I feel like face masks need a new PR. Sure, they're having a bit of a moment right now, because what else is there to do? But, all too often they get put into the fun but frivolous category of skincare, along with cooling eye masks and scented body mists.
We tend to focus both our energy and spending power on heavy-hitters like active-packed serums and decadent night creams. So, consider this the beginning of my campaign for treating face masks with a little more respect.
First of all, we're talking 20 minutes for results here. Not weeks and weeks of testing and trying. Sure, the results aren't as long-lasting as an entire suite of skincare, but adding a powerful mask into your routine has plenty of benefits.
There's also nothing quite like a mask for making it feel like you've had an expert touching your face for an hour. In case you're not sold yet, I decided to volunteer as tribute and test out all the face masks I could get my hands on, with photographic evidence of what they look like too.
Keep on scrolling to read my review of the best face masks on the market.
Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
I wasn't ready for this. Everything was working as it's supposed to, it was easy to apply, dried well and gave the standard face tightening effect. Then I washed it off, and I tell no lies, I looked at my mum and she said, "Erm, do you have makeup on?"
Yes, friends. Roll your sleeves up, because this mask is not playing games. My skin was brighter, tighter and what I can only describe as polished, after using this. All of the gunk from my pores were sucked out, after weeks of neglecting my exfoliants. You need this in your life.
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
I definitely applied too much of this, but I'm extra. It was a long day and I wanted you to see the consistency. This feels like your most beloved rich night cream and you don't even need to rinse it off. I was surprised at how well it melted into my skin after 10 minutes and I blotted off the excess with a hot cloth.
My skin felt like I'd just had the best night's sleep of my life. Rested, dewy, plump and superlatively soft. I had to apply some makeup afterwards but I couldn't believe how well it worked as a base. This will be my new travel buddy on every future flight.
Herbivore Brighten Pineapple & Gemstone Mask
Talk about a deep-clean. This pineapple scented mask tingled a bit when it was on, and when I washed it off my skin felt and looked like it had just had the deepest exfoliation of all time. It's one thing for the skin to look visibly different, but I was most impressed by the texture change.
LA ROCHE-POSAY EFFACLAR ANTI-BLEMISH CLAY MASK
I wouldn't usually go for this mask but my period had other plans for my face. My skin was feeling quite sensitive, and that's what La Roche-Posay does best, so I smothered my skin in this thick clay mask. I sat for the waiting time and my skin was left feeling more settled and with a matte base that's great if your skin is feeling oily.
PLENAIRE SKIN FROSTING DEEPLY HYDRATING MASK
I can't even begin to tell you how much cake I've eaten recently, so this buttercream textured mask made me feel right at home. It was a midday moment of indulgence and the blend of camellia oil and softening butters gave my skin a much-needed boost.
This Works Stress Check Face Mask
Forget the skin benefits, this is one of the most calming ways you can start your day. Featuring some of my all-time favourite essential oils of neroli, patchouli and chamomile, I spent more time sniffing the tube than actually applying it. My post-rinse skin was left looking like the kind of fresh you want for sashaying into airport arrivals. Get one.
Aromatherapy Associates Pink Clay Mask
This is exactly what I needed. Before I even applied this to my face, the fragrant rose, palmarosa and geranium essential oils came to greet and calm me down. I would have been quite happy to keep the silky formula on my face for the entire day as it didn't crack and dry. My skin was left looking plump, smooth and hydrated. A true sensory experience.
Oskia Renaissance Mask
The texture of this is all kinds of ASMR-worthy gloopy, fragrant fun. Who knew that I could have such a good time just playing with the product. The exfoliating fruity enzymes of passion fruit and papaya gave me skin that felt smoother than a silky blouse, with an extra touch of brightness.
RéVive Masque de Volume
I rolled my eyes when I saw the price and then I applied it. This mask has a cooling gel texture and I left it on for the required time before blotting off the excess. So, it kind of works like a serum as I woke up to lifted skin that bounced back as I excitedly tapped my cheeks. I wasn't expecting to see an actual difference but I did. If you want a lavish treat for your skin that lasts beyond the usual mask time, this is a solid option.
ALYA SKIN AUSTRALIAN PINK CLAY MASK
Oh, hello, new skin. Thanks so much for joining me. I spent some time having a little chat with the decongested, fresh face that greeted me after using this kaolin clay mask. It didn't dry my skin out and felt more akin to one of those divine spa treatments where they use the type of clay that's kept under lock and key.
ANTIPODES AURA MANUKA HONEY MASK
This mask reminded me of the times when I fell over as a child and my mum came to rescue me with love, plasters and comfort. Thanks to the manuka honey, this mask is so soothing and worked a treat on calming my skin down as it was feeling slightly irritated.
