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11 Super Calming Face Mask Ingredients to Soothe Winter’s Dry Skin

Skin feeling parched? These face mask ingredients combat dryness and quench even the thirstiest of complexions. Just sit back, relax, and let them work their moisturizing magic.


Hyaluronic acid

We’re betting you’re already familiar with hyaluronic acid (HA), but just in case it’s new to you, here’s what you need to know: One of the best-known and most effective hydrators—it holds 1,000 times it’s own weight in water! While HA is present in the human body and is essential for maintaining moisture in skin tissue, as we age, we produce less, which can result in dryness, loss of elasticity, and wrinkles. (Remember, what your skin needs varies by decade. Don’t miss the skincare rules for every stage of your life.) Which is why so many brands have started harnessing the youth-boosting power of hyaluronic acid in facial formulas ranging from serums and lotions to face masks, like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask, Edible Beauty Bloom of Youth Infusion Mask, and patchology FlashMasque Facial Sheets – Hydrate.



This marine miracle is loaded with omegas, free radical-fighting antioxidants, and detoxifying minerals. Not only is it extremely hydrating, but it also nourishes, combats inflammation, and purifies. (These detoxifying ingredients are like a juice cleanse for your face.) But don’t just go slathering on any old sea kelp. While there are more than 20,000 species of algae, brown, blue, and red algae are most common in skincare, according Graceanne Svendsen, esthetician and facialist at Shafer Plastic Surgery & Laser Center. Try: Peter Thomas Roth Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask or Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask.



Dimethicone is a silicone-derived occlusive, meaning it forms a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. “It works to seal in moisture and natural oils and prevent water loss,” explains Michele Green, MD, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. Dimethicone lends its protective powers to face masks, like H2O+ Beauty Infinity+ Overnight Wrinkle Reducing Mask and Kate Somerville Hydrating Firming Mask, as well as moisturizers. Wondering what the heck is in your lotion? Get the scoop on these popular moisturizing agents.


Olive oil

We’re guessing olive oil is already a staple in your kitchen, but what about your bathroom? This nourishing powerhouse is packed with antioxidants, oleic acid, and vitamin E to nourish skin (and hair). Needless to say, you should stash a bottle in your medicine cabinet too. “Olive oil has hydrates and softens skin in a completely natural way,” says Dr. Green. On the high end, try the gentle, olive-oil based Crème d’Olives; Aphrodite Olive Oil Moisture & Radiance Serum delivers major hydration for less than half the price. Or try mixing up an olive oil, honey, and egg yolk mask to combat dry skin. Don’t forget about these other beauty tricks that are hiding in your kitchen.



To thrive in an arid climate, this antioxidant- and omega-rich desert dweller had to become a nourishing and hydrating powerhouse. “It works as a natural humectant, binding water molecules to the skin,” Svendsen says. And its antioxidant abilities help soothe inflammation, reduce redness, and protect against free radical damage. Try: MyChelle Dermaceuticals Hydrating Cactus Mask or My Beauty Diary Mexico Cactus Facial Mask. But this exotic botanical isn’t just great for your skin, but your strands too. Here’s why you should start incorporating cactus into your hair care routine.



“Ceramides repair and strengthen the skin’s protective barrier, keeping moisture in and aggravants out,” explains Sejal Shah, MD, board certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which can be particularly helpful for soothing irritation—particularly for parched, flaky skin. Give your skin some ceramide-infused love with Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Overnight Firming Mask or Medicell Labs Advanced Moisture Face Mask. And try these helpful tricks to fight dry skin this fall and winter.



Our body naturally produces squalane, so it’s a great moisturizer for our skin. And because it can also be found in plants, beauty companies are able to extract it for products, typically from olives. “It’s an emollient. So basically it softens and smooths scaly, dry skin by filling spaces between flakes, thereby reducing dryness and maintaining the skin barrier function,” explains Dr. Shah. This safe, stable, and easily absorbed oil also offers antioxidant protection against aging free radicals. And its moisturizing abilities, coupled with its antibacterial properties, make it an effective treatment for dry, cracked skin—even eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. You can use pure squalene as you would any other facial oil, or try a face mask, like Astara Nourishing Vitamin Mask or B. Kamins Diatomamus Earth Mask. Read up on all the reasons why squalene has the beauty world raving.



Honey is amazing in so many ways! Like other occlusive agents, it coats the skin, creating a protective layer to seal in water and prevent moisture loss. And its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties make it a savior for cracked, chapped, irritated, and even acne-prone skin. This ancient treasure also contains antioxidants and phytonutrients that promote healing. No wonder it’s one of the buzziest natural ingredients. Find it in Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask and Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask. Learn about all the health benefits you can get from honey.


Avocado oil

Who doesn’t love guacamole? But avocado isn’t just for noshing, it’s also incredible for nourishing skin—especially the cold-pressed oil. Packed with oleic acid (a fatty acid) and polyphenols, avocado oil helps to moisturize, soften, and soothe dry, flaky skin. It even helps fight the signs of aging! Try: Juara Java Plum & Avocado Nourishing Mask, Sephora Collection Avocado Face Mask and Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Moisturising Cream Mask, or whip up a DIY facial cleanser.



You’ve probably seen glycerin in the ingredient list of many of your favorite skincare formulas, but how much do you know about this common humectant? “What’s remarkable about glycerin is that it draws water molecules from the air into the skin,” explains Svendsen. It’s also an emollient, so it prevents moisture loss and makes skin soft to the touch! And its gentle nature makes it suitable for all skin types. Its hydrating properties make it prime for moisturizers (be sure to follow these rules for using moisturizer), gentle cleansers, and masks, like Clark’s Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask or Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.


Shea butter

“Shea butter is one of my all-time favorite ingredients,” says Svendsen. This natural emollient absorbs easily to help hydrate, heal, soften, and improve elasticity. Added bonus: It’s helps fade acne scars. No wonder it’s a go-to ingredient for laidback Aussie beauties—not to mention a staple in moisturizing masks like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask and Phytomer Hydrasea Thirst-Relief Rehydrating Mask.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Reader’s Digest editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of revenue from our partners, such as Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at l[email protected]


Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay is an avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents. At, she covers both domestic and international travel. When she's not writing, you can find her doing yoga and adding to her ever-growing list of future adventures.

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