My life has been firmly and permanently impacted by an article I once read by my friend Gabi Moskowitz, aka Brokeass Gourmet. In this phenomenal, must-read article about building a basic pantry, the things you need to keep in stock in your pantry (think salt, olive oil, etc.) which will allow you to make her (and others') amazing recipes. Cooking at home, in turn, saves you tons of money - not to mention controlling the ingredients, and other parts of the recipe to ensure the food is wholesome and awesome.

This idea of a "pantry" has stayed with me in so many ways. I tend to thing of building my wardrobe as a pantry - I have my staples and then I build in exciting ingredients from recipes I find on the internet.

The same can be said for my "first aid kit" which contains everything I could possibly think to want but would obviosly be out of when the pain/symptoms hit (think mucinex, AZO, imodium, dulcosate sodium, pain pill, benadryl, nausea med, etc.) and I can't tell you how many times having that in my life helped me

For the longest time, I have believed that the same is possible for masks, those super potent beauty tools we turn to when things get dire when our skin is in need of a dramatic turnaround. When we need the most potent, deluxe and effective tools to solve our physical and emotional woes. 

Having a “pantry” will save you money - you won’t go to buy a mask when you’re feeling vulnerable and sensitive, and therefore likely to make poor decisions about what your face (and your budget!) truly needs. Going vulnerable means inevitably buying other things, things that you may regret later. Decisions based on fear are never ones we prize. Self-doubt is not a good place from which to make decisions about care. It should always come from a place of love. 

So, with that intention in mind a few caveats. Half of my mask pantry consists of samples - either purchased with points or requested. Sephora, Nordstrom, boutiques - all of them will happily provide samples. The really great products sell themselves, and when that little tube is done if it’s good for you and your skin you will go back and buy. Forever and ever. Samples are the best way to build a pantry, whether they sit waiting for use or you find yourself repeat visiting and make a purchase. Never feel bad about asking for a big sample. Try something three times before you buy it. 

A note for other sensitive babes on here. I never buy ANYTHING without trying it at least three times. I’ll go to the store and place a skin test on my inner wrist or behind my ear. I’ll ask for a sample, saying that my skin is sensitive and I want to ensure I don’t react. The salespeople happily give me a sample. Trust me they would much rather you try and buy than return - and most companies are competing with online and have wide blanket return policies on products. Never forget that either. 

So anyway, below are my picks. They work for me. My aging, sensitive skin. My dry, but I still break out skin. So I feel pretty confident they won’t make anything worse. But if I teach you nothing else, never forget that you deserve things that are great for you. Smell, feel, effectiveness is deeply personal. Don’t be afraid to find your own perfect mask pantry. 

But here’s what I keep in stock. Just knowing this stash exists has had a profound impact on my relationship with my skin. I’m less likely to panic and pick - or over scrub, or freak out and stress which only makes things like my eczema worse. Sometimes just knowing that the solution exists can make the problem a lot less fearful, which makes all of our decisions about how we react to it so much better.

You can see a complete list of every mask I have ever owned, loved, mentioned here. Don't forget to multi-mask if you have combo skin like me! Below are the things that popped into my head when I was writing this article. I am one hundred percent sure I have forgotten something, so this is by no means a complete list.

For all the sheet masks: Peach & Lily (love their eponymous line which is also available at Macy's)