When you’re looking to refresh your skin, partake in some much-needed TLC, and indulge in your self-care, nothing beats a face mask sesh. While there are endless options on the market that do everything from hydrate to calm breakouts, when you’re dealing with sensitive skin, finding effective, non-irritating face masks can be a challenge. That’s because sensitive skin has different needs than other skin types.
About the Experts:
“Skin can become overly oily or dry, flakey, red, itchy, bumpy, blotchy, stinging, burning, and dehydrated,” says esthetician Elizabeth Hand. “Sensitive skin is also prone to inflammation including rosacea, eczema, or acne. It is critical for those with sensitive skin to choose skincare that reduces inflammation,” says dermatologist and plastic surgeon Tanuj Nakra, MD, FCAS. Any of the above apply to you? It may mean it’s time to re-examine your skincare routine.
But first, it’s important to know whether your skin is truly sensitive or if you have sensitized skin. “Sensitized skin is another skin condition that people mistake for true sensitivity because the symptoms can be the same,” says Hand. “What differentiates it is that it has nothing to do with genetics, but is brought on by environmental factors, diet, ingredient allergies, and overuse/misuse of harsh skincare products.”
It’s always best to check with your derm, but a few of the most common indicators that you have sensitive skin are dryness and flaking, general irritation, and rashes that show up after using an irritating product or skin care ingredient. “Many medical-grade skincare lines can be irritating because of high-powered active ingredients that can have inflammatory side-effects,” says Dr. Nakra. Luckily for everyone with sensitive skin out there, there’s a host of ingredients that won’t stress out your complexion. “Sensitive skin flourishes with soothing anti-inflammatory botanicals like turmeric, peony, and neem,” adds Dr. Nakra. “Ingredients with calming, hydrating, and repairing properties to protect and heal are best for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Hand, who recommends looking for face masks that incorporate ingredients like:
In order to prevent irritated skin, steer clear of anything with “fragrance, dyes, and highly abrasive products,” says Hand. “Masks that are designed to exfoliate, reduce wrinkles, or clear acne may have ingredients that are especially irritating for those with sensitive skin,” adds Dr. Nakra. “Ingredients to avoid include retinoids and hydroxy-acids such as glycolic, lactic, and citric acids.”
To be sure a new product won’t cause major irritation, always do a patch test. “For both sensitive and sensitized skin, apply to the side of the face or inner arm so you know which product is causing the irritation and it isn’t as visible if you do experience a reaction,” says Hand, who recommends waiting a full 24 hours after doing a patch test before applying the product on your complexion.
We’ve rounded up the best face masks for sensitive skin to help calm your complexion, reduce redness, and more.
If you’re dealing with clogged pores, or you just want a deeper clean without the irritation, this gentle mask by CETAPHIL will do the trick. It helps lift away dead skin cells and impurities that can block pores (and lead to breakouts), while hydrating and brightening skin tone with soothing cucumber seed extract. Bonus: The oh-so-creamy clay formula feels so comforting on skin and helps prevent dryness for a fresh, clean feeling.
We love slathering on a sleeping mask for a moment of self-care before bed—and this cult-fave mask is the perfect night-time treat. It’s not sticky on your skin, smells sooo yummy, and is packed with antioxidant-rich superberries and stable vitamin C for brighter, more even-toned skin. Use it to hydrate, plump, brighten dullness, and bring your complexion back to life by sunrise.
“For decades, oats have been a universally recommended skincare ingredient by dermatologists due to reliable anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Nakra. And it’s a hero ingredient for soothing redness, itchiness, dryness, and more. You’ll find it in this super creamy mask that features colloidal oatmeal and avena sativa oat bran to help soothe, protect, deeply hydrate, reduce redness, and rejuvenate stressed-out skin.
If you’ve never tried a hydrogel mask, this one will have you hooked. It’s perfect for soothing sensitive skin thanks to its refreshing, cooling sensation. This hydrogel mask holds up to 50 times more water than your typical sheet mask, which means it’s packed to the brim with hydrating ingredients that instantly quench dry skin and help it hold onto moisture for the long haul.
Another overnight bestie? DRUNK ELEPHANT’s ultra-hydrating sleeping mask made with a ton of skin barrier-boosting ingredients like plant squalane and five different types of moisturizing ceramides which, according to Dr. Nakra are “effective deep moisturizers for those with sensitive skin, without any pore-blocking effects.” It also features healthy omega fatty acids, protective antioxidants, and vitamin F to cushion your skin with nourishment, while delivering a burst of soothing hydration—everything you want in a face mask for sensitive skin.
If you have sensitive skin, dealing with redness and irritation is a common skin concern. This fragrance-free mask combines probiotics, fatty acids, and ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier and reduce redness and inflammation, all while it hydrates the complexion.
“It cuts down on redness from my rosacea, and makes my makeup look smoother,” says one Ipster. Simply slather it on during your evening routine as you would a moisturizer to reap the benefits.
If you’re looking for a skin-tightening mask that won’t stress out your sensitive skin, look no further than this cult-favorite brightening mask that employs skin-soothing ingredients like aloe vera, Kakadu plum (which is rich in vitamin C), and mangosteen to calm your complexion, tighten pores, and provide antioxidant protection.
