This post is all about Sheet Face Masks and discusses what they are, their origin, their benefits to over 50 skin, and how to use them.
Some say that our lives in the present are the result of micro decisions we make every day all along the way. As I reflect back on my own skin and beauty life, I realize how grateful I am for my “exploration detour” into South Korean skincare some years ago. Without that “micro decision” I wouldn’t be here sharing potentially beauty-changing information about sheet face masks.
While I began writing this post with the intent simply to extol the virtues of a particular brand of Korean sheet mask (Sweet Chef), I realized that many Beauty Maestra readers may not fully appreciate this type of product. And it’s understandable.
Here in the U.S., the beauty industry markets the masks predominantly to a younger demographic. Perhaps they conjure up images of frivolity with teenagers at slumber parties having fun with sheet masks like this:
However, from my vantage point, it is serious skincare with an ideal form and method of transport to improve over 50 skin.
IMHO (In my humble opinion), not only can the sheet face mask improve skin, but it is a great East influences West and permanently changes the West type of story.
My modest goal with this post is to arm you with enough information to pique your interest to try or even retry them.
South Korean Skincare
To start this story, let’s begin with a brief overview of the culture from which the masks became commercially accessible.
The South Korean approach to skincare emphasizes a “skin-first” mentality. Korean skincare goals mean achieving better and great skin thus eliminating the need to cover it up with makeup. The Sheet Face Mask is a perfect vehicle to help with that.
Additionally, the Korean approach reveres nature and believes in its power and efficacy for its skincare. In fact, the very geography of South Korea is replete with singular natural and marine life (from the Sea of Japan) that makes its skincare very unique.
One could very well say that the “clean makeup” trend would not exist in such force today if not for the products and influence of South Korea.
Furthermore, the gentle yet effective action of these types of ingredients is very beneficial for typically thinner and sensitive over 50 skin.
Fact #1: What is a Sheet Face Mask
There are a couple of general types of face masks.
So there is no confusion, let’s define the difference between a Beauty Face Mask and a (Korean) Sheet Face Mask.
Beauty Face Mask
Beauty Face Masks are predominantly a US/European invention and might be what most of us are more familiar with. They look like this:
They are paste-type substances packaged in a jar or tube and then spread on the face, dried over a period of time, and washed or peeled off. The results are pores decongested, acne forgotten, and face smooth and rehydrated.
Korean Face Sheet Mask
In contrast, the Face Sheet Mask consists of an actual physical sheet. It is placed on one’s face for a period of time, and it looks like this:
These physical sheets are constructed from a variety of materials. Each includes different fibers, kinds of cotton, cellulose, and other natural materials such as seaweed, coconut pulp and more.
They come packaged folded and completely soaked with various wet “active” ingredients that include essences (a cross between a toner and a serum), serums, oils, etc. Active ingredients are by definition those that make a skincare product effective at what it is supposed to do.
The combination of these active ingredients as well as in some cases the very material from the sheet itself contributes to its efficacy and ability to target different skin issues.
Fact #2: History of Sheet Face Masks
Lore has it that Japan and specifically the Geisha invented the sheet mask many years ago. The Geisha would tear off strips of cloth from their old kimonos and then soak them in some kind of flower water or essence. They then placed them on their face to beautify their skin.
Fast forward to more recent years, South Korea took the Geisha’s rudimentary idea and commercialized it adding a multitude more essences, natural active ingredients, and sheet materials. If you don’t already know, South Korea now offers a dizzying array of sheet mask options that are also now sold in the U.S.
Fact #3: Benefits of Sheet Face Masks
Sheet masks are additive to a good skincare routine and are akin to a faster at-home version of a facial. They contain strong “serums on steroids” (active ingredients) that sit on the skin with the physical mask for about 15-30 minutes. Depending on the ingredients, this results in a very potent boost to regular skincare. In the short term, it surpasses what a skincare routine alone can achieve in a given day or in the very short term.
To clarify, this means that first, sheet face masks will not ever take the place of good skincare although good skincare will improve the results of the mask. Second, they will not replace of any of the steps in a solid daily routine.
Given the 15-30 minute timeframe, they aren’t convenient or necessary for daily use but rather once or twice a week or even before a special occasion or after a skin-drying night out. Results will last for 2-3 days on average.
