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6 Cruelty-Free Face Masks for the Ultimate Self-Care Treatment

Picture this: you’re in class, listening to your professor drone on and on about something. You skim your notes from the lecture and try to make sense of it. Try as you might, you have literally no idea what the lecture’s about. You sigh. Ugh. When does this class end, again? You glance at the clock. 20 minutes left. The minutes crawl by, and it seems like hours before the professor says goodbye. You feel like jumping for joy when the class ends – but your heart sinks when you remember that you have another class in 15 minutes. What’s more, you have to work after that! What a day!

After I have such a day, I like to engage in some good, old self-care. Self-care involves doing things that support your emotional and physical health, and doing self-care is a great way to wind down after a stressful day. Self-care can involve eating healthy food, meditating, going for a run or walk, taking a nap, hanging out with friends, watching a funny TV show or movie, attending a club meeting, or basically anything else that makes you happy and healthy. For me, self-care means skincare. Namely, face masks. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone to the ends of the earth (or rather, to the ends of CVS, Sephora, Fourth Ray Beauty, and Blue Mercury) to buy and test out a variety of face masks for you. Most of them work basically the same way: put on your face (avoiding eyes and lips), leave on for a few minutes, and massage the residue into the skin after peeling or washing off. I’m a huge animal lover and so I’ve tried to use animal-friendly products. I’m happy to say that all these products are cruelty-free! I’ll indicate the skin type each product is meant for, and if the product is hypoallergenic. Different masks are made for different skin types. Since we all have different skin types, what works for me may or may not work for you. I hope you can use this list to find the face mask that’s best for the end of your most difficult days.

Algae face mask from Sephora, $6

This mask is amazing! It smelled yummy and definitely detoxified my face. My pores looked noticeably cleaner, and my skin looked brighter after I took this mask off. I would highly recommend it. Made from marine algae (rich in vitamins and mineral salts) and formulated without parabens, phthalates or sulfates this mask works well for all skin types. You can buy it in-store or online.

In The Honey face mask from Bliss, $15

Unfortunately, this mask was underwhelming. It didn’t cleanse my pores as much as I expected. It comes in a small container, so there’s enough for many applications. The product is free from gross things like animal cruelty, parabens, phthalates, SLS and SLES and is made from ingredients such as acacia honey, lavender oil, honey extract, propolis extract and squalane (a sugar-derived moisturizer). Bliss has been awarded certification from PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, which means that the products they sell are extra animal-friendly. The mask is hypoallergenic and meant for normal or dry skin. I got my face mask from CVS for $15, and you can also buy it from Amazon, Target, or the bliss website

5-Minute Rescue Mask: Detox from Lune+Aster, $8

I was very impressed with this mask. I used the grapefruit version, and it smells amazing. It’s meant to brighten the skin and remove impurities and that’s just what it did! Key ingredients include witch hazel, grapefruit and green tea. It also contains coconut fibers, which means it hugged my face like a glove and stayed there. The mask is made without parabens or phthalates. It works well for all skin types. I bought it from Blue Mercury in Suburban Square for $8; you can also buy it from Amazon or from Lune+Aster’s website.

The Detoxifier: Holographic Foil Sheet Mask from Bliss, $4

Let me be clear: I. Love. This. Mask. I love this mask so much that I’d buy it again and again. Needless to say, I’d highly recommend it. Like bliss’s other masks, this mask is also free of parabens, phthalates, SLS and SLES. Key ingredients include charcoal fibers, charcoal powder, willow bark, and kaolin clay. It smells fresh and detoxifies your pores, leaving your skin cleansed, smooth and radiant. The amount of product in this mask is equivalent to nearly a full bottle of serum! It’s well-suited for all skin types. I bought this mask from CVS for $4. It’s also sold through Ulta Beauty, Amazon and on the bliss website.

The Big Detox Mud Mask from Fourth Ray Beauty, $12

I was disappointed with this mask. It comes in a small container, so there’s enough material for many uses. I spread it on my face, left it on for the full 20 minutes, took it off, and…nothing. It didn’t do anything helpful. In fact, my skin became slightly red after I used this mask! It’s supposed to detoxify and exfoliate the skin. Instead, it irritated my face. All Fourth Ray Beauty products are vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free and phthalate-free. Key ingredients include bamboo charcoal, kaolin clay, glycolic acid (an exfoliant), tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil. It’s meant for all skin types (but definitely not mine!). I bought the mask from the Fourth Ray Beauty website for $12.

Hawaiian Black Salt 2-Step Peel + Mask from Freeman Beauty, $4

I LOVE THIS MASK! This mask was by far the best one on this list. I’d even venture to say that it’s the best mask I’ve ever used! It comes in two parts: first, you massage your face with a wipe to exfoliate the skin. Then, you leave the sheet mask on for 15-20 minutes to cleanse the skin. Both cloths have Hawaiian black salt as a key ingredient. And exfoliate and cleanse it did! Many of my blemishes are gone or improved and my pores look better than ever. I’d highly recommend this mask and would certainly buy it again. The brand considers itself “Nature-Inspired” according to its website. It’s perfect for all skin types. I bought it from CVS (in-store) for $4. You can also buy it online through the CVS website

Whoever you are, wherever you’re studying, whatever you like to do, chances are that you like to relax after a long day. Self-care is essential to our health, but many people neglect to engage in it. Get some chocolate, play relaxing music, pick a face mask and you’ve got yourself a top-quality mini spa treatment right in your own dorm room! With one (or two, or three, or all) of the face masks on this list, you can take care of yourself and your face to your heart’s content! Enjoy!

Sophie Greer

Bryn Mawr '23

Hi, I am Sophie Greer and I am a freshman at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. I love reading, writing, the life sciences, math, movies, cats, food, meeting new people, and skincare. I hope you like my writing!
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