We can’t be the only ones who plan our entire weekend around an evening plopped up on the couch with a sheet mask plastered on our faces, while our favourite music plays and the glass of wine keeps refilling itself.
But, do sheet masks offer actual beauty benefits or is it only good for giving us serial killer-esque selfies for Instagram? For the curious and the uninitiated, we deep dive to find out.
What exactly are sheet masks?
Commonly made of cotton, these one-time use masks are super-soaked in a goopy fluid. You place the floppy mask on your face as accurately as you can. Then, you rest for 10-30 minutes (depending on the instructions). Remove the mask and let your skin absorb the residue fluid. No rinsing necessary.
How does it work?
The fluid is serum carrying active ingredients which can vary from sheet mask to sheet mask depending on the extracts used.
The way it works is – the sheet creates a barrier between the air and your face, so the serum has nowhere else to go but into your skin.
Moist skin absorbs nutrients better, which means the active ingredients from these wet sheets will penetrate deeper, thus providing better results. This is also why, those with a multi-step skincare routine put on sheet masks some steps in, depending on which products they need absorbed better.
Sounds cool! But is it really effective?
We believe that the greatest benefit of sheet masks is that it allows us to sit down and relax – a luxury for anyone with a hectic, on-the-go lifestyle.
If your skin is dry and dehydrated, it can offer much-needed hydration, leaving you with plump and dewy skin.
Its soothing and cooling properties also work well to curb signs of stress, redness and/or bags under your eyes.
It is also worth noting that while the true effectiveness of sheet masks is up for debate, it does actually help in penetration of active ingredients. So, if you’re using another serum or emulsifier in your routine, following it up with a sheet mask can work well for you!
Is there a catch to all this?
As with every other skincare product, exercise caution and read the label carefully. While everyone else may heap praise on a particular sheet mask, it may not be the best for you.
For instance, an anti-aging sheet mask means it contains glycolic acid, which means you shouldn’t use it more than thrice a week and should avoid it completely if you have extra-sensitive skin.
Sheet masks create an occlusive barrier, meaning, in the process of sealing serum under the skin, it’s blocking the pores too. This can end up doing more harm than good for those with acne-prone skin.
Oily skin types may find themselves struggling with sheet masks too, as the serum may leave your skin feeling greasier than before. Moreover, the constant wetting and soaking of skin can disrupt the pH balance and cause irritation.
The benefits of sheet masks are instant and short-term. To notice visible results day after day, you’ll have to use it as frequently, which quite honestly, is not cost effective. You’d rather invest in a good serum and moisturiser for more intensive long-term benefits.
The most salient downside of sheet masks is that it more often than not contains ingredients that are completely unnecessary. For instance, synthetic fragrance to complement the exotic flavour, alcohol-based penetration enhancers, and a host of “natural extracts” that aren’t exactly penetrated by the skin as well as synthetic preservatives that are required for the masks to stay "fresh".
Okay, so final verdict?
Sheet masks aren’t the cardinal rule of skincare. It’s not going to magically fix your acne or dramatically reverse signs of aging. But we do believe sheet masks are a good gateway drug into a personalised skincare routine. We love using it once a week to soothe the skin and give it a much-needed break. But, that’s as far as it goes for us.