The sheet mask is always intended for targeted results and specific skin problems. Here are the most common that sheet masks address:
- Anti-Aging (fine lines/wrinkles/firming)
- Acne Control
The best results that I have seen over the years are in hydration and brightening. While many of the sheet masks are marketed as anti-aging, the anti-aging results are truly due to the ingredients that cause intense hydration and/or a brightening effect.
Acne Control including hyperpigmentation is a much trickier skin issue. The sheet face mask would not be the skin remedy I would reach for first.
Here is a general list of some of the active ingredients in many sheet masks by skin concern:
*I discuss AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) in more detail in this post on Exfoliation
Fact #4: Downside of Sheet Face Masks
The 3 biggest criticisms about these products concern the messiness of a wet physical mask, the feel of the masks and finding the time to add in 15–30-minute for a mask.
Fact #5: How to Use Sheet Masks
Ideally, the skincare steps including the mask are:
- Toning (optional)
Take the mask out of the package, unfold and really press it onto the skin.
The mask should be kept on the face for the period of time stipulated in the directions. Once removed, there will be excess liquid/serum/essence on the face. Pat the excess liquid into your skin and on your neck and decolletage. Follow with moisturizer and the remainder of your skincare steps.
EXPERT TIP: *While most masks are made for single use, depending on the mask, how damp it still is after using it, and how much liquid is still in the package, you may well be able to get another use (or two) out of it. Just store it in the package it came in and use it within the next 5 days or so.
Fact #6: A Few Best Sheet Face Masks
There are many brands on the market in fact, so many that it can become overwhelming to know which ones are good. Here are a few pointers:
- Most get the job done well enough,
- None (that I know of) are worth a $15+ expenditure (even those that come from luxury brands),
- You will run into a few “better than most”; they aren’t necessarily the most expensive,
- The ingredients in the mask matter and typically dictate its efficacy
I am hoping that my short list of South Korean brands and products will set you on your way.
Sweet Chef is why I started this post. They are a brand that focuses on giving the skin a healthy glow through vegetable extracts.
I found their masks a few years back at Target (somewhere I don’t normally shop for skincare) and at $3.59 per mask, thought I would give it a whirl. The Ginger/Vitamin C and the Celery/Hyalauronic Acid masks are fantastic.
Out here in the Bay Area, they are often and understandably sold out at Target. They also sell from their Sweet Chef website. Links are below.
Click above to buy from Target – $3.59
Other buying options include Sweet Chef
Whamisa Fresh Algae Skin Soothing & Radiance Kelp Mask
This is a very unique mask. The physical mask itself comes in 2 parts: one for the top half of the face and the other for the bottom half. It is made of actual sea kelp (really). Some of the essence ingredients are unique to this mask. They include Laminaria Japonica (Sea Kelp) for hydration (said to be more effective than Hyaluronic Acid) and Ecklonia Stolonifera (Brown Algae from the Sea of Japan) for UV protection. There is also Licorice which is highly effective for skin brightening.
I can attest to skin dewiness, hydration and smoothing skin texture.
To be warned, know that it does smell like the ocean and the texture of the sea kelp mask might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it is extremely effective and is one of South Korea’s Best Masks for 2022.
Click above to buy from Whamisa – $8.00
Dr. Jart Vital Hydra Solution
I have written about the South Korean Dr. Jart brand before and have even devoted almost a whole post on their Cicapair Tiger Grass Treatment product. With some of the amazing products they have, this top contender is not a surprise.
This mask derives its active ingredients from plant glucose called Aquaxyl which strengthens the skin barrier and optimizes skin hydration flow. They say that it boosts the production of Hyaluronic Acid from the skin itself and the result is great hydration. It really is nature and science coming together.
Dr. Jart offers a whole line of sheet face masks worth checking out.
Click above to buy from Sephora– $7.00
Some Final Thoughts on Sheet Face Masks
This post is all about Korean Sheet Face Masks and discusses what they are, their origin, their benefits to over 50 skin, and how to use them.
I hope that I have encouraged your own micro decision to take a beauty detour into the world of South Korea and sheet face masks. You may be surprised at what you find!