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From lightweight peel-offs to creamy clay and charcoal masks, we've got the best treatments to help banish breakouts.

By Susan Brickell
Updated February 21, 2019
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Indulging in a face mask and a glass of wine simultanously is one of our favorite pastimes. And no matter your skin type—oily, dry, sensitive—masks can be enjoyed by everyone, even those with acne-prone skin. Face masks can help zap current breakouts, prevent new pimples from developing, and remove excess oil from the skin, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

But with so many masks out there, which ones are best for those of us with breakouts, redness, and acne?

Peel-off masks are perfect for oily or acne-riddled skin. Not only is there something super satisfying about lifting the mask from one side of your face and slowly peeling it off so you can feel each pore being unclogged, but they also work especially well to exfoliate as they pull away from your skin, says New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD.

Sheet masks are great for hydrating dry skin (and for allowing ingredients to really soak in), but they're not ideal for those with acne. These kinds of masks can actually worsen breakouts thanks to their pore-blocking tendencies, Dr. Jaliman says. 

RELATED: The Best Acne Spot Treatments, According to Dermatologists

On the other hand, clay masks (think: kaolin and bentonite) draw out impurities from the skin, alleviate oil buildup and clogged pores, and prevent acne, says Dr. Jaliman. Another game changer? Activated charcoal masks work like magnets to draw out and trap dirt and oil. Other powerful ingredients to look for: Benzoyl peroxide works to lower levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin, while alpha hydroxy acids remove oil and exfoliate dead cells to keep pores clearer, explains Dr. Zeichner.

Because face masks have much longer contact with your skin than face washes do, it's important to choose carefully since some can cause irritation, warns Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Avoid masks with added fragrances and those with comedogenic ingredients, such as coconut oil, which have a higher potential to cause more acne, she says.

We've done the homework for you: Here are the top dermatologist picks for the best face masks for acne.

RELATED: The 7 Best Face Washes for Acne, According to Dermatologists

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