Out of all skincare products, perhaps the face mask is one of the most hallmark. We’re all familiar with the concept of a white or grayish cream slathered on a woman’s face, cucumbers decorating her eyes. This is the traditional notion of the face mask, and probably the most widely recognized today. But a new kind of face mask is quickly growing popular, particularly in Asian countries. This innovation is called a sheet mask.
What makes a sheet mask so different?
To answer this question, we must first examine the other kinds of face masks available.
The first kind of mask is called a clay mask, and is designed mainly for purifying or deep-cleansing purposes. These masks usually come in a jar or a tube and are spread out onto the face with your fingers. Clay masks generally tend to dry to a plaster-type finish, and it is this property that allows clay masks to draw out impurities such as oil or blackheads. Some cons of the clay mask include the messiness factor (since it must make contact with your fingers) and the convenience factor (it must be washed off).
The second type of mask is the cream or gel mask. These masks have the most variety as they can range from thickly or thinly textured, to wash-off or peel-off. Cream/gel masks are mainly used for moisturizing purposes and usually must be left on for longer periods of time. While some of these masks can be simply peeled off, others, like the clay mask, must be washed off. Cream/gel masks come in jars, tubes, or one-time use ampoules.
Finally, we have the sheet mask. The sheet mask is becoming highly popular in Asian countries because of its ease of use and wide choice of functions. This kind of face mask is a thin, soft piece of cloth soaked in “essence” or serum that can contain a variety of different skin nutrients and treatments. Since the mask is pre-cut to fit the face, application only requires the user to place it on her face and then let it sit for the specified amount of time. As each mask is individually packed in a foil sachet, sheet masks are highly ideal for travel or generally being on the go.
What makes a sheet mask so good?
The secret behind sheet masks lies in the fact that they are physically sheets. The saturated cloth lies directly on the skin, which allows for the most nutrient absorption from the mask’s essence. Another reason why sheet masks are so popular is because the gel-like serum that most masks are soaked in is cooling and feels good on the face. And since the masks are pre-soaked, there is no worry of over- or under-applying skin product on the face. This also has hygienic benefits as this prevents your fingers from touching your face as much as possible. And because it is a one-time use sheet, the mask can simply be thrown away after use. Most masks are saturated in essences that will simply “sink” into the skin, so there’s no additional face washing needed after letting them sit, which is ideal for a quick pampering.
The versatility of sheet masks has made them highly popular in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. While for the most part, sheet masks contain some sort of hydrating ingredient, the packaging and application of the mask allows almost any kind of skin nourishment to be included in the ingredients. My Beauty Diary, a Taiwanese brand of sheet masks, is known for their extensive line of masks with their own specific functions such as whitening, calming, hydrating, anti-aging, cooling, etc.
While sheet masks seem to only be prominent in the Asian markets as of now, several Western companies are catching on to the sheet mask trend. Some examples include Garnier Fructis’ Whitening Infusion Tissue Mask and Nutrogena’s Hydra-Boost Sheet Mask.
Sheet masks are widely available in Asian supermarkets and online stores such as efacialmasks.com, sasa.com, yesstyle.com, and prettyandcute.com. A box of 10-12 pairs ranges from $10-$20 USD. Popular brands include Kose, Kanebo, CL—Japanese, My Beauty Diary, My Scheming, Simply—Taiwanese, and Skin Food, VOV Daily Fresh, and Missha—Korean.