“Absolutely loved this mask. It tightened my pores and made my skin look less red,” raves one Ipster.
If you want to clear up congestion, reach for this potent mask that absorbs excess oil to leave you with a brighter, cleaner skin. It’s like a gentle vacuum for your pores.
“This was a great product to use during the summer. Especially if you have oily skin. When you apply to your skin, there's a cooling sensation. Once it's dried, it's satisfying to see the results that it is actually working,” says one review.
If your skin is feeling more dry than usual, treat yourself to a much-needed shot of moisture with this vegan, paraben-free mask, which serves up a serious dose of hydration thanks to mineral-rich Dead Sea water. Ipsters rave about how well it works on psoriasis and the plumping benefits they noticed after just one use.
“Smells so good and I have Psoriasis. I wake up with softer skin and no scales,” says one review.
“Rejuvenates suppleness and moisture,” says another.
Finding an exfoliant that won’t exacerbate sensitive skin isn’t an easy task—that is, until you reach for this good-for-you formula that incorporates collagen-boosting pumpkin, soothing turmeric, and brightening fruit enzymes. Ipsters can’t stop raving about how gentle and effective it is.
“Very gentle exfoliant that smells amazing. Worked well with my sensitive skin and made my face feel soft and glowing,” says one Ipster.
“This mask is wonderfully exfoliating and feels great,” says another.
This cult-favorite beauty line created a detoxifying mask that zaps out impurities without drying out your complexion. How does it work? With a hydrating combination of hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, glycerin, and calming aloe vera. Ipsters love that it’s so easy to remove without “harsh scrubbing” and they love the way it makes their complexion feel.
“I love this mask. It is so hydrating and SO satisfying to put on my face. It smells nice while it is on and does amazing things for my dry and sensitive skin,” says one review.
This mask features sulfur, an all-star acne-fighter for sensitive skin.Sulfur is one of the safest alternatives for treating mild acne (like whiteheads and blackheads) if you have sensitive skin that can’t tolerate AHAs and BHAs. It also has niacinamide which can help fade dark spots and unleash your inner glow. Not only does it target pimples but it also prevents future acne from forming, all while treating inflammatory acne, hormonal acne, and acne rosacea. Ipsters love the way it “cleared up” their skin and call it “one of the best acne treatments.”
Treat your skin to some TLC with this moisturizing mask that will rejuvenate sensitive skin. It’s made with ceramides and concentrated mineral water that help soothe stressed skin. Bonus: the gel-like texture feels amazing as it glides over your complexion. Ipsters love this “super gentle” mask and call it “very refreshing.”
“I am in LOVE with this product. It is extremely lightweight, and my skin in the morning is super soft. Noticeable with first use,” says one review.
“This mask is amazing and does wonders for my skin. Usually I get a reaction to some creams and masks and this one feels amazing,” raves another.
If you want to soothe dry skin and dry patches, reach for this nourishing mask that’s paraben-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic. This rich formula will penetrate your skin to restore moisture, leaving you with a radiant glow. It also provides instant relief for sunburns, redness, and burns, making it a great go-to for anyone with stressed-out skin that could use a little extra TLC.
“I have super dry skin and this makes it feel amazing,” says one Ipster.
If you have sensitive skin, a fragrance-free formula made without mineral oil is the way to go—and this creamy mud mask checks all those boxes. Made with natural ingredients like volcanic ash from Korea’s Jeju Island, this purifying mask will draw out excess oil and impurities, leaving you with a clear complexion.
“Love how soft and clean my face feels after this mask,” says one Ipster.
“It was great for my sensitive and undecided skin. It helped with my small breakouts and pores,” says another. It’s like a skin detox in a jar.
This face mask is great for sensitive, acne-prone skin. Formulated with skin-saving natural ingredients like azelaic acid and turmeric, this mask clears away dead skin cells, blackheads, and breakouts, and can even be used to treat rosacea. Work it into your skincare routine two to three times a week for brighter, healthier skin.
“Good mask for calming sensitive skin,” says one Ipster.
“I used it before bed with a couple of big, red, painful pimples on my jawline and woke up to significantly reduced swelling. Enough for me to be amazed,” says another.
If you want to minimize fine lines, brighten dark spots, and reduce inflammation, reach for this nourishing mask made with alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate, salicylic acid, to fight acne, and pro-vitamin B5. Ipsters love that it “washes off so easily” and leaves their skin feeling smooth and soft.
“Does not irritate my skin and leaves my skin soft and hydrated,” says one review.
For stressed-out skin in need of some extra care and relaxation, slather this lavender- and chamomile extract-infused cream all over your face and sit back for 10 minutes. Adaptogenic mushrooms and niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B) go to work clearing blemishes and detoxifying your skin for a stress-relieving experience that will make you feel smooth and pampered. You’ll notice an improvement in your skin tone after just one use.
“This stuff is amazing! Was having some skin issues, red dry patches, and this cleared everything up,” says one review. “Very smooth and smoothing,” says another.
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