In our Rehab Your Skin series, we’re taking things back to basics to help you reset your skincare regimen in the new year and reclaim positive skincare habits.
Sheet masks are a beautiful thing: Drenched in nourishing moisture and active ingredients, they can plump, add radiance and instantly perk up your skin. But if you want to get the most out of a sheet mask, you need to know how to use them, and there’s more to it than just slapping one on your face. Here’s a 10-step primer on the right way to sheet-mask, once and for all:
- Keep the basics in mind. Wash your face well so there’s no residual dirt or makeup on it to interfere with the mask. Make sure you align the mask well on your face, and, for the real gold star, lightly massage your face with the mask on if you want an added circulation boost to bring about some inner glow. (This also helps the mask adhere better.)
- After masking, massage any remaining essence in with clean hands instead of washing your face or using a towel. Use upward motions only, and don’t let it evaporate!
- Apply any leftover essence in the mask sleeve to your neck, décolletage, hands or wherever some extra love is required.
- Absolutely do not leave the mask on too long! Sometimes the sheet still feels wet after the prescribed 20 or 30 minutes, but leaving it on means it’ll soon start sponging the essence back from your skin once the cotton starts to dry out. Some folks don’t mask longer than 10 minutes, because that’s when their skin reaches equilibrium with the mask.
- If there really is a bunch of essence left on the sheet, sweep your neck and décolletage with it, or even give your forearms some attention.
- Pick the right ingredients for yourself — that means noticing the composition of each mask, and avoiding any ingredients high on the list that seem to disagree with your skin.
- There’s no need to fret about when in your routine to get sheet-faced — masking at any step is equally effective. Many people choose to mask before applying moisturizer, and what happens in that case is that the essence is sealed in by the cream that comes after.
- However, masking after applying a full barrage of serums and creams is equally and at times even more effective — the mask creates a reinforcing upper layer on your skin, pushing your moisturizer even deeper inward and increasing its efficacy through a supporting essence.
- The value of an individual sheet mask lies in how effective its essence is, but the value of sheet masks in general are in the sheets, not the essence. The physical cotton sheet holds the essence in place and creates a barrier that prevents anything lying underneath from evaporating or running off, so experiment with masks that agree with your skin texture the most. Cotton, foil, cellulose, hydrogel, coconut gel — variety is one of the luxuries of K-beauty, and should be enjoyed accordingly.
- Finally, and perhaps above all else, pay attention! Masks are getting complicated these days, and more and more of the ultra-thin ones come with support backings to help you unfold the mask without tearing it in the process. Problem is, many people mistake the backing for the mask itself and lay that on instead, and don’t get the results they paid for. If the mask seems stiff or oddly coloured, run your fingers around the mask’s edges to see if it’s actually supporting a flimsier material, and you might just save yourself a bunch of money and frustration in the process.