Face masks are one of our favorite skincare products thanks to their effectiveness (and great selfie potential). So when our complexion needs a pick-me-up, we seek out a radiance boost in the form of a brightening face mask.
With so many ingredients that promise to bring back your glow, choosing the best formula for your skin can be tough. To make it easy, we chatted with board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, about all the benefits of brightening face masks. It turns out, they really may be the secret to boosting your glow.
About the Expert:
To answer that question, it’s important to understand why your skin is looking dull in the first place. “It can be because of uneven tone, meaning some areas are darker or lighter than other areas, and intermittent blotchiness or redness,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Additional reasons are poor hydration and the accumulation of dead skin cells, which do a poor job of reflecting light.” Brightening face masks can address all of the above (and then some). “This includes improving pigmentary issues such as hyperpigmentation, decreasing redness, and improving clarity so that skin reflects light more effectively, typically giving a glowing appearance.”
So, what ingredients should we look for in a brightening face mask? “Some ingredients such as vitamin C, licorice root extract, niacinamide, or azelaic acid may target the pigment in skin (melanin) by increasing its metabolism or decreasing its production,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Other ingredients, such as glycolic acid, may stimulate cell turnover, removing the accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface and replacing it with newer skin cells that sit smoothly and reflect light in a pleasing way.”
If you’re ready to find the perfect brightening face mask, here are 18 Ipster-loved formulas for your most glowy and gorgeous skin ever.
We love how satisfying a good peel-off mask can feel—especially when you’re able to take it off in one go. This formula wins points for being easy to remove and for being packed with skin-loving, radiance-boosting ingredients. Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, helps even out skin tone and reduces hyperpigmentation without being harsh on skin. Dr. Nazarian adds that it’s “great for sensitive skin and may decrease irritation and redness.” Primula veris extract helps brighten things up overall, salicylic acid deep cleans pores, and allantoin soothes and moisturizes.
What’s more relaxing than popping on a fresh sheet mask, sipping a smoothie, and watching your favorite Netflix show? Not much. But this set of majorly hydrating masks will take it all to the next level. The Peachy Glow Hydrating Mask bathes your skin in moisture (and moisturized skin glows!) and the Youthful Glow Mangosteen Mask uses mangosteen extract and sea water to bring out your skin’s natural luminosity. Ipster 1justdi says, “Wow the peachy was awesome! I have a couple of dry spots that weren't noticeable for two days after using it! Love it!!”
Have you heard of modeling masks? A popular K-Beauty product, modeling masks are made of a thick, gel-like formula that creates a layer over your skin to lock in all the mask’s nourishing ingredients. They also feel so cool and refreshing. This set of two masks uses aloe vera, ginger root, green tea, hyaluronic acid, and more. Use them to brighten, plump, soothe, calm redness and inflammation—everything you need to majorly up your glow factor. Ipster simplebetty2000 says, “My face felt so moisturized, I'd enjoy one of those a week.”
When you’re looking to give your entire complexion a reboot, this pro-quality mask is your go-to. It’s got alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acids (aka AHAs and BHAs, two holy grail exfoliators), to help improve your skin texture, even out tone, and more. “[Glycolic acid] breaks up bonds between surface skin cells- makes skin smooth, and encourages newer fresher skin cells to emerge,” says Dr. Nazarian. It’s also made with pumpkin ferment, antioxidant-rich matcha tea, milk thistle, and apple to improve elasticity, protect skin from damage, soften, and soothe.
When we talk about bright, glowing skin, we almost always mention vitamin C. It’s one of the most powerful skin-brightening ingredients out there. According to Dr. Nazarian, “Vitamin C is a fantastic antioxidant that improves discoloration in skin by preventing pigment formation but also neutralizes environmental free radicals that can cause future damage.” This creamy, dreamy mask by TATCHA is packed with two types of vitamin C and 10 percent AHAs (for gentle exfoliation) to guarantee you see a brighter skin tone and an all-over glow. Bonus: Like all TATCHA products, the packaging will be so gorgeous on your vanity.
Take an impromptu trip to the tropics but skip the humidity and accidental sunburn with a sheet mask designed to hug your face and deliver maximum hydration to every inch of your skin. Everyone’s favorite hangover cure, aka coconut water, now lends a helping hand to dry skin. Added purple broccoli and cucumber extracts also help firm and brighten your skin. As one Ipster wrote, “I absolutely love these sheet masks. They're great fitting, and provide amazing results.” Another Ipster added, “Amazing! My face was so soft and hydrated!”
This brilliant magenta face mask packs in your favorite smoothie ingredients, like acai and goji berry, to create a skincare cocktail that goes on nice and smooth. Add in kaolin clay—a natural exfoliator and pore-clearer—and you’ve got yourself a brightening mask that does double duty as a deep cleanser. After you’ve cleansed and applied, tug gently to remove the mask and take some deep satisfaction in watching it remove oil, dead skin cells, and any other impurities. As one Ipster raved, “Makes my skin feel fresh, soft and smooth!” Another Ipster wrote that this brightening peel-off mask “lifts all the impurities from your skin!”
