Mask Magic: The Best Sheet Masks to Cover All Your Customers’ Needs

Wendy Malla, business owner and licensed esthetician at San Francisco’s Absolute Esthetics

Scroll through any Instagram feed these days and you’ll likely see it—a photo of a celebrity wearing a sheet mask. Drew Barrymore, January Jones, Mindy Kaling and even Sean
Combs have taken selfies wearing sheet masks as they relax at home or prepare for red carpet events. The Korean-beauty secret originally landed in the U.S. around 2009, and since then, the trend has only increased in popularity.

Composed of fiber, gel or pulp, the masks, bathed in skin- nourishing ingredients, are effective because they allow highly concentrated serums to soak deep into the epidermis. Sheet masks also protect against outside elements, including air that might otherwise dry out a topical mask and lead to quick evaporation.

“Unlike topical serums, sheet masks prevent fast evaporation, allowing enough time for serum to go into your deeper skin,” explains Dr. Ian Baek, founder of the organic sheet mask brand ORGAID.

Wendy Malla, business owner and licensed esthetician at San Francisco’s Absolute Esthetics, believes in the efficacy of sheet masks, witnessing their popularity on a trip to Korea. “I filled up an entire suitcase with sheet masks when coming home and gave them to my clients as gifts, and they all loved them,” she says. “They are a wonderful treatment in between your regular skincare routine and professional facial treatments. They are also an effective ‘skintervention’ treatment for those who are traveling, as they tend to rejuvenate and refresh the skin quickly.”

What are some other benefits of sheet masks, you ask? Since the ingredients are concentrated, shorter wear times are built right in (some are down to just five minutes). Plus, consumers enjoy the fact that unlike traditional mud masks, sheet masks don’t leave the skin feeling uncomfortably tight and cement-like—and there’s not even a need to wash your face afterwards.

As an esthetician, Malla has preferences when it comes to sheet mask ingredients. “I tend to like jelly masks or premium masks, and they are a slightly higher price point than the cotton sheet masks,” she says. “I also like snail hydrogel masks. I look for ingredients that have high concentrations of peptides and hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, ceramides and green tea extract.”

With so many sheet masks on the market, choosing which brands to offer in your store can be overwhelming. Here, we’ve narrowed down some of the best sheet masks available, each addressing the most common skin issues encountered by customers.

HYDRATION
Hydration is a top-of-mind skin concern for the everyday consumer. Most skin types, including normal and combination, experience dryness from time to time. In today’s world, air pollution can lead to even more dryness. Many of the sheet masks on the market address this challenge.

Malla agrees that sheet masks are ideal for hydration, saying, “Sheet masks can be beneficial in keeping the skin hydrated for longer periods of time and are especially great for travel since they are vacuum-sealed and wrapped for individual, one-time use.”

"Sheet masks were meant to be used while laying down—this is where you will have the best absorption and see the difference once you peel it away.”

—Wendy Malla, licensed esthetician

One example of a hydrating mask comes from Skin Laundry, the Los Angeles-based company with storefronts providing Laser & Light facials alongside beauty products. They offer a sheet mask that wakes up tired, dehydrated skin with vitamins, amino acids, minerals and natural plant extracts. Hydrated skin is healthier, and a moisturizing mask has the ability to restore radiance while refining pores.

The main ingredient of this particular sheet mask is lentil seed extract, which tightens pores and fights blemishes. Also included is meadowfoam seed oil, a remarkable moisturizer, and niacinamide—a vitamin B3 ingredient that prevents breakouts and eases signs of aging.

“Our Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask saturates dry and tired skin, leaving it replenished and refreshed,” says Yen Reis, founder of Skin Laundry.

Patchology is another brand that makes a hydrating sheet mask. Their Hydrate Flashmasque is ideal for customers on the go, with a five-minute wear time. The mask’s ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and vitamin B, replenish moisture and improve skin elasticity and smoothness. Some sheet masks require a 20-minute wear time, and Patchology’s mask is known for delivering fast results.

Chris Hobson, president and CEO of Patchology, says, “People love the immediate hydration and results from the sheet masks, but they don’t love the 10- to 15-minute wear time. Patchology’s Flashmasques solve this problem with the only five-minute wear time on the market.”

ANTIAGING
Sheet masks have the power to distribute concentrated boosts of nutrients to smooth fine lines and bring a youthful look to the skin, and ORGAID is a brand that carries sheet masks that deliver these results.

Specializing in handcrafted, small-batch sheet masks made in an FDA-registered facility, the company makes an Anti-Aging & Moisturizing Organic Sheet Mask that contains only natural ingredients: vitamin B3 for reducing skin aging, aloe vera to calm the skin, witch hazel for reducing swelling and blemishes, and hyaluronic acid for hydration.

“Many sheet masks use irritating ingredients, such as parabens, fragrances and phenoxyethanol. Instead, we aim to provide the most qualified products with a unique and effective formulation from certified-organic botanical ingredients,” says Dr. Baek.

