its molecular weight in water, this star ingredient makes your skin look healthy and supple. For dull skin, look for brightening agents like kojic acid, vitamin C and azelaic acid.”
Shop the best masks below
SUMMER FRIDAYS Jet Lag Mask
Best for: post-holiday blues
Time: 10 minutes
After a couple of years of limited foreign travel, we are all looking to make up for lost time - but if you find your skin suffering as a result (plane air always seems to wreak havoc as well as changing time zones), call on SUMMER FRIDAYS.
This is the brand’s Holy Grail product and has solidified its place in the beauty hall of fame. It is packed with hydrating ingredients that help you fake a full night sleep with radiant results. The formula is brimming with vitamins, minerals and ceramides as well as the gentle exfoliant of chesnut extract and niacinamide to minimise the look of fine lines.
Glow baby, glow.
Buy now £24.00, Cult Beauty
Tatcha Clarifying Clay Mask
Best for: high-powered J-Beauty botanicals
Time: three minutes
Japanese skin and wellbeing label Tatcha combines the beauty traditions from the Land of the Rising Sun with clinical ingredients to bring potent products that are ritualistic.
In just three minutes, the Clarifying Clay Mask gets to work as a deep cleanse to remove dirt, excess oils and detox the skin - ideal for the time-pressed, yet beauty-conscious.
Like magic, the formula transforms from green to a red hue due to the use of volcanic ash within the formulation that encourages the pores to open, while konjac acts as the exfoliation to decongest without causing irritation. Skin is left smoothed and hydrated.
Buy now £65.00, Space NK
La Mer The Lifting and Firming Mask
Best for: a rich, pampering experience
Time: eight minutes
It may come with the price tag to match, but the La Mer The Lifting and Firming Mask provides a pampering treatment that few can rival.
The rich creamy texture works over time to improve the resilience of your skin’s natural barrier in order to firm and nourish - but you should notice immediate results in the hydration department. The product has label’s trademarked Miracle Broth at its heart - an ingredient made up of magnesium, calcium and vitamins to name but a few. This is what tackles tired, stressed and sagging skin, leaving a youthful complexion in its wake. A little goes a long way.
Buy now £215.00, La Mer
Plenaire Skin Frosting Deeply Hydrating Mask
Best for: an eco-conscious nourishing treat for the skin
Time: 15-20 minutes
Beauty buffs will likely already be familiar with natural skincare label Plenaire, but if you’ve not yet tried one of the vegan formulations, you’re in for a treat.
With a thick creamy texture, layer it onto dry and flakey skin will be drink it up to maximise the immediate soothing, moisturising effect. The product is formulated with cocoa butter, raw coconut oil and shea butter as well as the not-so secret ingredient of Japanese tsubaki that has a calming, inflammation-reducing benefit. It immediately absorbs into the complexion and leaves a luminosity behind. Your skin will feel hydrated for hours.
Buy now £21.00, Space NK
Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask
Best for: superfood goodness
Time: 15 minutes
This is one of the cult products from the Kiehl’s range and stars the nation’s favourite brunch ingredient so you can reap the benefits of its oils topically.
It contains a winning combination of Avocado Fruit Extract, Avocado Oil and Evening Primrose Oil to create a rich, creamy formula that locks in moisture and leaves skin feeling silky soft. These ingredients have a highly moisturising effect, while also bringing fatty-acids, amino acid proteins and a whole load of vitamins to your complexion with ultra-nourishing results. It provides long-lasting hydration throughout the day.
Buy now £38.00, Kiehl’s
Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Mask
Best for: parched complexions and rosacea-prone
Time: No rinse
Paula’s Choice is one of our favourite skincare labels for the simple reason: it works. The efficacious product line-up has science-backing and research for each of the formulations so you know you are getting something that has been put through its paces and will actually make a difference when it comes to your concerns.
There are masks across the ranges, including Clear to remove excess sebum, Hydrate for, well, hydration, Balancing and Pore Clarifying - the latter of which is a charcoal gel mask. Yet the one we are spotlighting is the Recovery that tackles some of the most common complaints; dryness, sensitivies, and rosacea. It work to immediately soothe and calm with its creamy texture. The formula is packed with plant oils, antioxidants and essential fatty acids and leaves a soft, radiant finish.
Buy now £24.00, Paula’s Choice
111SKIN Rose Quartz Exfoliating Mask
Best for: Pre-party glow
Time: 10 minutes
Harley Street-born 111SKIN has taken its hero Rose Gold sheet mask and transformed it into tube form for a multi-use product that will form an essential part of your pre out-out routine.
This potent liquid mask is formulated with a clinical-grade Fruit-Acid Complex and the named Rose Quartz that are effective exfoliating ingredients that will leave skin immediately more radiant and luminous. Boosting your skin’s own natural ability to shine, it also minimises the appearance of pores, pigmentation and blemishes.
The brand suggests there are about 10-15 uses so you get good bang for your buck, and you can also multi-mask with the other cream masks on specific areas (like the Contour Firming on crow’s feet, Microbiome Blemish on spot-prone areas or Oxygen Express for tightening and refining) to create a tailored professional-level treatment at home.
Buy now £115.00, 111SKIN
Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask
Best for: an immediate cooling effect
Time: 10 minutes
When your complexion is feeling parched and dry, call on the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask for an instant hit of hydration. Ideal for overly sun-kissed skin, when inflammation or irritation arises or days when your visage just won’t play ball, this product works to calm, sooth, rejuvenate and renew.
Apply generously all over the face and neck to maximise the botanical boost of cucumber, papaya, chamomile, pineapple, sugar, maple, orange lemon and bilberry - all of which are contained within the product and work in tandem to be effective yet gentle and non-reactive.
