Skincare: Why do we need sheet masks and jelly masks?
If you’re on Instagram, you’ll know it exploded over the last couple of years with videos and photos of people wearing various types of face masks. Combine this with the seemingly insatiable appetite for Korean beauty (“K beauty”) products which often incorporate masks, and there’s definitely a movement happening.
I love the idea of face masks. I have several in my bathroom cupboards. But I’m really bad at actually putting them on my face. However, I have been inspired and educated recently by my wonderful friend Vania Carter-Strauss who – as well as having a full time day job as a nurse practitioner – has just opened a business selling sheet masks and is basically the guru on this subject.
Vania started out as a beauty enthusiast and Instagrammer and, as her knowledge of and passion for skincare products grew (seeing some amazing results in her own skin), she decided to turn it into a business. You know, in all that spare time she has. The result is a gorgeous brick and mortar store here in Reno, NV and online store which ships internationally, called Prude & Boujee.
I met up with Vania to talk about getting sheet-faced when you’re in your 40s. She gave me (and some I bought) a selection of masks to try which I felt would address the skincare concerns of our age group most appropriately - brightening, moisturizing and clarifying - and some of the new jelly masks which are apparently what all the cool kids are using at the moment.
So you can understand what all the fuss is about, I’ll hand you over to Vania for the science bit:
“Sheet masks are face-shaped sheet fabrics that are soaked in a nutrition-packed solution typically called a serum. The sheet is made up of variety of materials including cotton, bamboo, hydrogel or biocellulose gel. The serum is packed with tons of vitamins and ingredients to help achieve a healthy complexion or treat a myriad of skin concerns.
You use a sheet mask by applying it to a clean face and leaving it on for the recommended time. Afterwards, take it off and pat in the extra serum before following with the rest of your skincare or makeup routine.
Sheet masks are typically a one-time-use and individually packaged, making them fast, convenient, and easy to use. In addition to providing a boost of skincare benefits, sheet masks are also a great relaxation tool to give you 20 min of decompression and relaxation. I like to read, watch the news, listen to music or even just close my eyes and meditate while I sheet mask.”
“You may have also heard of these masks be referred to as Rubber or Modeling masks and they are essentially the beefy version of sheet masks. They are extremely popular in Asian skincare and amongst skincare enthusiasts whose goal of achieving "glass skin" includes qualities of bounciness, even tone and the ultimate hydrated glow.
Jelly masks are a heavy-duty skincare treatment not unlike sheet masks but they definitely are different. Jelly masks come in a treatment kit in which you typically combine two substances together to activate. The result is much thicker, gloopy substance that you frost your face with (if your face was a cake) and let it solidify to a rubber state before peeling it off.
By creating a very occlusive barrier, the serums, hydration and nutrients in the mask have only one way to go - into the skin! These masks are now becoming increasingly popular in spa facial treatments but having them at home makes them a luxurious treatment that can be done for a fraction of the price.”
How often should I mask?
“I’m often asked how often we should use sheet masks and there’s no specific number, but I enjoy doing a sheet mask 2-3 days a week on average and more when I travel by plane.”
Thanks Vania! Now here’s the bit where you get to see me looking a bit terrifying and read my verdict on the masks I tried out:
Brightening Rose sheet mask by Healing Bird
This mask had a gorgeous, natural rose scent. It was extremely juicy (by which I think I mean rich with moisture-giving goodness) but not runny, so you could go about your daily chores whilst wearing it if you happen to be unable to sit still.
I wouldn’t say my face looked brighter after using it (to be honest, that’s quite a feat with these freckles) but it did look calmer and happier, which is a win.
Rose Lip Mask by Kocostar
Yep, I like the smell of roses and, again, this was subtle and natural. Having a weird aversion to lying down with a mask on my face, I loved that this just stuck on to my mouth and I could sit and work while it worked its magic.
Afterwards my lips did feel softer and plumper and seemed to absorb my lip balm more effectively. Since it extends beyond the lips to the skin around them, this would be a great one for anyone concerned with fine lines in that area, particularly smokers or former smokers. This one is definitely a super cute treat or gift, too.
Lolita Brightening Eye Mask by Mint
Depending on your feelings about Vladimir Nabokov, you may or may not love the Lolita styling, but as a mask this was super cooling and soothing, so great for a morning-after situation or on a warm day.
Thankfully I don’t suffer too badly from dark circles (maybe my freckles just hide them?) so that wasn’t my main concern, but I did notice a smoothing of the eye area which looked a little younger (not Lolita young, obviously) which was a pleasant surprise.
A.C. Clarifying jelly mask in Green Nature by MD’s Pick
I may be 42, but I definitely still get clogged pores and the odd pimple, particularly at the moment, it seems. I know I’m not alone, so I wanted to try a mask aimed at clarifying congested skin.
Preparing this mask for use is fun in itself. The box comes with one pouch of jelly and another of powder containing the activating ingredients. You mix them together with the spatula provided and slap it on your face. It was less messy than I expected and, after a minute or two, the jelly starts to firm up and doesn’t run down the face. After 15ish minutes, the jelly is so firm that it can be peeled off in a very satisfying way.
This one did a great job in soothing my dermis. An angry spot which was brewing on a weird part of my cheek calmed down and never quite came out to play after I used this. Result!
Also, it could just be psychological, but the peeling off at the end seemed to have an exfoliating effect, which left my skin smooth and glowy.
And the super cute panda ear headband is also from Prude & Boujee - they have other animals and other colors and they’re all adorable.
Bro Mask by Jaxon Lane
Yes, the guys can get in on this trend too and Jaxon Lane is the leader of the pack when it comes to masks for the man in your life. I got my hubby to try this one while lazing in the bath. The mask comes in two parts - for the upper and lower face, which is convenient since my guy has a beard and so the lower portion couldn’t really be used (that’s why the do it, clever people!). I didn’t get an exhaustive review from him because, well, he’s a bloke, but he did say his skin felt smoother and softer afterwards and that it had been nice to use.
One unexpected benefit I noticed during my little face mask challenge was the sense of self care the masks gave. I know, it’s somewhat of a cliche that self care means using face masks (when it could just as easily be ending a toxic friendship or saying no to an invitation), but it honestly made a difference. I felt I was prioritizing me and being nice to myself, and that seemed to provide a little self esteem/morale boost, and I’ll take those wherever I can get them.
I know that to see more skincare benefits I need to keep using masks (and other products). This has convinced me that it’s worth the time and relatively modest cost, both for my skin and my overall wellbeing.
Have you used jelly or sheet masks? What did you think? What are your favorite brands? Do you have any other skincare routines you love? Let me know and check out my Pinterest board with loads more masks, K beauty and other inspiration and ideas.