Nothing has impressed me until I tried the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sheet Mask. It has the same hydrogel material I loved about prestige brands I’ve tried prior, which is thicker than traditional paper sheet masks, adheres better to my skin, and resists drying out so that you get more serum out of it (a hyaluronic acid-based serum, in this case).
I find that this gel-like mask really helps to seal in moisture better than others I’ve used, providing a barrier between my skin and the environment and allowing the serum to deeply penetrate. After using it, my skin is soft, smooth, and glowing — even in the dead of winter, when it’s at its most dry.
Maybe my favorite part, though, is the sheet mask’s design. It comes in two separate pieces, one for the top half of the face and one for the bottom. Speaking as someone with a small face, the two-part design helps adjust the mask to fit my face better than traditional single-piece masks. With a mask that fits, it can deliver hydration where I actually need it — not in my hairline or over my eyelids.
In addition to the sheet mask, you’re also getting a little extra serum left over in the packaging. There’s usually enough left to squeeze into a bottle, which I use on days I’m not masking. It works just as well as other hydrating serums I’ve tried, and it’s essentially an entirely new product that comes free with the purchase of the mask.
I’m not the only one who’s obsessed with the mask’s skin-quenching powers. Brand ambassador Jennifer Garner loves it so much, she has everyone in her house giving it a try. And Walmart shoppers who’ve reviewed it say that it’s among the best sheet masks they’ve tried, soothing everything from dry skin to eczema to sunburns. One reviewer said that after using the mask once, they immediately ordered 10 more. With Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Sheet Mask, available for just $3 at Walmart, you’ll never feel guilty about a weekly skincare treat again.
Jamie Genevieve @Jamiegenevieve. Makeup artist, YouTuber, CEO, an overall STUNNER!
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #31 series on my blog.
What do you do?
Make-up artist, digital creator and founder of Vieve.
What do you love most about your skin?
I have little beauty marks on my right cheek and one prominent one under my right eye, which I love to fill in and enhance. I never disliked them, but after receiving messages from others saying that seeing me embrace and love my beauty marks made them love theirs too, now I really do love them. I’m grateful that my skin is pretty resilient too – there were a few consecutive years where it took a bit of a beating when I was finding my groove with make-up. Plus, I wasn’t exactly skincare savvy back then!
What one skin issue do you wish you could fix?
Probably scarring. I can be a bad picker, especially when I’m a little stressed. If I do have a naughty pick, the marks can last for weeks, but I’m getting to know my way around gentle acids and vitamin C, which help a lot. I try my best to leave my skin alone, and since I started double cleansing every evening, I’ve noticed my skin is much smoother in texture and I’m hardly getting any blemishes. Double cleansing is something I only started doing at the beginning of lockdown and I love it! I usually start with an oil cleanser, like the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil, and then go in with a cleanser that has a bit of lather, like the CeraVe Foaming Cleanser.
What’s your favourite skin product and why?
Only one!? I’m going to say two if that’s okay… I absolutely love the SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier, because it’s so gentle and soothing but really floods my skin with hydration. I use it day and night as a first step in my routine and have done for a fair while now, I’m on my third bottle! My second pick is the Ole Henriksen Phat Glow Facial. It’s a treatment mask and my go-to for when my skin needs some TLC – I love using it before an event. Super easy to use, you just massage it into the skin until it goes from pink to white, leave it on for 15 minutes, then wash it off to reveal your bright, glowing, baby-soft skin. It’s brilliant for decongesting my skin, getting rid of any dry patches and giving me a beautiful fresh canvas for make-up.
What was your first skin product purchase?
I think it might have been a Simple moisturiser, or maybe it was a Boots own-brand… I just remember it smelled like cucumber and, of course, at the age of 13 or 14 I probably used it once every few weeks! It’s so funny to think back on that time now that my skincare routine is something I enjoy making time for every day and night. I can’t think of anything better – as much as I love make-up, I love taking it off too.
What’s the one product you wouldn’t be without?
I love my Nurse Jamie Facial Roller. It’s a must whenever I travel (and so good the morning after a few glasses of wine!). I’m trying to get into using my gua sha tool but I think I need a lesson on how to use it properly – or maybe it’s just that I love other people doing it for me! I love to treat myself to a facial too – booking myself into spas is one of my favourite things to do.
