If you know anything about the internet and skincare, you might have caught wind of the sheet mask fad.
You’ve probably stumbled upon the #selfcaresunday hashtag with men and women looking like mummies or have witnessed your favorite grocery store stocking up on sheet masks.
The latest self-care craze branches from none other than Korean beauty products and these masks have gained popularity within the U.S market. But scientifically, do they actually work?
In short, it depends.
How Do Sheet Masks Work?
Let’s start off with the basics. Sheet masks use a sheet of cotton (or cellulose or fiber) that is soaked with a serum with varying nutrients. And they come in a lot of fun scents and styles too; I’ve seen charcoal sheet masks, bubble sheet masks and even Sailor Moon-inspired sheet masks. Without the need for pumping on product, rinsing and drying off your face, sheet masks come at a great advantage for busybodies like myself. Most masks require you to prep apply, and wait 10-15 minutes, and gently peel the mask off to reveal a revitalized, smooth surface.
What are the ingredients?
Because not one sheet mask is alike, each brand of a sheet mask will vary their ingredients. A lot of the ingredients are similar to the ingredients on other skincare products such as vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps create collagen, the protein your skin is made of. Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory properties to help fight acne and eczema. They also include hydraulic acid, an essential in anti-aging and retaining skin moisture, according to Theprettypimple.com.
Will sheet masks work for me?
The answer to this is not so simple. Sure, sheet masks on the outside have great potential to correct and pamper the skin, but it really depends on what you are trying to gain from the sheet mask versus what the sheet mask markets. One of the reasons I believe sheet masks got so popular is because not only are they convenient, but they’re fun! YouTube bubble sheet mask if you don’t believe me.
But fun doesn’t always mean effective. There can be a lot of interesting, exotic ingredients on a sheet mask (like mango or kiwi), but that doesn’t mean your skin is going to absorb all of it. Our skin is our largest organ and the barrier between us and the outside world. It’s going to be very selective of what it allows in.
That’s why it’s safe to say to look at the active ingredients of a sheet mask. Most of the time, these ingredients will be the ones most likely to be absorbed into the skin. Then, you can look up the ingredients, see what they do and compare that information to what you’re looking for in a mask. In short, before falling for the “skin-tightening” “pimple-popping” gimmicks, read the ingredients first.
What to look for when buying sheet masks
When you’re buying any skincare product, you want to make sure you’re getting something that fits your skin type.
You also want to look out for harmful ingredients. Petrolatum/petroleum is a common ingredient in beauty products with the ability to clog pores. You should also keep a watchful eye for phthalates since they work as hormone disruptors (which can lead to tumors, birth defects, and even lower sperm count, according to EWG.org). Phthalates often hide under the term “fragrance” so when choosing a sheet mask, make sure you are looking for one that is either unscented or uses essential oils (even more nutrients) to naturally make your face feel and smell like love.
And lastly, when buying a sheet mask, don’t give into any mask that promises to replace your entire skincare regime. Truth is, sheet masks can help as a pick me up, but they should in no ways replace an actual cleansing/toning/moisturizing skincare routine.