The sheets are made of a new material called ecoderma, a hybrid of fabric and hydrogel that is breathable and allows for good absorption and adherence. The innovative material allows the serum to fully soak into the skin and is comfortable to wear. “This is a next-generation sheet, which is more adhesive than fabric and more breathable than hydrogel,” says Dr. Baek.

Malla agrees that in many ways, sheet masks are indicative of what’s next in skin care. “Bottled and jar masks may become somewhat of an antiquated way to use masks as the future of skin care continues to evolve,” she says.

PURIFICATION
Countless potions and lotions for clearing blemishes stock beauty store shelves. Although benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and tea tree oil remain in demand, one breakthrough in the acne battle is the use of charcoal. Activated charcoal works as a sponge of sorts, absorbing dirt and oil from the skin.

When it comes to dispensing concentrated ingredients into acne-prone skin, sheet masks can be quite potent. “In my opinion, sheet masks are more effective at delivering topical ingredients into the skin than traditional topical and mud masks,” Malla says. “The sheet itself helps to occlude the ingredients and hold them onto the skin, which helps the skin to retain them better. Most sheet masks are saturated in as much as one to two ounces of serum or product, so this is a high concentration of product per treatment.”

With its roots in Korea, Soo Ae offers a purifying charcoal sheet mask, the Hanbang Charcoal Flower Mask. Formulated with a blend of “hanbang” ingredients, traditional Korean herbal medicine, the mask is favored among Soo Ae’s devotees.

“This is one of our best-sellers and favorite masks, as it offers immense benefits for almost all skin types—oily, dry, combination and sensitive,” says Janice Kang, director of marketing at Soo Ae. Charcoal masks work to purify and detoxify the skin through activated charcoal. This mask uses binchotan charcoal, the highest-quality activated charcoal that’s also used to absorb chemicals in tap water, enhance blood circulation in a hot bath and even make soil healthier.

People are exposed to pollutants and pore-clogging toxins every day. A charcoal mask can alleviate that exposure. Kang says, “Where there are people, there are cars and air pollution, and other harmful environmental stressors. These stressors tend to wreak havoc on our complexions, weakening their normal functions and deteriorating the skin’s balance and health. This is where our charcoal-infused masks are able to help the skin to detoxify and purify itself from pollutants, thus helping skin’s recovery functions.”

BRIGHTENING
There are many factors that contribute to skin brightening—exfoliation, moisturizing and ingredients like vitamin C—and Farmacy happens to have a mask medley that provides overall brightening.

“Our beloved Hydrating Coconut Gel Masks showcase our approach beautifully,” says Mark Veeder, Farmacy’s cofounder. “They provide intensive hydration and restore the skin’s balance, while the coconut gel sheet releases its complex of components to provide the skin’s surface layers with a penetrating surge of active ingredients.”

Veeder calls the masks “supercharged skincare solutions,” that “fit like a second skin so you can wear them on the go, be it on a plane or at home making dinner. After a 20- to 25-minute treatment, you simply peel off the mask and massage the remaining serum into the skin. Skin radiance, moisture and tone are improved after just one use.”

“Sheet masks can be beneficial in keeping the skin hydrated for longer periods of time and are especially great for travel since they are vacuum-sealed and wrapped for individual, one-time use.”

—Wendy Malla, licensed esthetician

To get all of those brightening benefits, Malla recommends this strategy for using sheet masks. She says, “Once you have the backing peeled off, you will begin applying the sheet from the top and slowly lay it onto the eyes, temples and nose area, working your way down to the chin, pressing it onto the face and smoothing it out as you go. You can adjust it as needed, since everyone has a different facial structure. Take the remaining serum inside the package and rub it all over the neck and décolletage while you are masking so these areas will benefit as well. Sheet masks were meant to be used while laying down—this is where you will have the best absorption and see the difference once you peel it away.”

FOR ALL SKIN TYPES
While it’s important to carry sheet masks that cater to a wide variety of skin issues, it’s equally important to have masks that work on all skin types.

Karuna, the brand that first launched sheet masks in the U.S., offers a mask that does address all skin types—their Hydrating+ Face Mask. The product is said to significantly increase hydration and helps improve the skin’s general appearance.

“Our Hydrating+ Face Mask is clinically proven to increase hydration by 38.8 percent after just one application. It contains 28 milliliters of serum, which is more than the entire bottle of average serum,” says Linda Wang, Karuna’s founder.

AN EXPERT'S ADVICE
For beauty store owners who are considering carrying sheet masks, Malla has some advice. “[Sheet masks] are definitely becoming a trend,” she says. “It’s a great way for a customer to try out different brands and see what they like best without making a huge investment in an entire line. There are regular cotton sheet masks saturated in topical ingredients as well as premium jelly or silicone-based sheet masks, which are my favorite as they tend to occlude better and are also easier to apply. Price points vary, and I tell clients to look for premium masks if they truly want to see a difference from one treatment, which retail between $8 to $15 per mask. It’s best to have a few of the premium masks for customers to choose from in addition to regular masks.”

As a fresh crop of sheet masks continues to hit the scene (emoji and cartoon-inspired sheet masks are currently having a moment), one thing’s for sure—consumers will time and time again rely on masks that deliver measurable results.