I mistakenly assumed that most people already knew about the miraculous sheet masks from Asia for your face. I’m now realizing that there are some poor souls who don’t know about the fountain of youth-like effects that face sheet masks can offer: hydration, anti-aging, brightening, and more. Personally, these have been helping me with keeping my skin in an ideal state to ward off irritation, eczema and dryness. Looking younger doesn’t hurt either.
Warning for first-timers: these masks can resemble a white hockey goalie’s mask, or if you’re a fan of old horror movies, Jason from the scary Friday the 13th movies. This post is just in time for Halloween. 🙂
What is a Sheet Mask?
These are paper-like thin masks that fit over your face with holes for the eyes, nostrils and mouth. They’re usually soaked in a serum that offers some kind of benefits for your skin.
My first experience with these was the South Korean sheet masks I got in Seoul, the skincare capital of the world. You might have heard about the obsession South Koreans have with skincare. That reputation is well-deserved. Go to Seoul and you’ll see women (and men!) of all ages with amazingly plump, clear skin. Okay…admittedly those youthful good looks are partly due to the national obsession with avoiding the sun, possibly diet and other things like plastic surgery. But–there are ways that you can still help your skin be in a better state with good products–despite your genes.
Why Use a Sheet Mask? Isn’t It a Hassle?
Adding a 20-30 minutes to your nightly skincare routine may sound daunting. For me, it’s worth it if it will keep people thinking that I’m 10 years younger than I actually am.
Why Face Sheet Masks Work
It’s simple physics. The sheet mask is actively pushing the serum into your skin with the weight of the mask. Think of all the serums and creams you’ve tried that seem moisturizing at first and then disappear quickly once you put them on. Part of why that happens is that the serum sits on top of your skin and evaporates. Sheet masks keep the serum moist longer on your skin. Also, the mask is on your face for up to 30 minutes–that’s the equivalent of NOT using a sheet mask and continuously patting serum into your face with your hands for a half hour. Who has the energy for that?
How to Use a Sheet Mask:
- Remove your makeup and wash your face. I use a cleansing balm that’s gentle like Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm.
- Optional: Exfoliate so you can get the most benefit from the face mask’s ingredients. I recommend using dr. brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant if you haven’t exfoliated in a while. It’s gentle but effective. See my post about exfoliation if you want more info.
- Use your toner or softener to get any excess makeup off and to prep your skin for the hydration.
- Optional: Use an essence to add hydration. What’s an “essence“? Here’s a post about my favorite ones!
- Take some of the liquid inside and pat it on your face before you put the mask on. Unfold the sheet mask completely and make sure the eye holes and nose flaps are clear.
- Place the mask on your face starting at the top of your head, relax and leave on for the recommended time. They’re usually about 20-30 minutes for most, but the daily ones can be 10 minutes. Stay away from small children or pets who may be confused by your frightening appearance.
- Remove the mask and toss it in the trash.
- Do not rinse your face! These are not like the kind of clay or creamy masks you slap on and then wash off. Gently use your palms to pat that valuable remaining serum still on your face. It will be sticky or tacky, which is a good thing.
- I still recommend following up with your moisturizer if you’re doing it at night, but that’s optional, depending on how much you need to moisturize.
- Wake up the next morning looking dewy.
Which One Should I Use?
Type: There are hundreds of different kinds of sheet masks. Most target a specific skin issue and have ingredients for any of the following: brightening (lightening dark spots), calming irritation, addressing acne, pore cleaning, softening wrinkles or just plain hydration.
Face Mask or Eye Mask?: Most masks are for the entire face. There are also masks that target just the eyes and even ones that cover the face and the entire neck. I’m not even mentioning the masks for your hands and feet! I use mostly face masks and then make sure the pat the serums into my neck and eye area.
Mask Material: The type of material the mask is made of makes a difference too. Generally, they’re made of either a thin paper-like cotton OR a pricier “hydrogel” which is more like a thicker silicone that holds the serum better. Usually the thicker the material, the longer you wear it because the serum holds longer. I keep a mix of all kinds. Estée Lauder even offers a mask that is covered in foil on the outside to prevent the serum from evaporating quickly. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s intriguing. I also feel like I could just cobble that together myself at home with my aluminum foil…
My Current Daily Mask: Originally, sheet masks started out as a weekly thing. One of the best discoveries I made in Japan was the concept of a daily sheet mask, which is not as crazy as it sounds. I’ve been using Kracie Hadabisei All-in-One-Face Masks, which come in a bulk package of 42 masks and have collagen as the main anti-aging ingredient. Yup, that’s 42 days worth of masks for $24. They’re thinner than the regular ones and you only wear them for about 10 minutes because by then, the serum has evaporated. It comes in a box that has the masks folded in there like tissues. I was worried that the liquid would evaporate fast after opening it, but after about 3 months, it’s still good.
After using these almost daily, I’ve seen this make a huge difference in the state of my skin, which used to be dry, flaky and eczema prone. Now it’s clear of irritation, smoother and much softer. The key is hydration!
My Current Weekly Mask: Use the Sephora Rose Face Mask for the ultimate in hydration and skin calming. I will be writing more posts about my favorite Korean masks soon!
- I like to put a mask on, set the timer on my phone and lie down to take a nap if I’m really tired. It’s hard to eat or drink with them on, but by using a straw it’s possible to drink.
- This can get expensive, so for some pricier masks like the perennial favorite (but expensive!) SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, after using the mask and tossing, you could even store the opened mask package in a ziplock, keep it in your refrigerator, and then use the remaining serum in there on your skin before moisturizing for the next couple days.
- Timing: I prefer to do masks at night before bed because that’s when your skin can most benefit from the mask’s ingredients doing their magic. Occasionally I will do one in the day if my skin is feeling dry or am about to go out to an event and want to have plumped up, dewy skin.
- If you are feeling like face masks are too boring, you can opt for one of the more whimsical sheet masks that have an animal face on the outside instead of basic white or black. Might be more terrifying than the plain ones.