Whether you’re partying hard all the way to the new year or using the colder seasons to retreat into yourself a little, there’s no better time to try out the best face masks and give your skin a little extra pep and pampering.

Winter is hard on skin – between humidity, central heating, cold winds and stress, it’s no wonder your skin probably feels like it could do with a little extra help. Face masks are one of our favourite ways to get it. They’re easy to slot into your skincare regime on days when you have a few extra minutes to spare or you’re sat in front of the telly, or for the really time-pressed, you can apply some formulations before bed, to work their magic overnight.

When it came to testing the best masks, we were looking for instant results. Adding an extra step to the skincare routine is additional time and expense, and call us picky but we want to see results from the first use if we’re going to commit. Plus, more than usually with skincare, we wanted something luxurious and pampering. Normally we’re willing to do a lot in search of glowy, youthful skin, but face masks should be a treat – not a bind – to use.

And more than all that, we also wanted some longer term benefits – brighter, more radiant skin that felt healthier, more comfortable, and ready to face anything this winter is ready to throw at us (which seems to be quite a lot at the moment). Spoiler alert: we found it.

Best face masks to shop this winter

Best mask for the morning after

Summer Fridays Jumbo Jet Lag Mask, £60 here

Summer Fridays face mask give an instant post partying pep, any day of the week

Called Summer Fridays but equally excellent on winter Tuesdays etc. With hyaluronic acid for instant plumping and niacinamide for long-lasting protection, this Instagram famous face mask, a favourite of Kim Kardashian, is now in a limited edition jumbo size with a fragrance-free formula for those with sensitive skin.

Deputy beauty editor Zoe says: “I love this face mask. It’s one of the only ones I’ve found that almost instantly makes my skin look better – more hydrated, less blotchy. The formula helps nourish, hydrate and calm with niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, and I can confirm it really does work magic on stressed out skin.”

Best mask for the night before

Medik8 H.E.O Mask, £55 here

Medik8's face mask fights dry skin and ageing on three levels

Seriously deep hydration in a two-step mask to boost the skin barrier and prevent water loss from the skin (dryness is the enemy of youthful skin). It combines three types of moisturisation: humectants which draw water deeper into the skin, emollients to build the skin barrier and occlusives for extra protection, to lock in hydration for up to 72 hours.

Beauty director Lynne says: “Now THIS is my idea of multi-masking – two masks layered on top of each other to give my thirsty skin a double dose of hydration. The blue-tinted water-based gel gave a refreshing and quenching feeling, but the real treat was the white tube with its rich, nourishing cream. It made my parched skin look and feel instantly smooth and plumped – exactly what it needed on a chilly winter’s day. I would definitely use this to prep for an event.”

Best mask for oily skin

The Elements Purifying Detox Mask, £8 here

A great mask for those battling oily or combination skin as the seasons change

A salicylic acid mask ideal for oily and blemish-prone skin, that will help to clear skin stripping it of the moisture it needs. It contains Amazonian clay and charcoal to detoxify, but also softening shea butter to keep it gentle.

Tester Missy says: “The mask exfoliated and cleansed my skin well without drying, which is exactly what I want from a clay mask. It felt nice on my skin, no tingling, no bad reaction. I quite enjoyed it and felt nicely pampered. It cleared my complexion well without stripping moisture. Afterwards, my face felt softer and smoother. I really liked that. I felt my complexion was so much clearer.”

Best mask for brightening dull skin

Alya Skin Pink Marine Collagen Sleep Mask, £29.95 here

This Alya face mask can be applied at night without worrying about it coming off on your pillows

Somewhere between a night cream and a treatment, this mask sinks in like a cream, making it “pillow-proof”. It contains marine collagen, red algae and strawberry gum to boost the skin’s moisture barrier and energise your complexion.

Tester Andrea says: “My usual experience with masks is that nasty clay texture which dries on the skin and makes me look like Grotbags. This sinks in and is invisible once on: no stained sheets, just a fresh-faced look in the morning. What's there not to love? I'd definitely buy this. It has smoothed out the fine lines on my brow and around my mouth, and made my skin brighter, smoother and less ghostly-looking. A colleague said I looked well and asked what make-up I had used.”

