The Best Facial Masks for All Skin Types

Using a facial mask once a week can serve various skin care purposes. It's an effective way to help clear up blemishes, and hydrate and exfoliate skin. The key is to make sure you choose one targeted for your skin type, since the wrong match can make skin problems worse.

Facial Masks for Dry Skin

If your skin is dry, the best masks are ones designed to help skin lock in moisture. Look for oil- or glycerin-based masks rich in antioxidants and various oils like olive, almond, or lavender. Avoid masks that contain too many active ingredients or acids, which can irritate dry skin.

Oily Skin Masks

People with oily skin should look for masks designed to absorb excess oil without disturbing skin's balance and causing more breakouts. Steer clear of masks that contain oil, especially if you have acne. Choose products labeled "non-comedogenic" and "oil-free." Masks containing scrubbing particles are also not ideal for people with acne, as they can irritate acne lesions and make skin look worse. Look for clay- or mud-based masks containing sulfur or natural astringents such as tea tree oil.

Combination Skin Masks

Many of us have skin that's partially oily and partially dry. Barring applying two different kinds of masks to your face, it can be hard to find the right one to apply. Look for a mask that won't add too much oil or drain moisture from dry areas. Masks designed to gently exfoliate or hydrate with an oily-skin-friendly clay base and no acids are the best bet for combination skin.

Sensitive Skin Masks

Sensitive skin" is one of the trickiest labels on the market, since people with rosacea, burning and stinging, contact dermatitis, (and even acne) are often dumped in the same "sensitive" category.  Rosacea sufferers should avoid alpha hydroxyl acids and vitamin C. Burning and stinging sufferers should stay away from those elements as well as acids of any kind. People with contact dermatitis should be sure to avoid masks containing any kind of fragrance, preservatives, and especially formaldehyde.

Normal Skin Masks

If you're lucky enough to have relatively normal skin, just look for a mask targeted to the treatment you need, whether it's deep cleaning, moisturizing, exfoliating, or hydrating. Whichever you choose, don't use masks more than once a week and stay in tune with your skin; if it's feeling dry you may want to skip a weekly cleaning and opt for a hydrating treatment.

The American Academy of Dermatology notes that a high price tag doesn't always mean top quality. Often the simplest products can be the safest and most effective.

Dr. Craig Kraffert reviewed this article.


Sources: "Saving Face 101: How to Customize Your Skin Care Routine with Your Skin Type." American Academy of Dermatology. Web. Nov 10, 2009. "Sensitive Skin." American Academy of Dermatology. Web. 2012