A sheet mask review by Jude Chao of https://fiftyshadesofsnail.com/.
If you’ve been shopping from Glowie Co or following my blog or Instagram, then you’re no doubt already familiar with Taiwanese sheet masks. It’s hard to beat the fit, quality, effectiveness, and relative value of sheet masks from Taiwanese brands like Annie’s Way, Lovemore, and My Scheming. But while T-beauty offers an amazing array of standard sheet masks, there are other types of masks that I’ve long found conspicuously absent from the selection.
Then the Glowie Co team brought over a pair of hydrogel masks from My Scheming, and my skincare life suddenly felt complete.
Annie and Phil sent me several each of the My Scheming Aloe Soothing Hydrogel Mask and My Scheming Camellia Moisturizing Hydrogel Mask. It has taken me way longer to write up this post than I expected—I’ve been sparingly testing and carefully making notes on them, wanting to really get a sense of what makes them different and when you might want to use these instead of standard fabric sheet masks. And finally, I’m done. Let’s talk Taiwanese hydrogels!
What are hydrogel masks and what do they do?
Arguably most familiar for their use in burn dressings, hydrogel membranes can be either naturally derived or synthetic. They’re characterized by molecular properties that allow them to absorb and retain very large quantities of water without dissolving. These hydrophilic materials typically take on a moist, slippery, bouncy texture when saturated with water, and their moisture retention and pliability make them especially useful as wound dressings, providing “the optimal environment for wound repair.”
These same properties make hydrogel membranes an interesting option for skincare. The ability to maintain a moist environment that makes hydrogel valuable for medical applications also enhances masks. Hydrogel sheets stay moist longer and trap moisture better than standard pulp or fabric mask materials, theoretically enabling skin to absorb more of a mask’s essence and therefore receive more of its benefits.
Hydrogel masks tend to be super comfortable, too. While I’ve used some overly heavy or slippery ones that like to slide right down my face after application, a relatively thin hydrogel mask that isn’t too gooey will mold right on to my features and stay put for the duration of my masking time without issues. Additionally, the ultra-smooth texture of the hydrogel mask sheet tends to transfer to skin. I’ve noticed that many hydrogels will “stamp” skin into ironed-out smoothness, which is a nice bonus.
Are hydrogel masks worth the extra money?
There’s no way around it: hydrogel masks typically cost significantly more than standard sheet masks. Polymeric hydrogel membranes are more costly and difficult to manufacture than regular pulp or fabric mask sheets. They’re also heavier, which can add significantly to shipping costs at scale. The best of the regular sheet masks already provide some pretty spectacular results, so is there really a point to getting hydrogels?
As with just about anything else in skincare, it depends on the individual product’s formulation. I’ve used my share of very not-worth-it hydrogel masks (Tonymoly comes to mind, as well as a certain Missha snail hydrogel mask that gave me a reaction that took over two weeks to subside). And I’ve used some utterly extraordinary hydrogel masks—I’m still mourning the discontinuation, years ago, of Banila Co’s Miss Flower and Mr Honey Hydrogel Masks.
The thing about hydrogels is that the airtight occlusion of the hydrogel material presses the essence even more closely into skin than regular sheet masks. If the essence is good, that’s great news. If the essence is not so good, that’s bad news. But when a hydrogel mask is good, it can absolutely be worth the extra money, particularly as a pre-event mask. The ultra-smoothing effect of the material alone lends a filtered glow to skin that can last for several hours up to a day.
And with that, we come to the topic of this particular post: the My Scheming hydrogel masks. Let’s check them out!
My Scheming Aloe and Camellia hydrogel masks review
One of the reasons I took so long to write this review was because upon first use, I had a hard time distinguishing the effects of the two flavors. Part of the reason for that is because my skin is in an especially good state at the moment, so it can be hard for me to see any clear improvements. Another reason is that I use sheet masks at the end of my evening routine, when my skin has typically already benefited from the previous layers of calming, soothing, and softening skincare I’ve applied.
I liked both masks a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I found them both highly moisturizing, far more than a standard watery pulp or fabric sheet mask, and both of them left me with that super-smooth filtered glow I mentioned above. But I really wanted to figure out if their effects are different enough to mention.
Eventually, I settled on using the rest of the masks on nights when I hadn’t done my usual routine, and on some mornings, when I don’t really use anything besides moisturizer and sunscreen anyway. Just cleanse and pop the mask on. That finally allowed me to distinguish the subtle differences between the masks.
The My Scheming Camellia Moisturizing Hydrogel Mask is the more intensely moisturizing of the two, thanks to the jojoba wax esters, shea butter, cholesterol, and other fatty emollient ingredients high up in the ingredients list. In fact, both this and the aloe mask deliver a ton of emollient surface-level moisture. I found I could skip daytime moisturizer if I used this mask in the morning, and when I used it at night, I followed up with just a very light water drop moisturizer and felt perfectly supple in the morning. Pearl and mica ingredients in this mask also provide a heightened glow effect. I found this one especially useful before photography—it makes my skin absolutely radiant.
The My Scheming Aloe Soothing Hydrogel Mask lacks the jojoba wax esters and provides slightly lighter moisturization than the camellia. Pairing calming effects with the cooling sensation and flattening and smoothing effects of a hydrogel sheet is a clever trick. I found that this mask reduced not just the redness of inflammation, but any minor swelling, too. Some collagen in this essence delivers a temporary firming and lifting effect as well. My one caution about this mask is that it does contain menthol. Some people find menthol irritating, so if you’ve noticed that your skin isn’t a fan, I’d avoid it. I didn’t notice any minty sensation or smell when I used it, though.
One to note about these hydrogel masks is their general shape. Most hydrogel masks are cut in half across the cheeks to form two pieces, which you apply separately in order to get the closest possible fit. My Scheming chose to leave these masks in one piece. The two-piece style of hydrogel masks is a big draw for me, so I like to cut these across the middle myself (which I also do with some regular sheet masks!) before applying.
And, finally, it’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I must say that the My Scheming hydrogel masks are the perfect second mask if you want to do a “double fisting” sheet mask session. Typically, standard sheet masks provide more watery hydration, while hydrogel sheet masks use thicker and more emollient essences, making them an ideal second step to help seal in the hydration of the first step. In fact, I think that’s what I’m going to do with my last camellia hydrogel mask.
Need to stock up on masks? Shop for sheet masks and hydrogel masks here!