Make the Most out of Your Sheet Masks with these Hacks from FiddySnails
Guest blog by Jude Chao of https://fiftyshadesofsnail.com
I’m a very regular and consistent sheet masker. In the past five years, I’ve been through boxes and boxes of masks, from the best to the worst with plenty of mediocre ones in between. Just imagining the mountain of sheet masks I’ve used over the years gives me a headache. But apart from keeping my skin in top condition, my sheet mask habit has also taught me a few tricks that I’m here to share with you today. Read on for how to get the most out of just about any sheet mask you use!
1. Pregame with the extra essence in the sheet mask pouch.
Some sheet masks come packaged with just enough essence to soak the sheet. As long as there’s enough liquid to fully saturate the mask, that’s fine. Others, however, come with so much extra essence that you can pour or squeeze out a hefty extra dollop into your hand before you ever take the mask out of the pouch. To me, that’s a bonus.
This My Scheming Honey & Vitamin B mask mask is full of extra essence!
People have come up with plenty of ways to utilize this extra essence. Some save it in a clean container and use it as hydrating toner for the next couple of days. Personally, I’ve never done this, because sheet mask essences are specifically formulated for use with sheet masks: meaning, in large quantities and in conjunction with a mask sheet that prevents them from evaporating before they can absorb in your skin. I’ve never seen much benefit in a water-heavy sheet mask essence on its own.
Instead, I use the extra essence to boost the hydrating power of the mask itself. I apply it to my face in one or two extra layers before I put the mask on top. While I wouldn’t say this practice doubles or triples the effectiveness of the masking session, it does noticeably maximize the results of a single mask—at no extra cost!
2. Use your sheet mask at the optimal time in your routine.
After a lot of experimentation, I’ve found that the absolute best time to use a sheet mask is after your regular toner, essence, and serum steps—not before.
This may seem counterintuitive. Most sheet masks use a fairly thin, watery essence, so logic dictates that if you follow the “thin to thick” system of product layering, a sheet mask should go on quite early in the routine, or else the heavier layers will prevent it from absorbing effectively. But I’ve found that that’s not the case.
Rather than failing to absorb when used near the end of a multilayered routine, a good sheet mask seems to help all the previous layers absorb better, without encountering any absorption difficulties itself. The reason for that is simple. Sheet mask essences typically contain penetration enhancers like butylene glycol and propylene glycol/propanediol, which temporarily open up skin’s moisture barrier to allow skincare ingredients in. When applied over other layers, those other products can piggyback on the sheet mask effects to sink much more quickly and thoroughly into skin.
3. Pack in extra nourishment with an oil under a sheet mask.
This will sound even more counterintuitive than using a sheet mask after your serums, but bear with me here. Remember those penetration enhancers I mentioned above? They can help your skin take in more nourishment from a facial oil, too.
There are actually a few sheet masks on the market that take advantage of this concept by packaging a single-use sachet of facial oil with each sheet mask. I’ve used several masks of this type. Mostly, they’re okay, and the concept itself is clearly solid, but here’s the secret: you really don’t need to rely on these more costly prepackaged oil-and-mask duos for the same results. Plus, you don’t get to choose which oil you use if you use those.
Do you already have a facial oil your skin likes? AWESOME. Take a few drops and pat it on lightly immediately before applying your sheet mask. Give your sheet mask a few more minutes than usual, then remove to reveal deeply nourished, magnificently glowy skin.
If you don’t already have a facial oil, start out with something fairly thin to get a sense for how much richness your skin may need. One of my all-time favorites, and a great candidate for the oil-under-mask trick, is Naruko’s Supreme Rejuvenating Elixir Oil. This lightweight oil-and-water blend sinks in quickly and plays beautifully with sheet masks. And definitely do this trick with eye masks. It irons out fine lines and fills in crepiness like nothing else short of surgery.
4. Cut your masks to fit.
Sheet mask fit is important. The closer and tighter a sheet mask fits to your face, the more effectively it seals the essence against your skin, maximizing absorption and effects. Unfortunately, not every sheet mask can fit every face perfectly. With sheet masks made of an ultra-thin and ultra-soft material, like the Annie’s Way Hyaluronic Acid + Seaweed or Pearl + Hyaluronic Acid masks, my standard “tuck and fold” method (see below) is usually enough to compensate. Other masks may require more drastic measures, though.
Here’s where a pair of scissors can come in handy. Many sheet masks come with some slits around the edges to improve the fit, but I often find those aren’t enough to get the mask to lie flat when it doesn’t fit my face well. So here’s how to snip a mask into a perfect fit, based on problem areas. You can cut the mask before you apply it or after it’s on. Just be careful if you’re doing it directly on your face!
If the mask won’t lie flat between your eyes, cut slits at the inner corners of the eye holes.
If the mask won’t lie flat around your nose, cut slits outwards from either side of the nose flap.
If the mask won’t lie flat on your chin, cut a slit straight up the middle of the bottom of the mask.
And finally, if the mask is too long, leaving the mouth hole gaping on your chin, cut the mask all the way across and apply the top and bottom halves separately, overlapping them in the middle.
5. Schedule your masking sessions wisely.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’m a very frequent and consistent sheet masker. I use sheet masks 4-5 nights a week and have for a long time. I recognize, however, that many people either don’t want to use sheet masks that often, or simply can’t. In those cases, you can get the most out of your masks by using them when your skin will most benefit from them.
When is that? “When my skin feels extra dry or dehydrated” is the obvious answer, but there are a couple other, less obvious answers, too.
Moisture loss is a side effect of several other skin treatments. Clay masks, for example, work by sucking moisture out of your skin. That’s a good thing when they suck out excess sebum, but not so great when they also absorb your natural hydration. Save some of your sheet masks for after you use a clay mask to replenish water in your skin when it really needs that boost.
Exfoliation, meanwhile, removes dead cells from the uppermost layers of your skin (and deeper down if you’re doing a strong peel). This leaves your skin smoother and brighter, but also leaves its natural moisture barrier weaker, which can lead to more water loss. You can take advantage of this temporary weakness by using a sheet mask after exfoliating, then following up with a rich cream to hold the hydration in until your barrier recovers.
And finally, sheet masks are a great after-sun treat. Heat and sun exposure cause inflammation in skin, which can lead to redness and irritation, as well as increased free radical activity that accelerates the visible aging process. A chilled sheet mask that’s made to calm inflammation, like Lovemore’s Loofah & Aloe Vera or Pearl & Red Pearl Barley masks, will feel great and help stop the inflammation response before it damages your skin.
There’s more to sheet masks than just the sheet and the essence. Try out some of my tips and let us know how they work out for you in the comments!