‘Tis the season for socializing. Whether you’re heading to a holiday party or gearing up for a New Year’s Eve to put all others to shame, looking your best these days is less about nailing your outfit or makeup, and more about appearing healthy, refreshed and relaxed. That’s why I’m such a huge fan of starting your pre-party prep with a facial mask: They pretty much require you to put your feet up and rest for a few minutes.
My other favorite thing about face masks? There are so many options that there’s a mask out there for everyone. We can thank K-beauty (Korean beauty products) for the plethora of sheet masks and the return, in general, of masks to skincare regimens from here to Australia. Below, we shortlist our favorite picks for various skin concerns, from aging to acne and everything in between. Just do yourself one favor and try not to multi-task your way through your mask time. Think of it as “me” time. And if that’s not enough of a reason, know that there’s a reason why A-list actresses take naps on the day of their red carpet appearances: Rest is (surprise, surprise) the real secret ingredient to looking well-rested.
This ultra-hydrating, cooling and soothing mask comes with a small ampule filled with pure bamboo sap and the company’s proprietary blend of skin-plumping botanicals. First you apply the serum to your face, then you apply the 2-piece cloth mask over the contours of your face. Wait 10-15 minutes and remove, patting any excess into the skin. Result? Moisturized revitalized skin.
Dr. Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask ($46 for 4 treatments)
Chock-full of super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, this paint-on, peel-off mask is fun to use and leaves skin plump and dewy. Mix the contents of one packet (which contains a blue powder) and another (containing a blue gel) in a cup with a spatula (both provided in the packaging), and apply to face with the spatula. Leave on until the mask becomes solid and rubbery and peel off after 7 to 15 minutes for skin that looks more supple, firm and radiant.
Peach and Lily Good Skin Day ($6 for one)
Peach and Lily is a beauty retailer dedicated to bringing the best of Korean skincare and cosmetics to the U.S. Since the sheet mask phenom started in Korea, you know their collection of sheet masks is going to be top notch. Good Skin Day, their hydrating and nourishing offering, is bursting with antioxidants and vitamins. It contains fatty-acid rich chia seeds, algae, lemon peel oil, aloe, soybean, pumpkin, and hyaluronic acid…and that’s just a partial list. Bottom line? This mask helps do everything from fight free radicals, hyper-pigmentation and fine lines while moisturizing, repairing and speeding cell turnover. Apply sheet mask for 20 minutes, then remove and pat remaining product into the skin.
Vitamin C is having a big moment in the skincare industry. It’s a star ingredient in a ton of new products aimed at brightening skin and making your complexion appear more even toned and youthful. It works by neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production, which is key to making skin appear bouncy and firm. This mask, which also contains bilberry and seaweed extracts to calm and soothe, is similar to Dr. Gross’s moisturizing mask in that you mix together a powder and a liquid (in this case water) in a provided cup and with the aid of a spatula. Apply the thickened paste to the face, wait for it to harden into a rubbery layer (this takes about 20 minutes) and peel it off. Buy-bye dull, tired-looking skin, hello glow. Trust us: We tried this one before our BNO and fell head over heels.
When Snow Magic Sheet Mask ($7 for One)
My favorite thing about When’s sheet masks (the company makes four of them, each tailored to a different skin concern) is how they feel when you put them on. The bio-cellulose sheet is made from coconuts infused with serum, and feels cool and slippery. Try one after taking a hot shower, or, even better, while soaking in a muscle-relaxing Epsom Salt bath. The Snow Magic mask relies on Niacinamide, an antioxidant, to help reduce hyperpigmentation, as well as aloe vera leaf extract, hyaluronic acid (you again!) and ginseng extract to protect skin and boost moisture.
Talika Bio Enzymes Brightening Mask ($12 for one)
Talika is one of those best-kept-secrets of French women. The company, know for its innovative, science-driven formulations, doesn’t make a ton of products, but what they do make (like eyelash boosting serums) they make well. Their brightening sheet mask is no exception. It contains cinnamon, Argan oil, and alpine herbs to make acne scars (those red marks acne leaves behind) look less apparent. The mask also provides lightweight moisture, making it a great option for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin who don’t need deep hydration. Apply for 30 minutes, remove, and pat the excess into skin.
Detoxifying and Clarifying
SmartMud No Mess Sheet Masque ($30 for four)
Who doesn’t love a good mud mask? This mask brings together the ease of a sheet mask (just unfold and apply, then remove after 10 minutes and rinse with warm water) with the detoxifying, pore-clearing power of mud. Patchology, which also makes several kinds of sheet masks, recently released this mask, which uses mineral-rich volcanic mud sourced from Jeju Island in South Korea. The skin-purifying ash in the mud exfoliates away dead skin cells and leeches out impurities. Result? Unclogged pores, no mess in the sink and skin that feels clean and replenished.
Karuna Skin Clarifying Duo ($12 for one)
Blemishes are total bummers on BNOs. This mask spot treats your bumps at the same time it soothes the rest of your complexion. First you apply the “melting boost” dots (infused with Witch Hazel extract, Tee Trea oil, and glycolic and lactic acid to treat pimples) to trouble spots, then you layer over the treatment mask, which relies on honey, Shiso Leaf and Ginger to help calm skin and promote clarity. That’s every acne-prone girl’s ideal multitasker. (But remember: Only the mask is allowed to multitask. Stress can increase acne, so the blemish-prone, especially, should take care to get enough R&R before a BNO.)
Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle™ 24k Gold Intense Wrinkle Sheet Mask ($12 for one)
Past a certain age, your skin can use all the help it can get. Fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness—on a Big Night Out, you dream of having a fairy godmother come down and douse you with a little anti-aging magic (who cares if it wears off by midnight?) This mask helps you write your own Cinderella story: Made by skincare guru Peter Thomas Roth, it softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brings lackluster complexions back to life with the help of 18 neuropeptides and peptides, hyaluronic acid, and yes, a little 24 Karat gold magic. Apply to skin, leave on for 15 minutes, then remove and pat excess serum into skin. (Listening the to the Bruno Mars track 24K Magic is optional, but suggested.)