Congested skin, blackheads, dullness, fine lines; there’s hardly any skin problem that exfoliation can’t solve. But it’s easy to over-exfoliate the skin when done with daily serums or toners, which can lead to irritation. For that reason, exfoliating face masks can be a safer alternative to daily exfoliants.
Additionally, exfoliating face masks are more beginner-friendly and a great way to get your skin familiarized with the process. We’ve rounded up the best exfoliating face masks for every skin type and concern. But to help you get the best results, first see how they benefit your skin and how to use them.
What Does an Exfoliating Face Mask Do?
An exfoliating face mask draws out any impurities from the surface of the skin to reveal smoother and brighter skin.
The best ones contain chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or salicylic acid. They dissolve the bond between the dead skin cells and shed them off.
As a result, they brighten the complexion, even out the skin tone, and reduce blemishes. They also get rid of stubborn dry patches and flaky skin.
Exfoliation also treats and prevents milia, which are tiny bumps on the skin. They form as a result of the build-up of dead skin cells trapped underneath the skin. By removing the dead skin cells, exfoliating masks eliminate milia.
Last but not least, exfoliating face masks normalize your skin turnover as a long-term anti-aging benefit. As a result, you get plumper skin with less visible wrinkles.
How To Choose an Exfoliating Mask?
Exfoliating face masks come in different forms and textures. For best results, you need to choose depending on your skin type.
For example, if you have oily skin and are prone to acne, go for exfoliating masks in clay form. And look for chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid. Clay will balance excess oil and mattify your complexion while the acids exfoliate.
If you have dry skin, an exfoliating mask made with clay can cause dryness. In that case, look for something creamy, which will eliminate dryness.
If you have sensitive skin, you can try exfoliating masks either made with enzymes or acids but in lower concentrations.
The Best Exfoliating Masks
Below are the best exfoliating face masks to improve your complexion on all possible levels. Delivered in gel form or clay, enhanced with hydroxy acids or enzymes, you’re guaranteed to find an exfoliating face mask for your skin type below.
This one is an amazing exfoliating face mask for oily and acne-prone skin. The mask contains both clay and chemical exfoliants to renew oily skin. While clay absorbs excess oil and mattifies the complexion, 2% fruit acids, rich in glycolic and lactic acids, exfoliate.
The mask detoxifies the skin and resurfaces a healthier and clearer layer. Additional soothing botanicals provide anti-inflammatory benefits to calm acne-prone skin.
This one packs a blend of alpha-hydroxy acids. Glycolic, lactic, and tartaric acids are all naturally-derived to smooth the skin texture and exfoliate surface dead cells. 5% salicylic acid derived from willow bark helps with clogged and enlarged pores and gets rid of blackheads.
The mask has a gel base that goes on and off easily and doesn’t leave the skin tight or dry afterward. It’s a fantastic exfoliating face mask to increase radiance and get a more even-toned complexion.
The super-light exfoliating mask contains naturally-derived salicylic acid to clear up congested skin. The mask is also formulated with clay, which is already a winner for oily/combination skin to balance the complexion.
While pink clay draws out impurities from the skin, natural salicylic acid unclogs pores and reduces inflammation to prevent future blemishes. The natural exfoliating mask has a light base and leaves the skin looking smoother, brighter, and clearer.
This exfoliating face mask is made with a polyhydroxy acid, namely gluconolactone. Contrary to glycolic or salicylic acid, gluconolactone is way gentler on the skin. It works on the surface level to slurp up dead skin cells. And it additionally hydrates and plumps the skin.
The exfoliating face mask has a clay base to help with congestion and blemishes. The skin-friendly PHA mask gently resurfaces the skin without irritating or causing full-blown redness. It leaves the skin soft and pure, making it one of the best exfoliating face masks for people with sensitive skin.
This nightly sleep mask is perfect if you prefer an exfoliating mask that doubles as a leave-on treatment too. The nourishing Korean jelly mask is made with a combination of AHAs like glycolic and lactic acids.
Besides, it has nourishing watermelon extract as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid. The overnight exfoliating mask is super gentle on the skin and can even be your new anti-aging night cream. It reveals your smoothest and brightest skin overnight.
Combining chemical exfoliants with enzymes, the mask smooths the look of textured skin and polishes the complexion. Glycolic acid and lactic acids remove the dead skin cells to revive lackluster skin.
They help with scarring, hyperpigmentation, and flaky skin as well. Papaya enzymes polish the complexion and eliminate congestion. The mask leaves the skin renewed, refreshed, and more radiant than ever.
This one gives you the benefit of physical exfoliation minus the scratchy granules that can irritate your skin. The dual exfoliating mask contains glycolic and lactic acids as well as tartaric and malic acids to lift off dead skin cells and revitalize the skin.
The light creamy mask also contains tiny clay particles that are super gentle on the skin to give you a bit of mechanical exfoliation as well. The hydrating combo of squalane and hyaluronic acid replenishes the skin and leaves it supple and bouncy.
Made with a potent blend of 10% alpha-hydroxy acids and 2% beta hydroxy acid, the mask is your own 10-minute DIY facial. It wipes away surface skin cells that lead to clogged pores. And it makes sure you have your healthiest and glowiest skin ever.
The light gel-textured formula has a moisturizing base to avoid leaving the skin dry, dehydrated, and irritated. Far from it, the mask plumps up the skin and leaves it soft and radiant.
Combining the comforting feeling of a sheet mask with the glow-boosting effects of glycolic acid, this one is pretty unique. The sheet mask infuses the skin with the resurfacing AHA as well as several botanicals to bring back your glow. Energizing ginseng, anti-inflammatory witch hazel, soothing aloe, and hydrating cucumber leave the skin nourished, brighter, and healthier.
You get to peel off dead skin cells and increase skin turnover without irritating or drying your skin out. The mask is pretty affordable and each pack contains 3 exfoliating sheet masks.
This is a glycolic acid mask enriched with papaya enzymes. Combining that with a skin-hugging, creamy base, the mask minimizes irritation and dryness, making it the best exfoliating face mask for dry skin.
So it doesn’t dry down hard or turn into a cement-like texture on the skin. The exfoliating mask is excellent for reducing hyperpigmentation, fading scarring, and softening the look of wrinkles without damaging your skin.
This concludes our round-up of the best exfoliating masks. If you’re not sure how to use one, keep reading.
How to Use an Exfoliating Face Mask?
The most important thing to remember here is to check the instructions on the products. But as a general rule of thumb, use your exfoliating face mask on clean and dry skin.
Depending on the product, leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes and rinse it off. As exfoliation can be drying, follow with your moisturizer to replenish the skin.
If you have very sensitive skin, you can try leaving the product on for about 5 minutes to avoid irritation. Additionally, you can try using your exfoliating mask as a spot treatment. Apply the mask on problematic areas like clogged pores on the cheeks, nose, or chin.
How Often to Use an Exfoliating Mask?
Depending on your skin’s tolerance, you can use an exfoliating mask 1-3 times a week. If you need more than that, a face mask is going to be a waste of money.
In that case, go for daily serums, toners, or exfoliating pads. Additionally, remember to use sunscreen daily as chemical exfoliants make the skin more prone to sunburn.
Read Next: The Best At-Home Multi-Acid Peels