How to Build a Skin Care Routine

To say that face masks have become popular lately is a bit of an understatement — Sephora has more than 400 varieties (and 60 of those launched in the last few months). Masks “offer highly concentrated treatments to address specific issues,” says New York City dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. But unlike a toner or a serum, masks deliver ingredients under occlusion, which helps the ingredients absorb more efficiently, notes Dr. Nazarian.

Then there’s the fun factor: Many of the latest innovations bubble up, turn colors and peel off. Yes, it’s a little gimmicky, and this step is certainly not essential in your routine. “Think of masks like boosters — not necessary but beneficial,” Mattioli says.

If you want to give one a whirl, here are three performance-driven varieties to consider, according to Mattioli:

Sheet masks: “These are primarily hydrating. Having ingredients saturated on the skin in this occlusive manner keeps air from getting in and you’ll get a higher absorption in a short amount of time. I always recommend keeping these in the fridge to get an anti-inflammatory benefit as well.”

Sleeping packs or overnight masks: “Overnight masks or sleeping packs will have a thicker texture and help trap in whatever ingredients you layer underneath. They’re ideal for mature skin or severely dry skin.”

Clay or mud masks: "These absorb oil and can have a mild exfoliating effect — so they’re great for oily areas. You don’t have to put it on your whole face, though. You can target just a few areas. In fact, I love multi-masking: using a clay on the t-zone and a hydrating one everywhere else.”

Insider tip: Apply masks after serum but before moisturizer, unless it’s a leave-on overnight mask, which can take the place of your nighttime moisturizer. Like any product that supplements your regular routine, masks should be used in moderation — no more than once a week to prevent any irritation, Dr. Zeichner says.

The 46 Best Skin-Care Products of 2021

Perhaps the most difficult and most gratifying category to test for our annual Best of Beauty Awards is skin care. Results aren't instantaneous. Sometimes it takes weeks, even months, to figure out if a moisturizer is actually strengthening your skin barrier, or if that vitamin C serum really does diminish dark spots. But that's why we do this. Now more than ever, we want to get great results for ourselves, but especially for you.

We've scrubbed using some pretty spectacular (and some maybe-not-so-great) exfoliators, tapped on too many eye creams to count, and peeled with the best of them to bring you this comprehensive list of skin-care winners.

Maybe you'll fall for the featherlight moisturizer that's suitable for all skin types, the eye cream that doubles as a concealer, or the sunscreen formulated by and for those with melanin-rich skin. We think you'll love them all — we certainly do. That's why they've earned the title of this year's Best of Beauty Award winners.

Scroll down to see this group, and then check out the rest of the top picks from the full 2021 Best of Beauty winners' list. —Sarah Kinonen

Korean Skin Care and K-Beauty Products

After years of struggling with severe eczema and problem-skin, our Founder an esthetician, Alicia Yoon found a way to transform her skin - and is here to help you do the same. Our Story

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