To take the calming properties to the next level, store in the frige.
Buy now £41.60, lookfantastic
Elemis ULTRA SMART Pro-Collagen Aqua Infusion Mask
Best for: wrinkle-busting
Time: 20 minutes
This mask from Elemis already boasts a long list of awards for anti-ageing. The Pro-Collagen range is up there with the crème de la crème of fine line reduction and this formula takes it to the next level to counteract deep set signs of ageing.
In just a month of continual use, you should notice that the likes of crow’s feet, laugh lines and frown lines are improved and there’s a boost of luminosity. It applies just like a cream and has a lovely fresh aroma.
Buy now £125.00, Elemis
Kora Turmeric Brightening and Exfoliating Mask
Best for: a natural exfoliation
Time: 5-15 minutes
In this product from model Miranda Kerr’s skincare line, tumeric is the star of the show. The ingredient is well-known in the health space for being an anti-inflammatory but it takes on a slightly different role in this formula, working double duty to not only exfoliate but brighten at the same time.
Placed alongside papaya enzymes, peppermint, rosehip seeds and aspen bark, the ingredients slough away dead skin in a gentle and natural way with anti-bacterial properties thrown in for good measure. The components are all naturally derived, purging the pores and leaving the skin looking bright.
Buy now £45.00, Space NK
Origins Ginzing Glow-Boosting Mask
Best for: a healthy glow
Time: No rinse
Origins’ Ginzing collection uses the brand’s signature tademarked Vital Synethsis Technology that is made up of the caffeine found in coffee beans and Panax Ginseng to energise skin. Joining the range is the Glow-Boosting Mask that takes this complex and mixes it with two-types of naturally derived vitamin C with radiant results. There is also hyaluronic acid contained within the formula to hydrate skin.
Buy now £29.70, Boots
Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
Best for: refreshing lacklustre skin
Time: 20 minutes
When your skin’s feeling dull or rough, Tata Harper’s resurfacing mask will restore it to its former glory. As the label’s best selling mask with a rating of 4.9 stars across 1267 reviews, it’s a popular choice. Great for all skin types except for sensitive skin, the 100 per cent natural acids and enzymes slough away dead skin cells, leaving your face feeling radiant and fresh. If you want a mid-week boost, you can layer on top of their Regenerating Cleanser and leave it for five minutes.
Buy now £56.15, Cult Beauty
Oskia Renaissance Mask
Best for: an even complexion
Time: 15 minutes
Oskia’s Renaissance Mask will brighten your skin whilst reducing fine lines and imperfections - it’s a win-win. The luxurious and buttery formula contains natural fruit acids to remove dead cells and unclog pores, lactic acid for stimulating cell regeneration and prebiotics to fight bacteria, leaving you with an even, glowing complexion.
Buy now £68.00, Cult Beauty
FentySkin Cookies N Clean Whipped Clay Detox Mask
Best for: a thorough pore spring clean
Time: 10-15 minutes
While this product looks good enough to eat, save the detox mask for where it belongs - on your face. It has a whipped texture created with a combination of clay, charocal, salicylic acid and extracts of rhubard and ginger that work together to extract and remove dirt, clarify and soothe. Apply for 10 to 15 minutes to tighten pores, remove oil and detoxify without stripping skin’s natural moisture. The formula is vegan, gluten-free and can suit all skin types, while the packaging is made from 30 per cent post-consumer recycled materials.
Buy now £25.00, Boots
Alya Skin Pink Marine Collagen Sleep Mask
Direct from Down Under, this is one of the bestselling products in the Alya Skin offering. The Aussie label sells one of the Pink Marine Collagen Sleep Masks every 22 seconds around the world and already has a waiting list of 10,000 people for its launch.
The radiance-giving, plumping product is an overnight treatment that provides immense hydration to parched complexions. As the name suggests, it is formulated with marine collagen to leave skin looking healthy and youthful - a feat enhanced by antioxidant-rich strawberry gum to shield against environmental aggressors and red algae for its soothing capabilities. There’s also marine-derived hyaluronic acid to hydrate and fill out fine lines.
Buy now £29.95, Superdrug
VOTARY Radiance Reveal Mask
VOTARY harnesses the power of natural ingredients to pack your skin with all the nutrients that it deserves. Each of the products are created in small batches in the UK and hand-blended so they are kind to the planet as well as your complexion. The Radiance Reveal Mask does what it says on the tin.
Mandelic acid plays a key role within the formulation, placed alongside lactic to gently resurface the skin and result in a glowy look. Use twice a week - say Wednesday and Sunday for example - and you’ll notice the reduction in fine lines, the lightening of hyperpigmentation and even less frequent breakouts.
Buy now £55.00, Cult Beauty
Farmacy Honey Potion Plus Ceramide Hydration Mask
Smelling sweetly like and with the unctuous consistency of honey, this is an upgraded version of Farmacy’s original hero mask, reformulated with extra strengthening and replenishing ingredients including ceramides.
Smooth over the skin and massage in for a couple of minutes until the gel transforms into a rich white paste and starts to gently warm up. Rinsed away ten to 15 minutes later, the skin feels soft and bouncy thanks to upcycled apple extract, while the addition of niacinamide ensures it looks brighter and more even. Ceramides meanwhile work with panthenol to fortify the skin barrier and hold all that plumping moisture to the skin.
Buy now £36.00, FeelUnique
Naturopathica Manuka Honey Hydrating Gel Mask
Harnessing the power of healing manuka honey, Naturopathica’s Hydrating Gel Mask is as luxurious as it reparative. The US-import has finally brought its hero product to UK shores and our parched complexions are thankful. The headline ingredient is combined with antioxidant-rich prickly pear extract to soothe and even out the complexion.
Buy now £54.00, Fenwick