The Best Hydrating Face Masks For Dry Skin, According To A Derm

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by Lisa Fogarty
Originally Published: 

If you’re prone to dryness and love pampering your skin with a face mask, you’re in luck: There are plenty of amazing treatments out there designed to nourish and hydrate dry, dehydrated skin. Still, some products are a lot more effective than others, so to figure out what exactly makes one face mask better than another for dry skin, Bustle spoke with Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in New York City. According to Dr. Garshick, the best hydrating face masks for dry skin contain humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, “Which are ingredients designed to draw moisture in,” she says. “Other key ingredients include ingredients that help to strengthen the skin barrier [like] ceramides and fatty acids and skin-soothing ingredients that also work to retain moisture such as niacinamide. Emollients, such as shea butter, designed to help soften the skin, are also key ingredients to look for in hydrating face masks,” Dr. Garshick explains.

As for what types of ingredients to avoid? “Those with dry or dehydrated skin should avoid any face masks with exfoliating acids, such as salicylic acid, which may lead to dryness or sensitivity. If someone with dry skin is looking for exfoliating acids, it is best to opt for gentle exfoliating ingredients such as lactic acid or mandelic acid, or for polyhydroxy acids.” And if you do insist on using an exfoliating mask, be careful not to overdo it — for those prone to dry skin, once a week should be plenty.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between having dry and dehydrated skin, however, the treatment tends to be similar. “There is certainly some overlap in terms of ingredients that can be helpful for those with dry skin and those with dehydrated skin,” says Dr. Garshick, “As while ingredients designed to lock moisture in and strengthen the skin barrier may be particularly important for those with dry skin, and ingredients that help to draw moisture in will be particularly beneficial for those with dehydrated skin, it is still important to boost moisture levels in someone with dry skin, and it is still important to help lock in any moisture in those with dehydrated skin.”

With that in mind, scroll on to shop 17 hydrating face masks that’ll quench your dry skin’s thirst, including several picks from Dr. Garshick and our own team of beauty editors.


Doctor’s Pick: Best For Dry, Sensitive, Irritated Skin

According to Dr. Garshick, “This mask is a great option for those dealing with dry and sensitive skin as the arnica is anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce redness while calming and soothing the skin. It also contains shea butter and glycerin helping to both moisturize and hydrate the skin.”

Relevant review: “I love this product. My skin was dry from the harsh Chicago winter but using this mask a few times a week has been a game changer. I use it during the day as my moisturizer if I'm not going out of the house. Works wonders.”


Doctor’s Pick: Best Overnight Mask For Brighter, Radiant Skin

“This mask offers a taste of summer all year long as it helps to hydrate using hyaluronic acid and watermelon extract, while simultaneously brightening the skin using gentle alpha-hydroxy acids,” says Dr. Garshick. She continues, “[It] can be used as either an overnight mask or can be rinsed off after 10 minutes.”

Relevant review: “Just love this overnight refreshing gentle mask which leaves a moist but not greasy glow on my face in the AM !”


Editor’s Pick: Best Hydrating Mask For Dry Skin

Bustle beauty editor Adeline Duff calls Avène’s Soothing Radiance Mask one of her favorite masks of all time. “Think of it as a really rich moisturizer,” she says. “You can use it like a mask and pat it off with a tissue after 20-ish minutes, or however long you want — no need to rinse — or wear it as an overnight sleeping cream. Personally, I like to slather it on before a long flight. It makes the perfect long-wear moisturizer for dry, tired skin. When I’ve arrived at my destination, my usually-dry skin looks restored, and feels smooth and soft.”

Relevant review: “Best moisturizer I’ve ever used [...] Not too heavy and absorbs fully into skin!”


Editor’s Pick: The Best Exfoliating Treatment For Dry Skin

Sunday Riley’s cult-classic Good Genes treatment can be used as a daily serum, or as a rinse-off/leave-on mask, depending on your skin type and preferences. It’s a favorite of associate commerce editor Caroline Goldstein, who says, “Lactic acid is the rare chemical exfoliant that’s actually hydrating, so I gave into the Good Genes hype and bought a bottle. Can confirm: The hype is justified. I initially used this as an overnight serum and was shocked to see how clear and glowy my skin looked when I woke up — almost like I’d gotten a professional facial, or like I was under soft-focus lighting. No discomfort here, either — my skin felt just as hydrated as if I’d slathered on a hyaluronic acid serum.”

Relevant review: “Certain things I need in my life and this is one of them. Makes my skin flawless. I absolutely love it! I wear as a moisturizer under my makeup. Scent is pleasant. Soaks right in. I hate the price but again, a must have guilty lil pleasure.”


A Versatile Mask That Could Also Be Used As A Day Or Night Cream

I love when masks (or any skin care products) are packaged in tubes. Not only does it help keep the formula nice and fresh, but it eliminates the need for me to dip into the jar with my fingers, so it prevents the product from being contaminated. That’s just one of the reasons this Paula’s Choice mask is so great. Not only is it relatively affordable considering its size, but it’s rich in hydrating ingredients (including several Dr. Garshick recommends) like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and various plant-derived oils. You can use this as an overnight mask, as a rinse-off mask, or, if you love very rich creams, trying using it as your daily moisturizer.

