Soothing Face Masks for After Work

After a tough day, use one of these masks to soothe and hydrate. Only you and the dog have to know

Photograph by Mike and Claire for Bloomberg Businessweek

Brightening; best overall
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
A secret of soft-faced women for decades, these in-demand Japanese pads are often sold out at beauty stores such as Sephora. Buy them for the Pitera, a sake-derived ingredient that fans say makes skin look bright, healthier, and smoother, thanks to its blend of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. $95 for six

Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask
More versatile than a paper mask, this goo has a choose-your-own-adventure aspect: Use it three times a week for 10 minutes, or leave it on overnight once a week. In either case, the cucumber, chamomile, papaya, and half-dozen other botanicals calm irritation after sun exposure, stress, or your annual facial. For men, it’s great on shaving day. $45 for 5 ounces

Wilma Schumann Hydra-Gel Masques
The most durable of the bunch, this pillowlike covering rests on your face for 10 minutes, imparting aloe to soothe redness and collagen and hyaluronic acid for an intense hydration boost. Try once a week, but don’t reuse, tempting as that might be. $39 for six

Photograph by Mike and Claire for Bloomberg Businessweek

Talika Bio Enzymes Hydrating Mask
Especially useful for those with blemishes or enlarged pores, this French mainstay uses Alpine herbs—arnica, gentian, and absinthe—to heal and protect. The paper mask also has a milky texture that feels comforting; when left on for the recommended half-hour, it’s a relaxing way to end an awful day. $16 for one

Wei White Lotus Hydrating Face Treatment
One of the most popular “sheet masks” in Asia. Spread it over your mug for 10 minutes, then peel the tissue off and go to bed. No rinsing! Chinese herbal ingredients such as ginkgo leaf and white lotus flower soak in; they’re thought to moisturize and decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles. $68 for six

Healthy-looking skin
Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment Mask
Wear this for 20 minutes; the excess solution stays on while you sleep, which is when skin repairs itself. Including nine essential oils and antioxidants such as witch hazel, olive, and cactus extracts, it’s a gentle way to refresh and brighten with minimal effort. It feels cooling but not enough to distract you from your beauty rest. $7.50 for one

Jordana Mattioli on the face mask ingredients to seek out.

Illustrations by Adrian Forrow

These are expensive! Can I DIY?
Sort of. To soothe and moisturize, open the refrigerator. Jordana Mattioli, a medical aesthetician at CompleteSkinMD, suggests a 1-to-1 combination of plain Greek yogurt and avocado. Mash them together in a bowl, put it on your face, and wait no more than 20 minutes. (You’ll look kind of like Swamp Thing crossed with Mrs. Doubtfire.) Mattioli also likes mixing the yogurt with 2 or 3 tablespoons of raw Manuka honey to tone down redness, or a scoop or two of unripe papaya to exfoliate. She says to avoid essential oils and citrus fruits—both of which can irritate the skin—and use organic produce if possible.

I tried the first option, and when the time was up, my skin did feel a little softer. But the improvement wasn’t so great that I noticed it the next day. So spring for a premade mask, and save the avocado for your salad.

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