This Is the One Skincare "Scam" I Just Can't Quit

In the ever-evolving skincare industry, there's a constant influx of information that isn't always the easiest to make sense of. On any given day, you can find dozens of articles praising so-called miracle ingredients, ones presenting the latest and greatest in anti-aging, and everything in between. But there are some topics in this realm that continue to spark debate among skincare professionals, editors, and enthusiasts. One such topic is sheet masks. Do they work? Are they a complete scam? What's the deal?

A simple Twitter search will turn up endless threads of impassioned debates on this practice that gained popularity in the U.S. as Korean and other Asian beauty regimens took hold stateside. While these skin-prioritizing communities have touted the benefits of sheet masking for generations, there are skeptics out there who think sheet masks do little more than let product sit on top of your skin. Some of the commonly noted benefits of sheet masks are hydration and improved product absorption, but some actually believe that when left on too long, these masks can actually pull moisture out of your skin.

Just like with any other skincare practice out there, there will always be opposing schools of thought on their efficacy. But for this editor, sheet masks have been a true godsend that leaves my sometimes-dehydrated skin hydrated, plump, and glowy. I fully subscribe to the power of sheet masks! For those who agree, or those who want to experience firsthand what all the fuss is about, check out this edit of the 18 best sheet masks in the game. 

Best for posting on Instagram:

Most photogenic feature: This mask, worn above by actress January Jones, features ear hooks that keep it in place so you're not relegated to lying down while it does its magic. Not only is it effective, but it also low-key looks like the disguise a movie villain would wear before wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting group of campers.

Key benefits: Unlike most other sheet masks, this one is dry. Instead of coming soaked in a water- or glycerin-based serum, the dry textile is imprinted with active ingredients that burst onto the skin.

Most photogenic feature: Upon application, a face-forming foam layer erupts into a sea of microbubbles over the mask.

Key benefits: The green tea and amino acid infused bubbles deeply cleanse the skin to help even out complexion and refine the look of pores.

Most photogenic features: The outward-facing side of this mask is a luxe, metallic silver hue. It looks like a cross between kitchen foil and a superhero disguise.

Key benefits: The silver backing on this sheet mask is said to encourage even more intensive hydration by creating a protective barrier on the skin that allows ingredients to sink faster and more deeply into the skin.

Most photogenic features: This cellulose mask is a light-gold hue and looks soft and glittery on the skin.

Key benefits: The silky gossamer mask clings closely to the skin to make sure the brand's famed herbal First Care Activating Serum is able to soak thoroughly into the skin.

Most photogenic features: If you're going to wear a bougie SK-II sheet mask, it's your right to share such luxury with the internet.

Key benefits: SK-II's signature fermented-yeast concoction, Pitera, is the hero ingredient here. The cotton mask is soaked in the stuff and leaves the skin supple and hydrated.

Best active ingredients:

Notable active ingredients: Glutathione, niacinamide, salicylic acid, tea tree leaf

Key benefits: This mask goes to work on breakouts with antioxidants that soothe and brighten, as well as salicylic acid and tea tree extract which clarify and absorb excess oil.

Notable active ingredients: Vitamin C

Key benefits: This mask comes in two separate pieces—one for the top half of your face and one for the bottom half—for a better fit to aid in product absorption. Another benefit of this configuration is that you can mix and match with the brand's other treatment masks to tailor your experience depending on what each zone of your face might need at any given time.

Notable active ingredients: Coconut water, purple broccoli, plant-based collagen

Key benefits: Deep hydration, improved radiance, and plumping are all on the list of side effects this mask aims to impart.

Notable active ingredient: Hyaluronic acid

Key benefits: Hydration is the name of the game here. This kit comes complete with a concentrated ampoule as well as a serum to layer before applying the mask itself. Three different sizes of HA are employed to deliver hydration to every layer of the skin.

Notable active ingredients: Pro keratin complex, hyaluronic acid

Key benefits: This two-piece rubber mask comes with a gel serum chock-full of skin-building proteins and hyaluronic acid to improve collagen synthesis and moisture retention. The thick, pliable mask binds well to the contours of the face, ensuring optimal product absorption.

Notable active ingredients: AHA, charcoal, glutathione

Key benefits: This exfoliating, detoxifying mask gently removes dead skin cells and draws out impurities from the surface of the skin as well as from within its cell structure. The result is glowing, healthy-looking skin that's better equipped for collagen synthesis.

Best online reviews:

Average rating: 4.4/5 (Sephora)

Key benefits: Reviewers agree that this mask is pure luxury. It's soaked in La Mer's beloved The Treatment Lotion ($155) and is said to visibly plump, hydrate, and nurture even the driest, most irritable skin types. If you've had any interest in investing in the famed treatment lotion, this is a great entry point to give it a try at a much lower price.

Average rating: 4.7/5 (Amazon)

Key benefits: This mask employs a proprietary blend of organic humectants, lipids, amino acids and sugars that mimics the compounds our skin naturally produces to keep itself moisturized. 

Average rating: 4.1/5 (Amazon)

Key benefits: K-beauty enthusiasts aren't new to Benton, and the brand's sheet masks are among the most beloved of its offerings. This one brings in polysaccharides via camellia sinensis leaf water and aloe vera to soothe and refresh the skin.

Average rating: 4.5/5 (Amazon)

Key benefits: This two-piece mask comes with a pre-treatment ampoule pad that gently sloughs off dead skin cells. The two-piece mask is ultra formfitting to ensure that its rich formula of niacinamide, edelweiss plant stem cells, adenosine, green tea, and black bean extract can effectively penetrate.

Average rating: 4.8/5 (Amazon)

Key benefits: This mask is formulated with skin-loving ingredients like squalane, niacinamide, and adenosine to promote bright, elastic skin.

Average rating: 4.4/5 (Sephora)

Key benefits: Tatcha fans agree this sheet mask is a game changer. It delivers natural vitamin E, polyphenols, and squalene via rice germ oil and helps the skin retain moisture via Okinawa red algae, sweet marjoram, and wild thyme.

Average rating: 4.5/5 (Amazon)

Key benefits: J-beauty powerhouse Hada Labo is beloved for its affordable and effective skincare offerings, and its sheet masks are among the best sellers. They contain a potent serum of hydrolyzed marine collagen, hyaluronic acid, and soy protein that leaves the skin visibly plump and smooth after just one use.

Up next, my skin is kind of perfect right now thanks to this exact 30-day routine.

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.

Related Stories