Want brighter, more hydrated, younger-looking skin in 30 minutes? Try these eight sheet masks.
Sheet masks are pieces of cotton or paper, soaked in skin-care ingredients and with eye- and mouth-holes cut out, which you slap on your cleansed face a couple of times a week to give skin a boost. Why is it better than a cream- or gel-based mask? There’s less mess, and the material keeps all the nourishing ingredients on your skin, so they’re absorbed, instead of evaporating.
In parts of Asia, they’re a mainstay of the beauty routine. Now, they’re beginning to catch on here, with more availability and new brands entering the market. They’re fantastic for those who love instant gratification, because you can genuinely see the difference in your skin after just one application. A couple of caveats: don’t leave the mask on for longer than it says on the packet – if it becomes drier than your skin, it’ll actually start to suck the serum back, so you’re doing more harm than good. And if you have a small child, don’t wake them from a nap while wearing the mask, unless you want to deal with 10 minutes of screeching that can only be quelled with a banana and three YouTube clips of funny dogs.
These eight masks all made a visible difference to my skin with just one use – I use them to nourish my skin when it’s looking below par, or boost it before a big night out.
$19.99 for six masks, drugstores and pharmacies
Previously the preserve of high-end brands, you can now get affordable products from drugstore brands. This one is designed for brightening and reducing hyperpigmentation, thanks to a vitamin C derivative. Each mask has half a bottle of serum, which is no better or worse than many a pricier brand, and skin looks significantly more hydrated after the first use.
From $5.99/mask or $35.94 for six, see stockists
Toronto brand Maskeraide does masks for just about everything, from acne to anti-ageing. All contain rich and moisturising argan oil. They’re free from parabens, harsh dyes and pigments, mineral oils and artificial fragrances. They’re vegan-friendly. And they’re eco-friendly – the outside packaging is recyclable, and the mask is biodegradable. The brand’s current bestseller is Pre Party Prep, which brightens and primes skin.
$69 for five, Holt Renfrew, Sephora, select spas and Jurlique.ca
This mask doesn’t just target pigmentation or lines: it’s an all-round anti-ager, with ingredients to boost elasticity, soften wrinkles, boost turnover, hydrate and even out the skin tone. It’s also the only mask tested that targets the neck – an oft-neglected body part. It comes in a brightening version too.
$90 for six, or $125 for 10, find stockists at www.SK-II.com
This is really the granddaddy of all sheet masks – it’s been around since 1981. It’s said to give skin the equivalent of 10 applications of Pitera, the brand’s signature ingredient. It’s also the mask that every beauty editor I know returns to, because it works on even the most tired, dull and dehydrated skin, every time.
$88 for six, at Holt Renfrew, select Sephora and Hudson’s Bay locations, and www.shuuemura.ca
Most people associate Japanese brand Shu Uemura with false lashes, its amazing lash curlers and top collaborations such as the latest with Karl Lagerfeld. But it actually does some cracking skincare. This mask comes from the anti-ageing Red Juvenus line, designed to revive tired-looking skin, and is stretchy, sticks on easily, and soaked with serum. A favourite of models because of its ability to restore glow to hungover skin.
$9.99 for three, at Shoppers Drug Mart
Another affordable wonder, this comes in two varieties: Wrinkle Reducing, and Brightening. It genuinely performs as well as some high-end products. The only downsides are that you need to leave it on for 30 minutes, and it’s not as sticky as some of the other masks so you really have to lie down while you’re wearing it.
$21 for three sets, or $72 for 12, at Sephora
These come in pairs that are stuck on just under the eye, right on the bags and dark circles, and have retinol, for wrinkle fighting, as well as hydrating ingredients. They’re perfect at deleting the evidence of late nights – dark circles and puffiness really are instantly diminished – though I’ve yet to find anything that really works on crows’ feet.
$8 each, at Sephora
I used this when my complexion was looking spectacularly rubbish – both grey and red at the same time, if you can imagine such a thing. It had me looking human again in 20 minutes: well enough that people actually commented on how good my skin looked. Skin Republic also makes masks for hands, feet, décolletage and under-eyes. I want to try them all.
Feature image: Hotel Costa Calero