Best Face Masks for Acne Prone Skin

This acne remedy brings you into close contact with nature.  You become the Earth as you attempt to rid everything unclean and replace it with the smooth, natural look we all deserve.

Using an anti-acne mask may involve using new formulas and applications, but it puts you in touch with the ancient world.  Ancient Indians used masks made of sandalwood powder and rosewater cream.

Hey, acne isn’t new either.  It’s always been here—those ancient peoples in their robes in their palaces, huts, and tents struggled with it too, and they turned to the plantlife around them to help.  An herb called skullcap was used by the ancient Chinese for acne, and the same is true of frankincense.

Today, many masks have natural ingredients at their heart, with some modern touches thrown in too.  We’ve researched those out there to narrow it to our top 15, plus one top pick.  Let’s begin.

Top Pick

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask

This mask has just an incredible blend of ingredients that do the things you need to naturally help your acne.

First off, African Black Soap.  It is made of palm ash, tamarind extract, plantain peel, and tar.  It is known to clear blemishes and is used for eczema in addition to acne.

The mask also includes Shea Butter, which you may be familiar with.  This is fat extracted from the nut of a shea tree.  It is bursting with soothing and nourishing ingredients like vitamins A, E, and F.

Finally, tamarind extract.  While this is an ingredient in African Black Soap, it is added by itself to the mask ingredients as well.  It is used to exfoliate skin—see what we mean when we say the mask has all the perfect ingredients?

The mask is to be used for roughly twenty minutes a few times a week.  It may not peel off cleanly because it won’t dry thoroughly on the skin, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get the results you want.

We love this mask because it is free of chemicals and made of natural ingredients.

Now, we’ll walk you through the top 15 products.

15. Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

This mask is all about power—it has strong ingredients that work as anti-oxidants, unclog pores, and get rid of oil.  The Big Three here are Montmorillonite clay, pine bark extract, and Vitamin C.

First, the Montmorillonite clay contains minerals that foil impurities and absorbs oil.

Next, Pine bark extract is a powerful antioxidant.  This means that it smacks down free radicals, the substances that damage skin cells, ultimately leading to acne.

Vitamin C cuts down on inflammation and hyper-pigmentation.  The vitamin brightens the skin as well.

Other ingredients in the Boscia Luminizing mask include witch hazel, honey suckle flower extract, jojoba, and other natural ingredients that soothe your skin.

We found this mask to be effective for brightening the facial skin after removing wrinkles and dead skin.  It was a bit harsh to remove, so be careful, starting with the outside edges.

14. Kate Somerville Eradikate Mask

You know the name Kate Somerville, and now the company delivers a mask.  Somerville Eradikate is fascinating and unique, since it works on the principle of foam-activation.  This foam-activated technology penetrates the skin and washes away impurities.

Another big contribution of this acne mask is the colloidal sulfur, which unclogs pores and helps with acne blemishes.

Then there’s soothing, an important feature in any mask, since you wouldn’t want the presence of the mask to make your face sore.  The soothing comes from a mix of rice bran extract and honey extract.

Another important thing to add about this mask is that its natural oat extract reduces sebum, which is a waxy substance that causes acne.

Clinical tests showed that 100% of subjects who used the mask for 4 weeks saw a reduction in blackhead acne. 87% said their skin felt smoother—you’d certainly hope so after 4 weeks of use, but all in all, there are some very positive indications about this product.

As you can see, this mask performs a wide variety of acne-fighting functions for you, coming at your enemy from all angles.

13. Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque

One of the coolest things about this mask is that it’s non-drying.  That means you wash it off rather than pulling.  After a nice cleanse, you simply keep Skinceuticals on for about fifteen minutes and wash away.

You can rest assured that this anti-acne mask is made of the finest earth clays, kaolin and bentonite.  Now, in addition to the clays, a hydroxy acid blend unclogs the pores and gives you some nice exfoliation.  That means that your skin will feel healthy.  It’s recommend you use this just once a week, too, so if you’re looking for a low-maintenance mask, this one may be for you.

12. Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask

This mask is all about the deep clean, and it’s all about clogging pores.  Clogged pores are a huge culprit in the presence of acne.  Now, some people get a little nervous about the idea of putting coal on their skin, but it works—it’s an approved and tried and true product.  To elaborate, this product uses Bamboo charcoal (see, that sounds better!) which draws out environmental toxins in your skin.  Those are the things you really don’t want there.