Best mask for city life

A cocktail of acids to combat pollution and dullness

Irene Forte Forte Illuminante Lavender Tetra-Acid Mask, £90 here

Azelaic acid is combined with a trio of AHAs from grape, apple and lemon to clarify, purify, exfoliate and brighten. It sounds punchy but there's comfort built in too, thanks to soothing jojoba oil, rosemary and lavender waters, making it clinically approved for sensitive skin.

Tester Yvonne says: “Being a Londoner means that my skin is either sweating on the tube or absorbing toxins from the polluted air! As such, it’s great to have a product that makes my skin look and feel clean, and gives it a healthy glow. I love the nice smooth texture, and the pleasant smell of lavender which fills the room as soon as the lid is off. When I think of ‘acid’ and I think of quite harsh, strong products; however this felt soothing. After a few uses, 10 minutes a time, this left my skin free of excess oil and feeling hydrated, soft, pure and super-smooth.”

Best mask for blemish-prone skin

Sand & Sky Oil Control Clearing Face Mask, £30.90 here

Sand & Sky's face mask left our tester's skin feeling clear and fresh

This creamy clay mask contains prebiotics which work with your skin’s microbiome, as well as salicylic acid. The results include a reduction in excess sebum production over 10 days, fighting redness and skin inflammation along the way and helping to reduce pore size.

Tester Colleen says: “Easy to apply, comfortable and the effects were amazing. The results after I had rinsed it off were instant: my skin looked clean and fresh, and felt clear and radiant. I would definitely buy this product because it suits my skin type and has done so well at controlling monthly breakouts I usually suffer with. My sister was impressed with how clear my skin looked after use. The results are instant and last well between uses.”

Best overnight mask

Skin Proud Sleep Hero Overnight Sleep Mask, £14.95 here

Make the most of your skin's recharging state with Skin Proud's hydrating overnight mask

This leave-on night mask will quench thirsty skin and is ideal for dry and dull complexions to max out moisture. Enriched with hydrating raspberry extract and softening niacinamide, for a true skinformation whilst you sleep.

Tester Charley says: "When my skin doesn’t quite know what it is – dry, oily or sensitive – this mask very shrewdly manages to balance it out. I’ll slather on at night, usually once a week, and I wake up to skin in a much happier place; it looks juicier, clearer and with less redness.”

Best anti-ageing mask

Susanne Kaufmann Boosting Liquid Mask, £80 here

Special apple stem cells are the secret ingredient in this powerful face mask from Susanne Kaufmann

Powered by Swiss apple stem cells which have long been known to harness the power of long-lasting youth – they are known as “the apples that do not wrinkle”. If that sounds like a fairytale, well, so do the effects, with visible results in 15 minutes as well as long-lasting hydration and luminosity.

Tester Mia says: “This has worked wonders. The morning after each use, my skin is silky smooth and the perfect base for make-up. It will definitely be my go-to throughout the colder months. My skin is noticeably less troublesome – brighter, smoother, and I haven't had any issues with dryness. No miracle glow just yet, but it does the job I need it to do and I'm impressed with the overall result. The only downside is the price tag, but I imagine it'd make a lovely gift.”

Best mask for super soft skin

Institut Expert Revitalise Hyaluronic Jelly Mask, £55 here

Institut Expert's mask can be used as a 10 minute mask or an overnight cream

Packed with hyaluronic acid to quickly and deeply hydrate the skin and boost bounciness and radiance. It also has a “hydra peptide complex” to reduce jowl sagging, and an Australian plum extract with high vitamin C levels to boost the skin’s barrier function.

Tester Natalie says: “A 10 minute boost or an overnight treatment and, as a time-poor working mum, I was happy to slather it all over my face before sleep. It spreads without feeling claggy and smells fantastic. I woke up with refreshed, far softer skin on my cheeks and forehead, but no accompanying breakout of spots. I now use it weekly and struggle to keep my hands away from my face the morning after because my skin is so soft.”


By Editor