To say acne can ruin your day, week, or even your month is an understatement when you feel like you're fighting (and losing) an uphill battle with those pesky blemishes. But that's where some of the best face masks for acne come in—and you can even pick up some at your local drugstore. "Many women with acne struggle with picking and the vicious cycle it creates," says Elyse Shelger RN, director of medical operations at Skin Laundry. "Soothing and healing masks can help calm redness and irritation."
And the usage of face masks is nothing new—thousands of years ago, clays, muds, and herbs were used to create natural, healing, rejuvenating masks, according to Jamé Heskett, MD, author of The Well Path and founder of The Well Path Clinic in New York City). Now, Heskett says we have science to back up the usage of some of these ancient practices and topicals to heal problem skin. And the best way to apply them? "Your skin is an organ—it is all connected—so if you have blemishes, it's best to treat the whole face." Below, find the 13 best face masks for acne recommended by top dermatologists, aestheticians, and skin experts.
"Place this sheet mask in the fridge before using. The cold temperature will further stimulate the blood circulation in your face, improving the overall absorption of nutrients that come from ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil and lentil seed extract. Scoop out any remaining product from the package and apply to arms, elbows, and any other dry spots—don't let any go to waste! And if you want something a bit stronger, try one of Skin Laundry's 15-minute Laser and Light Facials that reduce pigmented spots and inflammation with no downtime at all." — Elyse Shelger, RN, director of medical operations at Skin Laundry
"Face masks help restore the skin barrier, which can sometimes be inflamed or damaged with acne, either from other medications or from inflammatory papules. The sheet mask from Knours is nice because it helps keep the serum and ingredients on the skin for the time you leave the sheet on. It also has honey as an ingredient, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial." — Anthony Rossi, MD, New York–based board-certified dermatologist
"An at-home face mask specifically for acne can dry out existing acne, tighten pores, and minimize oil production. This version from Mario Badescu reduces redness, takes away inflammation, and calms the skin overall." — Parvaneh Rafaeloff, MD, Le Jolie Medi Spa in Los Angeles
"At-home face masks can supplement your acne treatment, but it should not be your only acne solution (make sure to make a plan with your dermatologist). This cleanser can be used as a mask that can be rinsed off after 10 minutes—it contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cell build-up while kaolin, a natural clay mineral, draws out toxin particles and debris." —Melissa K. Levin, board-certified dermatologist, founder of Entière Dermatology, and clinical instructor at NYU Langone and Mount Sinai Hospital
“You can use this gel as an overnight mask. It’s all-natural and avoids the use of dehydrating alcohol preservatives. Try using it two times per week starting at week two (but you can reduce applications if your skin feels too exfoliated)." — Athena Hewett, aesthetician and founder of Monastery
"This mask contains probiotics that not only trigger an improvement in the appearance of the skin but optimize skin's microflora and its natural defense. I use it during bath time as the warm water can help circulation." — Dendy Engelman, MD, Manhattan-based dermatological surgeon
"This Proactiv mask contains sulfur, which kills surface bacteria that may cause acne. It works to break down keratin to clean pores and is anti-inflammatory and calming to skin. Use it once a week in conjunction with Proactiv Detox Hydrogel (out later this month), which is made with bamboo charcoal and Lava clay to clean acne-prone skin." — Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York
"This OTC- mask contains benzoyl peroxide to decrease acne-causing bacteria. To help dry oily-prone skin, use it once a week." — Rachel Nazarian
"What I like is that this mask with Bentonite clay is that it's powerful but gentle. It allows the body to naturally control oil and restore pH balance and bacterial flora so that the skin can reset and break the cycle of acne production. Apply a thin layer to clean skin (it may tingle!) and rinse after 10 minutes. — Jamé Heskett, MD, author of The Well Path and founder of The Well Path Clinic in New York City
"Sulfur is the active ingredient in this mask. Yes, it has a reputation for giving rotten eggs their odor (products have been formulated to smell fine, thankfully!), but it is anti-bacterial, drying, and helps lift off dead skin cells gently." — Jennifer Herrmann, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills
"This mask is packed with all-natural activated charcoal, which works like a magnet to draw out dirt and toxins. Definitely use the brush that's included with the mask, it's more hygienic—and don't leave it on too long since any mask can strip the good oils you want to hold onto!" — Ryan Channing, founder of BLAQ and Generation Clay
"Use this exfoliating papaya enzyme mask two times a month. It can be applied for 10 minutes and will soften the skin and extract pimples." — Athena Hewett