Why I’ve Stopped Buying Sheet Masks and You Should Too

October 18, 2020

I think by now we are all very familiar with sheet masks, but for anyone who has totally missed it, let me fill you in. We’re talking about those tissue-thin masks drenched in liquid that you walk around the house wearing, scaring everyone you live with half to death. Yep, those ones.

Now for context, I have a bit of an issue with skincare masks in general. I think they are massively overused. If you’re needing to use a hydrating mask twice a week then I’m guessing that there is something missing from your daily routine because in my opinion, masks should treat circumstances, not conditions. What I mean by that is if you’ve had a massive week of travelling; jet-lag, recycled airplane air, dehydration, and as a result your skin looks worse for wear, then yeah, absolutely, get a hydrating mask on pronto. But if living your regular, no long-haul flight life leaves you reaching for a weekly mask then you really need to reassess your daily skincare routine because it’s very likely that your product lineup needs a rethink.

Garnier Sheet Masks

In particular though, I have a few issues with sheet masks, but I promise I didn’t start off this cynical. I was a big fan when the Korean skincare staple became mainstream a few years ago, I bought them quicker than I could use them. Masks drenched with Hyaluronic Acid for hydration, Vitamin C for brightening, I was very much for trying them all. But like most things that I initially get suckered into, after a while I did some more research and all was not quite as good as it seemed. Hence the reasons why I’ve quit them and why I think you should to.

First and foremost, they truly don’t do that much for your skin. Logically speaking your skin can only absorb so much, in fact, your skins primary function is to keep stuff out. Which is why most experts suggest applying multiple, light layers to your skin in order to get the best end result. Slathering on excess amounts of product, while it might feel luxurious, is really just a waste of product and time. Next up the mask itself, the idea is that wearing the sheet decreases the amount of evaporation. I’ve done a lot of reading up on this and there seems to be a split between dermatologists who agree and those who don’t. But for the most part, your moisturiser actually does the same job. Applying a thin layer of a high-quality serum to your face and then covering it with a moisturising cream (or a facial oil) seals in the beneficial ingredients of the serum without having to walk around your house for twenty minutes looking like the scary guy from the Halloween movie.

Secondly, and this is a big one, they are kind of really shit for the environment. Obviously, there are some exceptions of ethically made, recyclable versions made entirely of compostable bamboo or cotton, but the vast majority are contributing to waste like you wouldn’t believe. They usually come packaged in a plastic-foil lined pouch (not recyclable), the mask itself is often made containing plastics that make it impossible to compost or recycle and they are almost always single-use, meaning they end up in landfill after twenty minutes on your face.

And finally, they really aren’t as cheap as they seem. Take one of the cheapest big brand names on the shelf. The Garnier Hydra Bomb masks (I’m picking on them because they were my sheet masks of choice for a while) are $6 a pop. Bargain, right? Say you use a couple a month, that quickly adds up to almost $150 a year. And for that, you could invest in a couple of bottles of a really effective, high-quality hydration serum to use every single day. Not only would your skin thank you for the daily consistency, but imagine 24 less plastic masks and pouches in the ground too. Wins all around.

Mask Minis

So, what are the alternatives? And what are the exceptions?

I honestly don’t see sheet masks going anywhere anytime soon. I think they are a convenient option for post traveling and I think there will always be a place for them in makeup artists kits to give to a dehydrated bride the morning of her big day.

Having said that, the equally convenient product that I prefer is mask minis. You often find these near the checkout at beauty stores (the skincare parallel of the confectionary tempters at the supermarket) and rather than being a foil-wrapped plastic mask they tend to just be in a small plastic tub or tube that is usually recyclable, making them much more ecofriendly. Plus, they are often good for a few uses which makes them a more cost-friendly option too yet equally handy for travelling.

As I said, I’m not big on masks in general, but I do have these in my drawer for when my skin could use a little extra help, but by no means would I consider them as essentials.

Fresh Black Tea Perfecting Mask and Origins Drink Up Overnight Intensive Mask

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask:
This one is a rinse-off mask that you can wear for as little as 10 minutes but I sometimes leave it on for an hour while I’m in the bath. It is the best plumping mask I’ve found, it reduces fine lines and makes my skin feel soft and bouncy, and look that bit firmer too. Like all masks, the results are short-lived, but it would make a great pre-event mask for an extra boost before applying makeup.

Origins Drink Up Intensive:
There are a few different versions of this mask, I’ve only ever tried this one but I do love it, you can apply a thin layer of this before bed on evenings when you need a little something extra. Perfect for nights where I’ve done my routine early but then stayed up too late and want an extra layer of moisture pre-sleep. This gives a boost of hydration but doesn’t clog my pores or give me those little spots from overdoing the creams. Plus, it applies completely clear, making it the perfect option to wear while travelling without scaring the air hosts with a frightening sheet mask.

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