Some clay masks can leave your skin feeling even drier than it started. That’s definitely not the case with this glistening purple clay mask. The secret is the added ingredients of witch hazel and vitamin E. According to Dr. Nazarian, “Vitamin E is a natural hydrating antioxidant that improves moisturizing abilities of skin.” When your skin is hydrated, it looks more radiant and youthful. The witch hazel nixes oily skin, while the vitamin E pumps up your collagen production. One Ipster reviewer wrote, “I love the thickness of this product, how it feels, and the feeling of my skin after I wash it off.”
Whether you’re only vacation bound in your dreams or you’re literally hopping off a plane to a beach destination, you’ll want this cooling sheet mask tucked in your makeup bag. As much as we love the sun, those powerful rays can wreak havoc on your skin’s moisture and redness. This skincare essential will help you bring on a natural glow with vitamin C and papaya extract, both of which will amp up your skin's brightness and moisture. One Ipster reviewer wrote, “I loved this sheet mask! I noticed how much my skin would glow after I would use it.” Top your skin off with this cruelty-free mask before bed, or take a few extra minutes in the morning to apply before moisturizing and loading up on sunblock.
While we’re never ones to turn down a quick beauty fix (check out our list of top Tiktok beauty hacks!), sometimes it’s nice to slow down and pamper yourself. Enter this super hydrating and skin-brightening mini skincare routine, which should be a #SelfcareSunday essential. The three-step process targets all of your major skincare dilemmas, from dull skin to fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Start with the serum, add on the face mask, and then top off with brightening essence to seal in glowy skin. Ipsters could not stop raving about how much they love this mask: “Omg LOVED this sheet mask! Geezus, it has sooooo much product on it and left my skin feeling like butter!”
Who knew apples were the secret to healthy, glowing skin? In fact, redlove apples are the star ingredient in this radiance-boosting mask. As one Ipster wrote, “I absolutely love these sheet masks, they feel nice on and make for some wonderful 'me time', then leave your skin feeling moisturized and nourished. They're also cruelty-free, which means just as much!”
Get the royal treatment with a rose gold mask that is infused with 24K gold particles. The golden specks team up with rosa damascus extract, and together, they act as the ultimate moisturizer and skin illuminator. This mask is so good at its job, you might just end up giving your glowy makeup products a day off. One Ipster wrote, “My skin was definitely brighter and luminous looking–no need for highlighter!”
We’ve been raving about hyaluronic acid and all the ways this wonder ingredient can improve your skin, so it’s no surprise to find it in this glowing skin sheet mask. You won’t need any fancy filters for your #SelfcareSelfie, thanks to all the tiny specks of 24K gold sprinkled through the mask. Twenty minutes is all it takes to detox blackheads and transform your skin look.
When the temps drop low, load up your skincare arsenal with a sheet mask that can take on the worst of winter’s fury. Do like one Ipster did and skip the pricey spa treatment: “I love how this mask left my skin smooth and supple. It was like a facial treatment in a flash. I felt like I had just visited a spa after using!” This mask not only rehydrates your skin, but also brightens your skin’s natural glow and fills in fine lines. Slip one on and you might just find yourself using as many exclamation points as this Ipster: “These masks leave my skin GLOWING!!! I love them!”
A few smears of this opaque white mask might have you feeling like Casper the Friendly Ghost, but you’ll be a full glowy goddess as soon as the tingly treatment is over. Your pores won’t know what hit them, but you’ll know it was the exfoliating powers of kaolin clay, an all-natural ingredient. “Minty and refreshing, and I definitely felt like it did tighten my skin up,” wrote one Ipster reviewer.
Transform a puffy, dull complexion with this fast-acting mask that energizes even the most lackluster skin in minutes. Inspired by the science behind cryotherapy, this mask helps depuff your morning face with a cooling effect along with caffeine to help increase blood microcirculation and the brand’s powerful Tetrapeptide, which helps depuffs and tightens while simultaneously inhibiting collagen breakdown.
Two forms of exfoliation help bring on brighter skin fast. A combination of lactic and salicylic acids chemically exfoliate your skin and boost cell turnover, while microfine pumice helps buff away rough skin, while niacinamide and vitamin C help brighten and even out your complexion over time. This Ipster was a huge fan: “This stuff works so well! My skin was so smooth and soft after using this; it really felt like it was cleared and cleaned up deeply.” After you’ve rinsed off this mask, tap the matching eye cream all around your eyes and even a bit over your temples and cheekbones to keep that glow going.
This duo is your ticket to fresh, glowing skin. The Vital-Collagen Mask is soaked in collagen to help plump, lift, and restore skin’s elasticity. The Age-Control Multi-Vita Mask has a blend of vitamins that nourish the skin from the inside out. “I love a good sheet mask,” says one Ipster after receiving the set in their Glam Bag. “These are GREAT sheet masks! The most deeply hydrating masks I've ever used. Perfect for right after a chemical exfoliation. You get a very glowy, glass-like effect on the skin, and it feels so hydrating and nourishing. Highly recommend!”
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