Face masks regularly score high marks from our testers – and those featured here have lived up to our expectation of stellar performances. Three masks scored identically, tying for Bronze Award (do scroll down, to read all the results!) and our advice is to read the descriptions and pick the mask targeted at your particular skin concerns, as they’re all quite different. Technically, the following were tested as ‘anti-ageing masks’ – using a questionnaire originally devised for our age-defying books. They benchmarked well against the specifically ‘age-related’ questions – and if they can rise to the challenge of putting the radiance back into more mature skins, they’ll do for just about anyone.
GOLD and BEST NATURAL AWARD Sand & Sky Brilliant Skin Detoxify + Brighten Porefining Pink Clay Mask
A stunning score for this – 9.2/10 average, across our 10-woman tester panel. Sand & Sky is an Aussie brand founded by twin sisters Emily and Sarah Hamilton, based around Australian pink clay. As you might expect with a clay mask, then, this is particularly good for removing debris from clogged pores and for regulating skin’s oil production – Sand & Sky promise that over time (they recommend using it for 10 minutes two or three times a week), skin may actually become less greasy; it also targets blackheads and whiteheads while the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory powers of the Aussie clay also make it suitable for acne-prone complexions. For dry skins, try a once-a-week use of this (yes) pink-coloured mask to help even out and refine skintone, restoring glow. (They warn that sensitive skins may feel a brief tingle, NB.) It comes with its own brush for application.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘10/10!!!! Wow, wow, wow. Why didn't I know about this product sooner? The texture is lovely and it smelt so clean and fresh. It felt very comfortable with some slight tightening as the clay dried but that's what I expect. Immediately after using it my skin was cooled smoothed and tightened. When I used it regularly it kept my skin smoother, tighter and the pores look smaller. Loved, loved, loved it. Have already bought more…’ • ‘I love this! I also loved having the application brush included in the box, very neat, compact and practical. Each time I applied it, my skin felt refreshed and looked bright and glowing; it felt lovely and smooth to the touch, people mentioned that I looked fresh or well after each application’ • ‘Promised to detoxify and brighten skin and I honestly believe that it lived up to this. I felt like I glowed after each use. Using it was a lovely relaxing and rejuvenating experience’ • ‘After first application, results are tremendous and tighter pores and brighter skin more than compensate for the slight tingle while the Vitamin A does its stuff. Results lasted more than two days. Make-up went on well after, though I found skin looked so much brighter that I wanted to show it off rather than wearing foundation’ • ‘Quite addictive and I've been using once a week. My 69-year-old mum has been insisting that she gets access to “the magic mask” too!’ • ‘OMG, I really can’t tell you how much I loved this product; I am now a complete convert. All of my other facial masks will be taking a back seat, as this is a WONDROUS pot of pink clay gorgeousness. Dewy, glowy, brighter, smoother skin and my pores looked smaller. Not bad for a 48 year old with a 25-year-old son. My hubby really noticed the difference. GIVE ME MORE :-)’
£39.90 for 60g - click to buy
SILVER AWARD Jane Scrivner Masquerade Intense De-Stress Face Mask
Facialist and detox expert Jane Scrivner’s mask has a more liquid consistency, delivered from a tall glass pump bottle and formulated for use weekly to soothe, decongest, repair, refresh and revive dull, lacklustre skin; you apply 10-15 pumps of the product to fingers, then smooth the fine film over a cleansed face, neck and décolletage. 15 minutes later, splash away with cool water. It’s rich in Essential Fatty Acids and vitamins B, C, D and E, offering antioxidant and antimicrobial as well as repairing properties. It also promises to help regulate sebum production.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I absolutely love this product. I like the very expensive looking spa type packaging, which looks lovely in the bathroom. It’s very easy to apply this lotion type product via the pump dispenser. The clean calming aroma of the neroli and mandarin fragrance was noticeable. I really enjoyed using this product and it was a real pick me up. My skin looked brighter and smoother, not as textured-looking. And my make-up looked better after using this’ • ‘This mask is amazing! A fairly runny product that absorbs very quickly into the skin. I've used it on different occasions and it didn't let me down at all. The texture of my skin seems to plump up, you can actually see the difference even after one use. My skin is very smooth after so when I put the foundation everything looks better. I would definitely buy it’ • ‘My prone to redness skin definitely looked soothed and refreshed. (Even after a hangover…) I was expecting it to be a thick white layer like other masks but this is more like a moisturiser. I definitely used too much at first. It spreads very easily and is quite good value because you don't have to use a lot at a time’ • ‘A very lovely mask to use; it was very comfortable to have on overnight and definitely made my skin softer by the morning’ • ‘I found the texture so light and felt creamy and luxurious to use. It couldn’t be any simpler to apply and went on evenly. The uplifting fragrance is simply divine. All I can describe it as is a fresh citrus smell with an undertone of rose. I usually use another clay mask but this improved my skin far more, it looked and revived and softer and nourished and brighter’ • ‘This beautiful 'masque' is by far the best I have ever used and would recommend to anyone! As a fan of Jane Scrivner already I was delighted to receive this mask and it was everything I hoped it would be and more! I have to say that I feel that my skin looks plumper and my jowls have improved. Fine lines and wrinkles softened. I would have no hesitation in recommending this.’
£33 for 100ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) REN EverCalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask
Skin tight, red, irritated? This is designed to be on as a rich, nurturing, skin-soothing treatment, delivered from a pump. Formulated to alleviate redness and irritation, this 15-minute mask features a specifically calming blend of bio-actives including arnica, yeast beta-glucan (to accelerate skin regeneration, post-stress) and white mushroom extract to block itching and swelling. (We think it would also be good to take the heat out of skin that’s had a tad too much sun.)
