Cream/gel masks with no chemical exfoliants (acids or enzymes)
The drying time for this category of facial mask is pretty much up to you. Due to the lack of seriously potent ingredients, hydrating masks can be left on as long as you’d like without harming your skin.
Some cream and gel masks can even be left on overnight to achieve a serious benefit to the skin. With no intense resurfacing ingredients or high concentrations of brightening agents, the longer the better is generally the case. Some beautiful soothing masks in this category include Dr Hauschka Soothing Mask and Aspect Gold Probiotic Sleep Mask.
Masks that contain any level of exfoliating acids, enzymes, or retinoids
Face masks containing actives other than clay are all absolutely different, and the instructions need to be followed down to the letter. If you’re unsure, 10 minutes is the limit, and with some products, even that may be too long.
For example, Cosmedix Define Resurfacing Treatment is an overnight mask that contains retinol and fruit acids and is obviously meant for extended wear. However, the same brand’s Cosmedix Pure Enzymes Exfoliating Mask is meant to be left on for just 3 to 15 minutes, and only 1 minute for sensitive skin. Same brand, similar names, similar ingredients—but totally different treatment times due to the potency of ingredients.
As you can see, each type of mask has a different effect on the skin and requires a different amount of time to work correctly. Ideally, you should attempt to find the application time somewhere online for your particular product. But if you absolutely can’t, these are great rules of thumb to follow!