To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

The best Korean face masks to buy in 2023

Unhappy with your skin? Then get treating with these essential K-beauty face masks for every complexion type and concern

With an emphasis on skin health, early prevention, and that hydrated “glass skin” glow, it’s little wonder that much of the most effective new skincare out there right now has taken its cue from Korean brands.

Inspired by the philosophy that layering multiple products allows active ingredients to reach the cellular layers of the dermis, thus optimising their results, most Korean skincare formulations are incredibly lightweight and have been upgraded with ingredients that prime the skin to absorb subsequent products. K-beauty has also introduced us to a range of forward-thinking ingredients, from bee venom to snail mucin, all of which have been part of Korean beauty rituals for decades.

However, if you feel daunted by the idea of having to mimic the renowned 10-step routine, a face mask is the perfect way to dip your toe into the philosophy, tackling all manner of skin concerns in the process. So, to learn more about K-beauty, and discover our pick of the best Korean face masks, read on.

READ NEXT: Best LED face masks

Best Korean face masks: At a glance

How to choose the best Korean face masks for you

What is the Korean 10-step routine?

K-beauty is all about perfecting the right routine to fit with your uique skin type and concerns, but the classic 10-step routine that’s grounded in Korean skincare culture (not to mention backed by decades of science advancement) is made up of the following:

Oil-based cleanser – The first step in your double cleanse. This will effectively remove makeup and SPF, while drawing out impurities such as sebum and pollution.

Water-based cleanser – A second cleanse will allow you to really get deep within the pores to remove impurities that can cause breakouts. A water-based cleanser will pick up the dirt and sweat that your oil cleanser has missed.

Exfoliator – Stick to exfoliating once or twice a week to reveal smoother, brighter skin. Look out for ingredients such as black sugar and glycolic and lactic acid.

Toner – This will prepare the skin for subsequent products, while balancing moisture and pH levels.

Essence – These (also known as face mists) are lightweight and packed with skin-enhancing ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid.

Treatment/serum – This is your opportunity to target specific concerns such as acne and fine lines using powerful, highly concentrated ingredients. Use on the whole face or pat into areas of concern.

Sheet Mask – 15 to 20 minutes of masking allows your skin to effectively absorb all the nutrients and moisture in the mask and from your other products. Look out for ingredients such as cucumber, green tea and aloe.

Eye cream – Did you know that the skin around our eyes is thinner and more delicate than anywhere else on our face? The right eye cream will depuff and hydrate, while addressing concerns such as dark circles and fine lines.

Moisturiser – Whether you choose a cream, gel or lotion formula, this will seal in moisture to effectively plump the skin.

SPF – Always, always start the day with sunscreen – even on dull and cloudy days. Applying SPF daily is the best way to prevent premature ageing, shielding your skin from pollutants and protecting against harmful UV rays.

Do Korean face masks really work?

Absolutely. Packed with powerhouse ingredients, nobody does face masks quite like these cult Korean beauty brands, plus all the top-rated masks we’ve listed come highly recommended by editors and consumers alike. Masking should play a key role in your skincare routine, with options out there for every kind of complexion and skin concern. Aim to mask at least once a week, if you can.

How we test Korean face masks

We test a wide range of sheet, overnight and rinse-off masks from popular K-beauty brands, all of which have been designed to tackle a variety of skin concerns. For tests, we follow the instructions on the pack closely, always applying the product to freshly cleansed skin and concluding how fuss-free they are to use. Texture, scent and how the sheet masks feel on the skin are also key factors, and – ultimately – whether or not we are able to see results post-use. We include masks suitable for a range of budgets, while noting the formulas and active ingredients used in each one.

The best Korean face masks you can buy in 2023

1. Dr Jart+ Cryo Rubber Face Mask with Hyaluronic Acid: Best K-beauty face mask for an instant glow

Price: £11 (one treatment) | Buy now from Boots

For quick results, Dr Jart+ rubber masks are a win – and this product (which comes with an ampoule of hyaluronic acid) is like a cold-water plunge for the face, leaving dry skin looking instantly more radiant, supple and healthy.

After applying the hyaluronic acid serum to your skin, the comfy-fit, Cryo-Rubber mask will help lock-in moisture and boost absorption – simply keep it on for around 30 to 40 minutes for maximum results, and massage in any excess product still on your skin when you’re done.

Our tester loved the ultra-cooling sensation (note that you can place the mask and the ampoule in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes beforehand for an increased cooling effect) and revealed that her skin was perfectly prepped for makeup application afterwards. Be aware that the masks are quite delicate and can tear easily, so be extra gentle when removing them from the packaging.

