7 best organic face masks
Give yourself a proper pampering with a product that's free of synthetic nasties
Face masks should smell divine, feel luxurious to apply and, of course, make your skin feel amazing. Unfortunately, many skincare products are crammed full of synthetic chemicals – used to fragrance, colour and preserve – that do more damage than good, leaving your skin feeling dry and looking lifeless. It’s little wonder, then, that consumers are thinking more carefully about what goes on their skin, with the certified organic beauty and wellbeing market enjoying its sixth consecutive year of growth in 2016.
If you are going to spend half an hour indulging in a pamper session, you want to notice a positive difference afterwards, which is why we have been digging and delving to find the best organic face masks, produced from ingredients farmed without the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and other such nasties.
Frustratingly, the organic skincare market is a minefield of misleading marketing jargon. Brands keen to muscle in on a booming sector can proclaim their products organic if they contain only a few organic ingredients and many use fake logos to con consumers into thinking they are reputable. To ensure the face masks on this list are organic, we looked for a genuine certificate from the trusted independent body Soil Association.
COSMOS is a new worldwide standard created by the Soil Association, along with three international partners, to improve clarity when it comes to buying organic. Since January this year, all newly certified products by each of the partners have to meet COSMOS standards. Products can be certified COSMOS organic if at least 20 per cent of the ingredients are organic for leave-on products, such as face masks, or 10 per cent for rinse-off products, such as shampoo.
COSMOS organic products contain no GM ingredients, parabens and phthalates, synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances or any other controversial chemicals. They are cruelty-free, made from biodegradable ingredients only and come in minimal packaging with maximum recycled content.
It is important to note that clay cannot be certified organic because it is a natural mineral, not a product of farming. Clay can still be used in a COSMOS organic product, but that product will not be able to use the word organic in its title if it makes up a significant proportion of the ingredients. Only products with 95 per cent organic ingredients can use the word organic in their titles, to prevent consumers being misled. Clay face masks are popular so we have included some in our list but, as of yet, none on the market are eligible to use the word organic in their titles.
These face masks got the thumbs up from us for the noticeable improvement they had on our skin, their delicious scents, the ease of the application process, their overall value for money and their trustworthiness as confirmed by a COSMOS (or Soil Association, in the case of older products) organic certificate.
1. SKN-RG Collagen Boosting Face Mask, 100ml: £37, Salon Skincare
If it’s a facial in a pot you’re after, prepare to be dazzled by this multi award-winning collagen-boosting treatment, designed by husband and wife duo Robert and Deborah Scott, for use by professional therapists. Targeted at those with mature skin, it works by soaking the skin cells in a special nutrient-rich renewal formula that sparks them back to life. To test its promise to “increase skin elasticity and reduce the signs of ageing”, we enlisted the help of a tester in her sixties. She was immediately impressed by the hygienic double-lid and inclusion of a spatula and appreciated the simplistic, medical appearance of the pot, which comes in a cheery orange box. The earthy, spa-like scent is pleasant and subtle and the creamy consistency made for beautifully smooth application, easily giving even coverage without being messy or gloopy. This vegan-friendly mask felt soothing while on and there was no stinging, tingling or tightening. Our tester was particularly pleased with how hydrating it felt, as dryness proves a problem for her skin and has been exacerbated by the wrong mask before. Prepare to do several cleanses with warm water to remove it, before enjoying the immediately noticeable after-effects. The visual improvement was obvious, with our tester’s skin left looking radiant and feeling healthy. She experienced a slight plumping effect on her fine lines and some gentle tightening on her pores. There was no redness, making it a great mask to try before going out to show off your newfound glow. This may be pricey, but you get a hefty 100ml and as it comes in a jar you can scrape every last bit out.
81.48% organic, as certified by the Soil Association
2. Neal’s Yard Remedies White Tea Enriching Facial Mask, 50g: £28, Neal’s Yard Remedies
If you want to recreate the sanctuary feel of a spa at home, the calming aromatherapy scent of this kaolin clay mask from one of our favourite natural and ethical beauty brands, Neal’s Yard Remedies, comes highly recommended. Its fabulously creamy consistency makes application easy as thick, even coverage can be quickly achieved with only a small amount of product needed each time – worth considering if the higher price tag is making you think twice (the website says to expect six masks from each pretty blue glass jar, but we reckon you could get more if used carefully). There is no spatula, so be prepared to get stuck in with your hands, but the smell of rose, blackcurrant, frankincense and white tea is so heavenly that this isn’t a chore. The instructions say to leave this mask on for 10 minutes – expect to feel slight drying after about five, but not so much that it feels uncomfortable. Taking it off with a hot cloth was fuss-free and therapeutic and our skin felt lighter, refreshingly moisturised and more supple after use, with toned-down redness too.
