These Masks Will Make Your Dry, Dull Winter Skin Come Alive Again

Photo: Courtesy of Benev.
The fun parts of winter — Turkey dinner! Champagne toasts! Gift giving! — are long gone. And now? We’re left with sobering resolutions, compromised bank accounts, and dry, flaky skin. But the good news is this: Reviving parched skin is nowhere near as difficult as rebuilding a bank account.

If your skin still feels tight and dry after feeding it a daily dose of moisturizer, then a hydrating mask may provide the added boost it needs. “Face masks [can be] the most concentrated, results-driven products,” says Julie Russak, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “They add an extra dimension to your skin-care routine.”

Kelly Bickle, MD, a Beverly Hills and Orange, County, California-based dermatologist, also notes that face masks with built in-barriers (like the cellulose in sheet masks, solidified gel in modeling masks, and occlusives in overnight masks or gel or cream formulations) can help drive active ingredients into the skin. Whether with moisturizers, antioxidants, or other active ingredients, Dr. Bickle notes, “it’s about trying to get active ingredients into skin and trap them in."

Depending on your skin type, that may mean choosing an overnight mask made with intense hydrators and anti-aging ingredients (a solid choice for some with very dry skin); opting for a nourishing mask that also sweeps away dead skin cells so the ingredients in moisturizers and other skin-care products more easily absorb (something that may help ultimately boost hydration for some with dull skin); or going for a formula that taps hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, which can, re-establish skin’s water balance, Dr. Russak notes.

Whether they help bring out efficacy in your moisturizer or just give your skin the boost of hydration it needs to stop flaking, the following masks act like a big drink of water for your complexion — no matter what your skin type.

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This sheet mask is like nothing we’ve tried. To begin, it’s not soaked in serum. After applying the dry, felt-like mask and massaging its surface, ingredients like vitamin B3, peptides, and plant stem cells are released through heat activation. Ten minutes later, our skin sported a glowy sheen.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask, $22, available March 3 at Charlotte Tilbury.
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If you ask Dr. Dennis Gross, modeling masks are the future. He developed this version to help hydrating ingredients — like hyaluronic acid— better penetrate the skin. Our inner nerd loved concocting — and peeling away — the rubbery shell.

Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask, $46, available at Dr. Dennis Gross.
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When we think about the effect of surging hormones on our skin, breakouts come to mind. But hormonal changes can also cause dry, flaky skin. This cream-gel mask — made with algae extract, honey, milk peptides, and chamomile — was created by an OB/GYN to help pregnant women and nursing mothers hydrate their skin. Not that you need to be either to reap its benefits — a 20-minute soak left our complexion supple and bright.

Sapelo Beauty Milk & Honey Hydrating Mask, $75, available at Sapelo Beauty.
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Out of the tube, this mask looks like a standard moisturizing cream. But after five minutes on our face, its opacity largely disappeared, presumably because our parched skin drank up the moisturizing glycerin, plant-derived squalane, and mineral water particles within. One thing we know our skin didn’t absorb: preservatives. The six-ingredient formula is made without any whatsoever, but is kept sterile, thanks to innovative packaging.

Avène
Tolérance Extrême Mask, $34, available at Avène.
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When skin gets dry around the eyes, it reveals itself in the form of crepiness and fine lines that suddenly look more ingrained. Fun! Donning these generously-sized cooling gels for ten minutes had a smoothing effect (thanks to hyaluronic acid and plankton extract) for skin on our temples, orbital bones, and undereyes — something that helped make us look (and feel) like the young whippersnappers we are.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Hydra-Gel Eye Masks, $76, available at Nordstrom.
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If the indoor/outdoor shuffle has you toggling between warm and cold climates (and dry and humid air), your skin may be understandably confused — and highly reactive. This calming mask is designed to quell the skin’s WTF response to windburn, airplane cabins, and in-office treatments (like IPL) with hyaluronic acid, cucumber, thyme, and olive extracts — all ingredients that help soothe acneic or sensitive skin, says Dr. Russak.

Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Masque, $55, available at BlueMercury.
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If applying heavy-duty moisturizer doesn’t seem to help dry skin, it may be because it’s not absorbing. “Exfoliating helps remove dead skin & draw out impurities, which allows your skin to absorb ingredients in moisturizers and other skin care products more effectively,” notes Dr. Russak.

This mask, spiked with hibiscus flower and papaya acids, exfoliates dead skin cells and clears the way for better product penetration. Unlike many exfoliators, however, this rosewater-based mask is also made with hydrators like jasmine, narcissus, and mimosa flower waxes, and sodium hyaluronate, which carries moisture into the skin, so it leaves skin purified and hydrated.

Chantecaille Fruit and Flower Acids Mask, $88, available at Chantecaille
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When your skin has run so ragged that it seems nothing will bring it back to life, call on the big guns. This sheet mask packs half a bottle of the brand’s cult-favorite Genifique hydrating serum inside. At nearly 18 bucks a pop, these masks may seem over-the-top, but it’s a small price to pay for the results; After 20 minutes, our skin looked like we had treated it to an in-spa facial.

Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Second Skin Mask, $105, available at Sephora.
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We love a mask that works while we dream. “[Overnight Masks] tend to contain more intense hydrators in combination with anti-aging ingredients [and] can seal in all of your skin’s moisture while you sleep, as the skin repairs itself most at night,” says Dr. Russak.
After applying a thick layer of this gel to our face, we woke up with suddenly supple skin. Even better? We didn’t have to empty our wallets to do so. Each pouch contains three applications of the moisturizing formula (made with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide, and papaya extract) and costs less than a movie ticket.

Miss Spa Moisturizing Overnight Gel Mask, $8, available at Miss Spa.
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This single-shot mask is made of organic aloe water and plant cellulose, soaked in hyaluronic acid, green and oolong teas, chamomile, calendula, and rose petals and feels amazing on tired, thirsty skin.

100% Pure Green Tea Water Bomb Mask, $8, available at 100% Pure.
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Top-notch derms and estheticians use this very mask to replenish and hydrate freshly-lasered and microneedled skin because it not only packs powerful hydrators like seaweed, but growth factors, too, which can trigger healthy skin regeneration.

Benev GF Hydrogel Moisturizing Mask, $80, available at LovelySkin.
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This creamy mask taps plant-based ingredients like avocado oil, banana, mango, and plum to deliver lipids, fatty acids, and minerals to the skin. It's a godsend for those who are as busy as their skin is dry: It’s designed to fully absorb and requires no rinsing, so you can move on to the next thing right after applying.

Juara Java Plum & Avocado Nourishing Mask, $38, available at Juara.
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