Let’s Ditch Sheet Face Masks!

WHERE DID SHEET MASKS ORIGINATE FROM?

Sheet masks originated from Japan and South Korea, known for their dedication to cosmetics and skin care. Today, sheet masks are widely popular in Asia as a whole. Sheet masks have recently began to change the beauty industry and gained popularity in the U.S by various celebrities utilizing sheet masks and posting about it on social media. From the recent study conducted by NPD Group in the USA, the sale of masks increased by about 60%, overwhelming other categories in the skincare business (ORGAID).

HOW DOES A SHEET MASK WORK?

There is a sheet fully soaked with concentrated serum, which consists of many beneficial ingredients to the skin, such as hyaluronic acid and vitamins. These ingredients are in the water phase as dissolved. The sheet prevents quick evaporation of the water phase and extends the time frame the ingredients require to penetrate deep into the skin. This results in the sheet masks outperforming the effects of the traditional serum-type skincare even when applied once.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

They bring fast effects in regards to enhancing the skin. The serum is filled with various vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t dry out the skin compared to the paste-type face mask. The sheet on the face helps the serum to soak into the skin a little longer. Some of the sheets also claim to brighten and make the skin firm. Basically, sheet masks are an inexpensive alternative compared to going to a spa: convenient, easy to apply, and brings a glowing effect to the skin.

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?

Their purpose is to nourish, not exfoliate or cleanse the skin. Sheet masks are probably not as effective at exfoliating or cleaning the skin compared to the paste-type mask. In addition, serum from low-quality sheet masks evaporates quickly, even before it gets soaked into the deeper layer of the skin. Currently, ORGAID researchers are using sheet masks made with high technology to avoid those problems (ORGAID).

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE USED IN THE SERUM?

Depending on what function the sheet mask is made to perform, the serum contains various different ingredients and concentrations that are commonly used, such as aloe vera and vitamin C, to more unusual ones such as pearl, snail extract, and seaweed. Also, for prevention against bacteria/fungi contamination, most sheet masks contain chemical preservatives such as parabens, and recently phenoxyethanol, which are not good for the skin.

WHAT MATERIALS ARE THE SHEETS MADE OUT OF?

Diverse types of fabric are used for the sheet masks. Four most used materials from worst to best: 

* Non-woven fiber – Inexpensive, difficult mobility, low capacity to deliver serum into the skin
* Cotton – Inexpensive, difficult mobility, low capacity to deliver serum into the skin (but better than the non-woven fiber)
* Hydrogel – Little pricey, great absorption system, gel-type consistency, two separate parts (top and bottom) to apply on face, difficult mobility, fits the shape of the face well
* Bio-cellulose – Expensive, all-natural material, adheres to the skin well, better absorption properties, comfortable mobility.

MATERIALS END UP IN LANDFILLS!

First, you have the plastic or foil packaging. Then more plastic wrapped around the mask itself. In ten years, there’s probably going to be a whole trash island made entirely of sheet masks. 

Sure, there are brands out there with compostable options – though most people probably end up throwing them out anyway – and ones made from plant fiber. Be honest, though. If you’re looking at a $3 plastic-laden mask or a $10 plant one, which would you choose? Besides, many of the sheet masks on the market are soaked in things that may make them non-biodegradable (INSIDER).

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO BE MORE ECO-CONSCIOUS?

The easiest answer, hands down, would be to avoid using non-recyclable, non-compostable, single-use sheet masks altogether. But that’s not so easy for everyone. 

If you absolutely love your sheet masks and can’t give them up, just know there are other options out there that will yield similar results. As mentioned above, you can try to find products that use organic, biodegradable and recyclable materials. Korean beauty brand Innisfree has a line of biodegradable sheet masks, for example. Andalou Naturals, another beauty brand, also carries masks that are said to be biodegradable. The outer packaging, however, isn’t necessarily recyclable. 

You can also look for masks sold in packs, as opposed to individually wrapped ones. They do exist, and they don’t generate as much plastic waste as the single-use masks. Some people even make their own sheet masks by soaking clean face cloths with their own serums or mixtures of desired ingredients (HUFFPOST). 

At the very least, do your research. If you really want to be more responsible, look up your local municipality’s recycling and composting guidelines. 

ORGAID Article
INSIDER Article
HUFFPOST Article