The Afro Hair & Skin Co
After trying so many masks, it was really refreshing to use one that allowed me to get my hands dirty. I added some water to half a teaspoon of the powdered mask and it created a lovely, smooth formula. There was some tingling as it dried, which I often feel with rhassoul clay. When I washed it all off, it looked like my skin had hit the reset button, leaving behind a radiant and polished complexion.
StriVectin Supergreens Soother Cooling Gel Mask
The equivalent of popping an ice pack on the back of your neck on a hot day. This refreshing gel mask with garden cress sprout and celery plant cells infused my skin with all the nutrients that I didn't fancy eating that day. I've been using this after sweaty workouts to give my skin the moisture that's been lost.
Luneia Radiance Ritual Mask
I know when I'm onto something good, when I "wow" myself in the mirror. I wasn't expecting the mask to melt into my skin so well, we're talking room temperature butter melting into warm toast here. This ensured that my skin was left looking glowy, dewy, plump and polished–all the things. It tingles as it gets to work due to the blend of acids, but as it's also packed with squalene and prickly pear seed oil, it didn't cause any irritation. BRB, adding to my weekly routine.
111 Skin Rose Gold Brightening Facial Treatment Mask
I've already explained my feelings about single-use masks, but this one looks so very pretty, doesn't it? Despite me putting it on in such awful fashion. It's not style over substance either as my skin was left looking like a dewy dream. I was most impressed by the effect on my under eyes as it settled the late night-induced puffiness. Once I massaged in the remaining product from the mask, my skin looked like I'd used a face mask. The results lasted so long that I didn't even need to put a moisturiser on afterwards.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask
I have so much deep affection for this mask and I think this is also the reason why I don't rate many other sheet masks. They just can't compete with this. This mask is faff-free, it's easy to use and it won't slip and slide all over your face. I baked a cake while I had this mask on, so it really stays in place. The foil works to lock in all of the Advanced Night Repair Serum and my skin was still reaping the incredible moisturising benefits when I woke up.
Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask
It felt like my skin had gone through all the deep cleansing action of a car wash without stripping my skin. I was surprised at just how well this mask worked in 5 minutes. As it also doubles up as a cleanser, it's basically a two for the price of one. I've found myself reaching for this when I want all of the skin-smoothing benefits of a mask and I'm short on time.
FAACE TIRED FAACE MASK
Usually, when I'm applying a mask, I'm counting down the time until I can wash it off. With this wake-up call in a bottle, I lost track of time as my skin was loving the light gel formula. With caffeine, aloe vera and vitamin C, it brightened up my complexion after endless hours staring at screens. As I don't drink coffee, this has been my saviour for pretending I've had way more sleep then I've actually had.
Simple Detox & Brighten Clay Mask
Masks in tubes fill me with joy as they're so easy to apply. This is an absolute steal for the price and worked just as well, if not better than a lot of clay masks that are triple the price. I rated this as it managed to pull out all of the gunk but also added a subtle glow to my complexion, before I added my skincare products.
ECOOKING PEELING MASK
Don't let the soft milky texture fool you—this mask isn't here to play. This is one powerhouse of a product and yes it will sting a bit when you apply it, but this subsided after a few minutes. I've not had any injectables on my face, but I can only assume that this is a close second. Seriously, my forehead has never looked as tight and smooth. Make sure you use this at night as it needs a moment to calm down.
Skincare by Beauty Bay Skin Fixer Clay Mask
You know when you see a skincare advert and the model's skin looks ridiculously clean? I've never understood how one's skin could look like that until now. The mix of kaolin and bentonite clay gave my skin a deep clean minus the signature dryness that clay masks can often give. I had some tasks to do before I could apply the rest of my routine and my skin didn't feel taut at all. Impressed.
Crabtree & Evelyn Revitalise + Polish Pulp Face Mask
This fruit jam-esque mask is filled with apple extracts, apricot seed powder and blackcurrant seed oil. It feels as delicious as it sounds, with its cooling and refreshing formula. I spent some time massaging the mask in and it was a very gentle exfoliation. Once I washed it off, my skin was left looking rejuvenated, brighter and oh so soft.
Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask
This mask allowed me to channel my inner cosmetic scientist by mixing the gel and activating powder together. I don't have the patience for smooth application, but it applies really well and feels comfortable for the duration of the time. The real magic happened once I peeled it off (in one go). My skin was plumper and firmer than I'd seen it, and the reason why this mask has been one of my favourites for years now.
I'm off to rest my face now, but keep this guide to hand when you're in need of a skincare quick fix and not sure what mask to reach for.