You may remember when our friend Danielle gave us the rundown on Korean face masks. Well since then she’s tried a whoooole bunch of ‘em, and she’s back to share her favorites with us!
There are so many masks to choose from, don’t sweat it! We recommend trying a bunch to see which you like best. Danielle always has an arsenal of masks at home and has made them a weekly routine, sometimes doing them for 3 or 4 days of the week if her skin is extra tragic. She keeps a few favorites in stock and picks up random newbies for fun. Danielle believes using sheet masks is a defining step in the Korean skin-care routine - if you do nothing else to mimic K-beauty, you would be wise to choose sheet-masks.
After three years in Korea and hundreds of sheet-masks, here are the ones Danielle swears by, in no particular order:
Dr. Jart Dermask Micro Jet Clearing Solution Mask Sheet
For “troubled” skin
Key words: break out, hyperpigmentation, acne, balancing, healthy skin
Cost: Amazon: $15.38 for a pack of 5
No parabens, sulfates, phthalates. Plus it’s hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin!
Ingredient fun facts
- Glutathione for more even skin tone, redness, overall skin health (Watanabe, Hashizume, Chan, Kamimura, 2014)
- Salicylic acid for pimples (Zander & Weisman, 1992)
- Tea Tree oil to control acne (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2016).
"This one tingles a bit, but my skin felt very refreshed immediately afterwards. I was surprised how long it stays moist, a sign of a high quality mask. 30 minutes after removing the mask, it still felt little too dewey to apply your make-up, but by morning my skin felt soft, dry, and less oily than I would usually have woken up. I’d felt a breakout coming on, and by morning they were visibly reduced, but not completely gone. I bought several more of them the next time I was out."
Mediheal Vita Lightbeam Essential Mask
For General Care
Key words: anti-aging, inflammation, moisturization, vitamins
Key words: redness, dryness, sun damage, vitamins, skin health
Type: Silk Cellulose
Cost: Amazon: $10.46 for a pack of 10
About the Brand:
Mediheal is everywhere in Korea. It was founded by the prestigious medical beauty school at Seoul University and their products are known to be developed by dermatologists and skin experts. Danielle has been happy with their products, even the weirder ones that have shit like placenta in them.
Ingredient fun facts
- Vitamin C for collagen synthesis, skin health, prevent and treat UV-induced photo damage (Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, 2017)
- Tocopheryl Acetate, a form of Vitamin E, skin conditioner, and antioxidant for prevention of photocarcinogenesis ( skin cancer ) (Gensler, Aickin, Peng, & Xu, 1990). Also believed to be an effective in anti-aging treatment, moisturization, inflammation reduction, but may cause allergic reactions in some people (Dermatology Review, n.d.)
- Oryzanol for slowing down skin deterioration, strong antioxidant effects, and deep moisturization, this ingredient is from the Vitamin E family and derived from Rice Bran Oil (Markham, 2013).
"Recommended for “troubled” skin. It didn’t do much for my acne but made my skin feel fresh as hell. Slightly less luxurious feeling and a bit stickier afterwards than the Dr. Jart mask above, this one still had similar effects on my skin and can be used the same way. Also, this mask has ingredients that may trigger allergic reactions in some people’s skin. I had no issue, but it might be smart to do a small patch test of the serum first. That sounds scary, but honestly I will buy this again to use after being in the sun because of the protection against UV damage and because of how healthy and plump my skin felt the next day."
Ultru I’m Sorry For My Skin Mud Masks
About the Brand:
Danielle says these masks are freaking everywhere in Korea - the whole line is masterfully marketed with pictures of beer, coffee, candy, etc. for various things Koreans/humans indulge in that aren’t that great for their skin. Danielle has tried a bunch of the line, especially the one with beer on it for hangover-skin - they’re all your standard goopy magic with the same satisfying results as most sheet masks offer. A solid choice for any sheet mask convert.
Ingredient Fun Facts:
Just read all the ingredients for funsies. All of the natural plant extracts sound exotic and amazing (evening primrose root extract?!?) and probably why these masks smell delish. We compared the ingredients on both, and they’re pretty similar. They both also don’t have these common irritants: silicones, mit, mineral oil, tea, triclosan, dye, coal tar, formaldehyde-releasers, talc, alcohol, sulfates, formaldehyde, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, peg.
- Volcanic Ash, Natural Clay and Kaolin (Detoxifying, oil control). These ingredients dry and help lift and absorb toxins, dirt, and oil from skin.
