They’ve seen an upsurge in demand in China due to concerns about air pollution and they’re about to make a splash here too. From what they do to which ones scrub up best, here’s what you need to know

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Is air pollution taking its toll on your skin? If so, you’re not alone - with rising levels prompting everything from breakouts to increased sebum production and pigment spots , it’s no surprise that our skincare routine, particularly our choice of cleansers, has had to adapt to better suit our complexion’s more complex needs. With techniques like double cleansing  fast becoming the new norm, it’s clear that people are demanding more from their daily face wash. And as a result, there’s a new product category making its mark - cleansing masks.

Classed as facial masks with more targeted purifying and exfoliating benefits, they offer a greater degree of deep cleansing ability, more sophisticated ingredients to help boost skin’s defences and in some cases, shape-shifting textures. Designed to be left on for anything from one minute to 10, skin stands to reap greater benefits from these more intensive treatments compared to traditional formulations that are meant to be rinsed off straight away. They’re already big business in China with new Mintel research  reporting that their usage has gone up to 40 per cent among urban Chinese women this year. A rise attributed to growing concerns about air pollution.

From products to help settle out of control sebum levels to antioxidant-rich formulations to help brighten and probiotic picks designed to boost the skin’s barrier, these are the leave-ons set to make a lasting impression.

Elizabeth Arden Superstart Probiotic Cleanser Whip to Clay, £22 for 125ml

Enriched with barrier-boosting probiotics  to calm and soothe stressed skin and mineral-rich pink and green clays to unclog pores, this shape shifting whipped mousse cleanser offers great multitasking prowess. Apply and leave on for one minute, then massage with warm water to transform it into a soft lather and rinse off.

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This Works Light Time Cleanse & Glow, £30 for 75ml

If you have dull skin, this fatigue-fighting jojoba-rich cleanser acts as an effective wake-up-call (better than a splash of water to the face). Containing water-activated vitamin C  and protective vitamin E, simply massage into skin with damp fingers for one minute to trigger its ingredients and rinse off. Or if your skin’s looking more lacklustre than usual, leave on for 10 minutes but proceed with caution if you’re a little tingle-prone.

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Vichy Normaderm Anti-Blemish 3-in-1 Cleansing + Scrub + Mask, £12 for 125ml

If you have oily skin, you’ll especially appreciate the triple threat of benefits that this pick provides. Great used as a daily cleanser, a bi-weekly scrub or a weekly mask, it sloughs off dead skin cells and debris to leave skin squeaky clean.

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Allies of Skin Fresh Slate Brightening Cleanser + Masque, £38 for 50ml

Containing water-activated vitamin C , fruit-derived enzymes and hyaluronic acid , this intelligently formulated hybrid cleanser leaves skin softer and brighter. Designed to be left on for one to two minutes as a cleanser or 10 minutes as a radiance-boosting mask, it provides a range of options at your fingertips.

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Sand & Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment, £34.90 for 100ml

Formulated to absorb excess sebum, mattify and refine pores, this five minute in-shower treatment is ideal for targeted T-zone control and oilier skin types. Containing macadamia and bamboo to remove dead skin cells and fruit acids for more intensive exfoliation, it helps create a smooth, slick-free canvas for your makeup to go on top of.

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The Organic Pharmacy Rose Diamond Exfoliating Cleanser, £55 for 120ml

Hydrating cleansing cream on one hand, gentle daily skin peel on the other, this multi-faceted face wash offers the best of both in one bottle. Enriched with shea butter, coconut oil, diamond powder and bio-fermented enzymes to eradicate dead skin cells, it’s a go-to of our Editor Victoria Woodhall’s after Organic Pharmacy founder Margo Marrone advised her to leave it on as a mask to give its ingredients ample time to work their magic.

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Read more: 5 jelly cleansers that leave skin soft - not stripped.

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