59% organic and 26% mineral clay, as certified by the Soil Association
3. Balm Balm Hibiscus Face Mask, 40g: £9.50, Feel Unique
Mixing your own mask can be a bit of a faff, but when it smells this glorious and flowery we don’t mind the extra effort. The soft powder, made from brown rice flour and ground hibiscus, feels like fine sand while the scent of rose geranium essential oil is summer encapsulated. Simply pop a tablespoon in bowl and add a dash of warm water to make a thin paste that turns a pretty lilac colour. Rest assured that there is absolutely nothing dodgy in this formula, as it is 100 per cent organic. It is best applied in the bathroom as the paste is a tad drippy, but once on it stays put so there is no need to lie down. The exfoliating effects can be felt instantly, making this a great choice for anyone regularly exposed to urban pollution and grime, and it felt more drying than other masks on this list, so could prove a winner if you have oily skin. Removal was enjoyable thanks to the lovely natural fragrance and obvious exfoliating strength. Our skin felt taut but far from parched afterwards and the appearance of enlarged pores around our nose was satisfyingly minimised. The major pro to this mask is its price – at less than a tenner, this is a real steal that rivals far pricier options.
100% organic, as certified by COSMOS
4. Lulu & Boo Organics Super Anti-Oxidant Berry Brightening Mask, 56g: £31, Lulu & Boo
Pomegranate, with its anti-ageing properties, is the star of the show in this juicy revitalising mask that looks and smells like a fresh fruit smoothie. Pink and white clay draws out toxins and stimulates circulation but does make for a cloying texture that is slightly on the sticky side. No tools are included, making this a use-your-fingers job, but the darker colour of the mask makes it easy to see which areas need more coverage and helps you avoid your hairline and sensitive eye area. Expect to look as if you have had a seriously dodgy fake tan (Donald Trump, eat your heart out) while it dries but, although there is some tightening, we retained mobility of our mouth, so laughing at how silly you look won’t be an issue. Suitable for normal to dry skin, this came off easily with a hot cloth and left our skin feeling deeply cleansed and rejuvenated. Though pricey at just over £30, this pretty mask from a small British brand would make the perfect gift for a clean beauty lover.
63% organic and 31% mineral clay, as certified by the Soil Association
5. Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask, 75ml: £30, John Lewis
If you struggle with redness and/or sensitive skin, this wonderfully soothing mask has been made with your needs in mind. Pai founder Sarah Brown created her skincare range after feeling let down by products claiming to be hypoallergenic and organic when really they were full of known irritants. This product’s rich, creamy texture spreads on easily without dripping, although make sure you squeeze enough out first go or use a spatula to avoid making a mess of the clean white tube it comes in. The natural, oaty smell is comforting while applying and the formula spreads easily. There is an instant cooling effect without any disconcerting tingling and it rapidly absorbs into dryer areas of your face, helping you to see where more should be applied for extra-hydration. Rosehip and strawberry leaf are the key ingredients here, working to restore, illuminate and firm-up skin to visible effect. There was no need to scrub to remove this mask, and our face looked refreshed but not shiny after use. We used this just before bed on tired skin and noticed improvements to problem areas such as redness around the nose the next morning.
75% organic, as certified by the Soil Association
6. Optiat Nourishing & Hydrating Face Mask, 30g: £17.95, Optiat
This sustainable beauty brand’s ethos revolves around making products from ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away to minimise environmental waste. Best known for its coffee scrubs, Optiat has just launched a set of three hemp face masks using discarded organic hemp husks from the Oxfordshire countryside that make for excellent natural exfoliators. This is our favourite, as added marshmallow root drenches the skin in moisture and the relaxing scent of lavender and frankincense essential oils help us shake off a busy day. This is a powder-to-paste mask – great for fulfilling any potion-making cravings – so we recommend mixing and applying it on an easy-to-clean surface. Just one teaspoon is needed at a time, along with a dash of warm water and you can expect 15 uses from the attractive glass bottle (it’s clear so you can see when you are running out). The vegan-friendly powder turns a dark green when wet, with the earthy smell of a herbal tea, and it gets to work polishing away dead skin cells as you massage it into your face. Clay and activated charcoal gently purify to leave your skin feeling silky and looking bright.
36% organic, as certified by COSMOS
7. Inlight Beauty Chocolate Mask, 25ml: £28, Wolf & Badger
Chocoholics will find this delicious-smelling face mask from Cornish beauty brand Inlight impossible to resist. One of two 100 per cent organic products on our list, it is scented like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange by the finest quality organic cocoa and packed full of argan oil, evening primrose oil and exfoliating superfood baobab. Italian skin expert Dr Mariano Spiezia is behind the formulation, which has been handcrafted in Cornwall to decongest the face without damaging the skin and causing it to secrete extra sebum (the skin’s natural oil) like harsh chemical peels do. Expect an oily consistency that glides on fabulously, does not feel tacky to the touch and leaves your face feeling like velvet and looking like it has been given a fresh lease of life. Do not be put off this mask if you have oily skin as it works to balance and cleanse, but if you are concerned, try using only on your T-zone. Packaged in a violet glass to protect it from sunlight and preserve its quality, it will give your mood a boost as well as your skin – that’s what chocolate does for you. This is the priciest product on our list as you get just 25ml, but it is a real treat.
100% organic, as certified by COSMOS
The Verdict: Organic face masks
It is hard to look past the Collagen Boosting Face Mask from SKN-RG for how enjoyable the application was and how rapidly it transformed our face, but if you are after something more affordable, Balm Balm’s fully organic, powder-to-paste Hibiscus Face Mask is a bargain at less than a tenner and ideal if exfoliation is a priority in your skincare routine. Neal’s Yard Remedies came up trumps yet again with its gorgeously-scented, divinely moisturising White Tea Enriching Facial Mask, which we felt was well worth the price tag.
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