Big Night Out? Here’s how to prep your face.

‘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.



AmorePacific Moisture Bound Intensive Hydrating Masque  ($32 for 2)


AmorePacific Moisture Bound 2-step mask
AmorePacific Moisture Bound 2-step mask

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's do-it-all sheet mask
Peach and Lily’s do-it-all sheet mask

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.


Bliss Mask-A-Peel Radiance Revealing Rubberizing Mask ($30 for 3)

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)

Cult beauty brand Talika's mask delivers insta-radiance
Cult beauty brand Talika’s mask delivers insta-radiance

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)

Peter Thomas Roth’s Fairy Godmother of a Mask

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.)


Medicine Cabinet Confidential with Self Magazine’s Beauty Director, Annie Tomlin


In the second installment of this series, we’re catching up with Annie Tomlin, SELF magazine’s beauty director. As a top magazine editor and beauty expert, Tomlin can answer pretty much any question when it comes to makeup or skincare—the lady is a treasure trove of product recs and hair hacks—but what sets Tomlin apart is that she also sees the bigger picture when it comes to how we feel about how we look. Here, the longtime beauty editor shares how she actually gets ready in the a.m., her impressive nighttime skincare routine and why, as a culture, we should be motivated more by “self-care” than selfies.


What’s your general philosophy when it comes to building a beauty routine?

I try to take a holistic approach. When I think about my beauty routine, it’s not only about products or treatments—it also incorporates stress reduction, sleep, diet, and other lifestyle factors. I tend to focus most on skincare, because if I slack in my routine, my complexion becomes…”challenged,” shall we say. In general, I try to stay consistent and to look at my beauty routine as part of an overall self-care routine (as opposed to doing it solely to look a certain way).


Can you walk us through your morning and evening beauty routine?


In the morning, I wash my face with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser , which I like because it’s gentle and it doesn’t leave my face feeling tight. I layer a vitamin C serum underneath a hyaluronic acid serum (currently MyChelle’s version) and then it’s a moisturizer with sunscreen.


I wear foundation from either Kjaer Weis or Giorgio Armani but I put it only where it’s really needed—usually my chin and around my nose, where I get a little red. For concealer, I use Glossier’s under my eyes and BareMinerals Blemish Control  if I’m having a breakout. I know I should use a brush, but I usually use clean fingers to apply. For cheeks, I like Honest Beauty cream blush , and then a not-too-shimmery highlighter at the tops of my cheekbones and over my under eye concealer. Then it’s mascara and maybe some lip balm, and sometimes I use a brow gel—but these last three things are optional.


For hair, if I’ve washed it the night before, sometimes I wake up and my waves are on point. Other times, they’re haphazard, and in that case I add a few curls with my Sultra curling wand, which I’ve had since 2009 and is still going strong. I like to think this all takes five minutes, but realistically, it’s probably closer to 15 or 20. I definitely take more time to get ready at night. As soon as I’m home, I cleanse my face and neck twice: once with a cleansing balm to remove makeup, then another time with cleanser. And a few nights a week, I’ll use my Clarisonic. I use micellar water to remove any eye makeup. Twice a week, I’ll do a mild at-home peel followed by a clay mask to help dredge my pores. Before bed, I apply Kypris oils—one that calms and hydrates, plus some more concentrated ones to help keep my skin clear—and an eye cream. In the winter, I’ll add a moisturizer, but if it’s the summer, the oils are enough for me.


I prefer washing my hair at night, so I do that and wrap an Aquis towel around my hair before going to bed. I keep hand cream and shea butter at my bedside table. All of this stuff stretches over a couple of hours, but aside from the bath/shower, it probably takes 15 or 20 minutes.


What are your all time favorite products that you’ve always used?


Kiehl’s Avocado eye cream is a consistent favorite. I try tons of eye creams, but I always rotate that one back in. It’s just so creamy and hydrating. I’ve been using Dr. Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta pads for a long, long time—probably 12 or 13 years? I like Malin + Goetz eucalyptus deodorant; that’s another one that I regularly buy. I also like Oribe’s shampoo and conditioner for blondes because it keeps my color bright.


How do you keep all of the products you test for your work organized?


New York City apartments are small, so I’ve become ruthless when it comes to deciding what to keep. I won’t keep more than three shampoos and two body washes in the shower, for instance. That probably sounds excessive, but this week alone, I was sent 12 different shampoos to try—so it can be tricky to winnow them down. Otherwise, I sort items into one of four plastic bins and try to use everything up quickly. I hate to waste things, so if I know something doesn’t work for me, I see if a friend or family member wants it.


What’s your favorite thing about working in the industry?


Tomlin with Honest Beauty founder Jessica Alba
Tomlin with Honest Co. founder Jessica Alba

I’ll share two things. I love being an editor at Self because our readers are so smart, and they approach beauty from a holistic perspective. They’re interested in the overlap between beauty and wellness and in defining beauty on their own terms. We have an informal saying at Self—”Come as you are”—so I aim to make our beauty stories as welcoming, informative, fun, and positive as possible.


The other thing, and I don’t think I truly realized this until maybe the last year or two, is that the beauty industry is filled with so many brilliant, creative, dynamic women in positions of leadership. There are so many opportunities to be mentored, mentor, and achieve. In the beauty industry, a female CEO is not unusual at all.


How did you discover your love for beauty?  


annie2I was always fascinated by how, culturally, we like to pretend that how we look doesn’t matter. And beauty certainly isn’t the most important thing, or even in the top 10 list of important things—but it has an impact on how all of us move throughout this world. It always has. I love being a beauty editor, but I’m simultaneously hyper-aware of the complicated issues that involve beauty. Self-care and visual self-expression can be so much fun, and it can help us feel confident—so in most ways, feeling beautiful is a positive thing. But when we make value judgments about people based on their appearance, or we go into a downward spiral because we don’t feel pretty enough, that’s obviously a problem.


Ideally, I hope girls and women can find their self-esteem largely from their character and accomplishments, not just in how “pretty” they are. Especially in the age of social media, which puts an outsized emphasis on appearance, I worry that young women in particular might associate their worth with the number of followers or likes their photos receive. And I talk with young women who are absolutely terrified of aging, or they’ll point out “problems” because they don’t look “perfect” in a selfie. That’s not good.


So while I’m always intrigued by the science behind a new skin cream or lipstick, I’m endlessly interested in exploring the more personal aspect of beauty.


Follow Tomlin’s envy-inducing adventures as a top beauty editor on Instagram.