Masked and Dangerous / by Kate Palisay

My 10th birthday party was a spa-themed sleepover, complete with loofah-filled goodie baskets, mani-pedis courtesy of my older cousin, and plenty of sliced cucumbers to don on our young, unwrinkled eyelids. Most exciting to me was the collection of drugstore face masks in a rainbow of shiny pouches, each of which pictured a model smiling beneath a layer of pastel goop. There was something so mature and glamorous about a mask to my ten year-old self. The stars of all the best romantic comedies wore them behind closed doors as part of a special, secret ritual from which they emerged if not more stunning, then certainly with a new air of confidence and grace. Face masks were a secret weapon of beautiful women, and being able to apply one to my own skin was a rite of passage into elegance and adulthood.

In hindsight, it's clear that such beauty rituals were performed in secret because most face masks make you look like a green-faced alien. And, to the untrained (read: male) eye, a little psychotic. But that makes them no less magical to me. Thankfully, I've upgraded from the sticky 99 cent peels we struggled to get off at my slumber party to a collection of masks that brighten, refine, soothe, and treat. While I'll never stop testing new formulas and brands of face masks (and sending Snapchat blasts of what I would look like as a swamp creature), I of course have my favorites that I return to over and over again.


Origins Clear Improvement

My relationship with this active charcoal mask is long-term. I've been using it to suck dirt out of my pores and tame angry breakouts for years. No other charcoal or clay mask has been able to beat it, especially at this price point. Even the small tube lasts for ages. Pro tip: a warm washcloth to steam open pores before applying this mask makes it even more effective.

LUSH Brazened Honey

Made fresh in-store, this mask contains honey, free-range eggs, lime, kaolin clay, and ground almonds, and it costs just $7.95. It's my go-to for when my pores are in serious need of some unclogging and I can't seem to get a stubborn breakout to clear.

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy

You can listen to me describe my love for this product in intimate detail in my previous post about Blue Tansy. But all you really need to know is that this stuff is pure magic. Everyone should own this resurfacing mask, especially anyone who has had acne (present or past tense), and has the scars to prove it.

Dr. Brandt Oxygen Facial

I've loved this Flash Recovery Mask ever since a Tarte rep at Sephora used it on my face to calm and smooth my skin before applying makeup. I use it whenever my complexion is looking dull, morning or night. It's pricey, but lasts forever.

Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

The newest addition to this list, this moisturizing mask that contains amazing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and honey, has become a fast favorite. I love watching it disappear into my thirsty skin over the course of a half hour. Apply it at night to wake up with plumped up, glowy skin, or in the morning on days when flakes threaten to sabotage your makeup application.