Updated: Jun 10
Sheet masks are super popular right now. Although they make a fun part of a pampering routine, are sheet masks actually necessary for healthy skin? Absolutely not! Worse; they’re unsustainable and harmful to the environment. To find out why I no longer use sheet masks, and to learn some eco-friendly alternatives to sheet masks, keep on reading!
First of all, what are sheet masks?
Sheet masks are thin cotton or synthetic based sheets that are soaked with essence and placed on the face for 15 to 20 minutes. The essence left on the skin once the time is up is not rinsed off. Instead, it should be patted into the skin to help it be absorbed. The sheet mask is then discarded.
In Korean skincare routines, sheet masks are used daily, while some might enjoy using them once or twice a week. These masks provide the skin with a boost of hydration and can give the skin a plump, glowy look.
Are sheet masks bad?
I don’t use sheet masks anymore, but is this because they’re bad? NO! Sheet masks do give you a nice bouncy look to your skin, and give you hydration. They’re certainly not bad for your skin. But when it comes to being bad for the environment… well, sheet masks aren’t the best. Using that amount of single-use plastic packaging daily or even weekly really adds up quickly. It’s a waste that I don’t think is necessary as:
You can get the same effects of sheet masks from hydrating toners, serums or essences applied directly to the skin as part of your skincare routine (more on this later)!
Sheet masks aren’t bad for the skin, but there are some important things to note:
1- Masks should always be followed up by moisturiser. Many people aren’t aware of this, and don’t use moisturiser after masking. In the long run, this might dry their skin out more than if they didn’t use sheet masks at all!
This is because sheet masks hydrate, but they don’t moisturise. Hydration and moisturisation are different. Hydration means re-establishing your skin’s water content, whereas moisturisation refers to boosting your skin’s oils. Using a moisturiser is key after using sheet masks to stop all the hydration offered by the mask from just evaporating away! But because sheet masks contain so much essence (more than can be absorbed by the skin), most people will not feel the need to use a moisturiser after masking, which can dry out the skin!
2- Some sheet masks use some vary basic hydrating ingredients that do not justify their price. The main hydrating ingredients in sheet masks are usually water, followed by glycerin. Cheaper sheet masks pack their essence full of sunflower oil; although this is not bad for the skin, it’s not what we expect when buying an expensive sheet mask. Also, sunflower oil is a moisturiser, not a hydrator (as it’s an oil), so it could actually block the hydration of some of the hydrating ingredients actually in your mask!
At this point, it might sound like I hate sheet masks, but I really don’t!
I love how pampering and indulgent it can feel to put on a sheet mask and read a book or watch some TV for 15-20 minutes. And if your skin is very dehydrated or dry, you might really enjoy the occasional sheet mask.
I just don’t think sheet masks are worth the amount of waste they produce! If your skin is really dry or dehydrated, buying a product that has multiple uses in it (like a serum or cream) produces way less waste than these single-use sheets. And for those of us who use skincare every day, sheet masking is just a redundant step!
So why have I stopped using sheet masks?
I just don’t feel like sheet masks are anything special, and they’re quite wasteful. Sheet masks are individually wrapped in plastic, and the masks themselves can be made of synthetic materials which aren’t biodegradable nor recyclable (the kind of waste that just goes to landfill). If sheet masks were the only way to give my skin the hydration it needs, this would not bother me as much as I could justify them as necessary waste. But because I can get the same boost of hydration from more eco-friendly options (see below!), why would I produce so much waste up to 7 days a week?!
As I’ve been trying to make my skincare routine more eco-friendly, sheet masks are an element of skincare that I’m happy to say bye-bye to.
What can I use instead of sheet masks?
If you’re interested in getting a boost of hydration but you don’t want to dish out on sheet masks, I would recommend hydrating toners, serums or essences. Look out for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, as these both attract water from the air and draw it into your kin. I would also recommend snail mucin (yes, snail slime!), propolis and rose water as hydrating ingredients. As with sheet masks, you should use a moisturising cream or oil at the end of your routine to lock in all the hydrating ingredients and keep your skin plump and hydrated.
I prefer to get my hydration in in the form of serums, as they often provide the most concentrated boost of the ingredient you’re looking to use. Toners and essences are mostly water-based, whereas serums are more viscous and contain more of the ingredient you’re using.
A hydrating toner that I would recommend is Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner. For hydrating serums, look out for The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronics Serum or Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, or CeraVe’s Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum. If you want to get your hydration from essence, check out Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Essence for an affordable essence, or COSRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. A high end (but great) essence is SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence.
These are the reasons why I no longer use sheet masks, but if you still enjoy using them, that’s great! Skincare is different for everyone, and we all have different skin needs and goals, so if something works for you, don’t stop using it! I just find that I can get enough hydration from other skincare products, and so for me, they’re not worth all the waste.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and that you’ll enjoy the skincare ingredients I recommended!
If you’ve found this blog post useful, please consider checking out some of my other posts. You might enjoy one of latest posts which is a review of an extremely affordable skincare line! Thanks for reading!
Bye for now,