Whether you're an avid beauty blog reader or an infrequent beauty drugstore shopper, you've probably heard the murmurings that Korean beauty is on the rise. And if you needed evidence to know that this is true, just take a look around the Internet or your local Sephora: BB creams, essences, cushion compacts and sheet masks are everywhere, and they're all coming straight to you from South Korea.
According to Fortune, Korean beauty brands have claimed a huge stake in the American beauty market as of late. And if you think about it, it all makes sense, what with America's latest obsession with the #IWokeUpLikeThis kind of beauty. For years now, Korea's beauty market has focused on products that aim to achieve a dewy, glowy, "no makeup" makeup look—a look that I can personally say I strive for every day—so it's incredibly exciting that we're gaining more access to the wealth of their good-for-your-skin products, thanks to retailers like Glow Recipe.
While BB creams have been around for a while, the latest focus has been on sheet masks, according to Christine Chang, co-founder of Glow Recipe. "Sheet masks are a beauty staple for women in Korea and are just starting to fly off the shelves of Sephora and Target in the US," Chang told us. "Sheet masks are now one of the fastest growing beauty categories in the US prestige market." Still, while many American beauty consumers are becoming more familiar with the sheet mask concept, a majority of them are clueless when it comes to sheet mask basics.
If you've been using them for months now or are just learning about them, here are the 7 important things you need to know about sheet masks from expert Christine Chang.
1. They Are Incredibly Easy To Work Into Your Skincare Routine
"The most misunderstood thing about sheet masks are that that they are difficult to incorporate into your skincare routine. For many Korean women, any downtime at home is a great time to start "masking." When you are watching TV, reading a book, sitting at your laptop, doing your hair in the morning, or even on the exercise bike—it's a fantastic way to get facial-like results in the convenience of your home, and a great way to give your skincare routine a boost, especially before an event or date."
2. Using A Sheet Mask Is Like "Force-Feeding" Your Skin Beneficial Ingredients
"Originally, most sheet masks were paper, cotton, or microfiber. Recent trends include next-generation textures like hydro-gel (imagine a very thin sheet of jelly) and bio-cellulose. These materials adhere to the face like a second skin and are great at delivering a concentrated dose of treatment to the skin. A great analogy is that you are 'forcefeeding' your skin with beneficial ingredients."
3. Not All Sheet Masks Are The Same
"In terms of technologies, sheet masks can be segmented into paper/cotton sheet masks, hydro-gel, bio-cellulose, and all natural textures. We’ve seen a boom in the later three categories recently – one of the most recent natural sheet masks we were blown away by and had to curate is made of 100% real, nutrient dense sea kelp! There are sheet masks available for a diverse array of skin concerns (anti-aging, brightening, hydrating, pore-minimizing) as well as skin types. We recommend that you experiment to find the right one for your needs."
4. When It Comes To Application, Longer Isn't Always Better
"Longer is not necessarily better for sheet masks. Sheet masks create a barrier to intensively infuse the skin with hydrating and anti-aging ingredients. But if the sheet mask itself dries out, it will start sucking moisture out from your skin. The rule of thumb for sheet masks is to leave them on for 20 minutes max – enough to deliver key ingredients but before the mask starts to dry. And never sleep with them on – you’ll wake up with paper-dry skin."
5. They Are Totally OK For People With Super Sensitive Skin
"Many sheet masks have hydrating and soothing properties, which are great for sensitive skin. Since you are infusing an intense amount of serum into the skin, though, we would highly recommend looking for sheet masks that are free of potential skin irritants such as synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, as well as parabens. It’s not only about the serum that the sheet mask is drenched in but also the material of the sheet mask itself – try to avoid sheet masks that are bleached. Whamisa’s Organic Hydro-gel Sheet Masks is one of our site’s best sellers, and the actual hydro-jelly sheet is also made of aloe and kiwi extracts and free of skin irritants."
6. Prepping Your Skin Before You Use A Sheet Mask Is Crucial
"Think of sheet masks as your at-home facial, and just as your facialist would, you need to start with a clean canvas (cleansed and toned) that’s ready to receive all that nourishing goodness. Regular exfoliation also helps increase the efficacy of sheet masks. While our skin is supposed to naturally turnaround every 4 weeks, this process gets slower as we age, which creates a "backlog" of dead skin cells that prevent skincare ingredients from going where they need to. Also, don’t forget to moisturize after using a sheet mask to seal in the beneficial skincare ingredients!"
7. To Get The Most Out Of Them, Make Sure You Are Following The Directions & Applying The Sheet Mask Correctly
"We recommend squeezing out any leftover serum in the packet (why waste a good thing?) and apply to your face and neck generously before applying the sheet mask. We also see some customers forgetting to remove the protective plastic backing from hydrogel and bio-cellulose sheets before using them, which hinders adherence to skin."
To learn more about sheet masks and other popular Korean beauty products, head over to http://www.glowrecipe.com/
Images: Glow Recipe; Glow Recipe/Instagram (4)
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