Buy now from Boots

2. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow AHA Night Treatment: Best K-beauty face mask for brightening

Price: £36.50 (60ml) | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Say goodbye to dullness with this failsafe OG resurfacing mask, which delivers a potent combination of AHAs, hydrating watermelon enzymes, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and peptides. All of these ingredients work together to exfoliate and unclog pores, smooth and brighten all skin types.

Massage in and leave overnight for quickly tackling dull and pasty morning skin. The mask is lightly fragranced – which might not appeal to some – but it’s subtle, and the weightless gel texture absorbs quickly without feeling sticky. Our tester commented that her complexion looked noticeably brighter and smoother after just one use.

Buy now from Cult Beauty

3. VENN Collagen Intensive Phyto-Retinol Renewal Mask: Best K-beauty face mask for fine lines

Price: £45 (two treatments) | Buy now from Face the Future

Compared to many other sheet masks we’ve tried – in particular, the papery ones – this high-performing, hydrogel option is one of the most lightweight. It adheres to the face and its contours well, feeling virtually undetectable if worn while you’re watching TV or catching up with a book.

Supercharged with hydrolysed collagen, 2% niacinamide, amino acids, and 0.5% bakuchiol (a plant-derived alternative to retinol), it plumps fine lines and delivers a more even tone instantly, while smoothing and brightening over time.

At £45 for two single-use masks, it’s one of the pricier options here; but it’s one of the easiest ways to wrap the skin in moisture and get an at-home, spa-like facial in just 30 minutes.

Buy now from Face the Future

4. COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask: Best K-beauty face mask for hydration

Price: £23 (60ml) | Buy now from Feel Unique

If you thought that dry, mature, or dehydrated skins could only benefit from rich products, it’s time for a rethink. This lightweight gel formula from COSRX is enriched with more than 87% propolis extract, and natural beeswax, promising to leave skin feeling softer and plumper.

Our tester trialled it over the course of a week and each time woke up with skin that felt impressively cushiony and deeply hydrated. Since the gel texture is weightless (without being sticky), it works wonders on oily and dry skins alike; but it could be great for soothing sunburn or inflamed complexions, too. We’re pretty sure even the most ardent advocates of rich creams will be converted by this one.

Buy now from Feel Unique

5. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask: Best K-beauty mask for lips

Price: £19 (20ml) | Buy now from Beauty Bay

It’s true that even the most diehard of skincare devotees often forgets about their lips, but the thin skin in and around our pout is particularly prone to dryness and fine lines, and should be treated in much the same way as the rest of our face. Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask is a cult product that comes highly recommended by beauty editors and dermatologists all over the world, thanks to its ability to repair and hydrate, whether you use it for 20 minutes or overnight.

Packed with nourishing shea butter, vitamin C and fruit acids, the texture is kind of a cross between a cream and a jelly, and it leaves a rather pleasing rosy sheen that isn’t in any way greasy, tacky, or sticky. It’s pricey, for sure – but a little goes a long way, and it comes with a mini applicator, too. Choose from six (rather yummy sounding) flavours including berry, grapefruit and vanilla.

Buy now from Beauty Bay

6. Neogen Dermalogy A-Clear Soothing Overnight Mask: Best K-beauty face mask for acne

Price: £24 (100ml) | Buy now from Beauty Bay

Those in the know are huge fans of this overnight mask for its pore-clearing, oil-reducing properties, as well as its ability to calm and balance irritated skin. It contains blemish-fighting salicylic acid and centella asiatica – a medicinal herb that primarily grows in Asia, known to help soothe redness and breakouts. The light gel texture (that looks blue in the tube but comes out clear) makes application easy, and – notably – it didn’t pill with the rest of our tester’s skincare products. It delivers an instant cooling sensation that soothes problem skin overnight, without the drying effects of some acne-targeted masks.

Buy now from Beauty Bay

7. Erborian Milk & Peel Mask: Best K-beauty face mask for a quick fix

Price: £35 (60ml) | Buy now from Erborian

For a mask that you can put to work while you boil the kettle and/or brush your teeth, Erborian’s five-minute Milk & Peel mask is something of a face-saver – and deemed as one of the most effective flash masks on the market.

It’s formulated with sesame milk, which is known to visibly smooth skin texture, as well as exfoliating enzymes to gently rid your complexion of dead cells. The addition of sesame oil – known for its high fatty acid content – and Tiger grass extract will boost hydration and suppleness, and help bring down any redness, too.

The mask has a light, creamy texture that leaves skin feeling fresh, silky smooth and radiant when rinsed off, making it more receptive to moisturiser and a great base for makeup.

Buy now from Erborian

Read more

Best Buys