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11 of The Best Face Masks For Fighting Acne

Whether you suffer from hormonal breakouts, cystic acne, maskne, or have break-out prone skin, at one point, you've been there with skin that won't play ball. Now, you've probably tried all of the pimple patches, spot treatments, and face washes that exist, in a bid to calm things down. But sometimes, know that a decent face mask for acne can seriously help.

With their supercharged ingredients that draw out excess oil, battle bacteria, unclog pores, soothe irritation and control sebum levels, these products can be fire-fighting heroes your complexion will thank you for.

Do face masks remove pimples?

Whilst face masks don't remove spots entirely, they certainly help keep blemishes at bay. 'Sometimes acne masks can soothe and minimise acne by decreasing the inflammation,' says Consultant Dermatologist, Dr. Jeanine Downie.

Face masks should be used to supplement your skincare routine, rather than as a catch-all, says Dr Emma Craythorne, Consultant Dermatologist. 'Face masks can be a really helpful way to relieve redness and reduce oil and sebum, when used effectively they can most definitely help to reduce and clear some whiteheads and blackheads however I’d recommend a more targeted routine to really help to tackle the cause.'

Can face masks cure acne?

'Unfortunately not, I always recommend good effective skin cleansing in your routine and then using something to ensure that there is no blockage to the pores, such as chemical exfoliants like beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs),' explains Dr Craythorne.

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If you deal with blackheads, you'll need to reduce the oxidation of the sebum or oil by using antioxidants. Dr. Emma Craythorne suggests introducing powerhouse ingredient Silymarin.

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How often should you use a face mask, to help with acne?

Because these masks tend to contain powerful active ingredients, no more than once a week. And if you are using an acid-packed mask, then refrain from using other actives in the rest of your routine, that evening (so, no retinol serum layered on after your mask has been washed away.) When using a treatment like this it’s best to stick to combining it with a simple cleanser before and a moisturiser after.

What ingredients should you look out for to help combat acne?

Keep these spot-fighting ingredients on your radar: Salicylic acid and Retinoic acid. Dr. Emma Craythorne advises they are the most helpful for keeping your complexion clear, whilst also recommending Kaolin clay type masks can be helpful to reduce oil and sebum on the skin.

So, what are the best face masks for fighting acne?

From clay-based formulas to masks rich in exfoliating acids, WH has curated a list of 11 masks formulated to treat acne and breakout-prone skin.

1. Murad, Clarifying Mask

This mask is a weekly treatment for acne-prone skin. Its unique formula is infused with earth clays kaolin and bentonite, which penetrate the skin absorbing dirt and impurities, unclogging pores and controlling oil production to minimise breakouts.
Fortified with sulphur, the lightweight face mask promotes clearer skin, whilst soothing licorice root extract calms and relieves skin for long-lasting comfort.

2. The Body Shop, Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask

With bamboo extract, green tea leaves and tea tree oil, this acne-fighting trio will be able to reduce any spot you throw at it. Skin is left feeling fresh and clean.


3. Sunday Riley, Saturn Sulfur Treatment Mask

A medicated spot treatment mask that clears up breakouts while preventing new blemishes from forming. Formulated with 10% sulfur, this blemish-fighting spot treatment mask clears up blemishes and targets causes that lead to future breakouts. High-strength sulfur dries excess (pore-clogging) sebum and removes dead skin cells.


4. Super Facialist, Salicylic Acid Pore Purifying Clay Mask

Clear your skin of the dirt, excess oils and toxins which lead to breakouts with this clay mask. A cocktail of Salicylic Acid, proven to help unclog congested skin, skin-enhancing Niacin (Vitamin B3), and oil-absorbing Sea Mud. This is your ultimate at-home facial detox.


5. NIP + FAB, Salicylic Fix Clay Mask

Clay is a popular anti-acne ingredient because it absorbs excess oil while also healing blemishes and preventing future breakouts. Dr. Gohara advises using this mask, as it has salicylic acid that cuts through oil that can contribute to clogged pores. At the same time, clay sucks up extra sebum.

6. Vichy, Normaderm 3-in-1 Cleansing + Scrub + Mask

Specifically developed for sensitive skin, this nifty 3-in-1 Scrub, Cleanser and Mask gently refreshes and rejuvenates your complexion without over-drying or uncomfortable tightness. The multi-tasking formula, can be used as a cleansing cream to eliminate impurities, a skin-refining scrub to minimise the appearance of pores, or as a face mask to mattify and rebalance oily complexions prone to breakouts. Its creamy texture melts effortlessly onto skin to leave it revitalised, soothed and smoothened.


7. Dermalogica, Sebum Clearing Masque

Fight acne with a vengeance with this powerful face mask. Niacinamide, zinc gluconate, yeast extract, caffeine and biotin work to calm and soothe irritation by inhibiting sweat glands, while spiraea and cinnamon bark extracts prevent the growth and spread of bacteria to keep skin clear and healthy.

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8. SkinCeuticals, Clarifying Clay Masque

SkinCeuticals is a heavyweight beauty brand and this mask should definitely be added to your skincare routine if you suffer regular breakouts. Packed with two type of clay: Bentonite Earth and Kaolin which help to lift stubbornly-rooted impurities. Whilst a cocktail of botanicals, minerals and a Hydroxy Acid blend unclog congested pores, sweep away excess oil and gently exfoliate to remove dead skin cells.


9. Cultured, Biome One Mask

This mask is slightly different, it works with your skin rather than on your skin. I know, bare with us and we'll explain. The Biome One Mask is powered by microbiome science to tackle the source of dullness, uneven texture and hyper-pigmentation, rather than just the symptoms, in order to ‘help skin help itself’.

If you’re sick of having reactive skin (or just want to keep your good streak going!), use this mask to aid in skin renewal, give dead cells the boot and kickstart healthy barrier function.

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10. Paula's Choice, Pore Clarifying Charcoal Gel Mask

Charcoal and clay make a fantastic pair when it comes to fighting acne together. Charcoal draws out impurities whilst clay absorbs excess oil whilst helping to minimise and decongest pores.

11. Caudalie, Vinopure Purifying Mask

The Vinopure Purifying Mask is an acne-prone beauty’s best friend; a twice-weekly mask that uses 99% natural-origin ingredients — including green clay and zinc — to rid skin of pesky blemishes, leaving a smoother complexion in its wake.

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