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A full guide to choosing face masks for your skin condition or skin type

With so many different face masks in the market, it can be hard to choose which type to use. Choosing the right face mask is especially important if you suffer from problem skin or a certain skin condition. However, even if your skin is free from impurities, it is vital to use the best face mask for your skin. Read about the different skin types and conditions, and how to choose a face mask for your skin.

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The five main skin types

Oily skin

oily skin

Symptoms of oily skin: Oily skin can often look shiny or greasy, particularly after spending time in the sun. It can sometimes also feel rough, and large pores can appear commonly on the cheeks and nose. Acne spots often occur in oily skin. You may also find that makeup soaks into the skin quickly.

Causes of oily skin:

  • Hormones- teenagers often have oily skin, whereas the skin tends to produce less oil with age
  • An excess of dairy, fried food, alcohol, and sugar
  • Frequent exposure to the sun- the sun can cause your skin to produce more oil
  • Dehydration- this can cause the skin to compensate by producing more sebum
  • Genetics
  • Stress and hormones
  • Lack of sleep

You can read more about the causes of oily skin here.

Dry skin

dry skin

Symptoms: Dry skin often feels tight and can sometimes feel gritty or rough. You may also find that the skin goes flaky in cold weather, and red patches on the skin may be common. In severe cases of dry skin, the skin can bleed and become itchy.

Causes: Oil glands naturally begin to produce less oil as you age, meaning people often develop dry skin as they get older. Dry skin can also occur due to the following reasons:

  • Not following a healthy diet
  • Spending more time in the sun without protection
  • Wind can make your skin dry in the winter
  • Products that strip your skin of oil
  • Dehydration
  • Genetics
  • Health conditions such as dermatitis and eczema
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep

You can read more about the causes of dry skin here.

Sensitive skin

sensitive skin

Symptoms: If you have sensitive skin, you may notice that your skin reacts easily to certain products. You may also notice flaking and peeling, and your skin may be more prone to acne breakouts. Sensitive skin often also burns easily and may become itchy due to irritation.

Causes: As we age, our skin often becomes more sensitive. You can also have sensitive skin due to genetics. Sensitive skin can also be caused by the following factors:

  • Eating too much spicy food
  • Extremely hot and cold weather
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Skin conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis
  • Certain allergies

Combination skin

Symptoms: If you have combination skin, your skin is typically more dry on the cheeks and more oily on the nose and chin. You will likely struggle with how your T-zone looks. This includes the forehead, chin, and nose. Typically, your forehead may also feel more dry or oily while the rest of your face is clear.

Causes: Combination still is typically affected by the weather, in that the winter can make your skin drier and the summer can make your T-zone oilier. Additionally, some people can be born with combination skin, which can be evident through larger pores on the nose and cheeks. Combination skin can also be caused by the following:

  • Eating unhealthy fats
  • Frequent exposure to chlorine
  • Lack of sleep
  • Using the wrong products in the wrong areas

Normal skin

Symptoms: Normal skin means you aren’t affected by any skin conditions. You may experience few or no breakouts, and your skin feels smooth to touch. Individuals with normal skin will not experience frequent skin sensitivity or irritation.

Face masks for different skin types

Face masks for oily skin

Ingredients to look for: Charcoal, mud and clay face masks will help to remove excess oil, helping prevent issues such as blackheads. Ensure you opt for a face mask that will remove all excess oil, rather than one that is used for extra hydration.

Recommended Product:

The Inkey List Kaolin Clay Mask 50ml


The Inkey List clay mask can help to draw out impurities, is gentle and non-drying, so perfect for all skin types as a deep clean once to twice per week.

  • Contains kaolin clay to help remove impurities
  • Includes smectite clay to absorb excess oil and unclog pores
  • Exfoliating mask
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Is paraben-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free

Price: €6.99

Face masks for dry skin

Ingredients to look for: If you suffer from dry skin, you should look for face masks that help to hydrate the skin. Mud masks, honey and banana masks, and avocado masks are particularly effective for combatting dry skin. A brightening mask can also help improve the appearance of dry, dull skin.

Recommended Product:

Nivea Q10+ Vit C Energy Sheet Mask


Formulated to deliver intense hydration to dry or dull skin, it leaves your face feeling soft and looking radiant.

