The 6 Best Exfoliating Masks

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Regularly using a chemical exfoliant is one of the most effective ways to maintain clear, healthy-looking skin. But for a quick-fix solution, you can't underestimate the power of a good exfoliating mask. Not all face masks are created equally, however, and it's easy to get tempted into buying fun-looking formulas that are mostly just gimmicky (think of all of those glitter-y, peel-off masks that claim to be detoxifying.) But as long as you stick with one of the best exfoliating masks off this list, you'll be on your way to a clearer, brighter complexion in no time.

Before you start shopping for a new face mask, just remember that at-home exfoliation is a delicate business. Over-exfoliating can do more harm than good, so it's important to follow each mask's specific instructions when it comes to how often to use them. Also — and this is especially important if you choose an exfoliating mask or peel that contains an acid, like salicylic acid — you don't want to leave your mask on for more than the suggested amount of time to avoid dryness or irritation. And with most of these masks, you'll want to follow up with a moisturizer to counteract their deep-cleaning effects, which can sometimes cause your skin to feel dry.

Now that you're armed with a few key exfoliating tips, scroll on for the best exfoliating masks and peels you can use at home.

1. Best Exfoliating Mask For Dry Skin

Dry skin types will love the TULA Probiotic Skin Care Exfoliating Treatment Mask's ability to exfoliate and re-moisturize your skin at the same time. In this formula, bentonite clay works to deep-clean your pores while lactic acid provides gentle chemical exfoliation. And, like all of TULA's products, this mask contains probiotics to balance, nourish, and moisturize skin. But the formula's impressive ingredients don't stop there: it also contains turmeric root and antioxidant -rich blueberry extract to help with inflammation and uneven skin tone. Basically, this exfoliating mask tackles every imaginable skin concern — all without leaving your face feeling dry and tight.

2. Best Exfoliating Mask For Acne-Prone Skin

Fight acne and excess oil with this sensitive skin-friendly mask from Avène. You can use it as a mask, a face scrub, or both: leave it on for five minutes, then massage it off in circular motions before rinsing for some physical exfoliation (in addition to the chemical exfoliation the ingredients provide). The formula contains a blend of kaolin clay and glycolic and salicylic acids to unclog pores, shed dead skin cells, and soak up excess oil. When you don't have time for a full five minute treatment, use it as you would a traditional face scrub.

3. Best Natural Exfoliating Mask

Though the majority of the masks on this list use relatively clean ingredients in their formulas, the Naturopathica Pear Fig Polishing Enzyme Peel is certified-organic by ECOCERT, in addition to being vegan, cruelty-free, and made with 99.84 naturally-derived ingredients. This is a mask/peel that the brand recommends using in the shower, because the steam helps activate the enzymes in the formula. Lactic acid works to gently exfoliate while a blend of botanical ingredients — fig, pear puree, and jojoba oil — smooth, polish, and hydrate skin. A must-have for at-home spa days, this peel is like a facial in a bottle.

4. Best Gentle Exfoliating Peel

Unlike most other masks and peels, the Aquareveal Satin Bright Soft Water Peel doesn't use acids, enzymes, or granules to work its exfoliating magic. Instead, the brand uses its own water-based gel technology, which works by attaching to dead skin cells and lifting them away, leaving your complexion smoother and brighter. Because of its gentle formula, this mask can be used on any skin type, including those that are extra-sensitive. Plus, the cruelty-free and vegan formula comes in a big bottle with a hygienic pump dispenser.

5. Most Fun

Though it may seem gimmicky, the pumpkins (or more specifically, the pumpkin enzymes) in the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask actually serve a legitimate purpose (aside from smelling delicious). Pumpkins are naturally rich in alpha hydroxy acids, which, as you probably already know, are great for smoothing out and resurfacing your skin. But that's not the only source of exfoliation in this mask: sodium lactate and aluminum oxide crystals offer further brightening and skin-polishing benefits (and the crystals give the mask a granular texture, which is why the brand recommends massaging it into your skin like you would a scrub). And yes — this autumn-perfect mask does smell like pumpkin spice.

6. Best Splurge

Get an in-office facial treatment in the comfort of your own home with The Exfoliating Mask By Joanna Vargas. Vargas is a celebrity-favorite facialist whose clients include Julianne Moore, and her line of highly-curated skin care products have a cult-following among beauty insiders. Part scrub, part peel, The Exfoliating Mask uses kaolin clay, volcanic rock-derived pumice, and sugar cane, which is a natural source of glycolic acid, to exfoliate and polish congested, dull-looking skin. To avoid stripping your face of moisture, the formula also contains sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid. After just five minutes, expect glowing, rejuvenated-looking skin.

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