- There are all kinds of face masks on the market, and it can be difficult to navigate through your options.
- Some of the most popular face masks are sheet masks doused in serums, clay masks that absorb excess oils, and charcoal masks to detoxify pores.
- Figuring out which face mask is best for you starts with knowing your skin type, then taking other details into account like the weather, and ingredients that can benefit your complexion.
Navigating your way around skin care can be challenging when you don’t know what you’re looking for. That being said, your skin is the biggest organ on your body, so you need to make sure that the different products you’re applying won’t cause any irritation or serious traumas.
Face masks can be an especially daunting section of the beauty store because there are so many different types – from sheet masks to bubbly, oxygenated formulas to thick, clay pots – and they’re all designed to accommodate a wide variety of complexions and conditions. At the same time, because there are so many to choose from, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find at least one (or five) that give your skin the healthy boost it needs to thrive.
To help narrow down your options INSIDER spoke with a few dermatologists that gave their best tips on how to figure out which face masks is best for you.
First, identify your skin type
Not all face masks are created equally because no two complexions are exactly alike. Before you can start experimenting with masks, you have to know what your skin type is, otherwise you risk irritation, breakouts, dry spells, and wasting money on a product that does absolutely nothing for you.
If you’re unsure about whether your complexion is oily (your skin is typically shiny), dry (tight and/or ashy), acne-prone (you experience a lot of breakouts), sensitive, or a combination of both, speak to a dermatologist.
Knowing the ingredients that irritate your skin can help you rule out specific masks
Figuring out which face mask works best for you comes from figuring out which ingredients are not. Generally speaking, no matter what skin type you have, Four Sigmatic‘s founder, Tero Isokauppila told INSIDER plastics such as parabens, silicones, phthalates, microbeads, any word that starts with “poly,” fragrances, perfumes, and alcohols should be avoided.
However, every complexion is different, so ingredients that work for someone else’s skin might irritate yours. Again, this is where talking to a dermatologist can help, but also keep a safe distance from ingredients you already know you’re allergic to (i.e. someone who is allergic to pollen might want to be cautious of bee pollen or venom).
Becoming familiar with ingredients that are beneficial to your skin type can also help narrow down your options
Oily skin types, for example, need good cleansing ingredients – charcoal, kaolin clay, jojoba oil or cucumber extract are gentle exfoliants. Pore-clogging products such as jojoba wax or lactic acid should be avoided. Soothing ingredients such as aloe juice, oatmeal extract, or zinc are beneficial, Dr. Conny Wittke, CEO, and founder of nügg Beauty told INSIDER.
On the opposite side of that, dry skin types need hydrating ingredients and ingredients that will help your skin retain moisture.
“Glycerin is a moisturizing powerhouse and so are camellia seed oil, aloe juice, and of course hyaluronic acid,” Wittke said, adding that something like spirulina extract will help your skin absorb moisture quickly and use it efficiently. “While dry skin absolutely needs exfoliation too, it should be done with gentle exfoliants like jojoba wax and lactic acid that are combined with humectants and soothing agents in the same product” Wittke added.
Learn the different types of masks available, and what skin types they’re designed for
Chances are if you’re looking for a mask, it’s for a specific reason. But again, not all masks are created equally, so even though sheet masks with cartoon faces are great for Instagram pictures they might not be what you’re looking for.
Dr. Hadley King, a NYC-based dermatologist, told INSIDER that clay masks are a great option for oily and acne-prone skin especially because the clay works to absorb excess sebum while also nourishing the skin with antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
Peel-off masks are fun, but they’re also designed with oily, acne-prone skin in mind. Cream masks, on the other hand, are ideal for dry skin, particularly in the winter months, as they’re rich in humectant and emollient ingredients that lock in the hydration and moisturize the skin, King said.
Be mindful of the seasons, and how they can affect your skin
Similar to how you’d switch up skincare products like balms and serums according to the seasons, when the weather starts to change, so should the face masks you’re using.
“It is important to find a mask that fits the seasons [because] [it] directly affect your skin,” Kari Jansen of Poppy and Someday, a spa located in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California told INSIDER.
For example, in autumn your face tends to be drier, so you should look for masks with nourishing herbs such as marshmallow root, licorice root, and honey. If it is wintertime/beginning of spring, weather conditions tend to be cold and stagnant, Jansen said, so pairing clay masks with a steam inhalation comprised of ingredients like rosemary, bay leaves, and eucalyptus can enhance your experience. “In the hot and humid summer months you may need more oil reduction and you may be able to better tolerate exfoliating and anti-ageing ingredients,” King added. “You may find that a moisturizing mask that you loved in January now makes you feel too oily.”
Do a patch test to see how your skin responds to the formula before going full face
Sometimes skin-care products just fall into your lap, be it a birthday present or recommendation from a friend, but you should still be mindful of applying it all over if you aren’t sure whether or not your skin will react kindly to it. Before massaging a clay mask all over your face, or patting a sheet mask into place, Dr. Audrey Kunin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor told INSIDER that a small dab on the next behind the ear is a good place to test the product. “That way, should it cause a reaction, it is limited in area and visibility.”
Sarah Hamilton, co-founder Sand & Sky, said that her favourite trick is to patch test on the inner elbow 48 hours before you’d want to use the mask on your entire face. “[Elbow skin] is sensitive and is a good indicator if you will have a reaction, so you don’t have to test the product on your face in case it irritates it,” she told INSIDER.
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