Take us through your Sunday skincare routine:
Sundays are my favourite self-care days. I usually spend the whole day in my comfies and I definitely squeeze in a bubble bath. In the morning I keep it super simple: I whack my SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier on and then a nice moisturiser – I love the Glow Recipe Watermelon Juice when I want something light and fuss-free. Something I’m trying to be strict with is wearing SPF, so every morning I make sure to use one. I really like the Shiseido Clear Stick UV Protector SPF50 – it works great under make-up, too.
When it comes to our skin-care routines, there’s no step perhaps more indulgent than doing a face mask. Whether you prefer a deep-cleansing clay mask or a hydrating overnight gel formula, there’s no better form of beauty T.L.C. than devoting 20 to 30 minutes to take care of your skin. “[Face masks] are designed to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients to your skin,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “Generally speaking, masks are used intermittently to help give your skin a boost when it needs it.”
And while our desks are continually graced by new product launches on the daily (a tough job, we know, but someone’s got to do it), we’re taking a step back to spotlight the best face masks that left our complexions brighter, dewier, less congested, and just generally glowed-up. Happy masking!
Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur
Those with acne-prone and oily skin will love the Lancer Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea and 3% Sulfur, which is made with a blend of clay, sulfur, azelaic acid, and fruit extracts. It was even created by a dermatologist for his own clients. According to Lancer himself, “Acne and aging are triggered by the same mechanisms,” and his skin-care products take on both with a double whammy. Because of this, the mask won a 2019 AllureBest of Beauty Award.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur
Part of Dr. Dennis Gross’s DRx Blemish Solutions collection, the Clarifying Mask With Colloidal Sulfur relies on some of least-drying acne-fighting ingredients — colloidal sulfur, bentonite clay, and kaolin clay, to be specific — to help clear up breakouts. Worn overnight, it makes a noticeable difference on the angriest blemishes without causing any additional irritation. In fact, your skin will even feel soothed come morning.
The Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Mask pumps out as a gel and soaks in as a cream, which is a cool enough reason to give it a try, but you’ll keep coming back to it for the brightening vitamin C delivered via moisturizing squalane.
There are a lot of reasons to hate pollution, but what it does to your skin is the one that hits closest to home. One way to fight back against its dulling effects: this Burt’s Bees Restoring Antioxidant Mask. Of all of its natural ingredients, green tea takes the spotlight as the antioxidant powerhouse. The formula hydrates to give skin a noticeable boost while preparing it to face another day outside.
Renée Rouleau promises, if you use the Rapid Response Detox Masque right when you sense a breakout coming on, this calming gel formula will essentially interrupt the erruption. But it’s not just for acne — Rouleau also recommends it when you’re puffy after partying and even to soothe skin after waxing.
Old-school mineral ingredients, such as calamine, zinc, and pink clay, are modernized with the VENeffect Skin Calming Mask. The 2019 AllureBest of Beauty winner can be slathered all over your face to slough away dead skin cells and banish breakouts, or you can dab it on blemishes to clear them up overnight.
Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
The serious tingle factor from Herbivore Botanicals’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask will let you know it’s working. And thanks to the alpha and beta hydroxy acids and white willow bark, skin will be left looking and feeling smooth post-rinse and beyond.
A pore-purifying powerhouse, this 2019 Best of Beauty-winning maskemploys glycolic andsalicylic acids to gently exfoliate and suck up oil. Tiny beads in the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Vacuum Cleaner get massaged into skin, releasing iris root and rose extract to nourish skin as the mask tightens.
Just like electrolytes in a drink help rehydrate your body, the electrolytes in this formula bring your skin back to a more hydrated, supple state. You can also thank ceramides, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants for their barrier-replenishing help.
It takes a lot for a mask to call itself a not one, not two, but three-time Best of Beauty winner. Fresh’s Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask is an all-star in our book due to its potent antioxidant-rich formula, and the fact that it leaves skin feeling “rose-petal soft.”
A whopping 25-percent alpha hydroxy acid formula packs a serious punch in Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, which quickly won over skin-care fanatics with its gentle yet effective approach to at-home exfoliation. “Ingredients such as matcha and milk thistle contain potent antioxidant and anti-pollution properties, which help to condition and soothe redness,” Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure.
