Sheet masks deserve more than an exclamation mark: in my opinion, they deserve a parade. Maybe even their own holiday.
Sheet masks are–judging by my stash–my favorite part of the Korean skincare routine. I know most people only sheet mask once or twice a week, but I use a sheet mask pretty much every day.
I think the sheer variety of brands, types, and flavors of sheet masks are what draw me to them. It totally draws on my collector instinct to try them all. Plus, I enjoy scaring Mr. Sir and the cats for 25 minutes each day.
Sheet masks are face-shaped masks that are soaked in watery essences/serums. They lay on your face for anywhere from 20-35 minutes (depending on how much essence the mask has).Sometimes the facial fit is…off…but I can usually make small cuts to adjust. Then you take it off, toss the mask (never try to reuse it!), and pat in the remaining essence/serum.
Often, there will be some extra essence left in the package. I pour it into my hand and spread it on my face before I put on the mask. No need to waste that hydrating goodness.
Sheet masks work well in all types of weather and climates: in the winter, when the thought of putting a cold sheet mask on my face is shudder-inducing, I run the unopened package under warm water for a few seconds until it warms up. In the summer, you can stick sheet masks in the fridge for a lovely cooling effect.
Types of Mask Material
Sheet masks are made from a variety of materials and soaked in watery essences. I’ve found that I enjoy pretty much every material except the very thick, non-woven cotton ones, which usually don’t stick to my face very well. These are generally the very inexpensive masks.
Cotton: Generally an inexpensive type of mask, cotton sheet masks can make for difficult mobility because they don’t stick to your face very well. Depending on the brand, they can have a low capacity to deliver serum into the skin. However, I have found a number of inexpensive cotton masks that hydrate well. Bonvivant’s masks (sold at Memebox for $1 each) are quite nice.
Silk: These masks are super thin, cling to your face, and the essence absorbs nicely. You can see in the picture below that the thinner sheet masks often come with backing: in this case, there was a white plastic backing and a thicker blue cotton-y type backing. These make the mask easier to handle and unfold. You can see how transparent and thin the mask is. This allows it to cling to your face better.
Hydrogel: This is where the price goes up. Hydrogels have–as you might guess–a gel consistency. They also usually come in two pieces, which aids in getting a good fit. The gel clings to your face perfectly, which means they offer great absorption of the essence. I find that they can be slippery and take a bit of work to put on since you have to be careful with them as they tear easily.
Bio-cellulose: These also tend to be more expensive. Bio-cellulose is an all-natural material that adheres to the skin well and, as a result, has wonderful absorption properties. They don’t really dry out and I think they’re stronger than the hydrogels (not as afraid they will rip).
So, as I noted above, the different fabrics run different prices. You can buy a simple cotton sheet mask for less than $1 each. The silk masks, like the Taiwanese brand Lovemore, run about $2/mask. Hydrogels and bio-cellulose masks can run $4-$10 a mask.
As my stash above demonstrates, I spend a fair amount of money on masks. However, I only buy the hydrogels and bio-cellulose ones on sale. My general rule is not to spend much more than $3 per mask…or maybe around $5 per sheet mask if it’s amazing. (Still, I tend not to spend that very often.)
There are, of course, luxury masks like ones from SK-II that can cost $17 each. Yeeeeaaah. Not really my thing. I mean, I guess I can’t say how effective they are since I haven’t tried one.
Note: *If SK-II wants to send me a promotional mask, I’d for sure give it a try and let you know if it works to its full $17 potential.*
There’s also the issue with wastefulness in packaging that I have become increasingly aware of. Since the masks are packaged individually, that adds up to a lot of garbage. Apparently, as I saw in the Asian market I stopped by yesterday, there are brands who are packaging 25-30 in one large, resealable bag to cut down and prevent waste.
Why My Face Loves Them
As I mentioned earlier, masks are incredibly hydrating.Sheet masks are a shot of hydration that helps keep my skin plump and hydrated. Since I have a drier face in the winter, hydration becomes my number one priority.
So, why incorporate sheet masks into your routine? Why not just use more hydrating toners and essences?
Because the mask itself acts as a physical barrier, helping ensure that the moisture from the essence absorbs into your skin, and, depending on when you use it in your routine, helps everything you’ve put on before it sink in better as well.
They also provide an immediate effect: for example, I’ve seen any red spots or acne calmed when I use an aloe, snail, or honey mask, and I’ve seen a brightening effect with a niacinamide-heavy mask.
Why My Mind Loves Them
I am an anxious person. And by that, I mean that I have anxiety. A lot of it. It increased dramatically a few years ago, when I began even having trouble sleeping. (This was a huge deal, as sleep is one of my favorite things.) I’ll be honest, I’ve been needing these every day since November 8th. Heck, sometimes I do two sheet masks.
My overall routine helps me control my anxiety, but the sheet mask real is the soul of this process for me, which is in part why I do it every day. It’s 20-30 minutes where my brain takes a break. At this point, it’s a Pavlovian response where I immediately relax after putting a mask on.
Some people lay down with them on for added relaxation; I find that just having it on my face is a reminder that this is time to sit and relax.
Because I love sheet masks and am always looking for a new favorite, which sheet masks are you currently loving?