As someone with annoyingly finicky skin, I take my product choices pretty seriously—including my masking formulas. (Um, you wouldn't believe how many times an "anti-acne" product has, in fact, produced acne—not ideal.) So because I have quite a bit of experience hunting down the best face masks for acne in all the land, I'm sharing the only formulas that consistently clear and fade my breakouts. Because yes, acne scarring is inevitable. Ahead, 10 best-of-the-best face masks for acne I keep on hand at all times. (You never know when that rogue pimple will choose to strike.) Keep scrolling!
1. Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Masque
The second I feel a zit coming on, I reach for this iconic, sparkling, jelly-like pot of gold from Renée Rouleau. Not only is Rouleau one of my favorite humans and skin experts on the planet, but she also knows a thing or two about truly effective product formulation, and I've sworn by her products ever since I was introduced to them about two years go. This face mask for acne has been a constant, can be applied as often as needed (I've gone so far as nightly), and features tons of strategic skincare adds like bacteria-busting salicylic acid, tea tree leaf oil, and manuka, expertly paired with soothing things like Chinese licorice and allantoin. For best results, I love applying it after I've used her equally famous Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($89). The afterglow is incomparable.
2. Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask
Fair warning: This mask stinks—but only literally. That's because it contains the nitty-gritty (and yes, smelly) ingredients an acne-prone complexion needs once in a while. Consider this mask an alien-esque, green-hued dose of tough love. Just as the name suggests, the hero ingredient in this face mask is sulfur, which, while not exactly pleasant to sniff, is incredibly effective at drying out and banishing a stubborn pimple, or two or three.
3. Tata Harper Clarifying AHA + BHA Mask
If you love clean, organic, elegantly packaged skincare but also want something that's truly effective at combatting acne—not merely lackadaisical—this favorite from Tata Harper is the gold standard. It's green and swampy-looking (yes, I have a theme here) but is loaded with tons of beautifying skin ingredients like exfoliating AHA superfruits (you need acids in your life if you have acne, folks), super seeds, and quartz micro-crystals.
4. Olga Lorencin Skincare Deep Detox Facial in a Box
Celebrity esthetician Olga Lorencin is known for her red carpet–worthy facials, and her ingenious facials in a box are the next best thing to visiting the woman herself. (A-list clientele, such as Halle Berry, are also fans!) Due to my acne issues, I go for the Deep Detox version, but the Ageless ($98) and Red Carpet ($109) options are also fabulous. Within the kit, you get three steps: a peel, a neutralizer, and the actual mask. And yes, issues like blackheads and other burgeoning bumps almost instantly disappear or at the very least look a heck of a lot less threatening come morning. (I like to do the system at night while I Netflix.)
5. The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Masque
This is the newest launch from the mega-favorite brand The Ordinary, and it's a godsend for those suffering from acne issues. It's infused with charcoal and clays that pretty much suck the gunk right out of compromised pores. Skin is left feeling detoxified, smooth, and perfectly glowy—not shabby for just $12!
6. Maya Chia Refresh Mint Mask
Okay, bold statement ahead, but this ridiculously gorgeous face mask (it looks like a cerulean pool of fairy water) makes the list of my top five favorite skincare products ever. Nothing cleans up my acne or leaves my skin brighter and more radiant than a once-per-week application, and while the formula does tingle and burn a bit (that's the exfoliating salicylic acid, pumpkin and pineapple enzymes, azelaic acid, and lactic acid doing their thing!), it calms down relatively fast, and the end result is well worth any initial discomfort.
7. Goldfaden MD Facial Detox
Goldfaden MD is one of those dark-horse brands that aren't as mainstream but are so, so good. You can't go wrong with any of the brand's formulas, and I own quite a few, but this detox in a tub is one of my go-tos if my skin has been flaring up. Unlike some acne face masks, it's surprisingly gentle and features additional hydrators like avocado and jojoba oil, which help the skin retain moisture (essential for breakouts!) without stripping, clogging, or burning.
8. True Botanicals Resurfacing Moisture Mask
This sweet little mask from True Botanicals is the newest acne-fighter I've added to my collection, and it's quickly become a favorite. Key MVP ingredients include cell-sloughing lactic acid, moisturizing avocado butter, and brightening super-agent astaxanthin. All you have to do is apply it to a clean face at night whenever you feel like your skin is verging suspect, wait two to five minutes, and then gently rinse off with warm water and pat dry. It is moisturizing, but make sure you follow with your fave face cream.
9. May Lindstrom The Honey Mud
May Lindstrom is the magical creator of some of the most luxurious and divine-smelling natural skincare products in the game. This face mask features a bunch of antibacterial ingredients like raw honey and witch hazel, strategically anchored by other yummy things like clay, colloidal silver, and plant oils. Plus, it can conveniently double as a cleanser or mask. The brand will be unveiling an upgraded version of the mask in summer 2020.
10. Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial
There are a lot of acne face mask out there that claim to be facial in a box or jar, but this fan-favorite formula from Goop truly walks the packaging's talk. It plays host to essential AHAs and BHAs to sweep away dulling and pimple-promoting buildup while nourishing vitamin B5, aloe, and other skin-loving fruit extracts soothe, smooth, and plump for an all-around healthier-looking complexion.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.