What's the best peel-off face mask? We tried them, so you don't have to

Gimmick or game changer?

By Amber Elias
Peel-off face masks are having a moment right now, and we can understand why. Advancements in formulas and ingredients have meant the face mask is potentially more than just a gimmick. But are these brightly coloured formulas actually beneficial? The short answer is yes. Unlike other face masks that are washed off and the residual ingredients diluted, peel-off masks have the advantage of being able to keep the concentrated active ingredients on your skin, meaning the effects can be longer lasting.
Some peel-off masks also give you a mild exfoliating treatment by removing the top layer of dead skin cells. But be warned that a few types may take off some of your very fine facial hair also, so avoid your eyebrows and hair line and do a patch test on your skin to check if the mask is the right one for you.

GLAMGLOW GravityMud Firming Treatment review

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First up, this mask looked amazing on my skin. It was silver and pearlescent and would easily pass for a party costume. Secondly, it felt amazing on. I used the small brush that was included with the mask to apply a thin layer of the gel over my entire face, avoiding my eye and lip area. It’s important to paint an even layer on the skin so the mask peels off easily.
It claims to firm and tighten the appearance of skin, and it definitely felt firming on my skin. As the mask dries it tightens, which is not uncomfortable but does make you aware that you have something on your face.
Thankfully, there is more to this mask than its supernatural colour. The formula contains hyaluronic acid to plump skin instantly, and Icelandic kelp which contains high amounts of iodine to reduce inflammation and remove free radicals that can accelerate ageing.
This mask is best used in the morning, as the firming effect is only temporary and you’ll want to make the most out of it. I went on to apply my usual serums and I used less foundation than usual which is a sign of a good treatment.
GLAMGLOW GravityMud Firming Treatment, $98,

Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask review

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This mask is straight out of a science class, but the sci-fi look was definitely worth it because it left my skin plump and glowing. To make this mask, you mix two sachets together (a gel and powder respectively) in a bowl with the spatula (all included in the kit) until you achieve a hair-gel-like consistency. Using the spatula you gentle wipe the mixture onto your face, which at first was tricky because the gel kept moving around, but once it started sticking to itself it because easier. I covered my whole face, leaving my eye and lip area clear.
The most obvious thing I noticed was how cooling this mask was, like a chilled glass of water had been poured on my face. I can image it would feel amazing on sunburn or on inflamed skin (but check with your GP or dermatologist first if your skin is looking really unhappy), and particularly if you're suffering from puffiness or hot flashes. You could even leave the unmixed gel packets in the fridge for extra cooling.
As the mask dries, it sets into a firm, bouncy gel and is no longer sticky. It was really comfortable on my face, so much so that I could leave it on while walking around the house – it didn’t slip down at all and create a mess. The water-tight gel formula contoured to my face and trapped the active ingredients against my skin so they didn’t evaporate.
This blue mask uses three key ingredients. Algin, an acid from seaweed, helps soften and smooth skin, hyaluronic acid helps re-hydrate your skin by drawing moisture in from the air, as does glycerine which is also a humectant (a substance that retains moisture).
After I peeled off the mask, (which was oddly enjoyable) fine lines around my eyes were filled out, and my skin looked even without any redness.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask, $67,

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay review

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If you're looking for a clarifying mask, this is the one for you. Although it had a slight plastic smell, the gel went on smoothly (I just used my hands) and it was easy to get an even layer. It claims to give you an immediate result and will purify skin, reduce the appearance of pores and control excess oil. It contains red clay, which can draw out impurities, but I'm not convinced the concentration was high enough in this formula to see a difference, at least not with my skin. Along with absorbing oil, this mask says it will reduce discolouration around blemished areas, but again, I didn’t notice this with my skin.
It peeled off easily, but it looked very scary on. I mean, very scary. Like I had dipped my face in tomato soup or was an extra on The Walking Dead – you get the idea. It did leave my skin soft thanks to the glycerine and rosemary oil, and I would recommend it if you have oily skin, or just used it on congested areas.

Blaq Mask review

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This is the mask you have seen on the internet, and yes it is intense. The Blaq mask is designed to physically remove blackheads and impurities from your skin, particularly on your nose, chin and forehead.
It contains charcoal as the active ingredient (meaning the thing that is helping your skin) which makes it very opaque and black. It comes out as a thick gel, but spread very easily. I used it all over my face, which I wouldn’t do again – I think it might work best as a targeted treatment on oily areas. Applying an even layer was quick, and I sat back and let it dry, which took longer than expected.
When it did dry it wasn’t achingly tight on my skin and I could still move my face. I started peeling, hoping not to lose an eyebrow. Honestly, it was slightly unpleasant to peel off (Disclaimer: I was impatient and didn’t wait until every part of the mask was dry, that’s why is peeled off unevenly). The first thing I noticed was that all my fine facial hairs (vellus hair covers your face and are usually undetectable) was being ripped out and my eyes started to water a little bit.
Thankfully when I was done, both eyebrows remained intact but I didn’t notice a change in the state of my pores. They weren’t worse, but they weren’t miraculously better. I can imagine this mask working if you have oiler skin, but not on acneic areas as the pulling might aggravate your skin even more.
The mask also claims to draw impurities to the surface of your skin, and I think it did do that – the next day I have a few small bumps on my forehead (sorry, too much information?) but they went away quickly. My skin was also a bit red afterwards, but not sore or painful.

So, which peel-off mask is the best?

Annoyingly, it depends on a few factors, like what treatment you're looking to get from a mask as well as your application technique.
These are the lessons I have learnt:
~ Apply your mask with a brush if you can. Either use a clean makeup brush or paint brush. Aim for something wide, soft and flat and ‘paint’ the mask onto your face. This gave me the most even coverage and was the quickest application.
~ Pick the mask that’s right for your skin concern, not what's trendy on the internet. I have dehydrated/combination skin, so I need a hydrating mask not a clarifying clay mask.
~ They take a while to dry, but the wait is worth it. A fully dry mask makes the peeling off process so much easier.
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