If you live in Asia or follow Korean skincare, this will be old news to you, so bear with us: sheet masks are great. Even if your beauty routine is decidedly western, you've probably come across a silly Facebook photo of a friend wearing one or a brightly colored display of all the new sheet masks suddenly available at Sephora. At this point, you might even be curious.
Not only has the K-beauty explosion in American brought with it access to all kinds of Korean beauty brands that average American shoppers would otherwise never learn about, but it's also forced western brands to get on board with some of the technical innovations that have been common in Asia for years. One of those things, as you might have gathered, is sheet masks.
Essentially, sheet masks are a layer of material (which can by anything from thin cotton to gel, and different materials have different pros and cons) soaked in a serum or essence that is packed with high-impact skincare ingredients. Moisturizing, brightening, soothing and firming are the most common goals of the masks, and the sheet helps ensure that the targeted ingredients absorb into your skin instead of evaporating off the surface. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes; any longer and the dry sheet tries to suck the moisture back out of your skin.
Personally, I like to do a moisturizing or soothing sheet mask right after I do a regular mask meant for deep-cleaning or exfoliating; it primes your skin to get the most out of the mask's giant dose of serum. Below, I've assembled a group of 10 sheet masks in a wide range of prices, in case you're looking for a place to start.
TONYMOLY I'm Real Tea Tree Soothing Face Mask 2-Pack
$7.50 via Sephora
TONYMOLY's I'm Real mask series is a popular place for Americans to start their exploration of K-beauty, and it's not hard to see why: the masks are inexpensive, relatively easy to find and very effective for the money. They come in a bunch of different formulas, but this tea tree version is my favorite; I think it would be great for a whole range of skin types.
Caolion Pore Care Hydrating Mask
$6 via Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters has a surprisingly good selection of affordable Korean skincare products for a store not known for its beauty selection. I've used this one before; it fits well and delivers the promised hydration.
Dermal Korea Full Face Sheet Mask Combo Pack
$11.86 via Amazon
Amazon is a great source of K-beauty products that can be difficult to find at US retailers, and you can often find large combo packs of popular masks for crazy-good prices.
Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Hydrating Sheet Masks
$7.50 via Sephora
Dr. Jart is a Korean brand that's found big success in the US with its popular BB creams, but the brand also makes a whole host of sheet masks that are widely beloved. Now that sheet masks are catching on, Americans retailers have started stocking those, too.
Farmacy Deep Moisture Hydrating Coconut Gel Mask 3-Pack
$24 via Sephora
Farmacy is a relatively new, New York-based company, and its gel masks are my absolute favorites. You peel away two layers during application, which leaves you with a super-thin, pliable sheet of gel on your face that adheres better than other sheet masks I've tried. Not only that, but the ingredients are also super effective.
Kocostar Brightening Face Mask
$8 via Urban Outfitters
I'm curious about this mask because the sheet and serum come packaged separately and you combine them at home; in all the ones I've used, the sheets come pre-soaked.
La Mer Hydrating Facial Mask 6-Pack
$250 via Net-a-Porter
Can't go wrong with La Mer, right?
Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Sheet Mask 4-Pack
$63 via Sephora
This mask comes with separate sheets for the top and bottom of your face, which means it can also be used to spot-treat problem areas if you don't want to use the full thing.
Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Brightening Mask 10-Pack
$130 via Nordstrom
Each of these masks is individually fermented in white ginseng for two weeks, which is like the beauty product equivalent of a hand-beaded gown.
TONYMOLY Snail Hydrogel Sheet Mask
$9 via Sephora
Just another example of Asian beauty innovation: snail mucin extract is very effective at repairing skin damage, which has made it a hugely popular skincare ingredient.
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