Simply put: It depends. It comes down to your skin type, your individual skin needs, and the kind of mask you’re using.
Some masks are best used once per week, while others can be used more frequently, up to 3 times per week.
The easiest thing to do is read the instructions on the label or packaging that comes with your face mask.
The directions should explain how often you can use the face mask, given its formula and the strength of its ingredients.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.
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Unlike other parts of your skin care routine — such as your moisturizer or serums — face masks typically don’t produce long-term results.
However, using them before big events can temporarily add to your skin’s glow and soothe any inflammation or irritation.
Most face masks should be used about once per week. However, some skin types may benefit from more frequent application.
Clay and mud masks are easy to recognize. Their thick consistency and trademark green, brown, or gray color is notable.
These masks are known for their “detoxifying” effects, where they draw oil and dirt from your pores.
Because of their purifying results, clay and mud masks are best for acne-prone, oily, combination, or dull skin.
However, because they work so well at drawing out oil, they should only stay on your skin for 15 minutes max, up to three times per week.
Popular on Amazon, Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is a 100 percent bentonite clay powder that can be mixed with water or apple cider vinegar for a pure clay mask.
The Ahava Purifying Mud Mask has Dead Sea mud and minerals to deeply cleanse your skin while soothing it with horsetail extract.
In the medical field, activated charcoal has been used for years to detox the body of poison and substance overdose.
In skin care, activated charcoal masks are believed to remove impurities and help with acne.
Because they’re known to help absorb oil and impurities, charcoal masks are best for acne-prone, oily, and combination skin types.
Similar to clay and mud masks, charcoal masks should sit on your face for only 15 minutes and be applied only once or twice per week.
Those with more sensitive skin should only use them once per week or once every few weeks.
Be careful to choose charcoal face masks that won’t dry out and tug your skin.
The Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask has a delicate balance of bamboo charcoal to draw out dirt and fermented honey to gently nourish your skin.
Similarly, the PCA Detoxifying Mask contains a mix of charcoal, mud, glycerin, and chamomile to help prevent irritation.
Cream face masks hydrate skin by deeply replenishing dry cells. Gel masks work similarly, and they weightlessly hydrate and cool at the same time.
Generally, cream and gel masks are good for all skin types, though skin that’s dry, sun damaged, or sensitive might benefit the most.
Most cream and gel masks can be used three times per week, and some formulas can even be worn nightly as overnight masks.
Packed with hyaluronic acid, the La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Mask moisturizes without feeling heavy on your skin.
For a cooling effect, the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask refreshes and soothes with cucumber, papaya, and chamomile extracts.
Peel-off masks are applied as gels that dry to a film-like consistency and are then peeled off.
As the mask is peeled off, it takes with it dirt, oil, and other impurities that can clog pores.
These masks are best for rough or uneven texture and dull skin. Some exfoliating masks with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) can irritate sensitive skin.
Because enzymatic, exfoliating, and peel-off formulas are more aggressive than other types of face masks, they should be used sparingly — once per week at most.
Malin+Goetz Brightening Enzyme Masks contain a mix of pomegranate and pumpkin enzymes and AHAs to exfoliate your skin quickly and with minimal irritation.
Looking for a more intense exfoliating treatment? The Herbivore Botanicals Prism Exfoliating Glow Facial blends 20 percent fruit-based AHAs and 5 percent BHAs to help brighten dull skin.
Sheet masks are single-use strips of paper, fabric like cotton, or cellulose saturated in serums or encased in ampoules. The material sits on your skin to seal in the serum and moisturize.
Sheet masks come in a variety of formulas for all skin types, from AHA- or BHA-infused masks made for exfoliating rough texture to ceramide masks that can hydrate dry skin.
Because of this, all skin types can use sheet masks. It’s important to read the labels and find the ones best for your personal skin needs.
Sheet masks can be used daily in place of the serum step in your skin care routine. They can also be used as a special treatment before an event or other occasion.
Want to nourish stressed-out skin? Try the Orgaid Greek Yogurt & Nourishing Organic Sheet Mask, which contains a hydrating mix of yogurt, aloe vera, lavender, and hyaluronic acid.
The Erno Laszlo White Marble Bright Hydrogel Mask can help brighten skin discoloration and dullness and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Natural face masks (also known as DIY face masks) can be made at home with common kitchen ingredients, including honey, oats, and cucumber.
Although it might seem like DIY masks are safer, it’s important to understand what ingredients are OK to apply topically.
Be careful to avoid acidic ingredients, like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, that can aggravate your skin.
Natural face masks are typically suggested for more sensitive skin types that can’t tolerate common face mask ingredients, such as artificial fragrance.
That said, homemade masks can be customized for any skin type.
Leave your DIY mask on for no more than 15 minutes, up to a few times per week.
It’s easy to make a DIY face mask at home with simple ingredients.
You might try:
- oatmeal and raw honey to help calm inflammation
- avocado to help nourish
- aloe vera and papaya to help brighten
- milk or yogurt to help exfoliate
Before applying to your face, test the mask on a small area of skin on your jawline to make sure it won’t cause irritation.
If you want to try something over the counter, the Fresh Rose Face Mask is made with natural, organic ingredients — and real rose petals — that help soothe irritated skin and redness.
If you aren’t seeing significant results from your face mask use, try increasing your usage by one more time per week.
For hydrating, gentle formulas, such as cream and gel masks, you can experiment with using the face mask daily.
If you’re using an exfoliating or purifying formula and you’re starting to see raw skin or light irritation, it might be best to decrease your frequency to once per week or once every few weeks.
If your face mask is causing severe irritation, acne flare-ups, or any type of allergic reaction, stop using it immediately.
If you can, consult a dermatologist or other healthcare provider to see what your best move is. They might prescribe a topical or oral medication to curb the irritation.
In some cases, inflammation and other irritation might clear up without treatment.
You can find face masks for every skin type and every skin need.
Because so many different formulas and uses exist, there’s no one answer for how often or how long you should wear a face mask.
Always consult the label or packaging for best use, and if you’re ever concerned, ask a dermatologist for their advice.
Jen Anderson is a wellness contributor at Healthline. She writes and edits for various lifestyle and beauty publications, with bylines at Refinery29, Byrdie, MyDomaine, and bareMinerals. When not typing away, you can find Jen practicing yoga, diffusing essential oils, watching Food Network, or guzzling a cup of coffee. You can follow her NYC adventures on Twitter and Instagram.