It should come as no surprise that my happiest place in the world is in bed, watching television, with a cold, form-fitting sheet mask stuck to my face. But the delightful routine of sheet-mask application isn’t the only reason I use them once or twice a week in lieu of serums. When consistently integrated into a skin-care routine, sheet masks are an extremely effective, inexpensive, and targeted way to smooth textural issues, calm down zits, and pump moisture into dry skin.
I say targeted because there is literally a sheet mask out there tailored to every possible skin issue one might be dealing with on any given day. Bad breakouts? There’s a mask for that. Feeling dry and flakey? There’s a mask for that, too.
As you can imagine, I’ve tried many, many masks. I’ve tried the ultra-expensive, supposedly anti-aging Dr. Colbert Mask mask (it fit like a dream, but the results weren’t jaw-dropping), the Ashley Graham–endorsed 111 Skin Rose Mask (which was moisturizing, but not revolutionary), and about 10,000 others found in the depths of beauty subreddits and sites like Maskpedia. The ones listed below are my absolute favorites that I’ve ordered over and over again.
For dry skin
I regularly wake up with dull, dehydrated skin. Regularly becomes constantly when I’m visiting my parents in the dry, moisture-wicking city of Los Angeles. If my skin is dry, and I don’t pump moisture into it straight away, it’ll begin to overproduce oil. This inevitably results in bad breakouts. My move to stop this horrific cycle before it starts is to use one of these My Beauty Diary masks as soon as I notice any tightness. After I use these masks, my skin feels plump, smooth, and entirely nourished; I credit them with saving me from many would-be dry-skin-leads-to-oily-skin-related pimples, and do not travel to Los Angeles (or any other dry-climate places) without a pack.
For hot days
Aloe vera is a wonder ingredient that my skin absolutely loves. Yes, it’s great for getting rid of sunburns (wear your SPF and stay out of the sun, people!) but it’s also just generally a hydrating and, most importantly, ultra-healing super-ingredient. If your skin gets a little pimply and irritated from the not-so-friendly combination of overwhelming heat and ultra-drying AC units, this is the perfect thing to use: It’ll soothe, calm, and nourish. I like storing these in the fridge; the cold makes them feel extra good on my face.
For bad breakouts
This has been my go-to pimple-fighting warrior mask for years now. In my darkest, worst moments, when my skin is suffering from serious cystic or under-the-skin hormonal acne, this mask has singlehandedly saved me. If you, like me, have dry or sensitive skin, you know that tea tree can be a bit drying. This mask, however, is not. It imparts all of the amazing anti-inflammatory, redness-reducing benefits of Tea Tree, without sucking up any of your skin’s precious natural oils. It’s seriously, seriously good at reducing the size of any angry zits. And if you’ve picked at your face, this mask has a unique ability to calm the whole situation down. If you’re having a bad breakout week, feel free to use this two, or even three, nights in a row.
For your time of the month
Even though the above Mediheal mask isn’t stripping on dry, sensitive skin, I wouldn’t say it’s nourishing. When it’s my time of the month, my skin is often extra dehydrated, and I’m also likely to break out in ugly, hormonal acne. Which means I need to use a mask that’s equal parts calming, hydrating, and zit-busting. This is that mask. It makes my skin feel bouncy and supple, calms any redness or irritation, ensures that any brewing pimples are stopped in their tracks, and makes existing acne less red and inflamed. I tend to use it once or twice per cycle, so things don’t spiral out of control.
For before an event
I have a few requirements when it comes to pre-event sheet masks. I want it to make my skin look immediately plump, glowy, and dewy, but not so much so that I look oily and wet. The texture of the essence in the mask also can’t be too sticky or tacky, otherwise the makeup I apply afterwards will tug and pill and look like a complete mess (sadly, I encountered this issue with the very well-reviewed SK-II Facial Treatment Mask). My friends, this mask, which I wrote an article about back in February, strikes that balance so damn well. Not only does it make your skin light up like a lightbulb, it’s also jam-packed with healing and nourishing probiotics that help heal dark marks and smooth textural issues. Best of all, makeup glides over it like an absolute dream.
When I wake up from a late one, my skin feels very tight and dry, looks dull and lifeless, and my under-eye bags are absolutely out of control. This mask from Papa Recipe was recommended to me specifically for hangovers by the girls at oo35mm. It utilizes Manuka Honey, an anti-bacterial, revitalizing ingredient, to immediately snap life back into your skin. This doesn’t fight acne as well as Mugwort mask, but it’s anti-bacterial ingredients will help calm down any tequila-induced zits that are brewing. It also almost completely turns around my dead, post-night-out zombie eyes.
For dark spots
Sometimes I use sheet masks as an opportunity to get an extra dose of vitamin C, the world’s best ingredient for lightening up dark spots, and generally brightening up the skin. This mask derives its vitamin C content from sea buckthorn, an all-natural ingredient that works especially well on dark spots. It also contains green tea, which is extremely calming and hydrating. If you want to slip an extra dose of vitamin C into your routine, or if you have sensitive skin and can’t tolerate products with high concentrations of vitamin C, this is a great, all-natural option for you.
If you’re looking to plump up those crows feet or smile lines, while also locking some extra moisture into your skin, this mask is the one for you. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera for soothing and deeply moisturizing the skin, and, most importantly, vegetable collagen for filling in and lifting fine lines or wrinkles. I give my mom a pack of these masks for her birthday every year, and she swears by them — she uses one bi-weekly.
For fighting sweat and grime
I walk around a lot in the summer, which means I sweat a ton. And I live in the city, which means horrifying pollutants are entering my pores every single day. When I brought this up to the girls at oo35mm, they recommended I try this mask from Jayjun. It uses ginger oil to calm and soothe, but its special ingredient is called ectoine, a bacteria-derived compound which supposedly helps “strengthen your epidermis” so you’re extra protected from external pollution, dirt, and grime. And I have to say: This weather typically makes me break out like crazy, but I’ve been using this mask once a week minimum at the end of my routine and my skin has been fairly flawless all summer long. I’d also highly recommend this as a post-gym mask.