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask
Like a Jello shot for your skin, The First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Ginger and Turmeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask is a cooling jelly mask (and AllureBest of Beauty 2019 pick) that hydrates and brightens skin with antioxidant-packed ingredients, like ginger, turmeric, and vitamin C. Plus, lactic acid gently exfoliates to leave your face feeling all radian, fresh, and new.
If the (skin) thirst is real, consider the Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask a complexion oasis. The cooling gel formula not only feels incredible on skin, but if you’re a fan of the brand’s toner, consider the duo a match made in skin-care heaven.
When it comes to acne-fighting masks, the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment is a game-changer. After leaving it on for 10 minutes, you can visibly see the oil drawn out from your pores (yuck, but in a good way), and after rinsing, skin is left looking brighter than ever.
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay
The Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay is adored by many a beauty editor, and it’s easy to see why: It instantly minimizes the appearance of pores and leaves your complexion looking beyond glowy — and clocks in at under $30.
Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask
Not all mud masks are created equal. Case in point: Peter Thomas Roth’s Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask doesn’t leave your complexion feeling the least bit parched, so if you’re looking for a mask that will decongest skin without drying it out, look no further.
“SK-II’s Facial Treatment Mask offers a super-luxe hydrating experience,” says Idriss, who encourages patients to save the remaining essence (which there’s a ton of in that little packet, FYI). “The power player here is pitera, a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids, that work together to stimulate cellular repair and promote more efficient skin regeneration. The results are a brightened, moisturized, and smoother skin surface.”
Breakouts don’t stand a chance against Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask. And unlike other formulas, Saturn addresses much more than just blackheads; it also clears congested pores, hormonal acne, and emerging zits.
Don’t sleep on Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask, which, as one Allureeditor put it, is the beauty product equivalent of skin-care commercial models rinsing their faces serenely “by dramatically splashing water on it in slow motion.”
You know what I think about a lot? That time Jason Momoa called out Chris Pratt for posing with a single-use plastic water bottle on Instagram by commenting, in part, “Bro … WTF.” Since then, whenever I scroll past a picture of serum-soaked polyester plastered to an influencer’s face, I can’t help but wonder: When will the sheet masks be Mamoa’d?
It seems the moment has come. Clean beauty retailer Credo recently announced it will stop selling sheet masks and other single-use skincare products, like makeup wipes and exfoliating pads, by June 2021—an industry first.
“‘Clean’ has to include sustainability,” Mia Davis, the Director of Environmental & Social Responsibility at Credo, tells ELLE.com. After all, what good is a product that’s supposedly safe for your skin if it’s unsafe for the earth, contributing to the health- and skin-degrading pollution particles that precipitate the need for “clean” skincare products in the first place? A 20-minute sheet mask, for example, is typically made of petroleum-based fibers, packaged in a non-recyclable foil packet or non-recyclable coated cardboard, sandwiched between two sheets of non-recyclable plastic, and covered in cosmetic chemicals—more of a sachet of superfluous waste than a skincare product, really. “We realized that prohibiting these items [at Credo] would, at a minimum, keep 3,000 pounds of trash out of the landfill,” Davis shares.
Yes, sheet masks are literal trash.
“Usually, none of these components are recyclable and all of them end up in the rubbish—at best, in a landfill; at worst, in the ocean,” Susan Stevens, the founder and CEO of Made With Respect, explains. Over hundreds of years, these materials break up into microplastic particles or break down and release greenhouse gasses, eventually polluting the air, water, soil, and bodies of all living beings (humans included). “Synthetic cosmetic chemical ingredients may make their way through waste-water treatment plants and into the ocean when they are washed down the drain, polluting marine life and causing environmental damage,” Stevens adds. But this visible excess—the foil packets, the plastic inserts, the product itself—only scratches the surface of the unsustainability of sheet masks.
The production of petroleum-based materials affects human health.
“Plastic affects our health way before it becomes a waste management issue,” Dianna Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition, says. She notes that the same goes for many cosmetic chemicals used in sheet masks, including petrochemicals (derived, like plastic, from petroleum) and the endocrine disruptors found in some synthetic fragrance formulas.
