Throughout the rest of December, I’ll do some roundups of my favorite products of 2015. These aren’t necessarily products that came out this year, just ones that I’ve fallen in love with in the last 12 months. First up: sheet masks.
Sheet masks are the fruity cocktails of the Asian skincare routine: pretty much everyone loves them, even if they’re new to alcohol/skincare, and they’re the perfect gateway into that world. Before you know it, you’re drinking IPAs and straight whiskey (AHAs and sleeping packs, I guess, in this analogy?).
For that reason, they also make great gifts! I love making little personalized sample boxes for my beauty-inclined friends, with a few sheet masks and some curated samples out of the immense stockpile I’ve accumulated.
So, without further ado, here are the sheet masks I discovered this year that I can no longer live without.
SNP Birds Nest Aqua Ampoule Mask
This is a potentially divisive product, since the farming and harvesting of its namesake ingredient, swiftlet nest extract, has had a negative impact on the worldwide swiftlet population. Because of that, I think of this more as a special occasion mask than an everyday mask.
That said, I have never used a mask before that’s had such an immediate and significant effect on my skin. It’s truly remarkable. As I mentioned in a post a couple months back, this mask saved my skin when I had medication-side-effect-induced rhino face, turning it from pebbly and uneven to plump and silky-smooth after just one use.
This has since become my go-to mask if I need to look especially radiant for an event. I’ll leave this mask on for 20-30 minutes, and when I take it off, I find my skin is noticeably brighter, smoother, and just unbelievably plump and firm. The essence soaks in quickly and completely, without any stickiness or residue.
To me, masks are the skincare product most likely to give you immediate results (except for things like chemical peels, of course), and this is the mask that blows all the others out of the water in that regard.
Even better: these masks aren’t crazy expensive and they’re on Amazon Prime! You can snag them there for $15 for a pack of ten. You can also get them individually for $1.08 a piece (plus shipping) at Korea Depart.
Ingredients: Water, glycerin, Swiftlet Nest extract, alcohol, hydroxyethylcellulose, polysorbate 80, betaine, Centella asiatica extract, Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, Camellia sinesis leaf extract, Anthemis nobilis flower extract, ceramide 3, sodium hyaluronate, carbomer, triethanolamine, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, flavor
I Love Sasatinnie Soya Milk Mask
I feel like I end up mentioning these masks in every other post. They’re that rare intersection of high quality, low cost, and relatively unknown, so I feel it’s my civic duty to spread the word far and wide.
Sasa.com has a house brand called I Love Sasatinnie; I’ve tried six different kinds of Sasatinnie masks and there isn’t a dud in the bunch, but their soy milk mask is my favorite.
I’ve really fallen in love recently with soy as an ingredient. Sana’s soy eye cream has done incredible things for brightening my dark undereye circles, and these Sasatinnie masks are just unstoppable in terms of moisture and brightening.
They smell really nice – sort of a milky, sweet, soothing scent – and they’re drenched in essence but not at all drippy. The mask is surprisingly high quality cotton; it’s pretty thick, so you’re not going to get a silk mask feel, but it’s extremely soft and there are extra cuts around the edges to help it fit to your face.
I usually leave these on for about half an hour, and it gives me incredibly bright, even, moisturized skin. It demolishes my tretinoin flakies and plumps my skin up really well. And here’s the kicker: I got these for less than 60 cents a mask.
As far as I’ve found, these are only available on Sasa.com. They’re $9 for 10 masks, but for six different flavors including the Soy Milk one, there’s a promotion until January 15 where you can get 3 boxes for the price of 2 or 5 boxes for the price of 3. For the latter deal, you can get 50 of some of the best masks I’ve tried for $27. That’s 54 cents per mask. WHAT.
Ingredients: Water, butylene glycol, niacinamide, Morus alba (mulberry) root extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, Glycine soja (soybean) extract, triethanolamine, lactic acid, carbomer, allantoin, xanthan gum, tocopherol, methylparaben, hyaluronic acid, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, parfum, benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazonlinone.
My Beauty Diary Tranexamic Acid Treatment Mask
My Beauty Diary is certainly no secret in the sheet mask game; they’re high quality, pretty affordable, and easily accessible. I don’t know anyone who digs sheet masks and HASN’T tried an MBD mask at some point.
For the most part, I like but don’t love MBD masks. The mask material is so thin that the essence drips down my neck, which is the skincare equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, or someone eating a banana in your ear. For the basic MBD flavors – black pearl, birds nest, hyaluronic acid – the effects weren’t quite good enough to overcome that feeling.
The tranexamic acid mask still has the drip issue, but I don’t care. This mask is that good. It smells absolutely divine – floral, but not in a cloying way – and it fits like a dream. I can leave this on for 45+ minutes without it drying out. I’ve started lying down and meditating when I wear this mask, since it cuts down on the drip issue and also we should all probably meditate more, so win-win.
This mask is moderately brightening, moderately moisturizing, pretty moderate at most of the stuff masks do – but the SMOOTHING. I never really think of smoothing as a primary function of masks, but since this mask uses tranexamic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, it makes sense that smoothing and gentle exfoliation is the name of its game. After I use this mask, my skin feels like I did a chemical peel, without any of the irritation, redness, or peeling. Just smooth, firm, baby-butt skin.
Ingredients: Water, Lilium candidum flower extract, propylene glycol, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Morus alba leaf extract, butylene glycol, Chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract, glycerin, Vaccinium vitis-idaea fruit juice, hydroxyethyl urea, phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, sodium lactate, polysorbate 20, triethanolamine, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, citric acid, dipotassium glycyrrhizate, carbomer, sericin, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, xanthan gum, polysorbate 80, lecithin, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, fragrance, tocopheryl acetate, PCA, arginine, tranexamic acid.