Insider Picks writes about products and services to help you navigate when shopping online. Insider Inc. receives a commission from our affiliate partners when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
- Kiehls/Business Insider
- A good face mask can work wonders on your skin, but there are so many out there, it can be hard to decide which one is right for your needs.
- Our favorite face mask is the creamy, gentle Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask because it really works to cleanse your skin and help improve its health in the long run.
Let’s face it – a lot of face masks are totally useless.
Sure, they might keep the Sunday Scaries at bay for 15 minutes or, in the case of the colorful and glittery ones all over social media, make a great selfie. But do they really do anything?
In my six-plus years covering beauty for the Internet, I’ve tried countless face masks and treatments. Most of them have been entirely forgettable. I kept using some of them out of a sense of obligation, a desire not to waste. But life is short. Do you really want to waste your limited face masking time on products that do next to nothing? I think not.
In general, I use masks for three main purposes – hydration if my skin is feeling dry and tight, calming if I’m irritated, or detoxing and pore-clearing if I’m breaking out a lot. I have pretty sensitive skin, so I don’t like to use anything too harsh all over.
I tend to apply more active masks like the kinds that help diminish breakouts, in targeted areas like the T-zone. I reserve soothing, moisturizing formulas for more delicate areas like my cheeks. The following list features picks from both categories but they all have one thing in common – they gave me results.
Here are the best face masks you can buy in 2019:
- Best face mask overall: Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask
- Best soothing face mask: Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque
- Best sheet mask: SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
- Best overnight face mask: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
- Best detoxifying clay face mask: Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Mask
Updated on 6/5/2019 by Jada Wong: Updated copy and links.
Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.
The best face mask overall
Cult-favorite Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask truly is as good as everyone says because it won’t dry you out or leave your face feeling tight.
I’ve had a jar of the Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask languishing in my face mask drawer (yes, I have a whole drawer) for longer than I care to admit. I finally tried it for the first time a few months ago and I’m kicking myself for not testing it sooner.
Like most clay masks, this one is designed to heal blemishes, decrease the appearance of pores, and minimize oil production. Unlike most clay masks though, it’s really gentle. Fresh’s version is chock full of soothing ingredients like sandalwood oil, chamomile flower, and lavender water. I counteract any dryness I feel after by misting with a hydrating toner.
I tend to focus it on my T-zone where I experience the most blackheads and breakouts, but I have used the mask all over my face without irritation. You’re only meant to leave it on for 3 to 5 minutes, so it doesn’t have a chance to dry down and become really hard to remove. The mask can also be used as a cleanser and a spot treatment.
Pros: Gentle and effective clay mask, easy to wash off, non-irritating
Cons: High price tag
The best soothing face mask
Got sensitive skin? Keep Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque on hand to combat irritation and redness.
I never know just when my skin is going to react poorly to a situation; it can certainly get red and itchy at the mere suggestion of overstimulation. There are so many factors that can set me off – too much sunshine, an ill-fated skin-care experiment, too many active ingredients.
It’s a soothing, hydrating gel mask, and the perfect follow up to more intensive treatments that might leave skin inflamed. As the name suggests, the formula contains calming calendula flower petals and aloe. When you apply it to the skin, it feels instantly cooling, but not in that artificial, hurting-not-helping way some products have.
There’s some debate over the effectiveness of calendula as a soothing ingredient, but from my own experience, this mask is great at calming down the redness in my skin, possibly thanks to the aloe.
As FutureDerm points out, the ingredients list boasts brightening ingredients as well, but you may want to be wary if you’re sensitive to citrus oils. I’ve used it as a follow-up to particularly drying treatments and after a long day outside that resulted in harsh sunburn on my face. I definitely see myself picking up a second jar after I finish the first.
The Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque has also been recommended by Allure.
Pros: Soothing and hydrating mask, easy to wash off
Cons: Avoid if sensitive to citrus oils, might have a tingling sensation if left on too long
The best sheet mask
When your skin needs an instant boost, reach for the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask.
Sheet masks are great for that instant boost of hydration and brightening effects. I love to use them on flights or before a big event. My favorite is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, which I used right before my wedding. It’s totally worth the 15 minutes you’ll spend looking like Jason from “Halloween,” I promise.
This is basically SK-II’s popular Facial Treatment Essence in sheet mask form. A cocktail of amino acids, organic acids, vitamins, and minerals work together to brighten and rejuvenate the skin. Each individually-packaged mask is sold in packs of 1, 6, or 10.
Apply the essence-saturated cotton sheet to your face for 10-15 minutes, discard, and pat the rest of the serum into your skin – do not rinse. If you wash your face, you’ll be wasting all the good stuff. Let the essence absorb and move on with the rest of your skin-care routine.
As with most SK-II products, the Facial Treatment Mask is really pricey. But you can’t beat the instant results you get. Countless beauty editors and experts agree. It’s been recommended by Allure and Harper’s Bazaar, among others, and here at Insider Picks, we rated it our top sheet mask pick overall.
Pros: Hydrating and brightening mask, great for special events, packaged individually, fragrance free
The best overnight face mask
If hydration is a top concern, reach for the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask 2-3 times a week for major moisture.
This mask combines Laneige’s proprietary Sleep-Tox and Moisture Wrap blends that respectively repair and hydrate the skin overnight with hydro ionized mineral water to ensure your skin retains moisture longer.
Plus, it smells like the feeling you get during the relaxing end of yoga class with notes of rose, orange flower, and sandalwood.