“When you look at the process of extracting crude oil, then converting it into hydrocarbon monomers, then converting that to plastic, you see that we’re polluting the environment and local communities by releasing greenhouse gasses and harmful chemicals into the water and into the air,” Cohen shares. Along that production line, potentially toxic substances like bisphenols and phthalates are added to the mix. “When we finally manufacture it and mold it into various products”—microfiber or polyester cloths, outer packaging, and cosmetic petrochemicals, just to name a few plastic products associated with sheet masks—“we are polluting the people who work at those factories and the communities surrounding those factories,” the co-founder says.
This pollution primarily impacts low-income communities and communities of color.
“These facilities are built in the neighborhoods where they live,” Cohen says, noting that this is known as environmental racism. “It’s a relic of colonialism and slavery and how we treat people as disposable and have built a culture around disposability with materials, but none of these materials are actually disposable,” she says. “Nothing is disposable.” Everything goes somewhere. The component parts of a sheet mask will live on in the environment, outliving the user.
Even “natural” and “plant-based” sheet masks present problems.
Davis points to the massive amount of resources required at the production level, “from the pesticides used growing cotton, to the water used growing crops [for plant-based materials].” For reference, producing just one pound of organic cotton demands 1,320 gallons of water; that means hundreds of gallons of water are wasted on each and every short-lived cotton sheet mask.
As for “biodegradable” or “compostable” versions? They are rarely biodegrade. “The unfortunate truth is that most people who are using those products are throwing them in their waste bin, and that’s going to a landfill, and nothing biodegrades in a landfill,” Davis says, confirming that Credo’s ban on sheet masks extends to these supposedly “eco-friendly” iterations as well. “We don’t want to lull anyone into a false sense of action. It’s not real.” Even if consumers plan to compost at home, ingredients matter. A plant-based sheet mask isn’t doing the soil any favors if it’s coated in a petrochemical-infused serum.
All of the above issues apply to regular beauty products, of course—it’s just that sheet masks have a particularly concerning product-waste-to-product-payoff ratio, no matter what they’re made of.
Can a ban on sheet masks really make a difference?
Like previous bans on plastic straws, bottles, and bags, a ban on sheet masks—even one from a small-scale retailer like Credo, which has proven to be a leader in the clean space—is more than a ban. It foreshadows a shift in the culture of consumption. The same way seeing a single-use water bottle on Instagram now calls to mind the plastic it’s made from and the marine life it could harm, spotting a sheet mask on social might soon signal the small pile of garbage sitting out of frame, the chemicals it leaches into the soil.
“When I see an influencer using a sheet mask, I do consciously think about the waste they’re creating,” Avery C. Banks, the beauty blogger behind The Boheaux, explains.(Banks used to sheet mask four times a week, but stopped earlier this year in an effort to be more eco-friendly.) “I don’t judge their sustainability journey, though. We’re all out here trying our best and maybe they simply haven’t thought about the environmental impact of that little mask.”
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain ignorant of said impact, if Credo’s stance on single-use skincare (and the urgency of climate change) is any indication—not that it was necessarily easy to ignore before. Consumers need only gaze upon their bursting garbage bins to realize the product is problematic.
“I was taking out the trash and all I could see were mask packages,” says Clare Neesham, a recently reformed sheet mask obsessive. She was sheet masking twice a week at the peak of her habit. “After a while, I started thinking about all the waste that was being produced, not just the masks themselves, but all the serum [and] the package,” Neesham recalls; too much for a few fleeting moments of self-care.
Still, eco-conscious retailers may have a hard time convincing customers to give them up.
“We let go of a sheet mask because it wasn’t fully biodegradable, and people complained that we didn’t have it anymore,”says Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of green beauty retailer Beauty Heroes. Credo’s Davis anticipates a similar reaction. “I do think that there will be some customers that are really bummed, and it will affect our bottom line,” she says. “We’re hoping some of the larger retailers”—Sephora, Ulta—“will make the same commitments, so that we will increase consumer awareness” and decrease the industry’s impact on the earth. This push-pull between companies and their customers is “the chicken or the egg” of the current climate crisis: Who bears the burden of creating a more sustainable future? “Corporate waste is the majority of the problem,” adds Aja Barber, a writer, stylist, and consultant in the environmental space. (100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions, as The Guardian reports.) “But corporations don’t change unless the general public takes an interest and holds them and our government regulators to account, and I think to do all of that, it starts with changing your own habits,” Barber continues. “A lot of people saying ‘I’m not interested in this product anymore’ changes the system.””In the comparison between individual action and corporation action, the question isn’t either/or,” Cohen agrees. “It’s that every action matters.”
