Even if you know nothing else about Korean beauty trends, you've probably at least heard of sheet masks. If you haven't, then let me be the first to tell you that there are tons of benefits of using sheet masks, even if some of the ingredients sound a little funky. (I'm looking at you, snake venom.)
Though sheet masks are only just reaching mainstream popularity in the States, in South Korea, they're already available everywhere. From my experience, it's almost impossible to walk down a commercial street without coming across at least one cosmetics store, and chances are there's a basket of sheet masks right up front by the door.
But step foot into any one of these stores and you'll see that the skincare options in South Korea go far beyond the simple sheet mask. There are tons of other K-beauty products out there at a variety of price points that offer benefits similar to those of sheet masks, ranging from pore minimization to redness reduction.
The big question for those riding the K-beauty wave is which of these Korean skincare products could dethrone the sheet mask as the next great innovation to conquer America. Well, here are seven contenders for the next Korean sheet mask.
1. Hydrogel Masks
Hydrogel masks are pretty similar to the sheet masks you already know and love, and are applied in the exact same way. The big difference is the material. Instead of being made of either cotton or fiber, as is most common for sheet masks, hydrogel masks are made of a slicker material. I tried out this one from URBANLab the other day and posted a #sheetmaskselfie on Instagram, as one does.
You can see the texture of this mask looks different than your usual sheet one. It's distinctly slimier the moment you slap it on your face. However, they're just as easy to use as sheet masks, and I've found that hydrogel masks lock in moisture better and stick to your face easier. Perhaps the best news of all is that, at about $3 a pop, they cost almost the same as higher-end products.
2. Point Masks
Point masks are sheet masks' answer to multimasking, and they allow you to target a particular part of your face with a specific formula suited to your skin's needs. Charlotte Cho, founder of Soko Glam and K-beauty expert, told Refinery 29 that she thinks these point masks are going to be the next big thing. Point masks allow you to mix and match different shapes to kind of customize your own sheet mask experience, be it eye patches to brighten your under-eye circles or this mask with a chinstrap to moisturize your cheeks.
Despite the fact that they're made of less material than a full sheet mask, point masks are generally more expensive than their full-face counterparts. The cheapest one I found was about $3, but on average they ran about $9 per pack. That being said, I can still imagine a world in which we make our own patchwork quilts of point masks.
3. Capsule Packs
Capsule packs often contain the same juice you'd find on sheet masks, but without the fabric. You apply by just, well, applying it. Much like point masks, they make targeting a certain area of your face with a specific ingredient a breeze, but clean-up is less simple than just ripping off a sheet mask and walking out the door. You have to actually rinse your face with water once you're finished.
At about $2 each, though, a single capsule is about as expensive as a single sheet mask and it definitely makes multimasking — or customizing your nightly skincare routine based on your skin's needs — much easier.
4. Shower Packs
This is not a pack of apple sauce but a shower capping pack. It's got a creamy, clay consistency, and the name comes from the fact that you can wear this mask while you're showering, making removal easy. The other benefit of the shower pack is the actual packaging, which is resealable. This means you should be able to get several uses from the same pouch. At about $3 per package, it's definitely a good deal.
5. Sleeping Packs
YouTuber and makeup guru Michelle Phan recommends applying a sleeping pack when you're traveling, specifically one from Caolion. Sleeping packs are exactly what they sound like: You slather them on your face at night before going to sleep so that when you wake up your skin is moisturized and refreshed. The major downside is the cost. This pore sleeping pack from Caolion will run you about $20, but fortunately, this isn't a one-time use kind of product. You can keep dipping into this jar until you run out, so you should be able to get your money's worth.
6. Modeling Masks
Though still members of the pack family, modeling masks — also known as rubber masks — are much thicker than their smaller capsule pack brethren. You add water to the container, stir it around, spread it onto your face like putty, let it dry, then peel it off. The cost is about the same as a capsule pack at about $3, but the process, as Bustle's own Amanda Richards described, is kind of messy and requires some chemistry skills (in that you need to find the right ratio of water to powder, not that you have to be Walter White or anything).
7. Whatever This Is
This box was hidden among all the sheet mask packs and other facial care doodads, and I almost skipped over it because it looked like a box of toothpaste. Then I turned it over to see the picture of a giant syringe on the side. This, of course, piqued my interest.
On a third side of the box was a somewhat vague yet still gruesome illustration of someone squirting the syringe onto (or into?) their face. This concerned me, because no one should be sticking needles into their face without the supervision of a licensed medical professional if you ask me. Would you let yourself inject Botox into your face? I thought not.
Now, after some research, I was relieved to find out that this treatment doesn't actually involve any needles. It's just creative packaging with a medical motif, a not uncommon trend in Korean beauty stores. (I've seen a lot of sheet masks packaged in fake IV drip bags.)
To use this product, you take the syringe and drop out dots all of your face. Then, you take the paper mask that's also included in the tube and put that on top. Let it sit, remove the paper, then feel your soft, supple skin.
It's definitely priced for people with a bit more disposable income, though. At about $20, it's pretty expensive for a one-time use product, even if the marketing is kind of fun... if you're into that sort of medical mystery thing.
And The Next Big Thing Is...
Though all seven of the contenders are fun and fairly effective, and several — especially the shower pack, the modeling mask, and the capsule pack — are good value for your money, I don't think any of the packs will dethrone the almighty sheet mask anytime soon. The biggest problem is that they're complicated and at the end of the day, they deliver similar serums and results as sheet masks except with twice the effort. Who wants to squeeze a syringe full of serum all over their face when they can just slap on a sheet mask? I wouldn't be surprised, however, if some of the ingredients in these packs make their way Stateside.
That's why I think either point masks or hydrogel masks are going to be the next big thing. They're variations on a classic, and Americans already have a basic understanding of how to use them. They allow for more customization, which is always appreciated, and they're also fairly cost effective.
So if you're looking to get ahead of the K-beauty wave, keep an eye out for point masks or hydrogel masks. Your skin will thank you.
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Images: Maxine Builder