The best five-minute face masks will rescue dehydrated, tired, congested and unbalanced complexions without taking up a chunk of your time - they're the perfect self-care treat for busy mums.
The parents in the room will know that there's rarely enough time in the day for self-care. And when the kids need feeding, dressing and ferrying about, taking half an hour out of the day to focus on your skincare is not going to be a priority. But that's where five-minute face masks come in. Managing to work faster and more effectively than your best night cream or even the best moisturisers for skin, five-minute face masks are the ideal solution for busy mums and those short on time.
No matter your skin issue or type, these beauty heroes promise to restore, revitalize and rebalance your complexion in as little as a couple of minutes. They also have amazing self care and mental health benefits too, as aesthetician, skincare expert and ex-doctor Dr Sarah Jenkins explains: “Psychologically, making time for yourself, even just five minutes to relax and do self-care, is a good habit to get into.” With this in mind, here’s our round-up of the best five-minute face masks for every skin type, concern, budget and time frame.
9 best 5-minute face masks
Best face mask for deep exfoliation
Not for the faint-hearted, this blood-red coloured peeling mask is packed with all the strong stuff. Featuring a specified blend of 30% AHAs (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids) in addition to 2% salicylic acid, this works to unclog pores, improve texture and boost radiance.
GoodtoKnow verdict: If you're after something that will get to work immediately and give you instant results, then this won't disappoint you. The bright red face mask might leave you looking like something from a horror movie but you can feel it getting to work straight away and gives a tingly (potentially slightly stinging) feeling whilst you wear it. You aren't meant to leave this on for long - I found that five minutes was more than long enough. After washing off my skin felt tingly and toned, and my complexion looked bright, clear and healthy in the few days after use, making this ideal for busy mums who don't have time to use a face mask every day.
Best face mask for lacklustre skin
Designed to target dull, fatigued and lacklustre skin, this energising mask promises an instant radiance boost. The invigorating formula is enriched with cranberry and turmeric extracts, which work to reveal a more luminous-looking complexion. Suitable for all skin types, this fast-drying mask also acts as a gentle exfoliator thanks to the crushed cranberry seeds.
GoodtoKnow verdict: Most brightening masks these days tend to contain acids, but I loved that this was a gentle alternative meaning it's suitable for all skin types and won't cause irritation. I smothered the vibrant orange mask all over my face, left it for five minutes to dry and then washed it off. My face looked brighter and full of life after using and I loved how fresh my skin felt. I also liked that it doubled up as an exfoliator when rinsing off thanks to the crushed cranberry seeds - perfect if you're too busy to add another step to your skincare routine!
Best face mask for smoothing skin
This five-minute mask has been formulated with Sesame Milk - which is renowned for its ability to reduce unwanted roughness and texture - to produce a smoother appearance. The exfoliating enzymes work to reduce the build-up of dead skin cells and uneven skin texture. Use on acne scarring and uneven skin for a smoother, brighter and decongested complexion in just five minutes.
GoodtoKnow verdict: I really didn't expect much from such a quick treatment, but I was wowed by how soft my skin felt after using this speedy peel. I applied the opaque cream to clean skin and waited five minutes before washing it off. My face felt silky smooth and softened, with zero irritation. You could feel the immediate effects of the exfoliation - I love that this is such a quick treatment and would be a great mask to use before a big event where you want your skin to radiate and glow. I'm really impressed!
Best face mask for detoxing
Overindulged recently? Then this vegan and cruelty-free detoxing face mask will come to your rescue. Packed with pink clay, coffee extract and grape marc, this five-minute face mask cleanses skin of all its impurities, visibly eliminates excess sebum and tightens pores. After use your complexion will feel fresh, clear and radiant.
GoodtoKnow verdict: After going viral on TikTok a couple of years ago, this face mask has everyone obsessed. The pink clay mask dries on the skin and, after a couple of minutes, you can see all the oils and impurities being extracted. Not only is this super satisfying to see but the mask gets to work quickly, meaning you can leave it on for under 10 minutes. After use my skin always feels soft, clarified and seriously clean. This is one of my all-time favourites!
Best face mask for soothing irritated skin
Although it's an investment, this five-minute face mask is a multitasking marvel. Leave it on for a few minutes or overnight to transform irritated skin. Powered by floral extracts like passionflower oil and cornflower water, this instantly soothes, calms and evens skin tones.
GoodtoKnow verdict: Despite wishing it was a bit more affordable, this mega tub of calming goodness impressed me. I suffer from flushed red skin, especially in the mornings or after a hot shower or bath, so after slathering it all over my face the refreshing formula got to work immediately and managed to calm and reduce redness in just five minutes. I liked that there are two ways to use it: either wear for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week to keep redness at bay, or leave it overnight for optimum soothing results.
Best face mask for oily complexions
A clever mask-scrub hybrid, this product is a must-have for those who have oily skin types and suffer from blemishes. It deeply cleanses, exfoliates, absorbs excess oil and mattifies your complexion. Thanks to kaolin clay and Avene Thermal Spring Water, the soothing formula promotes a clear, calmed complexion.
GoodtoKnow verdict: An ideal face mask for sweaty summer months and for those who suffer from oily complexions, this mattifying face mask means business. After applying the creamy mask, I left it on for the recommended five minutes and then rinsed off with warm water. The clever mask and scrub hybrid works to remove excess oils on the skin's surface and just one hour after use I definitely noticed that my face was far less shiny than before.
Best face mask for instant hydration
Indulge thirsty skin with the moisture boost it craves with this rejuvenating formula packed with squalane, cherry blossom and peony root extract. Featuring a mix of rich antioxidants and essential fatty acids, once applied this feeds your skin with all the nutrients it needs for a health kick.