Credo’s ban may be the catalyst to inspire that action, to make posting a sheet-masked selfie as taboo as posing with a plastic water bottle—to create a mass-scale Mamoa moment, if you will. It just may be the beginning of the end of the sheet mask.
In fresh evidence to indicate that Hailey Bieber is an unashamed skincare obsessive, she has posted an Instagram Story in which she indulges in every beauty lover’s favourite pastime: wearing a sheet mask. She highlighted a cardinal rule of cultivating excellent skin in the post, adding the text: “hydration is essential”.
Sheet masks are, of course, a great way to hydrate. Infused with serum, they help to press ingredients into skin and offer a super-fast hit of hydration, as well as an excellent opportunity to relax. Bieber knows it only too well, as per her previous Instagram Stories, in which she has shared many an A-list skincare secret.
So which are the best hydrating sheet masks to try now? Wishful’s Thirst Trap Cocoon Mask is packed with hydrators, from aloe vera to hyaluronic acid, as well as niacinamide to brighten as it quenches skin’s thirst. Then there’s Vichy’s Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Fortifying Sheet Mask, which essentially drenches skin with hyaluronic acid (and therefore moisture), while creating a protective barrier against pollution and other external aggressors. Finally, the Koreans know exactly how to mask – look to brands like Holika, whose Pure Essence Sheet Mask Cucumber is a steal, in addition to being effective, soothing and ultra quenching. Happy hydrating.
As fall approaches and temperatures drop, skin tends to become dryer. On top of richer moisturizers, face oils, and serums, a hydrating face mask every now and then can help the skin retain moisture. “Hydrating masks are so important because they replenish the skin with moisture that was lost through time,” says Samantha Mims, in-house esthetician at Brooklyn Face & Eye. “With weather getting colder, now is a great time to start incorporating those H20 masks in your routine.”
Here, 14 hydrating face masks to add into your skin-care routine this fall (and beyond!), to give your skin the nourishing boost it deserves.
Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask with Vitamin C
Esthetician and Fenty Skin ambassador Sean Garrette considers this overnight concoction one of the best face masks because “it plumps, hydrates, and soothes stressed and dehydrated skin.” It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, squalane, and antioxidants like vitamin C, prickly pear, goji, açaí, and vitamin E.
Breakouts on the rise? This mask is soothing, hydrating, and purifying. Created by Temi Shobowale, the Botanical Masque is perfect for reducing inflammation thanks to chamomile flower extract. Kaolin clay, which is detoxifying, helps to remove impurities from the skin. It’s also brightening and energizing due to the vitamin C within the maca root.
While nourishing the skin, this face mask helps to fight against damage with vitamins B12 and E. CBD helps to soothe and smooth the skin’s texture, reducing redness and inflammation. If you’re looking to combat hyperpigmentation, this mask’s shiitake mushroom extract will lend a hand.
This gentle exfoliating mask is an all-in-one facial treatment in a tube. It offers a great hydrating reset for skin in need. Standout ingredients include chestnut extract, which offers a natural exfoliating experience; vitamin C for a brightening boost and skin-barrier nourishment; and anti-aging niacinamide, which also helps with pore reduction, smoothing fine lines, and wrinkles.
This mask is great for sensitive skin. It’s a favorite of Mims, who recommends it for its “hydrating components like hyaluronic acid, in addition to its botanical extracts like geranium and rose to help fight bacteria and inflammation.”
Filled with aloe vera and rose water, this facial mask is equally soothing and hydrating. It’s part cleanser and part exfoliant, helping to keep hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and overall skin dullness at bay.
Jacq’s Clarifying Green Smoothie Face Masque and Scrub
This mask’s bentonite clay removes impurities from the skin’s surface, while ginger essential oil hydrates and shields skin—call it the perfect ingredient for a self-care Sunday. Bamboo charcoal, Dead Sea salt, and tamanu oil offer an extra-clarifying boost.
Speaking of green, this powder-turns-gel mask is filled with superfoods you’d want in your smoothie, like spirulina, mango juice, chlorophyll, and chlorella. The results? Clearer, healthier, dewier skin.