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While sheet masks have been a staple of the Asian beauty scene for several years, particularly in South Korea, they are fairly new to the North American beauty market. But wow, have they taken the western beauty world by storm! They’ve even created a new phenomenon – the sheet-mask-wearing selfie.
It’s not surprising that these easy-to-use facial beautifiers caught on so quickly; after all, who doesn’t want healthy, glowing skin? Sheet masks promise to deliver not just those results but a huge range of other benefits as well, depending on the mask’s specific ingredients. And that’s where it can get a bit confusing.
With so many sheet masks on the market, how do you know which is best for your particular beauty concerns?
At BestReviews, we’re here to help! We’re dedicated to helping you find the products that suit you, whatever they might be.
We understand that you’re busy, so we’ve done the groundwork for you. We studied the market, spoke with our expert consultant Renee, and gathered feedback from consumers who have already tried various sheet masks.
As a result, we’re ready to provide you with our unbiased sheet mask recommendations.
Check out the five products in our matrix above if you’re ready to buy a sheet mask.
And if you’d like to learn more about choosing and using sheet masks in general, including which ingredients are best for various skin concerns, read on.
We’ll help you make sense of these effective beauty boosters!
Renee is a Master Esthetician with 2 decades of hands-on experience producing ingredient-specific facials. During that time, Renee also owned and operated her own skin care spa, focusing on the importance of positive results. Renee helped launch the Anastasia Brow Bar at Nordstrom, along with opening her second business, Treatwell Spa. She holds licenses in Master Esthetics Instructing and Cosmetology (Virginia, Texas); Renee hopes to share her knowledge of the field as an educator and a specialist while still providing services to the greater Washington DC area.
You’re probably familiar with clay-based facial masks. You smooth a thick paste onto your skin, allow the clay to dry, then wash or scrub it away. Sheet masks, by contrast, are much easier to apply and remove.
Sheet masks typically come wrapped in individual foil or plastic. The mask is an oval piece of paper, fabric, or gel with cutouts for the eyes, nose, and mouth. The mask is drenched in “essence,” which is basically a serum with various ingredients to treat different complexion issues.
To apply a sheet mask, simply open the pouch, spread the mask over your face, and relax for 10 to 20 minutes. Toss the mask when you’re finished, and rub in any remaining serum. Voila! Your skin looks healthy and moisturized.
Since sheet masks are sealed, their active ingredients remain fresh and viable for a long time. As you use product from jars and bottles, however, you are exposing the product to air and the risk of contamination.
Sheet masks are not miracle workers, but if you choose the right type of mask for your particular needs, they can certainly help boost your skin’s appearance and health.
But with hundreds of masks on the market, all claiming their formula is the best, how do you know which to choose?
Although there are too many formulas to cover them all here, but certain beneficial ingredients are common to many different sheet masks.
Below are some typical use cases for some of the most common ingredients found in sheet masks.
One thing that catches many new sheet mask users by surprise is that some masks have a protective layer that needs to be removed before applying the mask. Sometimes the layers are a bit difficult to remove, so be careful not to tear the sheet mask.
Dry skin that is in need of moisture can benefit from a sheet mask containing hyaluronic acid, honey, coconut water, algae, amino acids, and snail slime. Choose a sheet mask with any or all of these ingredients to plump up fine lines, reduce dullness and dry patches, and restore your healthy glow.
Skin with fine lines can benefit from a mask that includes collagen or retinol in its formula.
Skin with dark spots can benefit from a mask containing vitamin C, niacinamide, licorice, and pearl extract.
Irritated, red skin can calm down a bit with a sheet mask containing aloe vera, green tea extract, chamomile, and allantoin.
Acne-prone skin can benefit from a sheet mask with salicylic acid, tea tree oil, clay, or charcoal.
Skin with clogged pores can benefit from a sheet mask with fruit enzymes, willow extract, charcoal, seaweed, or lavender.