GoodtoKnow verdict: I absolutely loved this gel-like mask that had gorgeous little pieces of cherry blossom. Instantly refreshing, the super hydrating mask gets to work immediately and injects skin with some much-needed moisture. It's ideal for leaving on the skin for 5-10 minutes after your morning cleanse and before applying your makeup to ensure your skin stays plump and nourished all day long. After washing off my skin felt soothed and deeply nourished, plus seriously soft too. It made for a great makeup base and was a fabulous multi-tasking skincare product which can be used when trying to scramble out of the door on those busy mornings before the school run.
Best face mask for repairing skin barrier
If your skin hasn't felt balanced or happy recently, this sheet mask will help bring your complexion back to full health. Offering repairing benefits like strengthening your skin's barrier to promote a healthier complexion, ideally it's used for 15 minutes. However, as it's so saturated, it is still beneficial to use for just five. After use, you should notice a more radiant, nourished and plump face.
GoodtoKnow verdict: Nobody does sheet masks like Garnier and this repairing option is one of my favourites. The best thing about sheet masks is that they contain the equivalent of a bottle's worth of serum, meaning the immediate effect is plump, hydrated and healthy skin. Despite saying to leave on for 15 minutes, sheet masks can be used for just five if that's all the time you have. Make sure not to wash your face after and massage all the goodness into your skin.
Best face mask for hormonal skin
Does your skin break out during your time of the month? This face mask will come to your rescue, as it promises to drench your skin in some much-needed moisture and reduce any redness thanks to green tea extract. Clary sage and lavender work to fight blemishes and the relaxing scent helps you unwind and de-stress.
GoodtoKnow verdict: I could not love this face mask anymore - I have used it previously but when after rediscovering it, I completely fell in love again. The gorgeous lavender scent is so relaxing - it's the perfect way to unwind after a stressful or busy day of parenting. The clear serum-like formula is packed with all the good stuff your skin craves when you're on your period, which makes this face mask the ultimate treat for when it's your time of the month. Intensely hydrating, spot-fighting and redness-reducing, this face mask does it all.
How we tested the 5-minute face masks
Some of these five-minute face masks were already regular favourites in my beauty regime, while others were ones that I had heard great things about or wanted to try because they promised specific skincare benefits.
I personally tried all of the masks in this roundup, and have only included those I found to be worth recommending. I wanted to make sure I had product options for a variety of skincare concerns and skin types, in addition to a range of budgets.
How to know what type of 5-minute face masks to use
Figuring out which face mask to use can feel overwhelming, as there are so many options available. Board-certified consultant dermatologist, Dr. Alexis Granite explains that "it depends on your skin concerns and goals." She recommends these ingredients for your skin's needs:
- Charcoal and clay masks are good for blemish and sebum production, as well as pore minimising.
- Exfoliating masks often include a variety of acids, such as beta and alpha hydroxy acids.
- Brightening masks may incorporate ingredients like vitamin C, licorice extract, kojic acid and alpha hydroxy acids.
- Hydrating masks contain humectants or occlusives to lock in moisture including ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and natural butters and botanical oils.
How often should you use 5-minute face masks?
Dr Jenkins recommends, "2-3 times per week in conjunction with your regular skincare routine. We all have busy lives, so taking even five minutes once a week is good enough if that’s all you can manage."
How do 5-minute face masks compare to serums?
Lots of masks will contain similar ingredients to serums, just like your best Vitamin C serum. But they do have some differences and should both be used in a beauty routine.
Dr Sommerlad, Consultant Dermatologist explains. "Face masks tend to provide an immediately visible, temporary improvement to the skin concern, while serums are designed to be used consistently for a longer-term improvement in the appearance of concerns. Face masks and serums complement each other as well as an effective skincare routine."
Should 5-minute face masks be expensive?
With so many options available, you might be wondering how much money should be spent on face masks...
"Expense does not necessarily equate with effectiveness. Brands such as Garnier consistently demonstrate effectiveness at an affordable price point," explains Dr Sommerlad.
Dr Jenkins suggests a DIY alternative if you fancy saving some money. "You can make your own at home using cheap oats or rice, a friend of mine introduced me to making my own scrub/mask with used coffee grounds from my coffee machine and oils. So, I do have a coffee and peppermint mask I use once a week which invigorates, exfoliates and hydrates."
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With over 14 years of clinical experience in both the United States and the United Kingdom, Dr. Alexis is a leading expert in dermatology and aesthetics. Dr. Alexis is a consultant on the Specialist Registrar in Dermatology in the United Kingdom and is board certified in dermatology in the United States. She is a member of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), the British Cosmetic Dermatology Group (BCDG) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Dr Sarah Jenkins is a Cardiff University Medical School alumni, a prestigious UK Russel Group University, equivalent to the American Ivy League. She graduated with an MBBCh having been trained extensively in anatomy and physiology over 6 years, including cadaver dissection, learning anatomical and surgical techniques from day 1 of medical training.
Dr Mary Sommerlad is a UK-trained, Consultant Dermatologist based in London. She sees children and adults in her substantive NHS post. She is passionate about Dermatology and in particular empowering people to have the best skin they can by offering an inclusive patient patient-centred, holistic approach to skin care and skin health.
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Annie Milroy is the Beauty Writer for Woman & Home and other publications.
She spent three years studying Journalism and English Language at the University of Portsmouth before starting her career in magazines in 2017.
After 5 years working as a Fashion & Beauty Writer, she refined her career and is now working at Future as a Beauty Writer.