"These masks are unique in a sea of similar products - they really had different results and stood out from other masks I’ve used."
The black is the more popular of the two, but wasn’t my favorite. It would have been great if my skin was oilier because it definitely is one of those masks that dries, tightens, and then you peel off ridding you of all that gross sebum. Even though I peeled it off with relative ease, my skin was a little red right after and DEFINITELY needed to be rinsed with water and moisturised. These masks both take 30 - 40 minutes to fully dry, which is necessary for them to pull out all the dead and gross crap off your skin. Be sure to put some lotion on your eyebrows and around your eyes to avoid gettin those lil hairs pulled out and protect your fragile eye-ball-adjacent skin.
The green mud mask was my favorite because it left my skin feeling AH-MAY-ZING - I mean, DAMN was it plump and healthy feeling after the green one. This mask would be great for a hot day because I noticed a slight cooling and tingling sensation as I wore it. Still needed a slight rinse to get rid of that mud, but I did not need to moisturize like I did with the black mud mask. This is a mask that would be GREAT if you have some extra time to get ready and you want to pamper your skin before applying your makeup. Did not feel greasy or sticky - it felt super balanced, healthy and the perfect canvas for whatever I wanted to slather on my face right after.
Dr. Jart’s Rubber Mask in Bright Lover
For Treatin’ Yo Self
Key words: luxury, splurge, spensive, bubble baths, champagne, brand name
Cost: $12.00 per mask at Sephora
About the brand:
As this is the second time you’ve seen this on her list, you may have guessed Danielle is a fan. Dr. Jart’s slogan is “Skin. Science. Art.” Danielle believes they live up to that mantra after she visited a space on the famous Apgujeong Rodeo Street (압구정 로데오 거리) in Seoul and wasn’t disappointed. It’s a huge building with the first floor dedicated to interactive displays on skin health, such as calculating how much water you should be drinking. The second floor is all about the products and the third floor is an art installation. This space was about as posh and polished as you can get.
This line of masks has 4 different versions. Refinery29 did a very thorough review on all four, including the Clearing, Firming, and Moisturizing ones Danielle didn’t shell out the big bucks to try.
Great for Dull Skin
Bright Lover is for livening up dull skin, and Danielle’s pale skin can start to look a little washed out when she doesn’t get enough sun or when the pollution in Seoul has her feeling drab.
Ingredient fun facts:
- Vitamin A - you may know this by its simplest fat-soluble name “retinol.” Prevalent in many anti-ageing skincare products as it can improve the appearance of fine lines (Ullah, 2015).
- Grapefruit and Vitamin C- research indicates using vitamin C topically may have mild skin lightening effects caused by reducing melanin production and melanin oxidation (Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, 2017)
- Vitamin B - Research shows that topical application of Niacin B3 has similar effects of ingredients with antioxidant properties and can help remove free radicals that cause skin cellular damage. This is combined with the ingredients ability to improve and protect the skin barrier, volumize and brighten skin (Leu, S. et. al.,2010)
- Vitamin E - According to Dr. Ahsan Ullah (2015) “Deficiencies in vitamin E can result in poor anti-oxidation effects resulting in free radicals to damage the skin layers.”
"This mask was unlike any other sheet mask I’ve used. It comes with an ampoule pack that’s a really strange consistency but feels extra luxurious as you smear it on - and it smells really sweet and fresh. The rubber mask has a bit of essence on it as well and is meant to seal in the ampoule for optimum absorption. The mask was really delicate, so be careful not to tear it. Putting the rubber mask on was such a cinderella moment because it adhered to the ampoule almost magnetically. It was so phenomenally relaxing throughout, I left it on for a full hour although it only recommended 30-40 minutes. I really didn’t want to take it off! My skin was brightened, but not perceptively according to my boyfriend (go-figure). This was still one of my favorite masks and my skin was left feeling plump and refreshed. EDIT: at work the next day, one of my Korean co-workers commented on how bright and fresh my skin looked and asked me what I did differently!"
Laneige Water Bank Double Gel Soothing Mask
For a hot day
Key words: soothing, cooling, sensitive, irritation, antioxidants, aromatic
Cost: 5 for $27.77 on Amazon
These masks don’t come cheap, but they make you feel fuckin fancy. Made with high quality ingredients, you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
About the brand:
Laneige isn’t just huge in Korea, it’s a globally recognized brand. They’re all about moisturizing skin care, so it isn’t a huge surprise that their sheet masks are well-respected products on the K-beauty scene.