  • Ideal for dry & combination skin
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Suitable for Vegans
  • Not tested on animals

Price: €2.50

You can read more about the ideal skincare routine for dry skin here.

Face masks for sensitive skin

Using the right face masks for sensitive skin can help calm the skin and soothe it after irritation. They can also reduce redness and hydrate the skin.

Ingredients to look for: Having sensitive skin means you’ll have to be careful with the products you use. Instead of using harsh face masks, choose a cooling and soothing product that contains gentle ingredients such as aloe vera.

Recommended Product:

L'Oreal Paris Pure-Clay Purity Mask 50ml


A hydration boost that soothes red, sore skin hurt by dryness.

  • Skin feels softer and is more hydrated
  • Results in just 5 minutes
  • Mineralizing Thermal Water leaves the skin feeling invigorated
  • 100% hypoallergenic. Tested on sensitive skin

Price: €12.00

You can read more about the ideal skincare routine for dry skin here.

Face masks for combination skin

Ingredients to look for: You need to find balanced face masks and creams that help control the sebum production in your T-zone while keeping the rest of your face hydrated and fresh. Use a pore minimising face mask that removes blackheads and whiteheads from your T-zone. We recommend applying a peel-off mask specially designed for your T-zone. As your cheeks are usually drier than the rest of your face. You should use a gentle hydrating product that will prevent the formation of dry and itchy patches.

Recommended Product:

7th Heaven Black Seaweed Peel-Off Mask

black seaweed

Deeply cleanse & detox your skin with the powerful Black Seaweed Peel-Off Mask. This detoxing mask has been specially formulated with Black Laver Seaweed & Sea Buckthorn Berries which work to peel off & remove any excess dirt & oil.

  • Peel off mask
  • Easy to use
  • Contains seaweed & sea buckthorn berries
  • Removes dirt and oil

Price: €2.00

You can read more about the ideal skincare routine for dry skin here.

Face masks for normal skin

Although you may have fewer skin problems with normal skin, it is still important to use skincare products regularly. Using a cleanser and moisturising cream daily, alongside a face mask once or twice a week can help maintain healthy skin.

Recommended product: If you have normal skin, a huge range of face masks will work for you. If you find your skin needs an extra boost of moisture every so often, a hydrating face mask would work. To find your ideal mask, you can try a range of different masks to find the one that works for you. You can browse our range of face masks here.

Common skin conditions

Large pores

large pores

Although not a serious skin condition, large pores can often impact self-esteem.

Symptoms: The nose, chin, forehead make a trouble zone on the face where the problem of enlarged pores remains more prominent. Enlarged pores appear as large dots on the face.

Causes: There are two types of pores; sweat and oil pores. Sweat pores allow sweat to travel from the sweat glands to the skin's surface. They are tiny and rarely seen by the human eye. Oil pores allow the oil generated by the oil glands to reach the surface. They are more likely to become clogged and enlarged.

Pores can become enlarged due to the following reasons:

  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Sun damage
  • Increased sebum production
  • Makeup and skincare

You can read more about the causes of enlarged pores here.

Skin redness

skin redness

Causes of skin redness can vary from a temporary issue to a more serious problem.

Symptoms: Symptoms of skin redness can vary depending on the cause. Symptoms can range from regular flushing to a red rash.

Causes: When your face turns red, it’s because your blood vessels have dilated (widened). This occurs due to the following common reasons:

  • Rosacea. Rosacea often causes persistent, long-term redness of the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose caused by dilated blood vessels. It is a chronic skin condition.
  • Acne. Skin redness is common in acne-prone skin. When swelling caused by acne persists for long periods, it can result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The blood vessels dilate and the skin reddens.
  • Allergic reaction or irritation (dermatitis). When someone experiences an allergic reaction to something that touches the face, this can cause a red rash.
  • Flushing. This can be caused by everything from anxiety and embarrassment, to medication and exposure to heat. It also usually occurs after exercise, particularly strenuous physical activity. This is more common in individuals with a fair skin tone.

You can read more about the causes of skin redness here.



Symptoms: Blackheads are small, dark bumps that form on your skin. A mild type of acne, they most commonly appear on the face (particularly the nose and chin), but can also affect the back, shoulders, neck, chest, and arms.