Further, Origins uses white China clay to further destroy toxins.

Origins Clear Improvement comes to you without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

A couple of things to keep in mind when you set your expectations: it comes in a 1.7 oz bottle, so it will look a bit skimpy. But you don’t need a lot.  Also, it’s not exactly a peel-off mask, and using a wash cloth and water may be necessary.  Finally, the main thing this mask does is to unclog pores, while other masks are more versatile.  It’s a matter of going for what you want and need.

11. Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment

This is the result of a lot of scientific research, and it combines various ingredients to help acne-prone skin.  I know the word “acid” can sound harsh, but when an acid is soothing and clearing your skin, you’ll love it.  The acids here are Glycolic, Lactic, and Salycilic.  The Glycolic acid is good for skin texture, repairing any damage that may have occurred.  Lactic acid stimulates skin collagen and promotes moisturization.

This is specially and specifically designed to fight whiteheads and blackheads.  One of the ways it does this is to eliminate excess sebum oils.

This mask needs to be worn only roughly 15-20 minutes 1-3 times per week.

10. Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Daily Leave-On Mask

This anti-acne mask is completely different from the others.  It’s not a thick, obvious mask that you wear for 20 minutes and then peel off.  You apply it as a mask, but then in disappears into the skin, and you can wear foundation or concealer over it if you choose.

The key ingredient in Neutrogena is Benzoyl peroxide acne medicine.  Now, this is a pretty outstanding form of medication, because it actually kills the bacteria that cause acne.  It also unclogs pores, a good double whammy.

This product has been known to work where others have failed.

9. Murad Acne Clarifying Mask

There are so many approaches to clearing acne, so many specialties for these particular products.  For Murad Acne Clarifying Mask, it’s Sulfur acne treatment, which makes up 4% of the product.  Sulfur has strong anti-bacterial properties, and that’s one of the best ways to attack the zits.  It also will go keratolytic on your skin, and that means getting rid of the problematic outer layers of your skin where the visible blemishes are.

But what about the other 96%?  Well, in terms of the active ingredients that have acne-fighting properties, we’re looking at Kaolin Clay and Licorice Extract.  The clay will make you skin less oily, while the extract comforts and soothes your skin.

To be fair, we do have to note that this product contains Methylparaben, butylparaben, and Ethylparaben.

8. TreeActiv Turmeric Charcoal Acne Mask

“Inside-Out” is the main concept with this mask, which is all about anti-oxidants as a remedy for troubling acne.  It’s more about curing acne than masking it.

Curcumin is one of the main drivers in this mask.  Curcumin is a main ingredient in turmeric, which is an ingredient in curry pastes and powders and in all sorts of Indian and some Asian foods.  This ingredient is known to have roughly six hundred healing uses, but if it has just one, it’s fine for us, right?  In the reviews of some of the other masks, we’ve talked about how antioxidants are very beneficial in fighting acne by whacking free radicals.  These radicals cause inflammation, which causes acne.  So cutting down on the radicals cuts down on acne.

Now, we just mentioned inflammation, and Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, too.  It’s like a girl friend of yours who tells your boyfriend to treat you better and picks up some cheesecake on the way over to your place just in case he doesn’t.

Now, this mask also uses activated charcoal, which prevents your body from reabsorbing toxins and impurities.  Further, Salicylic Acid and Sulfur join the party with their acne-fighting traits.  This mask is a wash-off type.

7. Pure Body Naturals Beauty Dead Sea Mud Mask

Here’s a disclaimer I’ve had to make a few times: I know the phrase “dead sea” sounds a bit depressing and discouraging, but it happens that mud from that sea is packed with vitamins and minerals.  This is true so much that the sea is nicknamed the Fountain of Youth.

The minerals important to us are magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

So the mask contains those, yet it also gives you sunflower oil, aloe vera, and jojoba oil.  That means you’re getting an awful lot of natural ingredients instead of chemicals, and ingredients that strike at acne in so many ways.

It is meant to be used ever 3-4 days for 15-20 minutes, and it rinses off with warm water.  It could be harsh on women with sensitive skin.

6. Retseliney Best Acne Face & Oil Control

This is another mask that comes at acne with a big arsenal, throwing many ingredients at it in a grand scientific combination.  You’ve got unclogging of the pores, repairing and rejuvenating the skin, and zapping blackheads, whiteheads, you name it.