Relevant review: “I added this mask to my routine and it is a game changer! My skin felt so hydrated and smooth after using it. I use the mask as a last step in my night routine and I noticed a difference Immediately. I dont use it every night but it's really a great mask. You could leave it on until the next morning or wash it off. I loved it.”


36 Moisturizing Sheet Masks From One Of Japan’s Most Popular Brands

These Japanese sheet masks are a favorite among beauty bloggers worldwide, and that's because they pack a major punch of hydration for a great price: It's not everyday you see a 36-pack of sheet masks. They’re filled with moisture-attracting humectants like glycerin, which Dr. Garshick recommends, along with moisturizing peony extract and honey. The packaging is a bit less luxurious than some other sheet masks, since they are individually wrapped and on the thin side, but for the price, these are super worth it.

Relevant review: “I use these 2-3 times a week and they are lovely! They are designed for everyday use but find they still work really well for an extra boost of hydration throughout the week! It’s really good value for money as well! I’d recommend these if you are looking for a simple hydrating sheet mask to make your skin feel soft and smooth!”


A Daily Mask (Or Moisturizer) From A Beloved French Brand

Bioderma recommends using this mask daily for the first week or so, leaving it on for about 10 minutes at a time (after that, they say to use it once or twice a week). That said, you can also leave it on and use it in lieu of moisturizer — it makes a wonderful makeup primer since it contains dimethicone, which helps smooth over rough, flaky patches. However you use it, this glycerin-rich mask will help keep your skin moisturized and soft in both the short and long term.

Relevant review: “My skin is so dry and sensitive. Had lot of problems for a long time. [After] four days using this product during nights, leave it as a cream, I've noticed my skin softer and comfortable. So much better. Decide to use the rich cream of the same line.”


The Cult-Favorite Cream That Can Be Used As A Mask, Among Other Things

Though not *technically* a mask, Weleda’s cult-classic Skin Food moisturizing cream can absolutely be used as one. Just apply a thick layer and pat or wash it off after however long you want — or if you have really dry skin, leave it on all day (or night) long. There’s really nothing Skin Food can’t do: Victoria Beckham uses it as a moisturizer, makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes uses it as a mask, a primer, and a highlighter (just dab some onto your cheekbones for a shimmer-free glow), and dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss uses it as a lip treatment. It’s an ultra-rich, certified-natural cream that’ll leave your skin much softer and glowier anywhere you apply it. In other words, if you have dry skin, this belongs in every bathroom cabinet.

Relevant review: “This is a MUST have! A MUST! I am always looking for that rich moisturizer that leaves your face so hydrated that you look fresh and rejuvenated, that is this stuff!!!! This is the most luxurious cream that truly continues to work, I never break out or become to greasy, yet my skin looks HYDRATED and beautiful! I have tried bobbi brown, and many expensive products, this one tops them all! I wont go without this stuff!! I LOVE IT!!!!”


An Exfoliating Mask That’s Balanced Out By Aloe & Honey

When you have dry skin, you have to be exceptionally careful about the exfoliating products you use, particularly if you have skin that’s sensitive, as well. This pumpkin mask gently exfoliates with glycolic acid and brightens with vitamin C, but because it contains nourishing honey, moisturizing glycerin, and an aloe vera leaf base, it’s much more moisturizing than your average exfoliating mask. This also contains pumpkin puree, which is rich in enzymes that can help gently break down dead skin cells. The result is clear, smooth, glowing skin — and no uncomfortable dryness.

Relevant review: “I put it on and it zinged, warmed, tingled, then went calm. I gently rinsed it off after 20 mins with a cool wash cloth. My skin tone was so even, soft and hydrated. Also the milia, bumps and rosacea on my cheeks is finally going away. My skin was so dry, but this facial truly adds moisture and penetrates into the skin. I have used this facial a few times a week, It’s very gentle. I also use it on my neck and chest, which is renewing and restoring cells. I will order this again, I’m loving the results. I received no money for this review, nor was I asked to write one, just spreading the good word.”


An Overnight Face Mask That’s Loaded With Hydrating Ingredients

Think of this French pharmacy sleeping mask as a night cream and face mask in one. After just one evening of use, its cocktail of hyaluronic acid and mineral-packed thermal water promises to soften and moisturize dry, dehydrated skin. And since you don't have to wash this one off after a few minutes, it’ll work its magic all night long, while your skin regenerates — so you’ll wake up to a luminous, dewy complexion.

Relevant review: “I absolutely love this product. I had never tried a sleep mask product before and felt wonderful. It is very refreshing to the skin and absorbs very quickly. I really had my reservations but the price wasn't that terrible, and it has been a weekly or twice weekly treatment. Not only is it refreshing but I can definitely feel a difference in hydration. This purchase was very much a pleasant surprise and it is definitely holy grail status for me. I would very likely purchase this product again.”


