Ah, the incredible world of Korean masks! A great supplementary step to make your skin care routine even more effective and pampering. Sheet masks, wash-off masks, sleeping masks…a fantastic way to relax and let great active ingredients penetrate better into your skin! Curious to know more? Keep reading our story : )
The craze around k-beauty in the West started with masks -sheet masks, to be more precise.
When I landed in Seoul the first time in my life, five years ago, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of skin care products on the market, but everything was so new to me and so mysterious that I really had no idea where to start from. I wanted to try everything, but I was so confused by the many weird steps, so I asked my Korean friends: “Where should I start from?”. The answer was easy and direct: “Go with a mask”.
So I bought the first set of sheet masks from a local Innisfree shop (a great brand that focuses on products made in Jeju, a volcanic island famous for being listed as one the New 7 Wonders of Nature), got home, cleansed my face and put on one of these heaven-soaked sheets for the first time in my life. My love for k-beauty started that day.
And that was just the beginning. Little did I know at that time that sheets masks were just the top of this amazing iceberg that korean beauty is! But now that everything is a lot more clear, I want to go back and examine in depth this essential step of the skin care routine, in order to break down for you the types of masks available on the market and the most appropriate time to use them.
I hope you’ll enjoy this post! What about putting up a relaxing sheet mask on before we start?
The enchanted reign of Korean masks
First important thing to know: masks come in different types. Of course I’m talking about different types of fabrics that sheet masks are made with; but I’m also talking about masks that are not made in fabric (surprise surprise!). To sum it up, masks can be divided into:
- Sheet Masks
- Wash-Off Masks
- Sleeping Masks
They are designed to be used in different steps of your routine, using different methods of application, for enhanced results. In this post I’ll talk extensively about sheet masks; the other two types will be the subject of two new posts that will be coming soon!
So, what is a sheet mask? It’s basically your essence/serum/ampoule step in the shape of a fiber mask saturated in the same skin-loving active ingredients that we’ve already analyzed in our previous post (if you missed it, click here to read about our favorite ingredients in skin care treatments). They’re prepared with exactly the right amount of product that your skin needs and your face can do nothing but soak up the goodness while it’s resting under the fabric. Amazing huh?
When and How to use it
The correct time to use a sheet mask would be after cleansing and toning -and this is what you will read on almost all the labels of these products. And, as you can easily understand, after your mask you can easily skip the treatment part (because you already had it) and go straight to moisturizing. Some sheet masks are so hydrating that you won’t feel the need to use a cream afterwards, but remember what we said about moisturizers? Their main job is to seal all the hydration into our skin, otherwise we might lose it with time. So my advice is to always use a cream, even just a light one with few occlusive elements to trap in the rich ingredients our skin just absorbed.
Sheet masks are designed to be used once or twice a week, or just anytime your skin feels dry or you think you need to give it that extra boost it deserves. If you want to use a mask everyday, there is no side effect really against that. Actually, many Korean girls swear they use one every night and that helps keeping their skin bright and glowing. Personally, I don’t have time to put a mask on everyday, but I’d love to ^^
The important thing, when wearing a mask, is to always observe the time indicated on the label (which usually is about 15-20 minutes). Keeping the mask on for a longer period is not a smart thing to do, for a very simple reason: when the fiber starts drying out, it actually absorbs the water from within our skin, so it could lead to de-hydration -which is not the reason why we applied the mask on, is it?
After you remove your sheet mask, you will be left with some essence on your skin that has not been completely absorbed: don’t wash it off! Use your fingers to gently massage and tap in all the good stuff that is left. It’s too rich in active ingredients to waste it! You might as well use it on your neck, or your elbows or any other dry patch that you might have. It’s really effective -try to believe!
Advantages of sheet masks
Because of their single use format and the fact that they are packaged so thinly, they take up virtually no room at all, so you can tuck one away in your bag very easily and that makes them your perfect travel companion!
In fact, sheet masks are great for a quick facial when you’re home dozing off in your pajama, but they also come in handy when you’re flying, especially during long-haul flights, when your skin gets de-hydrated by many hours of killing air conditioning: take a mask out of its pouch, place it on your face and relax while you cross the planet -so 21st century ; )
Types of sheet masks
Another important thing to know: sheet masks are produced using a variety of fabric types. The most common ones are:
- Fiber (non-woven): fiber masks feature a non-woven fabric; they have a coarse texture that feels and behaves like paper. Fiber masks are very inexpensive and have some capacity to replenish moisture to your skin. They evaporate very quickly, however, and their paper-like texture lacks the “contouring” to remain in place for very long. If you use a low-end fiber mask, you will need to lie down to keep it from falling off -or you can use a silicone mask especially designed to keep your mask in place! Koreans always have a solution for everything ; )
- Pulp: pulp masks have a finer texture than fiber masks, but the limitations of the two mask types are similar. The fit of a pulp mask will be a bit uneven, with gaps noticeable between the mask and your skin (adhesion loss). As with a fiber mask, the serum in a pulp mask will evaporate fairly quickly.
- Hydro-Gel: hydro-gel masks offer better performance than low-end fiber and pulp masks. They are typically produced as a “mask system”, with top and bottom halves that are applied separately. Their product name is derived from the production process that blends cosmetic serums with gelatin, which gives the mask the feel of a cool, thin film layer. Hydro-gel masks require careful handling; the fabric is rather thin and prone to tearing.
- Bio Cellulose: skin care experts and biochemists consider masks woven from bio cellulose – an all natural fiber – to be the gold standard for hydrating and treating skin. Bio cellulose mask fabrics provide skin-tight dermal adhesion, allowing them to transfer cosmetic ingredients very efficiently. The texture of a bio cellulose mask feels like a cool, moist gel but its underlying structure is incredibly strong and resilient. Bio cellulose masks do not dry out during application: they lock the essence into the skin and it doesn’t get re-absorbed back into the sheet.
Apart from their fabric, there are literally hundreds of types of sheet masks being produced in Korea. The market is over-saturated, so Korean cosmetic companies invest more than any other country in R&D, trying to bring new concepts and ideas. That’s how the latest trends have started: 2 (or 3 or 4) steps masks, injection masks, gold foil masks and so on -just to mention a few.
If you want to see some of these babies in action, check out the video below! It contains a selection of sheet masks that I’ve been testing for you -see how it turned out! And get ready to see fun-tastic products that only Korean evil masterminds could think of ; )
The products featured are:
Check out my YouTube video!
I hope you liked this post! Don’t forget to share your comments in the comment section below and stay tuned for more posts coming out soon!