When it comes to beauty products, there's nothing more satisfying than finally peeling off a face mask after waiting what feels like forever as it changes from spreadable goo to a peelable consistency similar to the dried glue. But thanks to their unique application, peel-off face masks can offer more than just a satisfying experience and hilarious skincare content for your Tik-Tok. They can help to remove dead skin cells, detoxify your pores, fight acne, and visibly reduce the appearance of large pores and blackheads.
In this guide, we'll teach you everything you need to know about versatile beauty products and highlight the best peel-off masks on the skincare market in 2021.
What are peel-off face masks?
As the name implies, peel-off masks are peeled off the face instead of washed away. Most formulas are spread as a thick paste or liquid and dry into something that can be peeled off with ease around 15-30 minutes later. Common ingredients include detoxifying clay or charcoal, skin-brightening Vitamin C and antioxidants, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and acne-fighting tea tree or witch hazel.
The pull-off removal is what makes this type of face mask so unique. When you peel away the mask, you're quite literally peeling away blackheads, acne-causing bacteria, excess oil, and dead skin cells along with it. Because of their exfoliating effect, peel-off masks should be used no more than once per week. While people with oily skin usually apply the mask to their whole face, those with less oily skin types often apply the product on just the t-zone. It's best to wait a few days to use a peel-off mask after exfoliating your skin or using another style of face mask.
Benefits of Peel-Off Masks
When used in conjunction with other quality skin care products, a peel-off mask can do wonders for your skin. While the benefits of specific formulas vary based on the properties of their ingredients, all peel-off masks share these advantages:
- Removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores, reducing dullness and leaving you with a brightening glow
- Visibly reduces pore size and lessens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in a more even skin texture
- Reduces oiliness and eliminates acne-causing bacteria that lead to blackheads and blemishes
- Removes dirt and toxins that build up in your pores, helping products to absorb better and be more effective
Peel-off Masks vs. Other Masks
While peel-off masks can be great for oily and acne-prone skin, they may not be the best choice for dry, sensitive skin that's prone to irritation. Remember always to peel slowly and gently to avoid damaging the skin. If you find peel-off masks too harsh, other mask styles like sheet masks and traditional wash-off masks may be more suitable for your skin.
The Best and Worst Ingredients in a Peel-Off Face Mask
When it comes to skincare, it's all about the formula. While some ingredients can have brightening, acne-fighting, anti-aging effects, others can leave your skin stripped and dry. Here are a few key ingredients to look for in a product:
- Vitamin C— a powerful antioxidant that helps brighten skin, fight free radical damage and reduce dark spots
- Hyaluronic acid— boosts hydration and gives a plump, dewy appearance
- Glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids— acne-fighting acids that help to remove dead skin, kill bacteria, and unclog pores
- Aloe vera, lavender oil, or rosewater— used in combination with charcoal or kaolin clay, they soothe skin and prevent redness
- Botanical extracts— Instead of harsh parabens and sulfates, look for natural beauty products that contain essential oils and plant-based extracts such as goji berry, pomegranate, ginseng,
Similarly, there are some things you'll want to keep an eye out for depending on your skin type, and some you'll want to avoid altogether, regardless of your complexion concern. As with all beauty products, it best to look for a mask made with natural ingredients instead of synthetic chemicals and fillers:
- Charcoal— While charcoal is a main ingredient in the average mask, it can be too harsh for many people's skin and should be used mindfully and sparingly
- Disodium EDTA
- Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
- PEG (Polyethylene glycol) and other PEGs
- Polysorbate 20, 60, 80 which have contamination concerns
- Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol
- Steareth 2, 21 composed of PEG and alcohol
- Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, also known as synthetic mica
- Synthetic Fragrance/Parfum
- Titanium Dioxide
- Artificial dyes
The Best Peel-Off Masks of 2021
This cryotherapy-inspired Cryosea Mermaid Fire and Ice Peel-off Mask from Boscia leaves your skin feeling tingly, cool, and thoroughly hydrated. Seawater, red algae, sodium hyaluronate, sea kelp, and menthol increase circulation and boost hydration, helping to tighten, plump, and lift tired skin. Plus, the product is vegan, gluten-free, and contains zero artificial fragrances or colors.
If your skin is both sensitive and acne-prone, Miss Spa's Charcoal Clear Pore Peel-Off Mask can help detox your skin and remove excess oil without irritation. The blackhead mask features charcoal powder and montmorillonite clay that work in unison to unclog impurities like dirt and pollutants and draw out excess sebum that leads to breakouts. While other charcoal masks can leave your skin feeling dry and stripped, this dermatologist-tested, paraben-free formula keeps things balanced.
Advanced Clinicals Activated Charcoal Peel-Off Mask tightens, firms, and boosts skin hydration by up to 88%. Potent natural ingredients like witch hazel, green tea extracts, tea tree oil, and rose make it particularly great for oily, acne-prone skin. The black mask can also be used on just the nose or t-zone to target blackheads and large pores.
While charcoal peel-off masks can be too harsh for dry or sensitive skin, the calming formula of the Florence by Mills Low-Key Calming Peel-Off Mask makes it suitable for all skin types. Key ingredients like water lily extract, chamomile extract, and witch hazel are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that leave skin soothed and nourished. Plus, the iridescent rose gold color makes for an adorable mud-mask selfie.
Fans of K-Beauty will love this Snox Fox Japanese Cherry Blossom and White Tea Smoothing Mask. Thanks to antioxidant-rich cherry blossom extract, the face mask gives skin a glossy, dewy look known in Asia as the "glass skin" look. While it provides instant smoothing and plumping effects, it can help improve skin texture and minimize fine lines when used over time.
This iridescent purple Mind Glowing Peel-Off Mask from Florence by Mills is vegan, cruelty-free, and made without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. The hero ingredient of the formula is purifying charcoal that draws out dirt and oils from pores. The addition of lavender oil calms skin down and leaves you feeling balanced.