There’s a certain very particular, very personal magic to certain skincare products that gets lost in all our talk about ingredients and formulations and proven actives and other technicalities of cosmetics manufacturing.
I don’t mean the magic of the experience of skincare, the way a bottle feels in your hand or the smile that a cute design can bring to your face. What I mean is the magic of finding a product that just fits perfectly with your individual skin type and skin chemistry, resulting in effects that even supposedly equivalent products can’t replicate. It’s what we often refer to as YMMV—Your Mileage May Vary. And I have a suspicion that many more factors than we know of are at play, from genetics to how our diet and environment affect our skin’s microbiome and affinity to certain ingredients or textures over others.
With that being said, there are brands that seem to bring the magic for many more people than others. My Beauty Diary is one of those. Their masks are such consistent holy grails for me that I always keep several boxes on hand, along with my stash of Annie’s Way. I’m not the only one. These were arguably the first Taiwanese brand to gain popularity in the US, and they remain at the top.
So what is it about this brand that makes their masks so special?
There are roughly two types of sheet masks in this world. There are masks whose ingredients lists are short and simple. Water, humectants, a small handful of extracts, and preservatives. Then there are others that stack their ingredients lists with extract after extract, multiple types of humectants, and an array of other emollient, skin-conditioning, barrier-boosting, film-forming additions. It’s generally agreed that the shorter ingredients lists tend to be safer for sensitive skin. Somehow, though, reports of reactions to MBD masks are rare.
After years of sheet mask use and probably hundreds of sheet mask varieties tested, I have a few theories.
My Beauty Diary Uses Rare Ingredients
One is that My Beauty Diary uses ingredients very few other mask brands do. All of the MBD masks I love contain several marine extracts, generally seaweed or algae. Just looking at the ingredients for the Repair Power Brightening Black Pearl EX+ Mask, I see hydrolyzed conchiolin protein, which comes from mollusks; codium tomentosum and fucus serratus, both types of seaweed; crypthecodinium cohnii, a microalgae; the giant kelp macrocystis pyrifera; and algae extract.
In general, seaweed and algae extracts have some very enticing qualities as cosmetics ingredients. They’re humectant, helping to hold water in skin. They’re emollient, meaning that they smooth the surface of skin by filling in the microscopic crevices between skin cells. And they tend to be rich in antioxidants, providing a secondary protective effect against free radical damage. (As a side note, these qualities are why sea kelp bioferment features prominently in Holy Snails Shark Sauce and Sauce du Mois products.)
The specialness of the marine ingredients in MBD masks makes total sense to me. One of the effects I’ve noticed in many of them—particularly the Black Pearl EX+ line—is an intensive surface smoothing. Sheet masks generally boost skin’s radiance by packing it full of hydration, but MBD and the Black Pearl EX+ line in particular take that a step further by creating such a smooth, firm surface that my skin seems to radiate its own light. The ability of seaweed extracts to form a super lightweight but surprisingly solid film may also contribute to the long-lasting effects of MBD masks. After using one, my skin retains that ultra-hydrated look well into the next day.
My Beauty Diary Sheet Masks Have Good Absorption
Beyond the fun marine ingredients, I also suspect My Beauty Diary formulators are exceptionally well versed in the use of penetration enhancers. Without resorting to alcohol denat., MBD masks somehow absorb so fully into my skin over the course of a 30- to 45-minute masking session that there’s hardly any liquid left to pat around after I remove the mask. Many other masks leave a layer of wet residue even after prolonged wear, which isn’t the end of the world, but isn’t ideal, either.
My Beauty Diary Uses Little Fragrance and No Denatured Alcohol
Speaking of the lack of alcohol denat., I think that and the very minimal fragrance in many MBD masks accounts for the lack of reactions you’d expect for masks of this popularity and with such long ingredients lists. While My Beauty Diary does use fragrance, in most cases it’s extremely light and often not noticeable at all, probably included only to mask the natural smells of some of the other ingredients. MBD’s use of a variety of anti-inflammatory extracts like licorice root probably also helps keep irritation at bay.
Overall, my skin responds amazingly well to almost all MBD masks. The only ones I don’t love are their lotion essence masks. The Antarctica Glycoproteins Moisturizing Mask and Imperial Bird’s Nest Emolliating Mask are both lotion essences, which I don’t find MBD does particularly well. But the watery essence masks work beautifully for me, and among those, the Black Pearl EX+ line stands out as especially effective.
With their thin and clingy material and generous amounts of hydrating essence, the Black Pearl EX+ masks fit comfortably for long masking sessions and leave my skin looking its absolute best the next day. The larger eye holes mean I don’t have to snip at the mask to make it fit well, and the effects last for 24 hours or more. Both the Repair version of these masks and the Moisture Power Black Pearl EX+ masks brighten noticeably while improving my skin’s hydration, smoothness, and elasticity, leaving me with bouncy cheeks and that Asian Beauty glow.
My Top 5 My Beauty Diary Picks
What are your favorite My Beauty Diary masks? Check out Glowie Co’s MBD collection to find yours and discover more!