the best type of mask for your skin type

It all started with sheet masks.

Once revealed to be the secret behind the flawless Korean complexion, the popularity of these unassuming little sheets went through the roof.

Now, they’re leading the way for a new generation of masks that hydrates skin while you sleep and turn your face into a foaming cloud to absorb excess oil (I’m not kidding, bubble masks ARE a thing).

There’s only one problem. How to make sense of it all? How to choose the best type of mask for your skin type and needs? I put together this quick guide to help you:

clay masks

Clay Masks

What Are Clay Masks?

Clay masks are made with clays (what a surprise, eh?), like bentonite and kaolin, that absorb the excess oil on your skin. They suck it out of your pores, too. This helps prevent pimples and keep even breakout prone skin clear.

P.S. Clay masks can’t purify and detox your skin. That’s just marketing BS.

Related: The Truth About Detoxify Skincare Products: Do They Really Work?

Who Should Use A Clay Mask?

Oily, combination, and acne-prone skin types. Anyone who needs to reduce excess oil, basically.

PRO TIP: Bentonite is more absorbing than kaolin. If your skin is really oily, go with that one. Kaolin is better for dry AND acne-prone skin types.

Related: How To Deal With Dry AND Acne-Prone Skin

How Do You Use A Clay Mask?

You can either apply it with your fingers or with a brush. Wait between 5-30 minutes (read the instructions) and then wash it off. But, don’t fool yourself. Both application and removal are VERY messy.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Apart from the mess, you mean? Yep, clay masks can be drying, especially if left on too long. Their job is to absorb sebum (the skin’s natural moisturizer), after all. If a clay mask dries out your skin, keep it on for a shorter amount of time or switch to a less-absorbing type.

What Are The Best Clay Masks?

Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bentonite In Skincare


Struggling to put together a skincare routine that fights wrinkles and gives your skin a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” cheat sheet to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


hydrating masks

Hydrating Masks

What Are Hydrating Masks?

Hydrating masks come in many forms – sheet masks, cream, and gel – but they all do the same job: hydrate skin.

It’s such a simple thing, but so important. Hydration is the key to healthy skin. When skin is hydrated, it feels softer to the touch, looks plumper, and glows.

Hydrating masks work thanks to humectants (think glycerin and hyaluronic acid) that attract and bind water from the air into the skin. Some also contain moisturizing oils that keep skin soft and smooth.

Related: What Are Humectants And Why Do You Need Them In Your Skincare Routine?

Who Should Use A Hydrating Mask?

Everyone can use a hydrating mask. We all need some hydration in our skin.

PRO TIP: If you have oily skin, stick to masks that contain only humectants. They’ll keep your skin hydrated, without adding more oil to it.

Related: If Your Skin Is Perfectly Hydrated, Do You Need To Worry About Anti-Aging?

How Do You Use A Hydrating Mask?

Apply it on your skin, and keep it on for however long the instructions suggest (usually, between 5 and 20 minutes). Then, rinse it off.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Usually, no, unless you’re using a peel-off mask. Those HURT when you take them off.

What Are The Best Hydrating Masks?

  • Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask ($35.00): available at Feel Unique and Ulta
  • Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque ($44.00): available at Feel Unique and Ulta
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask ($24.00): available at Paula’s Choice
sheet masks

Sheet Masks

What Are Sheet Masks?

Sheet masks are basically sheets of thin material (usually cotton or hydrogel, but cellulose and silk are used too), with cutouts for the eyes, lips, and nostrils, soaked in essence. They make you resemble a serial killer, but deliver an intense burst of hydration that gives your face a fresh and glowy look.

Who Should Use A Sheet Mask?

Everyone can use a sheet mask.

PRO TIP: pick a sheet mask based on your most pressing skincare concern. If you have dry skin, choose a hydrating sheet mask. If you’re worried about wrinkles, opt for an anti-aging one. You get the point.

How Do You Use A Sheet Mask?

Tear open the packaging, unfold the mask, peel off the plastic sheet, and put it on your face. Be sure to cover every inch of skin and smooth out any bubbles. Wait 10-30 minutes (follow the instructions), and then take it off. If there’s still essence on your skin, pat it in.

P.S. Patting the remaining essence in is what makes sheet masks more effective than rinse off masks. The ingredients stay on the skin longer, so they have more time to work their magic.

P.P.S. Oops, I forgot the first step. Lock yourself inside your bedroom or bathroom. You don’t want anyone to see you with the mask on, trust me!

Are There Any Side Effects?

There’s always the risk of something in the formula triggering an irritation or allergy, I guess. But, then, that’s true for any product. So, yes, they’re safe.

What Are The Best Sheet Masks?

  • Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Powerfoil Mask ($79.00): available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom, and Sephora 
  • Sephora Honey Face Mask ($6.00): available at Sephora
sleeping masks

Sleeping Masks

What Are Sleeping Masks?

Sheet masks are awesome, but so time-consuming! Enter sleeping masks. They’re sort of sheet masks in a jar that can be left on the skin overnight. They create a barrier that seals moisture in, preventing it from evaporating while you sleep.

Who Can Use A Sleeping Mask?

Everyone can use a sleeping mask. But, dry skin that needs serious hydration at night will benefit from them most.

PRO TIP: Same as sheet masks. Choose one designed for your needs (hydrating, anti-aging, etc). You know the drill.

How Do You Use A Sleeping Mask?

Same as your moisturizer. You put it on with your fingers. The only difference is that you wash it off in the morning.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Not really, unless you pick one that contains something you’re allergic to or is not suitable for your skin type. But, that’s normal.

What Are The Best Sleeping Masks?

  • Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask ($35.00): available at at Feel Unique, Sephora and Ulta 
  • Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask ($43.00): available at Yes Style

I’m sure more types of masks will pop up in the future. Those crazy Koreans are always coming up with something new!