A little confession: I only just recently got into facial sheet masks, and I’m kinda kicking myself for not trying them sooner. A curious blend of self-care luxury and skincare utility, sheet masks are a very effective way to deliver skin-boosting ingredients and a glowing complexion.
But if you’re like me, you might’ve been hesitant to give them a try. Who can blame us? There’s something like a bajillion different kinds of sheet masks on the market, each with superlative claims. Trying to figure out which mask does what and works best with an already existing skincare regime is a recipe for decision fatigue.
It must be said: making sheet masks a regular part of your routine really will help improve your complexion. The delivery system itself is partially to credit. Because the serum-saturated masks are meant to be worn between 15 to 25 minutes, your skin has the time to soak up all the beneficial ingredients and really let them do their job.
We put together a cheat sheet to help get you started. These are a few of our favorite masks, tips on how they work, and the best ways to include them as part of your self-care/skincare routine.
Deep Purifying Charcoal Bubble Mask Deep Cleaning · Clarifying · Conditioning
Good for: A deep, satisfying cleanse that leaves skin feeling fresh and looking radiant
How it works: Activated charcoal is a powerful cleansing agent that binds and removes excess oil, dead skin, and other surface impurities.
This is a bubble mask and it functions a little differently from the others on this list. A foamy cleanser is activated when you open the package and the oxygen bubbles go to work. After 15 minutes, remove the mask and rinse your face.
Other active ingredients include tea tree oil, lemon and sweet orange extracts. Tea tree oil is a natural antimicrobial, reducing acne-causing bacteria while it moisturizes. Citrus extracts help to brighten and even out the appearance of dull skin.
When to use: Great for anytime you need a deep cleaning reset or if you’re skin-cycling, on the day before exfoliating.
Good for: That K-beauty "glass skin" glow that's both hydrated and luminous
How it works: The mask itself is the star of the show. Made from plant proteins meant to mimic the texture of skin, the translucent pure gel mask is super-mild, gentle, and great for sensitive or irritated skin.
Aloe vera, a powerhouse ingredient, is loaded with beneficial vitamins that fight free radicals, help boost collagen production and improve skin’s natural elasticity. Calming cucumber reduces puffiness, inflammation, and maximizes hydration. Skin looks glossy smooth, bouncy, and radiant.
When to use: This is such a great mask to use anytime so you’ll want to keep extras handy. It’s perfect when your skin needs a quick boost: recovering from a hangover, before a big night out, or whenever you need a little TLC.
Good for: Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and brightening dull skin
How it works: Retinol is the holy grail of anti-aging. A Vitamin A derivative that boosts cell production and cell turnover, retinol also improves collagen production, plumping skin and reducing the look of fine lines.
Unless your skin is super sensitive (retinol is a potent topical), this mask is gentle enough to use every day and is loaded with hydrating ingredients to keep it looking its best.
When to use: Every week or on Day 2 for skin-cyclers. Retinol doesn’t typically cause photosensitivity, but the chemicals they break down when exposed to light potentially can. For this reason, we recommend using this mask at night or paired with an SPF moisturizer.
Tea Tree Mask Clarifying · Toning · Purifying
Good for: Clarifying complexion and evening out skin tone
How it works: Tea Tree Oil is a powerful ingredient and works best when combined with organic therapeutic serum to really let it do its thing. And boy, does tea tree oil deliver!
With tea tree oil’s natural antibiotic, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties, this mask helps clear and heal skin affected by bacterial acne. Tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory, calming irritated and sensitive skin.
When to use: Like retinol, tea tree oil can cause skin to be sun sensitive so it’s best used at night or with an SPF moisturizer. The key to benefiting from this mask is to use it regularly, so find a time that you’ll remember, like during your favorite weekly TV show or before Sunday chores.
Vitamin E Mask Hydrating · Regenerative · Conditioning
Good for: Replenishing, evening out skin tone and reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles
How it works: Vitamin E is naturally found in skin sebum, or healthy skin oils that are an important part of the skin barrier. Sebum production tends to slow with age, so this mask is a great way to replenish your skin with vital Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is super hydrating, improving the texture and elasticity of skin. It’s loaded with antioxidants that fight free radicals from environmental pollutants that can prematurely age skin. With regular use, this mask may help reverse sun damage and reduce the appearance of scars and fine lines over time.
When to use: Best used weekly or if you’re skin-cycling, on recovery days. Don’t waste a single drop of the age-defying serum and use the extra on your neck, decolletage, and hands. These areas often get overlooked and can benefit from a little extra TLC.