From Karlie Kloss to Alexa Chung, Chrissy Teigan to Chris Pratt, sheet masks have fast-become some of our favourite stars’ Instagram accessories of choice. What are the reasons though for their sudden surge in popularity and how do they differ from more traditional face masks? With their roots in Korea, in our experience they provide both a more travel-friendly alternative and help to simplify the art of masking with regards to volume and application, thanks to being saturated in just the right concentrations of skin boosting ingredients that work as you wait.
With cut-outs for eyes, nose and mouth, the look is unquestionably, ahem, scary, but do they yield superb results to make them worth the fright? We put them to the test to find out...
Creme de la Mer The Hydrating Facial
Price: £195 for 6 applications.
“£195 for some face masks I hear you weep? I know, I can hear my wallet screaming too, but just hear me out. These Creme de La Mer face masks are pretty darn special. You get 6 sets in one pack each consisting of two Creme de la Mer infused cotton masks - one is for the top half of your face and the other for the lower. I applied mine in the bath and sat there (for longer than the 8 minutes prescribed), soaking it in (I also scraped the plastic it came out of so as not to miss one teeny bit). The idea is that you then remove the masks and rub in the rest of the gorgeous, soft, silken cream. It miraculously soaks into your skin very fast, leaving it literally beaming. I slept with this on and woke up the next morning to possibly the best glow I've had in years. Not something I would use every day but if your skin is worryingly dry or you are getting married or you have some other seriously special occasion looming (and can part with 200 smackers), then these really do make a difference.”
Dr Wu Ultimate Hydrating Mask With Hyaluronic Acid
Price: £28 - for a pack of 3.
Launching in May
“‘Oh SHEET’ was my immediate thought when I squinted at the moistly masked maniac glaring back at me through my mirror. But then...well something quite wonderful happened. My skin felt amazingly cool and soothed and when I peeled it off around 15 minutes later, I was totally ‘Wu-ed’.
“The 5th generation HyaluComplex this formula boasts is (somewhat unsurprisingly) not an ingredient I was familiar with, but it supposedly retains and creates moisture and, impressively, my naturally dry complexion hasn’t felt this soft and supple maybe ever. Targeted for dehydrated and sensitive skin, Dr Wu claims that with continuous application, your fine lines, wrinkles and blemishes will be masked too - just imagine! Never before have I at once felt so amazing and looked so grotesque, but put vanity aside for a minute (or 15) and I promise it’ll be worth it.”
Reviewer: J R-J
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Estée Lauder Micro Essence Infusion Mask
Price: £50 for 6.
“I spotted these on my travels in Thailand in January (don’t mean to keep bringing that up btw), and the Asian influence that’s saturating traditional western brands seems to be becoming more and more pronounced this year. From essences to jellies to sheet masks, Korean inspired skincare in particular is beginning to shape our daily beauty routines. In this case, you’ve got a fusion of essence and sheet mask on your hands (face); as the cotton mask is soaked (soaked I tell you) in a ‘micro-nutrient bio ferment’. This might sound like something you’re more likely to put on your vegetable patch, but fermented skincare (also a Korean import) can accelerate the skin’s natural uptake of active ingredients, making all of those delicious peptides and the like work harder.
“Applying Lauder’s Micro Essence mask to my smaller than average face was quite the slimy adventure; it was definitely on the large side and cold and wet sums up the sensation. After 10 minutes of freaking my boyfriend out (jumping out from behind doors is a particularly effective fright tactic), I peeled off the mask and massaged the now silky and partly absorbed lotion into my skin before going to bed. The effects in the morning were STUNNING. I know £50 for 6 masks is seriously steep, but the benefits for me personally went far beyond what I’d expected from a flappy bit of soggy cotton; softer skin than I’ve ever had post-facial, a huge recession in the spot department and that elusive ‘glow’. Makeup glided on dreamily and my skin is still showing the benefits three days later. Whatever’s fermenting or infusing here (Lauder’s not quite clear on that), it’s the good stuff.”
