Goodbye Face Goo, Hello Sheet Masks

A brilliant skincare idea from South Korea has us laying down
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Hydrating but sticky, gloppy but exfoliating, weekly face masks are a messy must. It sounds easy enough—set aside 10 minutes to slather on some goo and rinse. But here’s what really goes down: It takes two minutes to cleanse, another minute to exfoliate, 10 minutes for the slather and another 10 to scrub off every little spot of mud. That’s before applying a serum. Thankfully, the latest trend in skincare, sheet masks, makes it easier to detox your skin.

Sheet masks are having their heyday now, but the concept of using pre-treated cloths as weekly anti-agers has been a longtime Korean tradition. In fact, South Korea continues to be the leading import of the latest beauty trends as they are the number one holder of patents related to skincare technology.

Sheet masks are one of those things you never think of until they pop up as a suddenly fantastic idea: Add skin serum to a biodegradable cloth, layer it atop the skin, and let it get to work. Mercifully kitsch-free, these masks are an affordable alternative to frequent spa facials considering you can use them as often as you like.Sure, it’s a bit Hannibal Lecter-looking when you put one on at first, but when do you ever mask in public, anyway?

My wondering eye landed on the masks at Sephora, and the results were instant and addicting. Some gel masks itch, other mud versions get so dry they crack when you try to smile. But sheet masks offer a gentle approach to treating issues like tone, hydration, firmness and clarity. The most satisfying part is how you don’t have to rinse off the solution, which means no product goes wasted.

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For oily to combination skin types, Karuna Clarifying+ Face Mask ($8) makes it easy to prevent superficial breakouts. The sheet is soaked with Chinese licorice, Shiso Leaf, ginger, aloe vera, and chamomile serum to help control the spread of bacteria before it causes an under skin zit. It has a bit of a slimy feel, but fit well over my smaller face and almost became transparent after a couple of minutes. It felt a bit cooling and smells fresh but it doesn’t sting at all.

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The coolest way to add moisture to dehydrated eyes is with a Too Cool For School Glam Rock Mask ($8 for two). Great for the frequent flier or night owl, the black lace, jelly mask made me feel like an extra in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. It’s a 100 percent soluble hydrogel mask that sticks to the skin and delivers intense moisture using peat water, which is rich in naturally-sourced botanicals, herbs, and nutrients. It starts off thick at first but thins about the 15-minute mark as your under eye skin absorbs the moisture. Gently massage in the remaining serum in circular motions and you’re good to go.

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If you’ve experience the occasional bout of dehydration and want the grand dame of sheet masks, 111SKIN Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Masks ($160 for 5) tops the luxury list. I was seriously wowed by the clever cocktail of silk amino acids and collagen-stimulating Gotu Kola that left my skin super plumped and dewy. It feels a bit heavier at first thanks to the peachy-smelling, gel-like serum, but within minutes it felt like a tall glass of water for my dehydrated skin. You will have to lie down and relax for this one as it may slide off when you stand upright (and try to Tweet a pic, which I did). If you pop them in the fridge for five minutes before applying one, they’ll be extra cooling.

The takeaway from this Korean trend? Skincare can be seductively simple.


A native Angeleno, Nav is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has been testing beauty products for print and digital magazines for nearly a decade. She spends her days working in media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.

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