Raise your hand if your skin has been acting up recently. (Reader, my two hands are reaching for the sky right now.) Maybe it's the weather changing, maybe it's stress—but for whatever reason, myself and everyone around me has blemishes and breakouts to spare. 'Tis the season for our complexions going off the rails, apparently. Even if you've invested in an everyday acne-fighting skincare routine, from face washes to moisturizers, sometimes you need something extra to kick cystic flare-ups and random pimples to the curb. Enter: acne-fighting face masks.
Can a face mask actually help acne?
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Yes. Of all the face masks in existence—and there are limitless options these days—the ones that fight acne may just show results the fastest. If your T-zone is constantly slick and messing with your foundation game, a few dabs of a clay formula can nix extra oil instantly. And of you wake up with some random red bumps on your cheeks, a calming mask can quell inflammation and take down that rosiness fast. Even better, new ingredients are being discovered and tested all the time to defeat the blemishes that threaten to appear at any moment.
So, to streamline your shopping, we've rounded up the absolute best masks for every skin type and kind of acne. (Hot tip: Grab a few different options if you can, and multi-mask for a more bespoke treatment.) From soothing gel formulas for reactive, sensitive skin to muddy clay that's served best slathered on oily complexions, there's something for everyone.
For Oily Skin
This Amazon darling has a boatload of positive reviews and a cult following. If your T-zone looks like a Slip-N-Slide by the end of the day, this clay mask will help control oil production and unclog any congestion that can collect near your nose, cheeks, and forehead.
For Dry Skin
Yes, acne and dry skin can go hand in hand. If you want to absorb extra oil and unclog those pores without looking flaky, this purifying mask hydrates while it works.
The “superclay” in question is actually a blend of three types of clay that absorbs excess oil, while salicylic acid targets breakouts, and 2% niacinamide evens skin tone and supports hydration. Apply for just 10 minutes up to three times a week, and skin will appear noticeably clearer.
Editors often reach for Cetaphil products when their skin is having a bit of a meltdown, and we're adding this mask to our arsenal. If you've got major congestion but want to keep the area calm, dap this gentle yet effective mud formula to your nose and rinse for a clearer complexion.
For Dry Skin
Glow Recipe is already known for one famous watermelon mask, and they’ve added another one to the mix. This time around, it’s a non-drying clay formula targeted with beta and poly-hydroxy acids, helping to gently exfoliate and unclog pores.
A blend of botanical ingredients make this gentle yet effective formula a cult favorite: willow bark extract is a natural source of acne-clearing salicylic acid, fruit enzymes gentle exfoliate, and blue tansy calms redness—and provides that gorgeous jewel-tone hue.
For A Quick Glow
Why yes, hardened lava IS the secret for clear skin, we're glad you asked. The volcanic material, which is harvested in South Korea, helps absorb excess sebum while acne-fighting salicylic acid minimizes pores and exfoliates dead skin cells. The mousse-y formula is fun to apply, too.
For Your T-Zone
A classic! Charcoal is a champ when it comes to sucking up excess oil, and this formula will help keep your nose and cheeks calm and clear.
The clay in this luxe formula is harvested from Umbria, Italy where the land is rich with nutrients. If clay masks dry you out, this one makes the case for trying them again: chamomile flower and lavender water help soothe while the clay treats skin.
This double-duty formula can be used as a detoxifying mask or exfoliating scrub. Either way, it will leave skin feeling smoother and softer, and minimize the look of pores. Sold!
If you're experiencing a flare-up and you're looking rosier than usual, apply a generous later of this soothing formula at night and wake up with significantly calmer skin.
For Sensitive Skin
Consider this the first line of defense for ruddy, angry breakouts. The second you see blemishes start to rise, apply a layer of this gel-like mask to quell redness and inflammation.
For Congested Skin
Sulfer is a potent purifying, and this mask blends it with two types of clay to treat bad breakouts. Hot tip: add some to your shoulders if you suffer from back-ne.
For Acne Scars
Dark spots and scarring are often leftovers from breakouts, especially as we age, and this AHA blend improves skin texture for an instant glow. But don't worry about overdoing it: anti-inflammatory CBD and reishi calm skin as the mask does its thing.
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Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.