Get the lowdown on common beauty buzzwords so you can find the best product to treat your acne, dry skin, and other skincare needs
The Best Face Masks for Every Skin Condition
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Face masks are super buzzy right now in the beauty space, but with so many brands, ingredients and labels touting benefits, it’s easy to get confused. In case you’re unfamiliar, face masks are skin treatments that aren’t absorbed like a moisturizer, oil or serum, but rather sit on the surface for a time. And, trust us, there's one out there for any skin condition you're dealing with.
So, why use a mask? “They’re purported to ‘cleanse the skin’ of impurities with oil-absorbing properties,” says Lancôme’s consulting dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D., Ph.D. “Skin also feels smoother temporarily, which gives those who use them the sense that they improve skin texture.” But are they really worth using? They work well for some, says Armenakas. They can also be tailored to specific skincare needs, and have a long history of being used by gorgeous, stylish women.
Here, Armenakas helps us break down what ingredients and labels mean, so you can find masks to try for your skincare needs. (You can also make your own face mask for any of these 20 DIY Beauty Products to Get Pampered on Less.)
Photo: Corbis Images
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What it means: A hydrating mask restores moisture balance. These typically contain emollients, humectants and moisturizers that will deliver water molecules on to the skin surface.
Try: GlamGlow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment Masque ($69; glamglow.com)
Clarifying or Clearing
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What it means: These masks can contain elements like sulfur, mandelic acid, citric acid or vitamin C will have an anti-acne effect for skin.
Try: SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque ($51; skinceuticals.com)
Brightening or Revitalizing
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What it means: These masks tend to have arginine, arbutin, citric acid or glycolic acid, which give a lightening effect or work for melasma.
Try: Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Mask ($65; esteelauder.com)
Photo: Estee Lauder
Resurfacing or Exfoliating
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What it means: People with whiteheads and blackheads tend to benefit the most from this type of mask, which clears away oil and impurities.
Try: Joanna Vargas Skincare Exfoliating Mask ($75; joannavargas.com
(These 7 Cold-Weather Beauty Indulgences for Your Skin work wonders for your winter skin too.)
Photo: Joanna Vargas
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What it means: These masks often contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, like chamomile, feverfew, or bisabolol, which may help soothe for those with conditions like acne or dry skin.
Try: Boscia Cool Blue Calming Masque ($34; boscia.com)
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What it means: You’ll find silicates in clay, which is often found in these masks. You’ll only really see the "mattifying" effect on oily-skin patients.
Try: Sephora Green Tea Mattifying & Anti-Blemish Mask ($6; sephora.com)
Mud or Clay
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What it means: This key ingredient deposits silicates on the skin surface, giving a sense of smoothness once the mask is washed off. Use it if you have excess oils, large pores.
Try: Lancôme’s Pure Empreinte Masque ($35; lancome.com)
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What it means: This type of mask will have a peeling and lightening effect on skin, leading to more vibrant skin. It works best if you have discoloration, melasma, or anti-aging concerns.
Try: Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Sleeping Facial, ($48; sephora.com)
(Want more brightening treatments? Score a stunning complexion with these 5 Greens for Great Skin.)
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What it means: Tea delivers a potent dose of antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage, minimize puffiness and improve elasticity. Use masks with this key ingredient if you have anti-aging concerns or puffiness.
Try: Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask ($92; fresh.com)
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What it means: Glycolic acid helps improve the texture of skin, especially if you have discoloration, blemishes or bumps. It's best used if you have acne or discoloration.
Try: Bliss Multi-‘face’-eted Mask ($50; blissworld.com)
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What it means: This key ingredient picks up excess oil on the skin, which leads to an overly dewy look and breakouts. Use it if you have excess oil, acne, clogged pores.
Try: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, ($25; origins.com)
(And try these Alternative Adult Acne Treatments to cure any blemishes.)
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What it means: Enzymes break down the bonds between cells, and therefore have a slight peeling effect, stripping away debris and dead skin. Use if you have flaking, clogged pores, dull skin, or anti-aging concerns.
Try: Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask ($42; peterthomasroth.com)
Photo: Peter Thomas Roth
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What it means: Rosewater or rose extract tones, boosts skin moisture, gives skin a radiant, bright glow. It's best used if you have dry skin or a dull complexion.
Try: Sephora Rose Ultra Moisturizing & Brightening Mask ($6; sephora.com)