How Often Should You Really Be Masking? Skin Pros Break It Down

There's one question we ask almost every makeup artist, dermatologist, and celebrity we have the pleasure of meeting: "What's the one thing that has changed your skin?" Nine times out of 10, the interviewee says something we know works wonders for many — religious moisturizing or dedication to SPF, for example. Every now and then, though, we hear something that makes us do a double take. The most recent case? When aesthetician Mary Schook announced that daily masking is the secret to her soft, supple skin.

The concept of daily masking may not seem novel to some, but for those who grew up with the "mask on Sunday nights" mantra, the technique is intriguing, to say the least. "I mask almost every day because I don't have time to invest in a skin-care regimen," says Schook. "I can do it in front of a computer, on the airplane, sitting in my tub, binge-watching on Netflix, or even while I'm working out, depending on the mask — and they can treat many skin issues." Naturally, I gave the method a try.

I started swapping out my serums for a week of clay and moisturizing masks — during a particularly bad skin week, mind you — and definitely saw fewer breakouts and softer skin. I think this is partially thanks to a more targeted approach to what my skin was going through that day, instead of sticking to the same routine like clockwork, which isn't as responsive. That being said, not every mask is safe for daily use and being cognizant of the types of masks you're using is important to avoid stripping the skin of essential natural oils.

However, a word of advice: "I would not recommend masks in conjunction with other serums and creams," says board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. "If you are cocktailing ingredients and don’t know what you’re doing, you may risk irritation. Some ingredients aren’t meant to be mixed together."

That doesn't mean you can't mask daily, though; you just need to do your due diligence and determine which products are right for you on top of the masking, if any. For example, if you need hydration post-masking you may consider a light, Cetaphil-like lotion that's fairly basic instead of one packed with active ingredients. (Pro tip: Dr. Engelman suggests testing out masks once or twice a week and building up gradually as you see fit.)

Alright, alright, we know you want more details already. Ahead, Schook and Dr. Engelman share their favorite masks along with tips on how to become a daily-masking pro.
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Monday: Hydrating & Soothing
First things first: Always cleanse your skin before slapping on a mask — you don't want all the yummy ingredients in your mask to be sitting on top of dirt, oil, and makeup, do you? (You don't.)

Once your face is prepped, it's time to whip out your first mask. Since it's Monday, Schook and Dr. Engelman both recommend reaching for a hydrating and soothing mask to help you through what may arguably be the worst day of the week.

Schook's favorite? Cotta's Hydrogel Face Mask. "[I love] hydrogels because they can be left on the skin for a long time and have really noticeable results," says Schook. This one is loaded with hydrating ingredients like niacinamide and jojoba-seed oil. We recommend sticking it in the fridge for a burst of cooling relief when you apply it.

Cotta Premium Gold Hydrogel Face Sheet Masks Set of 5, $40, available at Joyus.
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Tuesday: Exfoliating
Dr. Engelman advises against using the same mask daily, so on Tuesday, reach for an exfoliating mask. "They will help slough off the top layer of dead skin cells and get rid of dullness," she says.

This mask from Karuna contains a host of natural enzymes (like pineapple-extract enzyme) and acids (lemon-citric acid, hyaluronic acid, and salicylic acid) to gently exfoliate and hydrate your skin.

Exfoliating+ Face Mask, $8, available at Sephora.
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Wednesday: Antioxidant-Boosting & Relaxing
It's Wednesday — and that means Friday is so close, yet so far away. On this day, Dr. Engelman suggests applying a mask that will help protect and repair any free-radical damage you've acquired throughout the past week.

This golden mask from Farmacy contains hydrating honey, amino acid-packed royal jelly, and antioxidant-rich echinacea. The best part? The mask actually warms as you rub it into your face. It's a pretty relaxing way to get over hump day, if you ask us.

Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, $56, available at Sephora.
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Thursday: Overnight Hydration
On Thursday night, slap on an overnight mask to give your skin a boost of hydration before the weekend hits. "When the body is in a deep, restful sleep, the skin’s metabolism increases and cell turnover and renewal escalates," says Dr. Engelman. "Overnight masks are great for repairing the skin overnight. Think of it as a barrier allowing the skin to [heal] without loss of moisture."

Dr. Engelman's pick? This ceramide- and hyaluronic acid-infused mask from Elizabeth Arden.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Overnight Firming Mask, $88, available at Elizabeth Arden.
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Friday: Even More Hydration!
On Friday night, prep for the weekend with another hydration boost. Schook recommends this foil mask from Estée Lauder, which contains a hefty dose of the brand's cult Advanced Night Repair Serum. It's loaded with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, $22, available at Estée Lauder.
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Saturday Option 1: Recovery
Saturday morning has arrived, and you feel like you've been hit by a bus (thanks, margaritas, a busy week, or a little bit of both!).

"Hangovers are, basically, caused by dehydration," says Schook. That's why having a hydrating sheet mask on hand will help bring your complexion back to a balanced state. Not only is this mask hydrating, but it also contains radiance-boosting ginseng to counteract the sullen appearance of "hangover face."

Leaders Daily Wonders What Happened Last Night? Revitalizing Mask, $4, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Saturday Option 2: Clarifying
If you're acne-prone, opt for a clarifying mask instead, like this skin-clearing clay mask. Its mineral-rich thermal mud, bacteria-fighting cinnamon, and vitamin C-rich ivy come together to deeply cleanse, stimulate, and brighten your skin.

Be careful not to use mud and clay-based masks too often, though, warns Schook. "They increase circulation, draw out impurities, and tighten skin, [which is great]," she says. "But they can dry out the skin and break down collagen if you overuse them. They're great for oily skin, but dry or sensitive skins should use them minimally."

Éminence Organics
Hungarian Herbal Mud Treatment, $46, available at DermStore.
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Sunday: Hydrating & Plumping
On Sunday, Dr. Engelman suggests scaling back on your face-mask use and opting for eye patches instead. Reach for gel patches that have hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Better yet? Stick them in the fridge for an extra-cooling experience.

"[If you drink], the consumption of alcohol leads to water retention and exacerbated swelling, which causes puffiness and undereye circles," says Dr. Engelman. "You can reduce the appearance by plumping up the skin with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, too."

Derm Institute Cellular Rejuvenating Eye Contour Masque, $115, available at Derm Institute.
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