Sheet masks are generally less wasteful and more cost-effective than bottled or jarred serums because the “dosage” is pre-measured. People often use too much of a bottled product, thinking that more product will have a stronger effect.
While it’s the serum that really benefits your skin, the material that the sheet mask itself is made of also plays a part in the beauty product’s performance. There are several sheet mask materials on the market, but these are some of the most common.
Inexpensive and non-irritating, cotton holds a lot of serum but tends to dry out quickly.
A natural material that adheres very well to your skin, biocellulose makes it easy for the serum to work its magic. Biocellulose doesn’t dry out and is strong enough to resist rips during use.
Because the sheet mask stops at the jawline, the neck and top of chest are not going to receive the same treatment. Don’t forget to pamper these areas separately.
A synthetic material that excels at retaining moisture, hydrogel feels good against your skin and keeps the serum from drying or dripping. These masks need to be handled carefully because hydrogel tears easily.
These inexpensive masks feel papery against your skin. They don’t contour or hold tightly to your face, meaning you’ll need to lie down while you apply the mask. Fiber sheet masks dry out quickly and are prone to wrinkling.
Don’t waste any of your sheet mask’s serum; use the residual product in the package on the backs of your hands or any other areas that could benefit from the treatment ingredients.
Sheet masks are easy to use; that’s part of their appeal. But you can boost the positive effects by following these tips.
Wash your face first
Always apply your sheet mask to freshly washed skin. Other than a light toner to remove makeup residue, don’t apply other treatments or moisturizers before using your sheet mask.
Wash your hands, too
Do this before opening and applying the mask.
Don’t let the hype on the box be your number-one reason for choosing a particular mask. Instead, read the ingredient list carefully, and choose a mask that suits your complexion’s needs.
Carefully apply the mask
The closer the mask adheres to your skin, the better the essence will penetrate it.
Keep the mask in place
Some sheet masks adhere to your skin well enough that you can walk around with the mask in place. Others fall off with too much movement. Tailor your activity level to how well your mask stays in place.
Leave the mask on for up to 20 minutes
Any longer than that, and the mask will start to dry out.
The two most common mistakes newcomers to sheet masks make are choosing the wrong mask for their skin type and going beyond the recommended leave-on time.
Rinse or rub your face
After removing the sheet mask, you can rinse your face if desired, but it’s recommended to just rub in any residue and let your complexion dry naturally.
If desired, apply your preferred facial moisturizer or sunscreen after using your sheet mask.
Q. Are sheet masks safe for sensitive skin?
A. Look for a mask specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Gentle ingredients without any additional fragrances or colors are best for skin that is prone to reaction. If you have a medical skin condition, however, such as active rosacea, check with your doctor before applying a mask.
Q. How often can I use a sheet mask?
A. As long as your skin is responding to it well, you can use a sheet mask every day if you’d like. However, most people find success using a sheet mask one to three times per week.
Q. Can I reuse a sheet mask?
A. Sheet masks are one-use-only beauty products. After 20 minutes or so, the mask starts to dry out, so you won’t gain any benefits from reusing it.
Q. How much do sheet masks cost?
A. There is a large price range for sheet masks. You could buy a box of inexpensive masks for less than $10, or you could spend $50+ for a luxury sheet mask brand. The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. You’ll find a huge selection of sheet masks with quality ingredients in the $10- to $20-per-box range.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.
Anti-Aging and Moisturizing Organic Sheet Masks, 6 pack
Luxuriously pampering, these sheet masks restore moisture and bring back a youthful glow to your skin. The organic ingredients, lack of any potentially harmful additives, and effectiveness in improving skin tone make this our best buy.
Premium Korean Essence Facial Masks, 72 pack
72 masks – 6 each of 12 different formulations – keep your skin silky smooth and healthy. No mineral oil, parabens, silicone or artificial colors. The great price for such a large selection of quality facial masks makes this the best bang for your buck.