To say that I'm obsessed with Korean beauty products is an understatement, and one of my tried and true skincare favorites is sheet masks. Since moving to Korea this summer, I've hopped on the sheet mask bandwagon in a big way, making them a regular part of my nighttime skincare routine. They're gentle enough to use daily (a point drive home by Korean skincare expert Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam with her seven day sheet mask challenge), but is there such a thing as too many sheet masks? If one sheet mask a day seems excessive, what about two sheet masks per day?
Apparently, it seems that using two sheet masks a day isn't as uncommon as it sounds, and quite a few Asian beauty bloggers (or AB bloggers, as they're known on the Internet) have started the hashtag #TeamDoubleFisting to refer to the phenomenon. The phrase hasn't exactly gone viral yet, but it's definitely a thing. Those who have joined #TeamDoubleFisting really swear by it as well. One of these converts is Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who told CNN that she uses at least two facial masks per day.
If one sheet mask per day works well, two masks must be better... Right? There was only one way to find out for sure.
The experiment was simple: I would use two sheet masks a day for a week, one in the morning and one at night. Rather than experimenting with different kinds of masks, I decided to stick with brands that I knew worked for me, rotating through ones from Dr. Jart+ and URBANLab.
In addition to purchasing nine individual sheet masks, which cost between $2.50 and $5 each, I also purchased a five-pack of sheet masks from URBANLab for $5. This five-pack of masks was numbered, and each day's mask was slightly different than the last. However, all were designed to moisturize and meant to be used in a row.
My skin was in rough shape on the first day of the experiment, and I was eager to see if using all of these sheet masks could really make any kind of difference.
To start it off right, I used Dr. Jart+ Calm Your Sensitive Skin in the morning. I love the Dr. Jart+ sheet masks. They're light and leave my skin feeling fresh rather than coated in a sticky residue. This calming mask is really gentle, and I figured it'd be a good one to use given the recent state of redness from which I had been suffering (and the fact that I'd be using lots of sheet masks over the course of the week).
My second mask of the day was the first mask of the URBANLab five-pack. Instead of putting the second mask on before I went to bed, I used it while I was getting ready to go out, since I figured I might be too tired (read: drunk) to do it after coming home from the bar. It was a Friday night, after all. After using the mask, I waited about 10 minutes before applying my makeup, which went on smoothly and without incident.
When you go out in Korea, you go out hard, often getting pressured to stay out until the subway re-opens at 5:30 a.m. (at least in my experience). Though I'm down for going out, I never last until first subway, and Friday night was no exception. Instead, I took a cab home around 2 a.m., and when I woke up on Saturday, I was hungover and dehydrated. My skin looked as beaten as I felt.
I had another Dr. Jart+ mask with tea tree and salicylic acid lined up for the morning. This mask burned a little bit — a particularly unpleasant experience as my brain pounded in my skull — but it left my skin feeling hydrated despite the slight stinging.
After lolling around in bed all day, nursing my hangover and venturing out only to get some coffee and ramen, I used the second URBANLab moisturizing sheet mask before going to sleep. It felt particularly refreshing, given my laziness that day.
My skin on the third day was improved from the mess it was after Friday night's heavy drinking and minimal sleep, but it was still far from smooth or flawless. However, it did appear that the two masks I had used the day before, in combination with the chugging of liters of water, had helped a bit.
This day was an all URBANLab day, starting with a Pore Tightening Hydrogel Mask in the morning. Hydrogel masks are basically a souped up version of conventional sheet masks, which are generally made of fabric. Personally, I find these hydrogel versions hold in moisture better than their cotton counterparts.
I used the third sheet mask in the series of five at night. I decided to experiment with chilling this sheet mask, so I threw it into the fridge for 15 minutes before applying. Though I'm not sure if it made a marked difference in efficacy, it did feel amazing.
By the fourth day, the zits on my forehead were clearing up and the acne on my chin was calming down. Although my skin was far from flawless, I hadn't found any new pimples since the first day of the experiment, which seemed like a good sign.
I went back to Dr. Jart+ Calm Your Sensitive Skin for the morning.
Nighttime was the fourth sheet mask in the URBANLab set.
The fifth day was even better than the fourth. I was feeling pretty good about my skin, especially since the redness was noticeably reduced.
Once again, the Dr. Jart+ Clearing Solution mask burned my face a bit, but didn't leave my skin dried out or flaky, which is a huge success for anything with salicylic acid in my book.
The evening's mask was my last in the set of URBANLab sheet masks, which I used post-shower.
I woke up obscenely early to make my way to the airport for a flight back to New York City, so I didn't have a chance to use a face mask before running to catch the bus. I did, however, have a moment to take a selfie. There were no new breakouts, but I was definitely looking and feeling exhausted.
Since I didn't have time to use a mask before getting to the airport, I used it on the plane. Yes, I looked crazy, but the URBANLab Oil Solution Hydrogel Mask felt so refreshing in the middle of a 13 hour flight. Plus, I was lucky to have a whole row of seats to myself, so I had no neighbors to freak out with my hydrogel-covered face. I wanted to use this one on the plane because my skin has a tendency to overproduce oil on long flights due to the dry air. I figured this mask would help prevent that fate.
I almost always end up with acne after flying, especially when it's a flight as long as the one from Seoul to New York, so I was shocked that I didn't have any new zits when I got back to my apartment in Brooklyn. After showering and getting all that grime off, it was nice to finish my travel day with a second hydrogel sheet mask. This one was URBANLab Ultra Aqua Sheet Mask.
Despite the jet lag and the exhaustion and the dehydration, my skin was looking better than it had in a while. Even if my eyes were totally bloodshot.
I used two favorites on this last day, starting with my favorite Dr. Jart+ mask, which really helped to wake me up.
By 9:30 p.m., jet lag hit me hard and my sentences stopped making much sense. So I ended the day, and the weeklong experiment, with a glass of wine (because if I was going to slur my words regardless, I might as well be a little tipsy), and another URBANLab Ultra Aqua Hydrogel Mask.
Does #DoubleFisting Do Anything?
I've done a lot of different beauty and skincare experiments, and really, none of them have ever been as pleasant as this one. My skin might not have radically changed, but I definitely saw some small improvements over the course of the week and, perhaps most important, my skin didn't get worse (despite the chronic lack of sleep and the long-haul airline travel).
The most unexpected benefit to this experiment was mental, though. There was something so relaxing about setting aside 20 minutes every morning and night to spend on myself. In the morning, my sheet mask time became cause to prep for the day ahead, usually by making my daily to-do list. At night, it became time to unwind and decompress before going to sleep.
Using two sheet masks a day might sound excessive, but if my experience is any indication, it's not going to wreak havoc on your skin and might actually be beneficial in the long term. At an average cost of $5 per day, it certainly wasn't the most cost-effective experiment, so it might be best suited if you want to do a short term reset of your skin.
But if you wanted to join #TeamDoubleFisting for good, and are willing to spend the money and the time, I'd say go for it. Your skin will thank you in the end.
Images: Maxine Builder