6 Face Masks That Really Deliver

6 Face Masks

For someone with a near-pathological love of beauty products, I’ve never been one to mask. Slathering on an opaque treatment seemed high maintenance, something better suited to a 1950’s Hollywood starlet in an overly bubbled bath. Recently, though, I became a convert. You can mask while washing dishes, reading a book, brushing your teeth — and afterward, you’re left with this satisfying sense of accomplishment, and a noticeably improved complexion. So, without further ado, here are six amazing options for whatever ails you…

6 Face Masks

‘Tis winter, the season of angry skin. Whether you have redness, rosacea or plain old dermatological angst, Mario Badescu Azulene Calming Mask is the answer. It goes on thick, dries to a hardened finish, and — after lurking around the apartment pretending to be Mystique (who is technically bluer, but whatever, it was fun) — rinses off cleanly. It was soothing and calming, even on my sad, just-getting-over-a-cold nose.

Are you in the market for a facial treatment to scare your significant other or take a really jarring Instagram photo? Look no further. Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask absorbs oil, dirt and impurities, leaving your pores “noticeably refined.” Before this mask, a scary pimple threatened to erupt on my chin, and afterward, IT WAS GONE. What more is there to say?

Infused with real rose petals, Fresh Rose Face Mask sounds like something out of a fairytale. In truth, it is a gloopy orange gel resembling ancient duck sauce. Shudder. I slathered it on, then spent the next 10 minutes looking like what can only be described as a greasy Oompa Loompa. But you know what? It left my skin feeling super hydrated, a welcome antidote to dry winter air. Duck sauce, I love you.

With “superfine walnut grain and orange oil,” Bobbi Brown Radiance Boost Exfoliating Mask sounds like a delicious muffin and smells like one, too. Requiring just 2-5 minutes of your life, this made my face tingle (and then kind of sting), so at least I knew it was doing something. While anyone with sensitive skin should probably stay away (or go for a gentler option, like this), it did provide a wow-my-face-feels-refreshed feeling. Think of it as a reset button in a tube.

If you’ve recently found yourself working out, riding public transit, snuggling with a pet, or just generally being a person, chances are your face is somewhat dirty. It’s okay — Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, with ingredients sourced from the Marajo Island at the mouth of the Amazon River, claims to remove blackheads and “intensively” clean pores. It made my skin feel so clean and smooth that I wanted to pet my own face like a kitten. I didn’t, though, because that would be weird.

If you’re still thinking this whole mask thing sounds fussy, here is the product for you. Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque goes on like a moisturizer — leaving no trace of itself — then works its magic while you sleep. Infused with a potent blend of botanicals, this tube of wonder promises you’ll awaken to vibrant skin. Yes, that sounds miraculous, but I woke up looking noticeably (almost disturbingly) better. My skin felt smoother, looked plumper, and at no point did I have to resemble Swamp Thing. Win, win.

6 Face Masks

Do you mask? Any favorites not listed here? We’d love to hear…

P.S. Four face mists and a handy guide to essential oils.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thanks for supporting the brands that help keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Nice job Caroline! I personally love the French Rose mask, my skin feel’s like a baby’s butt afterwards lol. Anyway, keep up the great work!

  2. Chicago says...

    I LOVE the Galaxy Greens detoxifying mask and Moon moisturizing mask from Glossier. I use the greens and then the moon and my face feels like a baby’s bum…you can’t beat it! And the packaging is just too good.

  3. I love a mask, even if you do end up looking ridiculous with one on!

    I’m just about to go and put a Dead Sea mineral one on actually, my skin needs it (eek)!

    P.s. I love your pyjamas!


  4. I like masks too, my favourite is with blue clay from Baikal (Russia), rejuvenate the skin, deep cleansing and leave the skin great.
    Best regards.

  5. My mask is most cheap and purchased on and at some health food stores that I frequent. Alba is the brand I use of late and it is good for evening the tone of your skin. Alba Botanica Even Advanced, Deep Sea Facial Mask, 4 Ounce is ideal for most skin type. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Lia says...

    I have been trying different homemade masks and I found a great recipe. 1 tsp of the following: turmeric, yogurt, honey, baking soda, lemon, for 30 min. It brigthens and hydrates the skin amazingly!

  7. Environ Revival Mask! Super hydrating but also fights angry winter skin with alpha-hydroxy acids! And Beautycounter The Balm for hydrated, glowing, clean skin! Go to my website below to check it out.

  8. Lily says...

    Caroline, you are an angel.
    I am OBSESSED with the Fresh Rose Face Mask because it makes my skin feel so nourished and lovely. I am also a big fan of Lush’s Catastrophe Cosmetic. It’s made with blueberries!

  9. BDubs says...

    Caroline, your writing makes me laugh. I love your voice and humor. Gotta go get some masks now, brb

  10. Miriam says...

    I love masks and use some bought ones too (From Annemarie Börlid, or a muddy one with minerals from the Dead see). But mostly I make my own ones, as my mom and her mom always did. For this time of year and a rather dry skin I love to use a avocado mask. So soothing and rich!

  11. These all sound great, I may just have to invest in the Clinique one in particular! I do love a good facemask, but I’ve stuck to the Lush range for the last few years!

    Helen xx

  12. After reading on of the Beauty Uniform posts (I forget which one) I started using the Aztec Clay mask with apple cider vinegar. It’s amazing for someone with combination skin. I do it about once a week and my face is flushed and glowing afterwards, and I no longer break out before my period! I’m going to have to try that Bobbi Brown one now!

  13. HAHA you are seriously funny! I loved this & can vouch for every Mario Badescu product, they are severely underrated.

  14. I’ve rarely used a mask, but I love this post. Caroline, you are so subtly hilarious.

  15. Sydney says...

    I love love love the Lush “Mask of Magnaminty”. It’s GREEN (which is awesome), smells and feels refreshing, and leaves my face soft and pore-less. When used at night, and followed by a good moisturizer, your skin GLOWS the next morning.

  16. Ally says...

    Oh gosh, I’m a mask addict. Some other great ones are Tata Harper’s resurfacing mask, May Lindstorm’s Problem Solver, and Pai Skincare’s masks. They’re all fab!

  17. ORIGIN!! My fave mask ever is their rose clay mask. It exfoliates as you wash it off and it leaves my skin looking sparkly bright and super soft. I recently tried their charcoal mask and that one is nice also. Aesop’s parsley seed mask also does wonders in terms of brightness and smells amazing! It also dries very soft so you don’t get that tight feeling on your face.


    COFFEESLAG For Love & Lemons

  18. i might have just amazon’d (yes, that’s a real verb) three of these… can’t wait to try. thanks for the great reviews, caroline! xx

  19. Your blog is like my brain. Given your huge audience, it feels so nice not to be alone–that there are other women that want to talk about philosophical issues, relationship issues, but also like to obsess over “silly” things like beauty and fashion 1. because it’s fun, but 2. because the world is so crazy sometimes you just want to focus on something as simple as a pair of earrings that make your face pretty :)