Muji Sensitive Skin Sheet Masks
Price: £9.95 for 5.
“I have to say, I am not a fan of a mask, be it beauty or otherwise (I find them terrifying, both in terms of my sensitive skin and thanks to my teenage phase of watching one too many horror films). Anything that has to be left on my fragile, easily irritated skin has to have a thorough inspection first, which I found a little tricky given all the info on this sachet was in Japanese. The website is reasonably reassuring, promising the sheet masks are free from fragrance, mineral oils, parabens and alcohol and are ‘weakly acidic’, so on I went, as bravely as I could, putting it on after cleansing and toning as normal.
“First up I would say it’s incredibly refreshing - the mask is absolutely soaking and essentially drenched my skin on application, and despite looking horrifying (don’t do this near your kids. Or partner. Or a mirror) it felt very comfortable indeed. I left it on for a good 10 minutes, slipped it off and found my skin looking as if I had liberally splashed water on it; it wasn’t sticky, merely wet, and so I simply patted it dry. Sadly though the hydration went away with the mask - my skin felt soft, but still dry in patches and very much in need of moisturiser. For such a laborious task (I’m more of a quick-fix serum kind of girl) I’d expect bigger and brighter results; I think I’ll stick to my night cream and put the nightmarish look to bed.”
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When The Last Choice Sheet Mask
Price: £25 for a pack of 4.
Buy from Birchbox UK , Fenwick of Bond Street and Topshop.
“They say coconut water works wonders for a hangover, but what about hungover skin? To see whether it could do the same for my partied out complexion, I slipped this sheet mask on for size to see if it could help rectify some of the misgivings of the weekend before. Causing my sister, mum and dad to jump out of their skin when I stepped out of the bathroom (bonus points for comedy value btw), the instructions recommend that you keep it on for around 30 minutes so I sat in bed, popped on ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ and waited to see what awaited me in half an hour’s time.
“Enriched with hyaluronic acid, ginseng extracts and hydrating agents sodium hyaluronate and saccharide isomerate, it claims to leave skin feeling healthier and provide ‘the ultimate sip of moisture for your skin.’ Did it deliver on its claims? It did indeed. My skin felt more hydrated without feeling greasy, while also noticeably smoother and more supple to the touch. I would definitely recommend for those with dry to combination skin types, while the more dehydrated would perhaps benefit from coupling with a moisturiser too.”
MaskerAide, All Nighter - Awaken, Replenish & Refresh Face Mask
“As a face mask first timer I was initially concerned that the MaskerAide All Nighter might actually require wearing it All. Night. Luckily, closer inspection revealed it is in fact a fix for ‘all nighter’- looking skin, which is perfect for my current ‘lived in’ complexion. The mask is, like others I’m sure, easy enough to apply - simply unfold and apply to the face, taking note of holes for respective features. I do advise, however, taking a moment to establish back from front as the nose piece requires unfolding and, as I experienced, is tricky to do when applied backwards! When eyes, nose and mouth are in the right places, there is a definite and immediate feeling of cool freshness from the peppermint oil that’s great for awakening tired eyes and skin after a long night. The mask is simply oozing with smooth hydrating goodness from the honey, super fruit and cactus extracts in the formula, giving a real feeling of rejuvenation well into the morning. Once I get over the slightly unnerving reflection of myself in the mirror(!) and the added time needed for application and activation, I could certainly get used to a sheet mask - at the very least after an all nighter!”
DHC Bio Cellulose Mask
“The DHC Bio Cellulose Mask is the perfect mix of soothing and hydration for an evening (or refreshing morning) pamper session. Once I managed to get past how terrifying (and incredibly hilarious) my face looked, I really started feeling the benefits. The mask is made from refreshing cellulose from fermented coconut water and although it might not sound like something that you'd want to put on your face, trust me, you do. This gel mask works for all skin types, even my super sensitive skin, so no worries about any irritation. Just do make sure you're careful when taking the mask out of the sachet...the gel is prone to getting everywhere - but that's okay, because it's totally worth it.”
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