I have a confession to make: I’ve never had much use for sheet masks. I’ve always kept a bunch at hand for a quick pick-me-up on bad skin days. You know, those days when, no matter what you do, your skin won’t cooperate (by the way, why do they always happen before a first date or a friend’s wedding?!). In just a few minutes your dull, rough skin transforms into a selfie-worthy glowing complexion.
But, use sheet masks as part of my daily regimen? I thought that was crazy—until K-beauty put them firmly back on the skincare map. Legend has it, sheet masks are the secret behind Korean women’s flawless and dewy skin. Every night, they put up with that serial killer-esque vibe so they can wake up with the perfect skin we all envy.
I thought, maybe there is something to it? And right then and there, my skin started to act up. I noticed some flakiness around the eyes and its natural glow had disappeared. That sealed the deal. I was giving this daily sheet mask thing a go for a week. Here’s what happened:
My 7-Day Sheet Mask Experiment
The experiment was simple: every single day for a week, I’d use a sheet mask as part of my night-time routine. I’d cleanse my skin as usual, apply an anti-aging serum, pop the mask on and, once the 15 minutes were up, seal the hydrating essence still left on my skin in with a rich moisturizer. I also had fun picking the masks: I used a mix of hydrating, brightening and anti-aging sheet masks from different Korean brands—I’d get to try lots of different products without influencing the results!
Hydration is the foundation of Korean skincare. Of course, I had to start here! The Koreans are onto something because when skin is well-hydrated, it looks healthy: your face plumps up, your wrinkles look smaller and your whole complexion glows. I was a bit scared the alcohol in it would irritate my flaky patches (they were so sensitive, even applying moisturizer hurt. Ouch!), but I shouldn’t have. With a sigh of relief, I realized it felt comfortable and refreshing on. Fifteen minutes later, those flaky patches didn’t look so bad and my skin was a lot softer, too.
Don’t get too excited: collagen in sheet masks can’t replace the natural collagen your skin loses with age. But, it moisturizes skin well, which is just what my skin needed at the time. Etude House Collagen Moistfull Sheet Mask is soaked in essence. By the time I took it off, there was still quite a bit left on my skin. I simply pat it in and looked in the mirror. The flaky patches were definitely healing faster and its glow was slowly coming back. Progress!
You can’t do a 7-days Korean sheet mask challenge without sneaking snail in there! Snail slime is a skincare hero in Korea: it’s super moisturizing, fights wrinkles and gets rid of blemishes. And nope, it doesn’t feel slimy! I picked It’s Skin Prestige Masque D’Escargot—it’s definitely one of the most luxurious I’ve ever tried. But the results were well-worth it. My skin was soft as a baby’s and the flaking patches completely disappeared. And the glow!
My natural glow was finally coming back and I was determined to give it a helping hand. Skinfood Marine Food Gel Sheet Mask Pearl contains pearl powder, a common brightening ingredient in South Korea. Pearls are loaded with vitamin and amino acids that give skin a brighter look. This sheet mask didn’t disappoint. It made my skin softer and definitely pumped up the glow a notch or two.
Now my skin is back to top notch health, it’s time to up the anti-aging game. I chose Innisfree It’s A Real Squeeze Green Tea sheet mask because green tea is an anti-aging powerhouse. It’s chock full of antioxidants that fight free radicals, soothe inflammation and can even help reduce sun damage. It takes more than 15 minutes to see these anti-aging benefits of course, but after I took off the mask, my skin already looked younger. It was so hydrated, the plumpness smoothed out my wrinkles.
I admit, Tony Moly I’m Real Seaweeds Mask Sheet Skin Purifying was my least favourite mask. I wanted to try it because seaweeds are one of the ocean’s best-kept anti-aging secrets. Packed with antioxidants and minerals, they’re able to destroy free radicals before they can form wrinkles all over your face. I still love my algae in skincare, but this mask wasn’t as moisturizing as the others. It did more of a maintenance job, helping me keep up the smooth, radiant appearance its predecessors had given me.
Is there a better way to celebrate the end of the 7-day sheet mask challenge than chocolate? Cacao is loaded with polyphenols, a group of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that reduce irritation and keep wrinkles at bay. It’s very moisturizing, too. After I used this last mask, my skin was completely transformed: the flakiness had completely vanished and showed no signs of coming back, my skin was silky soft and all plumped up and my complexion had that healthy, as lit-from-within glow. But what really surprised me was the lack of blemishes. I don’t breakout easily, but I usually get the odd pimple (especially around that time of the month). But, during the experiment, not even a tiny little one reared its ugly head!
Why Sheet Masks Work
I feel like we’re all so busy chasing any new, shining ingredient that promises to erase wrinkles from our skin for good or turn the clock back 20 years, we’ve forgotten about the basics of skincare: hydration. Think about it: your skin contains around 64% water, so it makes sense it behaves better when it’s drenched in moisture.
When your skin drinks up moisture, it plumps up. This alone is enough to make your fine lines and wrinkles look smaller and take a few years off your face. Hydrated skin also radiates that translucent dewy glow Korean women are known for. But water’s most important job is, perhaps, to help speed up blood flow so oxygen and nutrients can reach your skin cells faster than ever. No wonder your skin looks clearer and healthier!
Sheet masks are also the perfect antidote against stress (another enemy of your skin). Taking 15 minutes to relax with a sheet mask and a book at the end of a long, hectic day is just what your tired, stressed mind needs to melt all its cares and worries away. You’ll go to bed with a lighter head and a more positive attitude, which makes a huge difference in your skin the next day.
I admit that after the experiment ended, I stopped using a sheet mask every night. Now I’ve cut back to four times a week – anything less than that and the pimples show up all over my chin again. Now whenever I happen to get a stray pimple, they disappear a little bit faster when I attack them with a sheet mask!
Image via Dr. Jart instagram
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