The texture is more like a very thick gel moisturizer than a traditional mask. It goes on clear, albeit a bit wet, and dries down to a slightly dewy finish. You could leave the house in this, if you wanted, though it feels a bit tackier than your average moisturizer so I only use it at bedtime as directed. When I wake up, I wipe any residue off with micellar water.
Pros: Hydrating, lightweight, dries clear, can be worn outside
Cons: Not fragrance free
The best detoxifying mask
Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack gently exfoliates and detoxifies using kaolin clay and bitter orange peel.
My favorite beauty products are the ones who are as effective as they are attractive. And Glossier’s Mega Greens Galaxy Pack comes in a really cute jar, but also really works too.
This mask detoxifies and gently exfoliates the skin, drawing out dirt and oil, and encouraging cell turnover. In other words, it gives you velvety soft cheeks and calms angry blemishes.
Creamy kaolin clay is the hero ingredient here. It whisks away oil and gunk without stripping the skin of moisture. The formula also includes avocado oil and aloe for soothing hydration, a superfruit antioxidant blend to fight free radicals, leafy green phytonutrients (picture a green smoothie for your face) to nourish skin, and bits of bitter orange peel to exfoliate when you rinse your face.
I love how soft this mask leaves my face. It’s fragrance free and allergy tested, making it suitable for sensitive skin. This mask has earned a permanent place on Into The Gloss’ Top Shelf with writer Rebecca Carhart named it one of her top clay mask picks.
Pros: Exfoliates dead skin, fragrance free, allergy tested, suitable for all skin types
Cons: Hard to rinse off once it dries
Check out our other skin-care product buying guides
Using a serum as part of your skincare routine is essential to keep your skin looking youthful and to keep those darn wrinkles at bay. Considered the superheroes of skincare, serums are packed with powerful ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin.
Anti-aging serums deal primarily with fine lines, wrinkles, and dehydration, but also tone, texture, and dark spots. Some of the best anti-aging Ingredients to look out for are vitamin C, for brightening the skin, hyaluronic acid for plumping it up, and Retinol, a vitamin A derivative that treats a multitude of skin concerns from wrinkles to acne.
Here are our top picks for the best anti-aging serums you can buy:
- Best serum overall: Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum
- Best serum on a budget: Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Anti-aging Serum
- Best serum to splurge on: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum
- Best all-natural serum: Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum
- Best serum for acne-prone skin: Instanatural Age-defying Skin Clearing Serum
Eye creams and serums are likely the product you know you should be using but have no idea how to actually shop for. If you’re unsure of where to start, reach for the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Serum. Buyers and experts agree that this is the cream of the crop when it comes to treating under eye circles.
You’ll also love the Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing Eye Cream, the Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Eye Cream, the Uma Absolute Aging Eye Oil, and the Lancôme Vissionaire Yeux.
It’s good for your skin to remove makeup every night, but it can be a pain without the right makeup remover.
We’ve done our research and tested the best makeup removers on the market to come up our top recommendations. Whether you’re a devout double cleanser or prefer removing makeup on the fly, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Here are the best makeup removers you can buy:
- Best overall: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
- Best cleansing oil: Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil
- Best cleansing oil solid: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original
- Best foaming cleanser: Pacifica Sea Foam Complete Face Wash
- Best cleansing wipes: Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths
- Best milk cleanser: Avène Eau Thermale Gentle Milk Cleanser
When it comes to body-care products, scrubs are oftentimes overlooked in favor of lotions and body wash. But the exfoliating treatments should be included in your skin-care routines if you want to silky smooth skin. While you can also scrub away dull, dry skin by using loofahs or dry brushes, nothing will leave your skin feeling squeaky-clean quite like a good body scrub.
Here are the best body scrubs you can buy:
- Best body scrub overall: Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish
- Best coffee body scrub: Frank Body Original Coffee Scrub
- Best salt body scrub: Ole Henriksen Rub n’ Buff Transforming Salt Scrub
- Best sugar body scrub: Tree Hut Coconut Lime Shea Sugar Scrub
- Best gel body scrub: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub
If smooth, supple skin is what you’re looking for, then the Fresh Life Body Oil is the bottle you want to reach for.
Here are the best body oils you can buy in 2019:
- Best body oil overall: Fresh Life Body Oil
- Best all-natural body oil: Jao Goe Oil
- Best body oil that’s not oily: Herbivore Jasmine Glowing Hydrating Oil
- Best luxury body oil: Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence
- Best budget body oil: Burt’s Bees Body Oil
Whether you’re new to the exfoliation game or a seasoned skin-care pro, Glossier’s Solution is the exfoliator you should be reaching for. Its powerful mix of acids dissolves dead skin cells and improves your complexion, giving your face a gorgeous glow.
Here are the best makeup removers you can buy:
- Best overall: Glossier’s Solution
- Best drugstore exfoliator: Simple Kind to Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub
- Best exfoliator for daily use: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
- Best exfoliator for sensitive skin: Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub
- Best exfoliator for uneven skin tone: Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub
Mineral sunscreens are highly effective, and far less toxic to small aquatic creatures that can metabolize chemical-based sunscreens, but they usually leave a streaky white mess.
We’ve tested several mineral sunscreens to find the best ones that are effective, look good, and won’t hurt the environment.
Here are our top picks for the best mineral sunscreen you can buy:
- Best mineral sunscreen overall: Thinksport’s SPF 50+ Sunscreen
- Best daily option: Goddess Garden Organics Everyday SPF 30
- Best spray-on sunscreen: Bare Republic Mineral Spray Vanilla-Coco SPF 50
- Best for the face: Raw Elements’ Tinted Facial or Face & Body (both SPF 30)
- Best for the water: Manda’s SPF 50 Organic Sun Paste with Thanaka