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How they work and why you should use them

Compared to face masks, which have supposedly been around since Cleopatra’s day, sheet masks are a relative newcomer to the skin-care industry. But how do they actually work, and are they better for your skin than just regular face masks or moisturizers?

What is a sheet mask?

Sheet masks are face-shaped (sort of) sheet fabrics soaked in a nutrition-packed solution called the serum. The sheet can be made up of a variety of materials including papers, fibers or gels. They are different from facial masks (the paste on and let dry type) in that you only need to apply the sheet, wait 15-20 min, take it off and pat in the serum left on your face instead of washing it off and finishing with other skincare products. Sheet masks are single use, and individually packaged, making them fast, convenient, and easy to use.  

Who invented the sheet mask?

Sheet masks originated from Japan and South Korea, both countries known for their dedication to cosmetics and skin care. Sheet masks are a fairly recent product gaining popularity in the US. One recent study showed the sale of masks has increased by about 60%, overwhelming other categories in the skincare business.  

How does it work?

Sheet masks work as an occlusive — a physical barrier that seals your skin with a mixture of good-for-it ingredients. The sheet is fully soaked with concentrated serum, which consists of many beneficial ingredients to the skin such as hyaluronic acid and vitamins. The physical mask prevents the evaporation of beneficial ingredients and maximizes the treatment. Think of a sheet mask as saturating your skin in a temporary but effective moisturizing sleeping bag of skin care, where good stuff gets in but nothing gets out.

What are the benefits?

Basically, sheet masks are like a spa session or facial in a convenient, easy to apply, at home treatment. Because the serum is filled with various vitamins and minerals, it won’t dry out your skin compared to the paste-type face mask. The sheet on your face helps the serum to soak in your skin a little longer. Some sheet masks can brighten and firm your skin, smoothing out the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

How exactly do I use it?

Applying a sheet mask seems pretty straight forward — open the package, unfold the mask, and apply to face.  But first, prep your skin correctly. 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.  Apply it on a clean face, leave for 20-30 minutes, take it off and enjoy! You can apply it as often as you want throughout the day or week. When you are busy and barely have time to rest, sheet masks are great because you can use them even when you’re cleaning, cooking, reading or watching TV. The good thing is that, you don’t have to bother washing it off after applying!

The sheets are one-size-fits-all, but since every face is not the same size or shape, it’s best to start from the forehead and pat it softly as you come down to your face while lining up the holes for your eyes, nose, and mouth. You can use sheet masks as often as you like, but many beauty experts recommend using it three times a week or once a day for extra care.

What you do after you take it off is just as important. Do not wipe the 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.

What are the sheets made of?

Diverse types of fabric are used for the sheet masks. Four most commonly used materials are:

  • Non-woven fiber – these are inexpensive, difficult to smooth out on the face and have a low capacity to deliver serum into the skin 
  • Cotton – also inexpensive and tough to smooth out with a low capacity to deliver serum into the skin but are better than the non-woven fiber.
  • Hydrogel – these are a bit pricey but have a great absorption system, gel-type consistency, with two separate parts (top and bottom) to apply on face for a better fit.
  • Bio-cellulose – the most expensive, all-natural material that adheres to the skin well, with better absorption properties and the best comfortable mobility.

What kind of Ingredients are in the serum?

Depending on what function the sheet masks want to perform, the serum contains various ingredients that are commonly used, such as aloe vera, and vitamin c, to more unusual ones such as pearl, seaweed, and black truffle extract, and collagen.

Does having your skin look radiant, plumper, more bouncy, brightened, luminous, more hydrated in 10 to 12 minutes sound good to you? Then sheet masks are for you. Simply put, sheet masks can be an effective form of beauty sleep. They’re great because they allow the skin to rest while being saturated in hydrating, brightening, or anti-aging ingredients. They can give an extra boost to your current skin routine when you need it the most – like traveling on an airplane or after a day at the beach. Using a sheet mask weekly, biweekly, daily, or whatever your schedule and budget allow can show real benefits in your skin.

What are your thoughts on sheet masks?  Have you tried them or are they already a part of your skincare routine?  Let us know your experiences. Comment and share below.

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