14 Best Face Masks For Every Type Of Acne (Your Skin Will Thank You)
Masks are likely not part of your daily skin care routine, but they sure are a sweet treat for your complexion, whether you're in need of extra hydration, brightness, or just a soothing, spa-grade experience. Some are even hailed for treating blemishes—with a bouquet of potent actives, many can prevent pesky breakouts from making their appearance in the first place. Sure, masks are technically considered a nice-to-have item (as opposed to a cleanser, which is a routine essential), but, man, are they nice to have—especially if you're hoping to nix bumpy skin ASAP.
No matter the type of acne you're dealing with (inflammatory pustules, blackheads, under-the-skin mounds), there's a mask waiting for you to slather on. Find our best pimple-fighting picks below.
- Best overall: Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel, Alpyn Beauty ($56)
- Best for dry skin: Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial Mask, Glow Recipe ($40)
- Best clay mask: Volcanic Sea Clay Detox Masque, MARA ($54)
- Best for sensitive skin: SUPERKIND Radiance Mask, Tata Harper ($65)
- Best for oily skin: Instant Detox Mask, Caudalie ($39)
- Best scent: Mint Mud Deep Pore Detox Mask, Kinship ($24)
- Best with niacinamide: Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask, Youth To The People ($36)
- Best charcoal mask: Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores, Origins ($28)
- Best for under-the-skin pimples: Clearing Mask, Indie Lee ($52)
- Best for dark spots: Fade and Glow AHA Mask, Hyper Skin ($48)
- Best for dull skin: Papaya Bright Exfoliating Face Mask, Golde ($34)
- Best splurge: Clarifying Mask, Dr. Barbara Sturm ($145)
- Best with salicylic acid: Pore-fectionist Refining Facial, onekind ($30)
- Best for blackheads: Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask, boscia ($34)
How we picked.
When sifting through acne-clearing products, it's important to take a peek at the label and make sure it approaches breakouts from multiple angles (acne, after all, is a complex condition with a host of potential causes). For each of the vetted masks listed, we made sure they included the following:
- Purifying ingredients: You'll see a host of charcoals and clays sprinkled throughout this list, and there's a very good reason why: These ingredients are beloved for absorbing excess oil and gunk from the pores, thus keeping them clear and balanced.
- Exfoliators: AHAs, BHAs, enzymes, physical granules—all of these work to slough off dead skin, increase cell turnover, and unclog pores, which can help smooth out rough, bumpy skin and prevent breakouts from cropping up in the first place. Not to mention, these can brighten up your complexion and help fade lingering dark spots (a common gripe that tends to follow active acne).
- Hydrators: When your skin is dehydrated, it will often overproduce oil to compensate for that lack of moisture. For many, this will only result in more breakouts. Focusing on hydration is crucial for combating acne, which is why a good-quality mask will fold in humectants and moisturizers to simultaneously quench the skin. Not to mention, these hydrators can buffer the more potent actives so they're not as harsh on your skin.
- Skin barrier-supporting ingredients: Without a strong barrier, your skin isn't as protected against environmental aggressors (like pollution) and bacteria—which can result in even more acne. Masks that also include barrier-strengthening ingredients (like ceramides, squalane, and antioxidants) will provide a well-rounded approach to preventing acne flares.
Best overall: Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel
Textural concerns are no match for this double-exfoliation treatment. It's a personal all-time favorite, and I use this mask once a week to keep breakouts at bay and slough away dullness (once a week is all I need; it's a pretty powerful formula). I'd call it more of a face mask-slash-face scrub, with a blend of eight naturally derived acids (salicylic, citric, malic, tartaric, glycolic, azelaic, ferulic, and lactic) to unglue dead skin cells and bamboo powder to physical exfoliate. Trust when I say, you will wake up to glowing skin.
Pro: Visibly brightens and smooths in just five minutes.
Con: Might be too potent for those with sensitive skin.
Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel, Alpyn Beauty ($56); Credobeauty.com, Amazon.com, Sephora.com
Best for dry skin: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial Mask
We repeat: Clay masks are not synonymous with dryness. This one calls on whipped kaolin clay (the most mild option, thanks to its fenestrated structure) infused with hyaluronic acid to make the ingredient simultaneously hydrating. Then to round out the formula with some chemical exfoliation, there's willow bark extract (the all-natural form of salicylic acid) and watermelon enzymes to gently slough dead skin. But the best part? This mask won't cake up as it dries, meaning you won't have to tug on your delicate skin as you rinse.
Pro: Super hydrating for those with dry and acne-prone skin.
Con: Not the best option for super oily skin.
Watermelon Glow Hyaluronic Clay Pore-Tight Facial Mask, Glow Recipe ($40); Sephora.com, Glowrecipe.com
Best clay mask: MARA Volcanic Sea Clay Detox Masque
Clay masks are beloved for lifting oil and gunk from pores, but that doesn't mean they have to be drying. This MARA number features a blend of mineral-rich clays—Mediterranean sea clay, kaolin clay, and bentonite clay—while green tea extract, ashwagandha, and honey help hydrate and soothe inflamed skin.
Pro: Great for absorbing oil on slick skin.
Con: Bentonite clay may draw too much moisture for drier skin types.
Volcanic Sea Clay Detox Masque, MARA ($54); Credobeauty.com, Revolve.com
Best for sensitive skin: Tata Harper SUPERKIND Radiance Mask
For those with acne-prone and sensitive skin, finding treatments is a bit of a dance—you want an exfoliator that doesn't further compromise your skin barrier (which, for many, can result in even more acne). Enter, the Tata Harper Superkind line, created specifically for reactive skin. In this fragrance- and essential-oil-free mask, you'll find a unique combination of gentle, self-neutralizing AHAs. What does this mean? The buffing ingredients actually stop working after 20 minutes—so you can leave it on while you read a book, clean the house, etc., without any fear of over-exfoliation.
Pro: Leaves reactive skin soft and supple and combats over-exfoliation.
Con: Very small jar for the price (1 ounce).
SUPERKIND Radiance Mask, Tata Harper ($65); Credobeauty.com, Sephora.com
Best for oily skin: Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
There's a reason this mask has received tons of love on TikTok: After the 15 or so minutes are up, you can literally see all the oil levitating from your pores. A very gratifying masking experience, we'd say. In addition to the highly absorbent clays, you'll find coffee seed extract and the brand's signature grapeseed polyphenols to provide antioxidant power and a luminous finish.
Pro: Visibly sucks oil from pores.
Con: Not the best for super-dry skin.
Instant Detox Mask, Caudalie ($39); Amazon.com, Sephora.com
Best scent: Kinship Mint Mud Deep Pore Detox Mask
If you're looking for a refreshing, cooling formula, this peppermint-infused mud mask has you covered. The texture itself is very velvety, despite the jojoba oil beads for some extra physical exfoliation, and it offers the loveliest energizing tingle. And that pistachio green color? Swoon.
Pro: Leaves the skin feeling cool and refreshed.
Con: Peppermint oil can be irritating for sensitive skin.
Mint Mud Deep Pore Detox Mask, Kinship ($24); Credobeauty.com, Ulta.com
Best with niacinamide: Youth To The People Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask
Clays and chemical exfoliants make up the bulk of this list, but let's not forget that niacinamide has acne-fighting and oil-balancing properties, too. Not to mention, it helps lock in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier (it truly is an all-star ingredient). In addition to 2% niacinamide, this mask includes quite the skin-clearing menu: french green, white, and volcanic clays; salicylic acid; and prebiotic-rich kombucha black tea to help balance the skin microbiome.
Pro: Includes a diverse array of acne-fighting ingredients.
Con: Some people can experience flushing with too much niacinamide.
Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask, Youth To The People ($36); Youthtothepeople.com, Sephora.com
Best charcoal mask: Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores
Activated charcoal is another unsung hero for breakouts, as the ingredient can suck in and hold oil, dead skin cells, and dirt in its pores (thereby removing it from yours). In addition to this star ingredient, you'll find white China clay to further absorb excess oil and lecithin to improve and protect cells and membrane damage from free radicals.
Pro: Great for mattifying excess oil.
Con: Charcoal plus clay can be drying.
Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores, Origins ($28); Sephora.com, Ulta.com
Best for under-the-skin pimples: Indie Lee Clearing Mask
Salicylic and glycolic acids are the main exfoliators here, but colloidal sulfur is the star of the show: According to derms, it's a great option for busting under-the-skin pimples without further irritating those inflamed mounds. And for more calming properties, zinc oxide, chamomile, and red seaweed extracts leave the skin feeling hydrated and supple.
Pro: Can help address trapped, under-the-skin acne.
Con: Some reviewers have noted a strong sulfur smell.
Clearing Mask, Indie Lee ($52); Credobeauty.com, Indielee.com
Best for dark spots: Hyper Skin Fade and Glow AHA Mask
As those prone to breakouts will tell you: Oftentimes, the pesky dark spots take longer to clear than the pimples themselves. This AHA mask calls on mandelic glycolic acid to exfoliate and brighten the skin, while niacinamide and vitamin-C-rich bearberry extract help even tone. For what it's worth: A combo of mandelic acid and vitamin C has been associated with a 73% improvement in the appearance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma1.
Pro: Great for clearing hyperpigmentation as well as active breakouts.
Con: A smaller-size bottle (1.7 ounces), meaning less product for the price.
Fade and Glow AHA Mask, Hyper Skin ($48); Sephora.com, Madewell.com
Best for dull skin: Golde Papaya Bright Exfoliating Face Mask
A true juice cleanse for your face, this mask is packed with 100% organic superfoods, like papaya enzymes, sea buckthorn berry, lucuma fruit, and marshmallow root extract. Each is packed with skin-brightening vitamin C, and those aforementioned enzymes gently slough the skin smooth. It's a powder-to-gel mask, so it will really last you a while (since there's no water in the actual formula), and it smells just like a tropical vacation. Your skin will quite literally drink it up.
Pro: Powder-to-gel formula lasts a long time.
Con: Physical granules can irritate active, inflammatory acne
Papaya Bright Exfoliating Face Mask, Golde ($34); Revolve.com, Golde.com
Best splurge: Dr. Barbara Sturm Clarifying Mask
Dr. Barbara Sturm takes a non-aggressive approach to combating acne here, so rather than heavy-duty exfoliators, you'll find kaolin clay and zinc to absorb excess oil, but just because it's gentle doesn't mean it lacks power. In fact, preliminary research shows that zinc's anti-inflammatory properties may benefit those with acne.2 Plus, there's purslane to further calm the skin, as well as sunflower seed oil to nurture the moisture barrier—all important things to mind when it comes to treating inflammatory acne.
Pro: No heavy-duty AHAs or BHAs, so it's great for dry or sensitive skin.
Con: Very pricey.
Clarifying Mask, Dr. Barbara Sturm ($145); Sephora.com, Nordstrom.com
Best with salicylic acid: onekind Pore-fectionist Refining Facial
Salicylic acid is a top-tier ingredient for combating acne, as the oil-soluble BHA can penetrate deep into your pores and unclog them at the source. Paired with lactic acid to increase skin cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines and pink clay to hold on to excess gunk, this winning formula addresses congested skin from multiple angles.
Pro: Addresses both acne and fine lines.
Con: Another smaller bottle (2.5 ounces)
Pore-fectionist Refining Facial, onekind ($30); Onekind.us, Anthropologie.com
Best for blackheads: boscia Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask
Dealing with pesky blackheads? You'll want to throw some activated charcoal into the mix, which, again, helps draw out gunk from the pores. This peel-off mask also contains calcium montmorillonite clay, a cleansing agent that also acts as a mild physical exfoliator, as well as maritime pine bark extract for moisture.
Pro: Satisfying peel-off sensation for stubborn blackheads.
Con: Not the best for inflammatory acne.
Luminizing Black Charcoal Mask, boscia ($34); Ulta.com, Dermstore.com
mbg review process.
At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).
Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved.
Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.
The right face mask can help banish your breakouts in record time. Simply choose your fighter (be it gentle enzymes, purifying clays, or exfoliating AHAs and BHAs) and let the acne-clearing ingredients do the work. Bonus tip: Go ahead and dab these masks onto active breakouts as a quick spot treatment if you're looking to heal a pimple overnight.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.