What beauty product scores 10/10 on effective results but 0/10 on sustainability? Answer: the sheet mask. I’ve never been truly disappointed by a sheet mask, maybe because I have quite basic expectations from it, i.e. that it should provide a hit of moisture to my tired and dehydrated skin. I’ve yet to come across a mask that doesn’t hydrate skin. Sure, some of them claim to also firm up skin, reduce the appearance of blemishes or add radiance, but really as long as my skin feels tacky from all the goo that’s been sitting on it for the last 20 minutes, I say job done. But how do they fare on the sustainability front? Very poorly it turns out. They’re a single use product, they come in non-recyclable packaging, and although many sheet masks are now made of natural, degradable material, it is not going to add nutrients to your compost, just bulk. With beauty brands increasingly cleaning up their product offering, are they going to take one hard look at the sheet mask and wave it goodbye? It’ll be a tough one to get rid of, so infiltrated is it in today’s western skincare routine. A beauty import from South Korea, the sheet mask has been adopted by beauty giant Garnier (I can recommend its Moisture Bomb range), drugstore stalwart Love Beauty and Planet, botanical-inspired Natura and of course if you’re after the real deal, there’s always Korean import Innisfree (I’m a fan of their ginseng one. Here I review three sheet masks, hoping this beauty item will learn to adapt to the changing times and achieve a green makeover.
I’d never heard of this brand until a friend gave me this mask after her brother brought back a suitcase load from a recent trip to Korea. I wish I’d had the foresight to bring an empty suitcase with me when I visited Seoul a few years ago, but my urge to pack light has always been very strong. Three years ago I went on a 10-day holiday with just hand luggage. And I didn’t even wear all the outfits I had packed. I’ve had an aversion to checking in luggage ever since my suitcase got lost in transit when travelling to Thailand, resulting in me spending my first day of the holiday dragging my husband around the tackiest market haggling for string bikinis and ‘I heart’ tourist t-shirts, wondering where the hell I’d be able to buy a pack of cotton briefs. The suitcase turned up in the end but by then I’d bought dresses with elephant prints on them. Anyway back to sheet masks – this one boasts antioxidant green tea and amino acids to provide elasticity and improve skin tone. It promises a radiant complexion, smoothed out wrinkles, long-lasting hydration and rejuvenation. So quite a lot to come out of a 15-minute mask application. I can vouch for the long-lasting hydration, but as with many of these Korean masks, the holes for my eyes and mouth are just too small, and I found this mask really sopping wet, much wetter than it needed to be so lots of excess formula.
I often chastise myself for not making the most of evenings at home as mini skincare pamper sessions. Sheet masks are literally the easiest thing to whack on whilst catching up on emails with one eye on Celebrity Masterchef (I don’t cook, I don’t even know why I watch it, if anything I just end up feeling hungry). And yet it gets to 11.30pm, I’ve sorted out my emails but I’ve yet to take my makeup off. So I find myself adjusting a sheet mask to my face as I get into bed, rigidly lying on my back for the next 20 minutes to ensure I don’t fall asleep, roll over and press a drenched sheet mask into my clean pillowcase. Touted as an ‘urban shield’ mask, this mask contains Centella Asiatica, a star ingredient in Asian skincare that comes from a plant that grows in the wetlands in Asia. Known as a hydrating ingredient that soothes irritated skin, it can help revitalise skin’s protective barrier, hence the ‘urban shield’ name of this mask. Whether it gave my skin’s protective barrier a boost I don’t know, but it did hydrate. RRP £5.00
So my favourite sheet mask out of the three turns out to be the least sustainable option – argh. Containing brightening prickly pear, hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, anti-ageing green tea and the ever-popular Centella Asiatica, this vegan mask is made from two gel parts that are placed separately on the top half and the bottom half of your face. This mask is a much closer fit to my face and actually features holes that are big enough for my eyes and mouth, therefore avoiding the Hannibal Lecter look. It feels incredibly comfortable on, so much so that I practically forget I’m wearing it. I initially had my doubts that this mask would even manage to perform the most basic task of a sheet mask: the hydration part. It just seemed to contain very little formula on it and I wasn’t getting the drenched feeling I would invariably achieve from the other masks. Sometimes less is more: once I peeled it off after 20 minutes I was left with perfectly hydrated skin without the tell-tale ‘sweaty’ look you get from other sheet masks, where you have to spend another five minutes massaging the residue into skin. I could move straight onto makeup application and the hydrated feeling lasted all day. This is the clear winner. 25g RRP £6.00
I don’t want to say goodbye to sheet masks, but I am also looking to introduce more sustainable beauty products to my bathroom cabinet (my new found love for bar soaps a case in point), so if you know of any planet-friendly sheet masks I’d love to hear about them!
Features gifted product