I adore face masks and the “me time” that they seem to symbolize. Plus, they do good and useful things that can’t always been achieved by our regular potions and lotions. A daily serum or potion must sink almost instantly into the skin, not feel greasy and sometimes, even instant gratification is expected. These requirements can result in little compromises being made to the formula. Not so for a mask. It can sit on the skin, absorbing over time until it is rinsed away. Its formula can be pure (see Dr Alkaitis below for about as pure as it gets) and devoted to its task (exfoliating or super nourishing). The 2012 Five Best Face Masks, coinciding as always with Halloween, is my best selection yet. All these masks are, quite simply, a treat for your skin.

Royal Nectar Original Face Mask ($59 in the shop). As Emily put it in her review of Royal Nectar face mask with bee venom: “This product is fabulous.” And I couldn’t agree more. About once a week or so, whenever my face doesn’t look its rosy and radiant best, I reach for Royal Nectar’s mask and am always renewed by it. Royal Nectar, from a family-run bee-keeping family in New Zealand, is the original source of the bee venom that has the British Royal Family all abuzz. Bee venom has 19 active components, including anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Whether it really makes the difference in this mask, or whether it’s the manuka honey or oils of avocado, apricot and rosehip, I don’t know. I actually don’t care. This is such a good product. Actually, a fabulous one. See the video.

Living Nature Ultra Nourishing Mask ($50) is an intensive mask teeming with so many skin beneficial ingredients it’s almost hard to believe that so much good stuff can be packed into just one mask. The mask is designed to restore dry or damaged skin with active manuka honey, known to rehydrate and contains inhibane, a natural antimicrobial extensively used on the skin in hospitals to stimulate the immune system, providing nutrients for cell metabolism and rapid tissue repair. There’s also pequi fruit oil, a carotenoid-rich oil efficient in reducing tissue injuries and DNA damage. There is also rosehip, which in alternative medicine is known to erase wrinkles, fade sun spots, and heal wounds. Read Nisha’s review.

La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask ($60 in the shop). Best for brightening. This facial mask is one of the best glycolic products I have found. A gentle, but effective 5% glycolic concentration that is a terrific skin brightener. The glycolic’s brightening and smoothing effects are given a helping hand by exfoliating bamboo grains, licorice and bearberry extract, which is loaded with alpha arbutin  a natural (safer) hydroquinone. Organically sourced antioxidants include white tea (supposedly better than green tea) and melon. Read Kelley’s review and my review from 2010 (it’s still a winner in the dewy skin department and I’ve lost count of how may pots I have bought).

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Cellular Repair Mask ($55). OK so you have to mix with water to make a paste, keep spritzing and it’s not the most relaxing treatment, as Nina attests to in her fun review of the similar Dr. Alkaitis Organic Universal Mask ($55 in the shop). But is it worth it. Yes indeed, the intense fruit powders and oat buds are better at reversing sun damage than dermabrasion. The great thing about mix-your-own is that you have no need for preservatives or emulsifiers. This stuff is the pure McCoy. Just seven ingredients and all of them good enough to eat. Read Charley’s review.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel ($39 for Sensitive Skin and $45 for Full Strength). Best for dark spot fading and organic lovers. There are two strengths, but for face I prefer the Sensitive version. If you use it over time, you will see freckles fade. Being a dark spot fader and skin brightener, it also helps with acne and breakouts. Juice Beauty focuses on organic ingredients and this mask has fruit juices, alpha hydroxyl acids, vitamins and algae. Read Sarah’s review.

Ingredients in Royal Nectar: Distilled Water, Nector Ease (manuka honey, bee venom), Lanette Wax, avocado oil, tocopherol oil, apricot kernel oil, easyliance, rose hip oil, rose water, bees wax, evening primrose oil, optiphen plus, natural fragrance, cocoa butter, ticaxan, marshmallow extract, manuka oil, lavender essential oil.

Ingredients Living Nature: Aqua (water), Cetearyl olivate, Sorbitan olivate, Jojoba esters, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter**, Glycerin (vegetable glycerin), Squalane (vegetable squalane), Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, Caryocar brasiliense (pequi) fruit oil, Caprylic/Capric triglyceride, Cetearyl alcohol, Glucose, Mel (manuka honey), Parfum (fragrance)*, Sclerotium gum, Daucus carota (carrot) extract, Galactoarabinan (larch tree extract), Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil**, Glucose oxidase, Lactoperoxidase, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) oil, Limonene*, Linalool*. *From natural essential oils **Certified organic

Ingredients in La Vie Celeste: Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Gel*, Aqua (Purified Water), Sclerotium Gum, Bamboo Grains (Bambusa Vulgaris) Extract, Kaolinite (Pink Clay), Glycolic (Hydroxyacetic) Acid, White Tea (Camellia Sinesis) Extract*, Bearberry (Acrtostaphylos Uva Ursi) Extract*, Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabral Licorice) Extract*, Melon (Cucumis Melo) Extract*, Chamomile (Anthemis Nobillis) Flower Extract*, Cosmocil CQ (Polyaminopropyl Biguanide), Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citrus Paradis) Extract*, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic) Acid.

Ingredients in Dr Alkaitis: Raspberry*, Blueberry*, Blackberry*, Oat Buds*, Grapes*, Strawberry*, Bilberry*

Ingredients in Juice Beauty: Organic Hydroxy-Acid Juice Solution Of Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice (Malic), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice (Citric) & Vitis Vinifera (White Grape) Juice (Tartaric), Organic Raw Cane Sugar (Glycolic), Salix Alba (Willow Bark) Extract (Salicylic), Organic Milk Peptides (Lactic), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide, Organic Algae Extract, Sclerotium Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate & Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Phospholipids, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tetrasodium Edta, Xanthan Gum, Azulene, Citrus Reticulata (Mandarin), Litsea Cubeba (May Chang) & Cinnamomum Camphora (Ho Wood) Pure Essential Oils