Here in the Western half of the World, sheet masks are still a relatively new addition to our skincare routines and have only just become a common find in Highstreet shops. However, over in the East, sheet masks as we know them in their modern form – made from cotton and doused in Dermatologically tested and professionally formulated serums or ampoules – have been a household favourite for the last few decades. Considering how skincare and other beauty products are received and perceived differently in each country, it’s no surprise the way in which we use sheet masks alternate by country too.
For instance, in the UK, many of use consider skin care treatments to be a luxury. Steps that aren’t the basics (i.e. facial cleansers and moisturisers) are considered as non-essential investments; therefore, we deem products like face masks of any variety to be a “treat” that’s typically indulged in just once or twice per week. This approach makes sense when we think about sheet masks, because currently individual single use sheet masks in Europe on average cost £3, whereas good quality sheet masks in Korea, Japan and China can cost as little as £0.30p per sheet or can even be purchased affordably in bulk.
Due to the wide availability of cheap, or at least affordable sheet masks in Asia, they aren’t used sparingly like how we use them in the UK; On the contrary they are used daily which brings in the question: should we be using facial sheet masks everyday?
The cost aside, there are many pros and cons to using sheet masks daily. However, the benefits seem to out weight the negatives:
- Consistent use of specialist ingredients and formulas in the form of serums, essence and ampoules – which are contained within sheet masks ensure both man-made and natural vitamins, minerals and chemical components (hopefully of the good variety) – are effectively delivered directly to skin at the surface and deep within.
- Every sheet mask is uniquely formulated to target and treat a specific skin concern or skin type; also bringing in functions such as pore care, acne care and so on.
- There are several “grades” of sheet masks to suit your budget – the higher the grade or generation of the mask, the more advanced or developed it is; the price typically matches the grade of the mask: Low grade/1st generation and standard grade/2nd generation masks tend to be the affordable ones ideal for daily use.
- The more often you use a particular mask, the longer it’s effects will last. Using sheet masks which focus on anti-aging and repairing damaged skin can take years off of your appearance, but only if they are used repeatedly.
- Some oily and acne prone skin types don’t always respond well to using sheet masks daily; staggered or precautionary use is best. With all the additional ingredients supplied to skin, skin can become stressed causing an in-balanced oil–water ratio and breakouts; This is often because of the high concentration/ inclusion of ingredients like alcohol and comedogenic essential oils.
- As mentioned previously, sheet masks can be expensive in some countries if they have been imported or some of the sheet mask’s components – often the sheet itself – have been manufactured in Korea but packaged abroad. Furthermore, the brand can have an impact on the cost.
It’s important to mention that if you are going to use sheet masks regularly, that wet and hydrating sheet masks should be used. Never use pore cleansing or exfoliation sheet masks more than once per week, otherwise you can weaken your skin’s protective barrier and deprive your skin of its natural oils – resulting in dry skin or quick production of excess sebum.
Whether you should be using sheet masks every day or not highly depends on the consumer as an individual. In most cases, non-problematic skin types and aging skin types can use sheet masks every day or evening without any or many side effects; whereas those with problematic skin types, including sensitive skin, should limit the amount of times they use sheet mask per week. Most dermatologists familiar with sheet masking recommend that you use such products 3 times per week or onwards up to 4 times per week if you have dry skin that isn’t acne prone or doesn’t have open sores, eczema, psoriasis, rosecea, etc.
Key points for using sheet masks safely:
- Use sheet masks once every other day or once every 2–3 days: the breaks in between uses prevent stressing out skin and help regulate the production of sebum and retention of moisture.
- Stick to just one or two sheet masks – by this I mean limiting yourself to using just two key/main ingredients which you know suit your skin type and serve a particular purpose. For example, your selection could be a green tea mask for a supply of antioxidants and to take care of imperfections and a Hyaluronic acid mask for adding in an extra dose of lightweight hydration throughout the week. Don’t mix up your choice of masks often; By sticking to the same ingredients and ideally the same brand the less chance there is of you stressing out your skin and causing sensitivity or other issues. This consistency will also allow you to visibly see the intended long-lasting results of those masks specifically (brightening, anti-wrinkle effects, etc.) rather than just noticing the hydration benefits.
- Always prep your skin with a toner before using a sheet mask – try to use one which doesn’t contain alcohol, parabens, artificial colourants or fragrance.
- Never wear a facial mask longer than the time frame stated by the directions for use. In some cases, using a sheet for too long can again cause breakouts, irritation by friction of the dried fabric rubbing against skin and have the adverse effect of providing hydration by expelling the serum back into the mask, rather than into skin.
Ultimately, do what’s feel best for your own skin. What works for others may not work for you. It’s all about trial and error in order to discover which sheet masks are for you, and there’s always something for everybody.