If you have acne-prone skin, the right mask can help you keep your breakouts under control. Below, you’ll find our recommendations for the best masks for acne.

Our Recommendations

1. Bentonite Healing Clay

Aztec Secret Bentonite Healing Clay

Aztec Secret Mask for Acne, Blackheads and Large Pores

Aztec Secret Bentonite Healing Clay

This natural clay mask uses calcium bentonite clay to help absorb excess oil and dissolve impurities in the skin for a clearer complexion.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Acne, Blackheads and Large Pores
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After mixing with your liquid of choice, apply a thin layer of the mixture all over your clean, dry face (or just to affected areas). Leave it on for 5-15 minutes. Wash away with lukewarm water. This mask can be used 1-2 times per week.
See on Amazon

This simple mask contains 100% calcium bentonite clay, with no other added ingredients. It can help draw out impurities from the skin to refine the appearance of pores, minimize oiliness, and clear breakouts.

Pros

  • Natural
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • May dry out the skin

This mask is free of fragrances, dyes, and other additives that may irritate the skin.

100% Natural Calcium Bentonite Clay

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Bentonite Clay as a Natural Remedy: A Brief Review"

    Accessed Sep. 2, 2021.

2. 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask

Drunk Elephant Mask for Smoothing Texture, Anti-Aging, and Evening Skin Tone

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask

This powerful mask contains a potent blend of AHAs and BHA to resurface, unclog pores, and reveal a smooth and even skin tone and texture.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Best for: Smoothing Texture, Anti-Aging, and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Apply an even layer to clean, dry skin, and leave on for up to 20 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water. Use no more than once weekly.
See on Amazon

This super powerful mask has a 25% concentration of an AHA blend (glycolic acid, tartaric acid, lactic acid, and citric acid), as well as a 2% concentration of BHA (salicylic acid). These chemical exfoliators fight signs of aging, smooth the skin, brighten, and unclog pores. It also contains chickpea flour, which brightens the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

Since this mask has such powerful active ingredients, it is best to avoid applying serums or treatments with other strong actives (like AHAs, BHAs, and retinol) after use.

Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Salicylic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Silybum Marianum Seed Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Powder, Cicer Arietinum Seed Powder, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Sodium PCA, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Dextrin, Polydextrose, Sorbitan Isostearate, Amylopectin, Niacinamide, Phytosphingosine, Lactic Acid, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Polysorbate 60, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin"

    Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Aug. 27, 2021.

3. Clear Purifying Clay Mask

Paula’s Choice Clear Purifying Clay Mask

Paula's Choice Mask for Acne

Paula’s Choice Clear Purifying Clay Mask

In this mask, the combination of clays, salicylic acid, and soothing ingredients work to absorb excess oil, minimize the appearance of pores, prevent future breakouts, and calm the skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Acne
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing the skin, apply the mask all over the face. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

This mask is one of the best Paula’s Choice products for acne, because it refines pores and minimizes breakouts without irritating the skin. The addition of soothing ingredients also helps calm and hydrate the skin to diminish redness.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

The salicylic acid in this mask helps decongest pores to minimize breakouts, while the clays absorb excess oil and refine pores. This mask also contains chamomile, green tea, willowherb, and other soothing ingredients that calm and hydrate.

Active Ingredient: Salicylic Acid 0.5% (anti-acne); Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Kaolin (absorbent), Bentonite (absorbent), Titanium Dioxide (texture enhancer/opacifier), Butylene Glycol (slip agent/hydration), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (solvent), Cetyl Esters (emollient), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (absorbent), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Illite (absorbent), Tapioca Starch (absorbent), Zea Mays (Corn) Starch (absorbent), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant/skin-soother), Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Chrysanthellum Indicum (Golden Chamomile) Extract (skin-soothing), Hydrolyzed Rhodophycea (Red Algae) Extract (skin-soothing/hydration), Chlorella Vulgaris (Algae) Extract (skin-soothing/hydration), Epilobium Fleischeri (Willowherb) Extract (skin-soothing), Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Seed Oil (non-fragrant plant oil/skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Zinc PCA (skin-softening), Copper PCA (skin-softening), Lauroyl Lysine (amino acid-derived hydration), Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate (cleansing agent/emulsifier), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Sodium Citrate (pH adjuster), Sodium Chloride (thickener), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative).

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Aug. 6, 2021.

4. Salicylic Acid Masque

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque

Paula's Choice Mask for Unclogging Pores and Exfoliating

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque

This mask combines salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator, with charcoal, clays, and squalane to absorb excess sebum, unclog pores, and minimize breakouts without irritating the skin.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Unclogging Pores and Exfoliating
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the mask all over the face (or on your T-zone, which is generally the oiliest area of the face). Allow it to dry for 10 minutes, and then wash off with lukewarm water. Use one to two times a week.
See on Amazon

Salicylic acid is a great exfoliator for oily skin, because it is oil-soluble and gets deep into the pores to remove excess sebum and debris, leading to a smooth and clear complexion. The 2% concentration in this mask is effective, but gentle enough to minimize the risk of irritation.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

In addition to salicylic acid, this mask contains charcoal and clays, which deeply clean the skin, removing impurities that can clog pores. Squalane – a non-comedogenic hydrator – also helps soothe and moisturize the skin.

Aqua (Water), Kaolin, Squalane, Glycerin, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Silica Cetyl Silylate, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Polyacrylate, Pentylene Glycol, Charcoal Powder, 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, Sclerotium Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Phytic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

What is the best face mask for acne scars?

One of the best face masks for acne scars is the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA + 2% BHA Mask. The potent concentration of alpha hydroxy acids works on the surface of the skin to smooth texture and promote a more even skin tone. This mask also contains salicylic acid, which works to unclog pores and fight breakouts (which ultimately minimizes your risk of developing even more acne scars). 

What is the best clay mask for acne?

A great mask for acne that just contains 100% clay is the Aztec Secret Bentonite Healing Clay. If you want a mask that also has exfoliating power, check out the Paula’s Choice Clear Purifying Clay Mask or The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque. Both of these products combine clays with salicylic acid to powerfully fight clogged pores.

What is the best drugstore mask for acne?

While they aren’t always actually available at drugstores, two super affordable acne-fighting masks to check out are The Ordinary Salicylic Acid Masque and the Aztec Secret Bentonite Healing Clay.

The Bottom Line

An expertly formulated mask that dissolves excess sebum and debris and draws out impurities from the pores can make a major difference in your skin. If you’re looking to minimize breakouts and promote a clearer complexion, consider adding one of these masks to your routine.