An Affordable Soothing Mask From A Classic Drugstore Brand

Few ingredients can nourish and repair dry, sensitive, irritated skin more effectively than the colloidal oatmeal found in this hydrating face mask. Leave it on for 10 minutes, wash with warm water, and follow up with moisturizer — colloidal oatmeal, pumpkin seed extract, and feverfew extract are a few of the incredible ingredients you'll find in this dry skin savior. At around $8 on Amazon, you can’t beat the value, either.

Relevant review: “I received a sample of this product and immediately purchased it. It smell fantastic! Goes on very smooth and leaves your skin feeling amazing - smooth and moisturized!”


A Set Of 10 Korean Sheet Masks Rich In Skin-Plumping Collagen

This sheet mask, from iconic Korean brand Mediheal, is infused with hydrolyzed collagen and elastin, both of which help improve your skin's texture, make it appear more radiant, and soften dry patches. Apply the mask, leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it and gently pat the remaining essence into your skin. As a major bonus, it comes in a pack of 10, so you'll be stocked for ages.

Relevant review: “They are super moisturizing and easy to apply. The smells wonderful and my face feels so good afterwards. The price is very affordable which is a huge plus!”


A Mask That Both Brightens & Hydrates Dry, Dull Skin

This hydrating face mask features hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and vitamin C to to moisturize, soften, and even out your skin tone all at once. It contains Dr. Garshick’s go-to ingredient for dry and dehydrated skin, hyaluronic acid, while antioxidants offer both immediate (brightening) and long-term (protecting) benefits. There are also plenty of good-for-skin botanicals in here, like spirulina, green tea, grapefruit, and chamomile, as well as skin-pampering allantoin and panthenol.

Relevant review: “This is a really wonderful hydrating face mask. It’s gentle and effective. My skin gets super dry in the cold weather and this mask makes it soft and gets rid of the dry, parched look, and flaky patches.”


A Fun Hydrating Mask That Looks & Smells Good Enough To Eat

If you’re a little bit extra, reach for this hydrating face mask from K-beauty brand I Dew Care. Though it looks (and smells) like vanilla cake frosting, it’s actually loaded with hydrating ingredients like glacier water, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, as well as cocoa seed butter, which contributes to its rich, creamy, moisturizing feel. It’s a fun and effective mask for at-home spa days with your friends, or whenever you could use a decadent pampering session.

Relevant review: “It smells like the most delightful birthday you could ever imagine. It comes with a spatula applicator and the mask itself glides on the skin effortlessly. Rinsed off spectacularly. Does not make skin feel tight and or irritated just leaves a dewy hydrated complexion.”


A Soothing & Healing Mask For Inflamed, Acne-Prone Skin

If you’re prone to both dryness and breakouts, this wash-off mask, which contains soothing balsam peru and oatmeal, is designed to curb inflammation and help heal acne without drying out your skin. The formula will stay creamy and won't harden on your skin (hurray for that) and can even aid in reducing redness that can result from dry skin and blemishes, thanks to the zinc oxide in the formula.

Relevant review: “Amazing makes the skin soft. Especially good for the winter because it hydrates and soften the face. Great buy!!!”


A Luxe Balm Made With A Rich, Shea Butter Base

If you love very rich balms, this COSMEDIX Rescue Intense Hydrating Balm and Mask will become your new skin care savior. The thick formula is made with a shea butter base, which Dr. Garshick recommends as an ingredient for dry skin, while antioxidant-rich botanical extracts contribute to a brighter, glowier complexion. This balm is so rich that it’s capable of repairing extremely dry, cracked skin, whether you apply it on your face, lips, elbows, or cuticles. Use it as a mask, as a spot treatment, or as a leave-on moisturizer.

Relevant review: “The moisturization is unmatched in my experience. Some dislike the fragrance - I find it to be really comforting and relaxing - it's spicy/musky to my nose, and less offensive than other beauty products that have a floral fragrance. I am extremely sensitive to both fragrance and harsh chemicals and have no reaction to this product over the 5+ years I've used it.”


A Splurge-Worthy Mask To Wake Up To Plump, Dewy Skin

This mask is definitely a splurge — so you'll want to reserve it for when your skin is most in need of a decadent, heavy-duty treatment (or for luxurious at-home spa evenings). From prestige skin care brand Elemis, a favorite of dermatologists and beauty editors alike, the Plumping Pillow Facial Mask is packed with several unique botanical ingredients that are proven to be effective at rehydrating dry skin (like star avensis and Indian night jasmine), as well as the humectant glycerin. Leave it on overnight and wake up to a well-rested, hydrated complexion in the morning.

Relevant review: “This product is amazing. There is no scent and applies on easily. Apply it before bed and it hydrates your skin while you sleep. I have used this for quite some time and my skin is soft and smooth.”


Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City

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