All About Masks

As spring approaches, our skin is bound to experience some changes. The weather surrounding seasonal shifts tends to be highly variable and calls for equally variable skin solutions. I frequently find myself reaching for a mask at this time of year because it’s such a versatile step. I like a simple, tightly edited routine and a mask is ideal because doesn’t need to clutter your daily skin regimen—just add it in every week or as needed. No matter if you’re dry or oily, whether you want to your skin or invigorate it, there’s a mask out there for virtually every skin woe. Read on for my recommendations!

Gel Masks

Gel masks are a workhorse of my esthetics practice. They’re well suited to a wide variety of skin types, making them a staple in my treatment room. They quench skin without feeling too heavy or occlusive—perfect for infusing acne-prone skin with light hydration. Gel masks frequently feature a soothing base like aloe, but can also be used as a vehicle for more active ingredients such as chemical exfoliants. I love the Balancing Thermogel Mask from Control Corrective and Rejuvi’s Hydrating Mask.

Cream Masks

More heavily moisturizing than gel masks, cream masks work wonders for dry skin and help replenish skin’s barrier with rich, oil-based ingredients. They may include exfoliating agents (particularly alphahydroxy acids, which have their own humectant properties) or peptides for enhanced moisture and skin nourishment. I like the Control Corrective Ultra Peptide Cream Mask and Caudalie Moisturizing Mask for their creamy, comforting formulas.

Purifying Masks

Clay-based masks are great for those with excess oil or pore congestion. They absorb sebum and may also deposit acne-fighting ingredients like sulfur. I like the Control Corrective Sulfur Calming Mask because it also includes aloe and matricaria extract to help calm inflamed breakouts. The Rejuvi Purifying Mask focuses a bit less on sulfur and more on a mix of kaolin and bentonite clays for those who are more sensitive to that distinctive sulfur smell.

Be sure to watch the clock when using a purifying mask. Unlike a gel or cream mask, you can risk overdoing it if you leave your mask on for too long. Use according to product instructions, which generally suggest rinsing off after a 10-20 minute window. If you like the purifying benefits but find a clay mask is too intense or drying, try using it as a spot treatment or buffering it with my Hydrate Facial Serum.

Exfoliating Masks

Exfoliating masks come in a wide variety of textures to suit different skin types. Whether they’re gel, cream, or clay, an exfoliating mask will usually include an acid or enzymatic exfoliant. I enjoy the mix of papaya extract enzymes and more traditional acid exfoliants in the Rejuvi Exfoliating Mask.

Like clay-based purifying masks, it’s important to keep an eye on the time to avoid irritation. Don’t leave an exfoliating mask on for longer than directed by the product instructions!


Those with extreme combination skin may find all-over masking to be a challenge, since different facial areas can have conflicting skin concerns. Feel free to use a purifying mask on the t-zone and a gel or cream mask on drier areas. This is a great way to customize your masking experience to your individual needs!