Sheet masks – The Complete Guide

Facial masks are normally divided into:

  • Sheet masks
  • Peel-off masks
  • Rinse-off masks, and
  • Hydrogels

What is a sheet mask?

It is simply a mask in sheet form.

What are sheet masks made up of?

  • Cotton
  • Microfiber
  • Hydrogel
  • Bio-cellulose
  • Foil
  • Charcol, and
  • Silicone

What does a Sheet mask contain?

  • Water
  • Active ingredients (like vitamin C)
  • Soothing ingredients
  • Moisturizing ingredients (like hyaluronic acid)
  • Solvents or delivery agents (it can deliver actives deep into the skin)
  • Preservatives, and
  • Fragrances

What does a sheet mask do?

The sheet mask help to create a occlusive barrier (a physical barrier on top of the skin). This occlusive barrier can:

  • Increase the water content of the skin, and
  • Increase the penetration of active ingredients deep into the skin.

Can a occlusive barrier increase the water content of the skin?

Yes, a occluding (even short term i.e. 30 mins) may increase the water content of the skin up to 50%, but this effect is temporary. So this, means that you will have to use sheet masks from time to time, along with with your actives.

How to make a occlusive barrier:

  • Physical barriers over a product or impregnated with product like tape, gloves, dressings, plastic wraps, sheet masks, etc.
  • Occlusive skin care products like petrolatum, mineral oil/other oils, lanolin, waxes, shea butter, cocoa butter, paraffin, plant waxes, dimethicone, etc.

Who all can use a Sheet mask?

Sheet mask is generally suitable for all skin types, but should be used with caution for sensitive skin and skin of colour.

Dry skin and oily skin can benefit from sheet masks. When using sheet mask for sensitive skin and skin of colour, make sure to avoid fragrances and alcohol, and look for more hydrating sheet masks. Also don’t leave the sheet mask for too long and conduct a patch test.

How to buy the best Sheet mask?

When buying sheet masks, look for moisturizing and active ingredients. Also look at how long you should leave the mask on as leaving it too long can cause irritation.

Formulations also matter because there are higher and stronger sheet masks out there and using the wrong one can cause irritation (caution: sensitive skin and skin of colour).

Check for fragrances and alcohol (some people wont be able to handle it and can also be allergic to it).

Tips on how to use Sheet masks:

  1. If there is any irritation form the sheet mask, remove the product and wash your face (use moisturizer to reduce irritation).
  2. Always cleanse your face before using a sheet mask.
  3. Those with sensitive skin may patch test mask fluid prior to using the mask
  4. You can use the leftover fluid directly on skin after masking. Discard the remaining fluid.
  5. Paper masks are often cheaper, but the skin reacts better with bio-cellulose, hydro-gel, and silicone masks.

Can a Sheet Mask really hydrate the skin?

  • One study evaluated 40 “moisturizing” sheet masks on 24 users. Skin hydration was done using a device called corneometer and user satisfaction were rated on a 5- point scale. A combined score for both was also obtained.
  • Only 6 out of 40 users scored a 4/5 based on skin hydration.
  • Some masks showed no improvement in skin hydration.

Prices also didn’t effect with the performance:

  • 2.5$ sheet masks had a combined score of 5/5. (7 of 40 masks).
  • 14$ sheet mask has a combined score of 3/5.
  • 3.1 $ has a combined score of 2.3/5.
  • Increase in hydration decreased progressively over a few hours (hours after use not hours of use). Hydration at 1, 3 hours, and 6 hours after application: 50%, 30%, and 20%.

Can a Sheet mask really increase penetration of active ingredients?

It depends. Occlusion does not increase skin penetration of all substances and we dont know what substances can enhance penetration when occluded. It is also unclear if longer duration of occlusion will actually increase penetration.

The degree of penetration will depend on:

  • Product formulation
  • Skin type
  • Environment (temperature, humidity)
  • Method of occlusive.

And, active ingredients don’t always have to penetrate into the skin to work.

What about preservatives in Sheet Masks?

Many sheet mask require preservatives and fragrance is also used to heighten the sensory experience. Alcohol is utilized as a agent to deliver actives.

Environmental impact of Sheet masks:

Sheet masks may generate more waste and can cost more than other skin care products.. More Eco-friendly options are:

  • Reusable silicone sheet masks
  • Multi-pack sheet masks

Sheet masks are often made of either cotton or bio-cellulose, both of which are typically compostable or at least biodegradable. When it comes to sheet masks, the outer package and inner plastic lining are not recyclable, and even if they could be recycled, they need to be thoroughly washed and cleaned to avoid contaminating other recyclables which most consumers don’t do.

Frequently asked Questions:

Can Sheet masks treat dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles?

No, sheet masks cannot treat dark spots, and wrinkles because it only helps to hydrate your face. You can use sheet masks along with your actives (Vitamin C, retinol, and niacinamide) to treat to dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles, but sheet masks on their own cannot really do anything except hydrate your face.

Can Sheet masks cause breakouts?

Sheet masks won’t normally cause breakouts, but leaving it too long can cause irritation and that can lead to breakouts, especially if it’s a higher formulation.

Are Sheet masks worth it?

Sheet masks are not must-haves, there are many other products that can hydrate the skin and deliver active ingredients.

Can you use Sheet masks every day?

It’s safe to use sheet masks every day or at any time of the day, but it also depends on the formulations and the active ingredients present in them.