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I liked this mask better than any I have ever used. My very touchy skin was feeling a little dry and itchy and sore but it immediately felt calmer and less irritated, softer and more hydrated. My skin really seemed to welcome this product. It was very soothing and enjoyable to use because I could feel my skin drinking it in and appreciate’ • ‘My skin has been feeling dry and irritated and breaking out with read bumps. This mask soothed it right down and made me feel moisturised without having to slather on anything thick or greasy, which can block my pores. It’s great. Very balancing’ • ‘My skin definitely looked and felt more soft and supple after use. It appeared more nourished and plumped up, which had positive benefits for fine lines. It’s a lovely moisturising mask, which did not irritate my slightly sensitive skin in any way’ • ‘This mask sinks right into the skin. It can be applied to even the most sensitive skin to calm and soothe, even in very cold weather or at times of stress. My skin felt really soft straight away and looked supple and a bit ‘lifted’. The lines around my mouth looked thinner. Yes, it did feel soothed. I would definitely buy it’ • ‘This lovely product really did what it claimed on the box! It clamed/smoothed and plumped my facial area. Very spa-like to use with a lovely soft fragrance and quite relaxing. I used it with and without make-up and also as an overnight mask, which I preferred as it all absorbs really well that way. My 14-year-old granddaughter liked it too!’
£30 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) Emma Hardie Moringa Renewal Treatment Mask
Superfacialist Emma Hardie’s done well in several categories of these Awards, here with a richly moisturising, pamperingly-textured mask that’s fortified with her signature ultra-nourishing moringa seed oil, alongside red algae extract to help even out skintone. There are two ways to enjoy the restorative benefits of this age-defying treatment (which comes in a tube): as a 15-minute brightening morning mask (‘for a refreshing start to the day’, as she puts it), or a weekly overnight treatment.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘This was the star product, for me. I get an instant confidence boost after using it - it makes my skin look and feel amazing. It is powerful without irritating my sensitive skin, and it is versatile as well - I love that you can use it overnight or as a 10-minute mask. An instant confidence-boost for bad skin days’ • ‘I would buy this without a doubt. It left my skin feeling soft and looking luminous, healthy and plumped up. After using it for a while, the tone improved and it looked brighter. The smell is wonderful. After using, it felt hydrated and my foundation went on easily; seems to improve skin moisture and condition, leaving wrinkles less noticeable. Age spots are also less noticeable’ • ‘My skin immediately felt deeply moisturised and softer, smoother and less taut and dry. My skin is often dry and irritable, very reactive and unhappy. This soothed and hydrated it. It made my skin feel content. It certainly lived up to the claims of improving radiance and luminosity and improving hydration/moisture levels although I didn't notice changes in firmness or pigmentation’ • ‘I had a back injury in April, which involved a trip to A&E and some heavy-duty painkiller drugs. That all really took its toll on my skin over the next couple of weeks. I used this mask a couple of times and left it on for a while. There was nothing to remove! It had all been absorbed, which was terrifying and fantastic in equal measures: terrifying because I must have looked awful before using it, and fantastic because it helped me look less awful afterwards! I'm not sure if it is quite the circumstances Emma Hardie would recommend testing the mask but it certainly did the trick!’ • ‘I loved the smell and the luxe feeling of the mask. I also enjoyed the tingling because to my mind it means the product is working - although it made me feel a bit wary in case I was having an allergic reaction because my skin is sensitive (I wasn’t). My blood circulation was improved, skintone, too, and fine lines were plumped.’
£49 for 75ml - click to buy
BRONZE AWARD (JOINT) Dr.LEVY R3 Cell Matrix Mask
A fairly pricy tube from a cult Swiss range range, this is powered by stabilised vitamin C (powerfully antioxidant), retinol (to boost collagen production) and hyaluronic acid (we probably don’t need to tell you about this wonder ingredient). Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids also feature, as well as firming vitamin A and an extract of fig – all in all, designed to leave skin soft het invigorated. We notice that niacin features pretty high on the ingredients list, too – which is probably responsible for the instant glow that testers experienced.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘Top marks for this. I was very surprised that from the first application it does what it says, ie restores, replenishes and restructures you face – 100 per cent! That first time I looked in the mirror and was shocked to see an instant improvement to my face. It was smooth, plumped and the texture was great. The second time I used on only half my face and again was blown away. I couldn't believe the difference in improvement to my ‘elevenses’ furrow, the lines around my eyes, lips and neck area. I am trying to hydrate and improve these areas and this product does it’ • ‘Immediately after using this, I notice that my very dry skin becomes much softer and the benefits last a couple of days. Make-up is much easier to put on. I like that all the information on how to use the mask is on the tube so I didn't have to remember it’ • ‘A lovely treat for my skin. It instantly felt soft, smooth and refreshed and looked moisturised and plumped up. I would buy this’ • ‘This would be really good before a special event. My skin was soft and smooth, with a decent glow after first using. Any colouration was reduced and all in all it looked healthier. Make-up smoothed on really nicely. The tube recommends using it three times a week but for me once a week would be sufficient I think’ • ‘Although I said that this has no real anti-ageing benefits, e.g. disappearance of lines and wrinkles, that is not the whole story. After using this, my skin looked well rested, healthier and above all fresher looking, all of which made me feel good and more confident. And so I look better. So, despite the minuses, this gets full marks from me’ • ‘I enjoyed trialling this product so much more than I had anticipated. Having not used a mask product for many years, I was truly surprised at just how effective it was, both as a full-face mask and as an eye mask only. As a full-face mask, my skin was left silky soft, plump and glowing. As a quick fix eye mask, it helped to diminish the dark circles under my eyes.’
£69 for 50ml - click to buy