Now, the mask also includes coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin C, awesome antioxidants.  These are things your body needs, and they are big in the fight against acne.

Now, to continue with the natural theme, consider that Retseliney is completely free of benzoyl peroxide, synthetic dyes, phthalates, and alcohol.  It isn’t tested on animal.

The overall effect of this is that the Retseliney won’t wear out your skin or make it inflamed or itchy.  It will treat your acne while preventing further acne.

This is a wash-off mask that stays on for about 20 minutes.

5. Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask

Ever wanted to look like the villain in a horror movie from the 80’s?  Ever want to terrify your friends?  This is your chance—use the Neutrogena light therapy acne mask, which, to clarify, will also help with your acne-prone skin.  But it’s not like other masks. It’s not a smear of vitamins and other ingredients that you put on for it to harden.  It’s a mask-mask, made of hard plastic and ready to transmit the light therapy.

Light therapy attacks acne by penetrating the skin and destroying bacteria that causes acne.

The mask fits onto your face via a pair of sun glasses built into it.  The body of the mask hangs from them.  It also comes with an activator, its power supply.  You plug in the activator first before inserting it into the mask.  After 30 treatments, you’ll need to purchase a replacement activator.

Each treatment is about 10 minutes, though you’ll want to cleanse first.

This LED therapy is for people who worry about the chemicals in other masks or who just don’t want the hassle of rubbing the mask in for each use.  It doesn’t create heat or emit ultra-violet light (LED is used) and is dermatologist approved.

4. LAVO High Performance Volcanic Mud Mask

At the top of this article, we talked about the long-standing use of natural ingredients to improve skin.  What more profound and intense way is there to commune with the natural world than to rub volcanic ash on your face?

Or, to come at it another way: which would you guess is more powerful, a blackhead zit, or a volcano?

Specifically, the mask is made of clay from volcanic ash (3 types of clay), along with Eucalyptus oil and aloe vera gel.

These ingredients flush out bacteria and exfoliate skin to get you ready to face the world.  It pulls the blackheads to the surface and then wipes them out.

This mask doesn’t have the liquid quality of others.  It has a thicker, creamier texture, and that’s nice at the application stage.  It wears light and washes off easily.

3. Bentonite Clay Detoxifying Powder

This product can be used to rub into skin or hair, but it is also a mask that fights acne with the valiant help of clay.

Unlike the other products reviewed, this clay powder needs some mixing before it can be applied as a mask.  One can use either water or apple cider vinegar.

In any case, this powder/mask is all about detoxifying and healing skin, and that should give some long-term relief of acne.  It absorbs impurities while getting rid of impurities.  Further, it tightens skin and shrinks pores, and we all know how important pores are in acne problems.

This mask is hypoallergenic and free of chemicals.

2. Diva Stuff Watermelon & Strawberry Bubbling Face Mask

Well, we’ll get to the fruit in the name in a minute, but this is a mask primarily of clay.  Namely, Diva Stuff uses French Pink Clay, and rather than just sounding cool in a girlie way, this clay draws out impurities.  It dries and removes blemishes while keeping new ones from forming.

Now, let’s get fruity.  The strawberry extract will take your inflamed skin and soothe and nurture it.  The watermelon will heal acne scars, which can be a pretty huge deal.  And, hey, you know it won’t smell nasty!

It includes some soda water and baking soda, and that means it’ll bubble and foam when you put it on.

1. Best Green Tea Matcha Mud Mask

Green tea is the natural ingredient that powers this particular mask.  The green tea acts to draw toxins out of your skin, and also promotes the development of collagen, the main protein in your skin.  Collagen is used in cosmetic surgeries.

This mask also includes some volcanic mud.  It’s non-greasy, meaning it won’t leave a buildup and won’t clog your pores.

The green tea mask is not tested on animals.

Choosing and Using a Mask

One of the questions you may be asking is whether or not you want to use a mask.  You may opt for an alternative like concealers, foundations, or just lotions and cleansers.  You may feel that if you’re going to put on foundation each morning, you may not want to invest the additional time in a mask.

But one of the main benefits of a mask is it covers the entire face.  For issues like acne you’re going to want 100% accuracy—what good is it to cover just some of it?

But the main benefit of the mask is that most of them, as we’ve described in the reviews, take steps to prevent future acne as well.  The long-term nature of the masks as they deliver their ingredients for twenty minutes or whatever the case may be allows the acne fighters to do their best work.