Causes: A blackhead forms when a hair follicle becomes clogged. Blocked follicles move to the surface of the skin and darken through being exposed to oxygen. They are typically caused when the body produces too much of its natural sebum oil. They can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Not cleaning the skin properly- this allows dead skin to accumulate in the pores or bacteria to build up
  • Hormonal changes
  • Drugs such as corticosteroids, lithium or androgens
  • Wearing oil-based makeup
  • Working in humid environmentsYou can read more about the causes of blackheads here.



Acne is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting most people at some point. It is more common in oily skin types.

Symptoms: There are many different types of acne. These include the following:


Blackheads are blocked follicles that move to the surface of the skin and darken through being exposed to oxygen.


As whiteheads don’t open up and oxidise in the air, they retain their white colour.


Papules are bumps on the skin that are small and red in appearance and firm to the touch. They contain no pus but can feel sore and tender.


Pustules are white pimples on the skin’s surface that contain pus. The skin around them is often red and inflamed.

Causes: Acne occurs when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria. The blockage pushes to the skin’s surface and forms as a spot. These can either be open or closed, causing the types of acne listed above.

Face masks for skin conditions

Minimising large pores

Facemasks for minimising clogged pores tighten the skin and unclog anything that is causing enlarged pores.

Ingredients to look for: Clay and charcoal are particularly effective for unclogging pores and minimising enlarged pores.

Recommended Product:

La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Clay Mask 100ml

la roche
  • Unclogs pores
  • Controls shine and cleanses deep impurities
  • Absorbs sebum and impurities
  • Prevents future causes of blackheads

Price: €15.00

You can read about the ideal skincare routine for minimising pores here.

Skin redness

You should use a face mask that will cleanse your skin of bacteria, impurities and excess oil. Look for soothing ingredients that will reduce redness and swelling, evening the complexion. If you are worried about using a product on sensitive skin, you can get additional expert advice here.

Ingredients to look for: To reduce skin redness and relieve swelling, look for face masks that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as:

Recommended Product:

  • Clay (including volcanic clay, smectite, bentonite clay or kaolin)
  • Salicylic acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid, or BHA)
  • Aloe vera
  • Chamomile
  • Green tea

Recommended Product:

L'Oreal Paris Pure-Clay Purity Mask 50ml

  • Skin feels softer and more hydrated
  • Results from the active ingredients in just 5 minutes
  • Mineralising thermal Water leaves the skin feeling invigorated
  • 100% hypoallergenic - tested on sensitive skins

Price: €12.00

You can read more about the ideal skincare routine for skin redness here.

Removing blackheads

Face masks that battle blackheads target dirt and bacteria, removing impurities and excess sebum oil.

Ingredients to look for: Two things you’ll see used in lots of products aimed at tackling blackheads/acne are clay and activated charcoal.

Recommended Product:

Garnier Pure Active Intensive 3 in 1 Charcoal Anti-Blackhead Wash, Scrub & Mask

  • Highly absorbant
  • Deep cleansing action
  • Contains zinc PCA and silver ions, which regulate the secretion of the sebaceous glands

Price: €5.15


Face masks that battle blackheads target dirt and bacteria, removing impurities and excess sebum oil.

Ingredients to look for: If your skin is acne prone, look for face masks with ingredients such as clay or activated charcoal, as these are good at drawing impurities, oil, and bacteria from the skin. They are also useful for getting rid of acne spots.

Recommended Product:

L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask

  • Enriched with Black Charcoal
  • Creamy texture
  • Cleansing mask
  • Draws out impurities and dead skin cellsk
  • Relaxing fragrance

Price: €8.00

What are the risks of using the wrong face mask for your skin?

Face masks are a great way to minimise your skin’s impurities and give your skin a boost. However, using the wrong type of face mask can do more harm to your skin than good. Risks of using the wrong face mask can include the worsening of an existing skin condition or problem. Other risks of using the wrong face mask for your skin type include breaking out, peeling, and skin that is red or irritated. If you experience hives or skin that is extremely tight after using a face mask, these are signs that it is not right for your skin. If you experience these symptoms or notice your skin condition worsening, you should consider using a different face mask.

Just as you are likely to choose your moisturiser and cleanser based on your skin type, you should be just as careful with choosing a face mask. Never pick a face mask simply on its reviews, take the time to read the ingredients and what the face mask is designed to do.

Are you still unsure which face mask would be best for you? You can get additional expert advice here. You can also talk to a McCabes pharmacist about solutions for skin problems.

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