I harp on and on...and on, about sheet masks but I have yet to dedicate a post to the most commonly asked questions in regards to my new skincare obsession. I have taken on board all the queries within the comment section of this site, and of course any tweets/emails in regard to the subject and did my best to answer any burning questions you may have. I do want to stress that I am by no means an expert, and as such if I have missed out anything, or if you have anything to add to this post please do so via the comments - I always welcome discussion. Fasten yourself in for a sheet mask 101 lesson...
What is a sheet mask?
I guess the best place to begin is with what exactly is a sheet mask? As the title of the product may suggest, it is indeed a sheet of fabric that is doused in facial serum that you place on to your face. In most cases (there are of course exceptions to every rule), the sheet mask has been designed to moisturise the skin along with other skin saving benefits such as brightening, soothing, anti-ageing and sometimes even oil control. All those additional aspects aside, sheet masks are best used for a quick, intensive shot of moisture - with minimal fuss, mess and cost.
How do you apply/use a sheet mask?
Before you rip open your sheet mask sachet, take the time to cleanse your skin; despite having the appearance of a fancy wet wipe, typically speaking sheet masks do not cleanse and as with any serum based product, to really reap the benefits, a fresh complexion is required. Once you have cleansed, you simply open the sachet, pop on the mask and enjoy. Most sheet masks will come with a recommend application time (typically anywhere from 10-30 minutes) but I tend to leave it on my face until it dries out - it is so relaxing and cooling that it is more of a treat than a chore. After the minutes have ticked away, you simply massage in the serum and then follow up with your regular skincare routine. For those curious I apply my sheet mask at night, then my skin essence, then a serum and my usual night cream.
As a side note within the sachet the sheet masks comes neatly tucked inside, you will find excess serum, I can not recommend enough draining this out of the packet and applying to your hands and neck/chest area.
How often should you apply a sheet mask?
In an ideal world, we would all place a sheet mask on our face daily, for various reasons (namely cost), this is not always possible. Partly in the name of research and because budgeting is not my strong point, for the last two months I have been applying a sheet mask, each and every night and will state that my skin has never looked better. I will openly admit that I have become a victim of routine and do feel that my skin would be in the same state, should I scale application back to 2-3 masks a week. Basically you do need to slap a mask on regularly and be somewhat patient - it was around the 2 week mark before I properly saw long term results. On the flip side they do immediately plump, hydrate and brighten the complexion, so you can dip in and out should you wish.
I do realise the above statement is almost contradictory, basically as a rule for continually bright and deeply hydrated skin = 2/3 times a week; for a quick pick me up = whenever you wish.
Who are sheet masks for?
In my opinion everyone and anyone; due to the convenience of the easy to transport packaging and no need to rinse formulations, you can pretty much take and apply a sheet mask wherever, whenever. There truly is a sheet mask for all needs and concerns, not to mention ages and I can not recommend popping a few sheet masks in your travel bag, to combat the dry air within an aeroplane. They are also quite the treat after an exercise class and a few hours at the beach - to up the cooling ante you can of course store your sheet masks in the fridge.
Are there any downsides?
Price and of course becoming addicted to the quick pick me up factors aside, there are very little problems, if any that I have encountered. I have read that the structure of a sheet mask can increase the natural bacteria levels on the face - less than ideal if you suffer from acne. As someone who has battled with adult acne, I have yet to experience this problem - if you are concerned, I recommend cutting out a little chunk of your mask (maybe the nose area) and using this as a patch test.
I guess other downsides include: the masks all come in different shapes and sizes and as such not all will be suited to your face shape. The other main gripe, I notice others noting is the fact that some masks do have a tendency to drip, personally as I pop my mask on while laying flat in bed this isn't an issue but something I thought I should mention none the less.
I hope the above helps but if I have missed anything out, do feel free to drop me a comment below and I'll do my best to help.
As a side note, I will have a separate post live within the next few days of all my top sheet mask recommendations dependant on skin type/needs. I simply didn't want to overwhelm myself (nor readers) with endless paragraphs of text.