Winter is not kind to our skin. Between the cold, biting air outside, the dehydrating heat inside, and the weeks-long spiral into (and out of) holiday indulgences of way too much food and liquor, the interminable stretch of winter months requires some additional care.
It’s okay to expect a lot from a mask, especially ones that come with lofty claims and loftier price tags. Here are 10 that deliver.
Paula’s Choice Rehydrating Moisture Mask ($30)
No brand does no-frills, results-driven skincare like Paula’s Choice, and this rehydrating moisture mask is a Godsend. You can use it as a rinse-off mask any time or as the last skincare step before you go to bed at night. Rich and creamy—and filled with plant oils, antioxidants, amino acids, and glycerin—this mask is the ideal antidote to winter skin. I especially love using this when my nose is red and dry from a cold.
Tula Self-Care Sunday Nourishing Face Mask ($48)
Not only does this mask immediately smooth and quench the skin, but it contains probiotics that eliminate signs of inflammation, making it the ideal post-shave companion for the winter months. Suitable for all skin types, this mask is wiped off rather than rinsed off, which leaves behind a dewy, moisturized glow. Personally, this is my go-to hangover mask.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask ($48)
There’s no reason why masking shouldn’t be fun, and this deeply hydrating, electric blue face mask is both a dry skin savior and an Instagrammable addition to your skincare routine. Marine algae and hyaluronic acid instantly plump and hydrate the skin, giving your skin the moisture infusion it needs to make it through the winter harshness.
Kiehl’s Avocado Nourishing Hydrating Mask ($45)
Once you figure out how to work this crumbly green mask between your fingertips, it goes on—and wipes off—like a dream. Formulated with avocado fruit extract made from avocado pulp, omega-rich avocado oil, and hydrating evening primrose oil, skin looks and feels noticeably better. It takes some getting used to, but this mask is one of my favorite Kiehl’s launches of the last several years.
PCA Skin Hydrating Mask ($60)
Good winter masks don’t just moisturize and hydrate, but also calm (thanks, dry heat). Oat milk extract is the star ingredient here, providing instant soothing and calming, in addition to helping the skin retain moisture. Glycerin, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate take a three-pronged approach to hydration, while extracts of arnica montana flower and cucumber act as additional calming agents. Best of all, a little goes a long way.
Kat Burki Vital Hydration Mask ($140)
This is my most relied-upon aid to get through bad skin days of all kinds, especially on days when my skin feels tight and dry. The first ingredient of most skincare is water, but in the case of Kat Burki, the leading ingredient is its trademark blend of five herbs dubbed “KB5 Complex.” Individually cold processed prior to being combined, gotu kola, arnica, calendula, lavender, and chamomile are at the base of this miracle mask. Luxuriously creamy and hugely effective, it’s made me a fan for life.
Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask ($38)
It’s thinnest and most vulnerable part of our faces, so don’t forget to show your eyes some extra love. I love everything about Clarins’ Hydra-Essentiel line (the lip balm is the only one I use) and this mighty eye mask has saved me on many a morning. Whether you use it as a 10-minute eye mask during the day or as an intensive sleeping mask, this stuff works, minimizing signs of fatigue, reducing dark circles, and smoothing fine lines caused by dehydration.
Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment ($88)
There are few things as satisfying as a peel-off mask, and this pink-colored wonder product is every bit as fun as it is effective: not only does it give you some great peeling action, but you mix the ingredients yourself in a bowl, resulting in a mousse-like substance that you smooth all over your face. Cooling, calming, nutritious, and moisturizing, these results are real.
Ole Henriksen Hygge HydraClay Detox Mask ($32)
This highly fragranced clay mask won’t be for everyone, which will likely do more harm than good for sensitive skin types. But for my resolutely not sensitive skin, I love using this mask to soothe, calm, and reduce redness. It’s the most requested product introduction in the history of the brand; I love the way it calms my skin and effortlessly wipes off.
Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Mask ($60)
In general, face masks are largely either purifying and decongesting or hydrating and nutritious. In the case of this tried and true classic from Peter Thomas Roth, it’s all of these things, making this black-colored mask something that I’ve been reaching for all year, for years. Formulated with actual Irish moor mud in addition to Hijiki seaweed, volcanic ash, and activated charcoal, it purifies, decongests, hydrates, moisturizes, and helps minimize the appearance of pores and wrinkles.
Theater critic for TheaterMania & WBUR’s TheArtery | Theater Editor for DigBoston | film and music critic for EDGE Media | Boston Theater Critics Association.