We all know and love the Instagramable trend of the Sheet Mask — the serum-soaked sheet that looks straight out of a horror movie, seen on everyone from January Jones to John Stamos. It seems like people are willing to try the Korean skin-care trend simply because it’s all over our favorite celebrities’ Snapchats. But the potential benefits of the sheet mask even outweigh the trend-factor.
It’s actually pretty genius beauty technology — the physical barrier of the sheet allows ingredients to penetrate skin deeper and prevents evaporation, so that every ingredient is actually going deep into the skin. This technology far outshines the benefits that typical paste-like masks or topical moisturizers and serums have.
But sheet masks are not all made equal. Many contain useless ingredients because people are willing to buy into the trend without doing the research, and since they’re a newer trend, people don’t always know the correct way to use them. Here’s your guide to making sure your sheet mask is worth it.
Prep your skin correctly.
Applying a sheet mask seems pretty straight forward — open the package, unfold the mask, and apply to face. With the ease of the sheet mask, people often forget it requires preparation for optimal results. It should never be applied to a dirty face. Clean face thoroughly, and apply toner for best results before even opening the package. Do not apply any other moisturizers or serums, as these should come afterwards.
Make sure the sheet mask totally adheres to your face.
For as easy as they seem, you can’t just unfold it and slap it on your face. Place the sheet on gently, making sure the cut-outs for the eyes, nose, and mouth are matched appropriately. Then smooth down the whole mask with outward motions, trying to limit as many wrinkles as possible. The more the mask clings to skin, the more ingredients will absorb and the less air will be able to evaporate the serum.
Don’t keep them on too long.
Leaving your mask on for too long can actually reverse the effects. If it dries up too much, the dryness can suck the moisture from skin back into the dry mask. The mask should be removed when it’s still damp with the serum, so stick to only the time limit that the directions say.
And what you do after you take it off is just as important.
Do not wipe excess serum off your face and never wash your face afterwards. To get the full benefits, and to take total advantage of the concentrated ingredients, pat the residue into skin until it’s fully absorbed, and top with your typical moisturizer or cream. If there is extra serum in the packaging, apply to neck and chest for bonus benefits.
Use them consistently.
Some people in South Korea (aka the beauty capital of the world) do sheet masks twice a day. Let me repeat, there are people who have time to not only do one a day, but two a day. While that’s a pretty serious commitment, it’s important to note the consistency. Doing one sheet mask one time won’t do much for your skin, just like any other skincare treatment. It may give you a little extra hydration before a big event or help repair damaged skin after a beach vacay, but you won’t see any seriously noticeable effects from a one-time use. Using a sheet mask weekly, biweekly, daily, or whatever your schedule allows can show serious benefits in your skin.
But don’t do them too often.
Sheet masks are not typically intensive or irritating facial treatments like peels or facials, so, for the most part, they are safe to do every day for a person with normal to dry skin. But make sure the sheet mask does not contain glycolic acid, which many anti-aging ones do, because the acid is typically too strong for daily use and will cause irritation. If you’re acne-prone, limit use to once weekly max, as it can block pores and irritate acne.
Know your skin goals and use sheet masks accordingly.
- For sensitive skin, sheet masks are a good option for consistent use, because they typically have fewer preservatives than creams and moisturizers (which means less chances of irritation). They can even replace your daily moisturizer or night cream, if these cause irritation.
- For dry skin, look for ingredients like ceramides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, rice bran oil, and macadamia oil, as these all bring extreme moisture to the skin in the concentrated application.
- For dull skin or aging skin, look for ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, and licorice root extract, which all work to brighten complexion for that youthful glow.
- For acne-prone skin, look for green tea or charcoal, which soaks up excess oil in pores, or aloe, which reduces redness.
- For every skin type, look for Butylene glycol, which acts as a delivery agent, so if it’s on the list of ingredients, it allows the skin to absorb the other ingredients even better.
Don’t be fooled by the patterns and designs.
As sheet masks rose to popularity, so did the ways in which companies tried to make them appealing. Sheet masks now come in all colors, patterns, and odd formalities like the emoji masks, gold masks, animal masks, and my personal favorite, the bubble mask. But don’t be sold on them based on how they look. Many cute/funny/crazy looking sheet masks have amazing ingredients (like the bubble mask has amazing activated charcoal technology, and the animal masks contain amazing ingredients), but many are just useless. If you spend $20 to look like a *cry-face* emoji, but it has none of the beneficial ingredients discussed above, was it really worth it? It might very well be (#doitfortheInsta), but when looking for skin improvements, focus more on the ingredients list than on how the mask looks.
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