Adult acne is something tons of women struggle with well into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, and the reason for it can vary greatly from person to person. It could be due to a change in the weather, or perhaps it's the cloth face mask you've been wearing. Maybe you're stressed, or maybe it has something to do with diet or genetics. No matter the cause, even if you already have a daily acne-fighting skincare routine, sometimes you need a little something extra to fight those stubborn flare-ups and random pimples. Enter: the acne face mask.
In contrast to your other pimple-fighting products, a good face mask can help draw out excess oil and impurities from the skin, which can inhibit current breakouts and prevent them in the future. Acne masks can treat your breakouts directly by using ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, or they can help complement your acne treatments by hydrating and soothing the irritation they've caused. With so many options on the market, it's important to find a formula that's right for your skin type. Ahead, we've broken down a few tips to help guide you in your search for the best acne mask.
Choose the right ingredients. Tea tree oil, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide, sulfur, and chemical exfoliants such as salicylic or glycolic acids can be helpful.
Find a formula that works. Clay or peel-off masks are usually preferable for acne-prone skin, as some sheet masks can clog pores. But for those dealing with excessive dryness, some sheet masks may be helpful. As with most new products, you’ll have to do some experimentation.
Consistency is key. If you have drier skin, you’ll benefit from masking more frequently. Active breakouts can benefit from calming formulas during flare-ups. Beware of face masks with exfoliants though, as they can be irritating when used frequently.
Ahead, we've broken down a list of the best acne face masks the beauty shelves have to offer. From charcoal to sulfur to green tea, there's a blemish-fighting formula on the list for every kind of breakout and budget.
How We Found The Best Acne Face Masks
To round up this list, we turned to the help of our data-driven algorithm. This unique tool finds and ranks the best products out there by factoring in best-selling buzz, editor recommendations, rave reviews, and more. Ahead, take a look at the 10 formulas that made the cut and add one to your routine.
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Vichy Mineral Pore Purifying Facial Clay Mask
WHO IT'S FOR: Acne-fighting face masks can be harsh, and even more irritation is the last thing you need when you're already dealing with breakouts. French brand Vichy gets that, which is why its purifying mask is ultra-gentle and safe for those with sensitive skin. Utilizing two types of clay, it acts like a magnet to draw dirt, pollution, makeup, and impurities and leaves skin with a comfortable matte finish—never a dry or stripped one.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: This mask is formulated with aloe vera, plus Vichy's Volcanic Water sourced from French volcanoes. This proprietary ingredient contains 15 essential minerals to help strengthen the skin's barrier and protect it from damaging environmental factors like UV rays and pollution.
Perricone MD Acne Relief Calming & Soothing Clay Mask
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Launched just a few months ago, this buzzy clay mask from Perricone MD is raved about for its ability to simultaneously reduce breakouts and soothe the irritation they cause. The salicylic acid (one of the gentlest gunk-clearing ingredients out there) and bentonite clay unclog pores and absorb excess oil, while willowherb extract rapidly reduces redness.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Since this mask is so gentle, you can safely use it several times a week to help keep your skin in check.
Made In Usa
PCA Skin Revitalizing Mask
WHAT IT DOES: Thanks to papaya, a powerhouse ingredient packed with active enzymes that gently exfoliate to remove dead skin, dirt, and oil, this face mask doesn't just clear up acne—it also leaves the skin with a radiant, just-got-a-facial glow. To top it off, it also contains honey and vitamin E to moisturize the complexion and fight free radical damage, plus green tea to soothe irritation and minimize inflammation.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Sorry, sensitive-skinned beauties—PCA Skin says this mask will be a little too harsh for you.
Natura Bisse Stabilizing Cleansing Mask
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This multitasking face mask can be used as a cleanser or a face mask. Featuring acne-clearing salicylic acid, resurfacing willow bark, and calming aloe vera, it'll keep your skin looking clear, calm, and youthful.
AS SEEN ON: Makeup artist Nam Vo has used this mask for over 10 years, claiming it's "like a facelift." Need we say more?
Clinique Acne Solutions Oil Control Cleansing Mask
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Budget-friendly price aside, reviewers love this mask for its quick turn-around time. With acne-fighting salicylic acid and kaolin clay, the formula cleanses and clarifies skin to clear existing breakouts and prevent future ones from occuring—all in just five minutes.
USER REVIEW: "This is the best mask I’ve ever used. I have combination acne-prone skin, and this product keeps my skin balanced with twice-a-week use. It has a beautiful creamy texture that dries up quickly but is super easy to rinse off with warm water, unlike similar masks that you feel you have to really scrub to get it all off. Definitely a staple in my skincare routine!"
Proactiv Skin Purifying Acne Face Mask
WHO IT'S FOR: When it comes to emergency breakouts, this multitasking mask will be your hero. Boasting a 6% sulfur content, you can use it as a 10-minute all-over mask or an overnight spot treatment to achieve clearer, better skin by morning.
USER REVIEW: "If you have cystic acne, you NEED this. This is the only product I have found to combat this painful and consistent acne. I sleep in it and wake up to a cyst that has shrunk 10x. The following day, it will be completely gone. Literally a miracle product for me."
Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Honey Mask
WHAT IT DOES: A charcoal mask is probably nothing new to you. But what about one combined with nourishing honey? This powerhouse duo deeply detoxes while nourishing the skin, leaving it feeling comfortably clean, clear, and conditioned.
HELPFUL TIP: Layer on a warm, moist towel while you use it to open up those pores.
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Acne Treatment Mask
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Let's be real—acne definitely doesn't stop at the face. The beauty of this mask is that you can use it to treat breakouts on your chest, shoulders, back, and anywhere else you please. Plus, it's formulated with the maximum amount of sulfur you can get over the counter.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Sulfur can have an icky scent, but reviewers insist this mask smells pleasant.
Glamglow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment Mask
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: We can confidently report that this is not just another mud mask, people. The consistency is far creamier than most, and when it's removed, it leaves the skin feeling supple and soft rather than dry and tight.
USER REVIEW: “I cannot speak enough good of this mask. I struggled with painful cystic acne for 10 years. I tried different pills and every remedy, cream, and face wash in the book. This is the only thing that has helped both shrink my bigger blemishes and prevent new ones from showing up. My skin has not been this clear in a decade."
BeautyCounter Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Now with an upgraded formula, this mask only takes ten minutes to give you a purified, glowing complexion. It's made with an impressive combo of charcoal powder and salicylic and lactic acids, and the formula is completely clean.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: You can use this mask two to three times per week, and it works as an overnight spot treatment, too.