The best beauty masks for every skin type

Masks should be brought into the realm of the everyday because life is short and weird

We tend to think of masks (the ‘skincare’ kind, not the ‘you’re not getting on this 46a bus without one’ kind) as luxury items. Strictly, of course, they are. You don’t exactly need a mask. No one has ever been in a life-or-death scenario that would have turned out fine but for the want of some decongesting clay across their t-zone.

However – and I can’t stress this enough – masks should be brought into the realm of the everyday; partially because they are effective, offering both instant and longer-term skin benefits, and partially because life is hard and short and weird, and masks are something nice that you can do for your head when you’re tempted to plunge it into the sand until next spring at the earliest.

I had a recent revelation, and moved Patchology Flashpatch Rejuvenating Eye Gels (five pairs, €16.50 at cultbeauty.co.uk) from upstairs to my shelf in the bathroom – the one I keep my morning skincare on. As a result, I've found myself using these cooling, hydrating little tadpole-shaped jellies under my eyes for 10 minutes on mornings when I look puffy and toadish. Just make sure to wear them with the narrow end toward the inner corner of your eye – apparently many of us tend to wear undereye gel masks backwards.

Now, a cloggy, flaky, cantankerous face needs something other than gentle soothing. Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment (€83 at Arnotts) could, if left long enough, blast the barnacles off the hull of a ship (I won't defend that claim in court). Proceed carefully, but for total and delicious exfoliation in under two minutes, there is nothing more effective. On the other hand, if you seek a gentle decongesting mask (maskne, anyone?) Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge (€36 at Boots stores) is immense fun. A livid aqua shade with a lovely cooling texture, it is very nice for oily and congested t-zones, and frightening your relatives.

Votary Intense Overnight Mask (€110 at Space NK) is a bedtime treatment that takes the hassle out of nighttime skincare. When my skin is feeling deflated or drab, or when I’m too lazy for layering products after cleansing, I’ll use this. Rich in lovely plant oils, the slightly whipped, buttery texture will have you tempted to spread it on toast (I mean, don’t). You’ll wake up sort of pillowy and glazed, like a fresh Krispy Kreme donut. Skin is somehow brighter, with all hints of drabness eliminated.

Summer Fridays is a new brand to Irish Space NK stores, but has been a beloved cult product for years now. The best product to start with is their unreserved hero, their Jet Lag Mask (€47 at Space NK). While jet lag isn’t a particularly pertinent problem for most of us at present, its symptoms – puffiness, dull skin and crippling existential dread – certainly are. It’s the perfect all-rounder. Substantial in texture but not overly rich or clogging, it instantly hydrates and plumps skin to render you more perked up than washed up.

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