So, girls and women (boys and men welcome too) who have serious ongoing problems with acne would do well to choose a mask strategy in addition to makeup.

Now, above, we’ve looked, individually, at masks on their own terms.  It may be a good idea to take the individual information about some of your favorite masks we just reviewed and check it against this set of guidelines for picking a mask.


Now, it might seem obvious that the ingredients in the mask are important.  But I want to highlight this because sometimes, a feature like price or ease of removal will make a person forget about one or two problematic ingredients in a mask.  It’s all too easy, when comparing four or five cosmetic products of any kind, to accidentally buy one with one element that irritates your skin, etc.  So, refer back to this list as you shop.

Ingredients can be broken down into 3 main categories in terms of possibly finding some that are a deal-breaker:

  • Allergies/irritation- Don’t forget, before purchasing any mask, to make one last check through the ingredients to make sure there aren’t any that irritate your skin type or that have given you trouble in the past.
  • Proven acne killers- Here, we’re talking about ingredients you do Due to past experience you may have, you may insist that any acne product you use will include salicylic acid; maybe you swear by the soothing properties of aloe vera or want anti-oxidants.  This is a great way of narrowing your selections.
  • Natural/synthetic- We’ve reviewed a few products that are all natural, as well as some that are mostly natural. It’s still possible to find various cosmetic products that are mostly collections of chemicals, even if these are proven to be safe.

We’re not telling you how you should feel about the natural vs. synthetic distinction, but if you have your mind made up already, that will be a good way to decide.  If you’re not opposed to synthetic ingredients completely, and if those that come in a certain cosmetic aren’t irritating to your skin, they may be OK.  Parabens and phthalates tend to be frowned upon by doctors.  Parabens produce estrogen, which you shouldn’t have in excess, and phthalates (additives found in plastic products) shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.


Strength and Effectiveness

If all you were looking for was the most powerful medicated mask, there wouldn’t be much to think about.  Or, conversely, if you were merely trying to avoid parabens or dyes, that would be easy.  But you also have to consider your individual acne-fighting needs and try to get the most powerful coverage possible while considering the various ingredients.

Basically, if you’d like a mask but your acne problems aren’t severe, with blemishes that aren’t terribly dark or large, you have more freedom in selection.  You can choose based on ingredients, price, ease of use, etc.

If you’re in need of a mask that treats acne long-term, that contains ingredients that kill the bacteria that produce it, or that gives the most powerful removal of blackheads, etc., your choices are limited.

Of course, no matter what, you must never purchase a product that has ingredients that have irritated your skin before, or that irritate your type of skin (oily, fair, sensitive, etc.).  If you feel that other ingredients are indeed generally harmful, don’t compromise on this.

But for the coverage you need, you may choose products with sulfurs or benzoyl peroxide, acne-fighting chemicals that some cosmetics boast they are free of.  You may experience good results with some of these products, and may be able to move to a lower-impact mask with gentler ingredients.


Let’s FACE it (to allow a quick pun), if you’re driving yourself insane with a mask, you’ve got a problem.  Don’t suffer through itchiness or pain or difficulty of removing the mask—we’ve reviewed plenty, above, that are light and easy to remove.

There are a few masks that are different from the traditional kinds that gel on your face, stay on for 20 minutes, and then scrub off.  You may find some of these to be good alternatives, or may find them to be more hassle than they’re worth.

We recommend being patient and working with masks a little, particularly after you’ve found one with the right ingredients at the right price, and of course, one that rids you of acne.  Just don’t torture yourself believing that it’s necessary for clear skin.

Finally, the mask will come with instructions on how often you need to use it, and for how long.  First, don’t try to go beyond these amounts of usage—you’ll almost certainly dry or irritate your skin that way.

Instead, try to combine the mask with something else that is cleansing to your body and spirit, like meditation, planning and reflection, catching up on some reading, some special “me” time that won’t have you counting down the seconds before you can take the mask off.

Just be sure to give the mask adequate time to do its work—if you’re skipping scheduled days, you can’t blame the product!

To conclude, we hope you find the right mask with almost no error in your trial-and-error process.  We feel we’ve given you enough information to help you make an informed decision as quickly as possible.  Don’t just jump for the first one that seems all right, but make your lists and  conquer your problem through smart shopping and logical decision making!

Melania Richardson

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