Ingredient fun facts
- Hydro Ionized Mineral Water - The company claims it “hydrates and cools skin with six essential minerals” (Laneige, n.d.).
- Chamomile - great for irritation relief and full of antioxidants that that have anti-aging properties (Srivastava, Shankar, & Gupta, 2010).
- Green Tea - also full of antioxidants! (Forester & Lambert, 2011)
"I ordered these specially from the Aritaum near my work, and was really excited when they came in because the packaging was exceptional and made me feel fancy even before I had opened them. The smell was amazing and very relaxing as I wore them, but they are a bit slippery. One thing I liked is they came with the mouth cut out, so I actually used it over my lips, to. Every time I used one of these masks there was a distinct cooling sensation. I brought a few to Jeju island for summer vacation and they did wonders to subdue the heat from my skin after an afternoon scorching by the pool."
Too Cool for School Egg Cream Masks
For fast results
Key words: dullness, dryness, brightening, quick fix, targeted problems
About the brand:
Usually Danielle avoids Too Cool for School products because they are relatively expensive compared to other K-beauty brands. However, after seeing these masks touted on several beauty blogs, she decided to pick them up while she was strolling in Gangnam. The brand has a whole line of egg-based products that are the rage in Korea.
Ingredient Fun Facts
- Egg Yolk Extract: “Can minimize and reduce the appearance of pores. Also, there are reports that egg whites can produce tighter skin, and improve the overall texture of the skin’s surface” (Kellet, 2017).
- Coconut Water: supports hydration and preserves skin elasticity (Prakash & Majeed, 2009)
- Camu Camu Extract: According to Too Cool for School, this extract is “a potent superfruit rich in vitamin C” and can “help boost radiance and brighten your skin.”
- Witch Hazel Leaf Extract: Can be used topically as an astringent and anti-bacterial treatment for skin to alleviate inflammation caused by acne and eczema (Thring, Hili, & Naughton, 2011).
- Vinegar Extract: Antibacterial properties effective against acne, balances skin PH levels, and may exfoliate dead skin cells (Johnston & Gaas, 2016)
- hea Butter: can deliver deep hydration for dull and dry skin (Baughman, 2015).
- Collagen: According to Too Cool for School, this helps increase elasticity and plump skin with essential nutrition
"These masks were really dripping with essence and super slimy - in a good way. They stayed moist for over an hour. The pore tightening one really stood out to me. I used it when I was having a particularly bad breakout and after removing the mask I was astounded that my blemishes were visibly smaller and less red. My skin was very even and almost disturbingly glowy, and my pores were fucking invisible. Even my boyfriend, usually oblivious to the after effects of my masks, was astounded how it made my skin look. When I leave Korea, this line is certainly one I will stock up on."
Skinfood Real Tea Gel Sheet Mask in Rose
For a quick pick me up
Key words: soothing, aromatic, hydrating, energizing, rose petals
Cost: $4.80 each from beautique
About the brand:
Skinfood is one of Danielle’s favorite brands in Korea. Like their name, they focus on products that have ingredients that are edible - though the products themselves aren’t. They have several cult beauty products (Danielle loves their black sugar mask for exfoliation), and their face-mask line has many fantastic options. This is just one of Danielle’s favorites, but she recommends buying anything this brand has to offer.
Ingredient fun facts
- Real rose petals - the petals are suspended in the hydrogel of the mask so you can actually see the quality of the ingredient, and the smell is truly phenomenal.
- French rose pollen - A study by Phetcharat, Wongsuphasawat, & Winther (2015) at the Department of Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine, Mae Fah University showed that rose pollen had noticeable impacts on wrinkles, skin moisture, and elasticity.
- Rose extract - Research suggests vapor therapy of rose oil is helpful for some allergies, headaches, and migraine. It also helps as an anti-inflammatory (Boskabady, Shafei, Saberi, Amini, 2011)
"This is more than I would have expected to pay for a single mask at Skinfood - usually a brand I consider very reasonably priced. However, after opening the packaging I was really impressed with the quality of the mask - another one that was four-star-spa ready. The smell alone will have me buying more for a de-stressful day in. I also like how quickly it dried because I could probably squeeze in a mask before doing my makeup in the morning."