You’ve probably seen them everywhere, if not displayed in the beauty aisles of your local CVS, Target, or Sephora, then surely plastered on the faces of your favorite Instagrammers. That’s right, I’m talking about facial sheet masks. 

The facial sheet mask trend originated – like all good beauty things – in Japan and Korea, where they’ve been popular for years. But now it has reached our US shores, and the speed at which these masks have caught on definitely seems to point towards them being effective.

What’s the big deal with facial sheet masks?

Sheet masks are a single-use, individually-packaged product made from either thin, fibrous paper or gel, which has been soaked in serum. Naturally, there are facial sheet masks to target various skin concerns, from acne to dehydration.

Why not just use a regular face mask, you ask? The sheet actually serves an important purpose – it stops water-based serums rapidly evaporating away, instead of trapping the serum there long enough for your skin to really drink it up. Hence, hydrating sheet masks are particularly popular!

As someone who travels frequently, the appeal is obvious. Just toss a few in your luggage (the TSA will even allow facial sheet masks through airport security without counting them as a liquid) and enjoy some on-flight pampering followed by a dewy complexion on arrival. And just think of the opportunities to refresh your skin mid-vacation, fight blemishes while reading, and wake up to brighter skin after a power nap. A facial sheet mask is a pure convenience! 

Plus, there’s no mess. Unlike a cream-based mask, there’s no rinsing after. Just remove it and carry it on. As for results, the effects of a good-quality facial sheet mask can last for several days, a week, or even longer.

Do you need to buy an expensive facial sheet mask?

Do you need to buy an expensive facial sheet mask?

Sometimes in the beauty world, it pays to plump for the more expensive product. Other times, the budget buy will have much the same effect. So, which of these applies to sheet masks?

Whether the mask is made from thin paper, a cloth-type fiber, or gel will vary the price points. And of course, the serum concentration and ingredient quality may be better in a high-end facial sheet mask, which can absolutely justify the price difference.

However, cheap serums that work wonders do exist! So I knew there was a very good chance a budget-friendly-yet-effective facial sheet mask was out there too. I decided to try a few out to see if I could find it.


5 hydrating sheet masks, reviewed

Coming off a cold snap into the warmer weather, my skin was feeling parched and in desperate need of some TLC. I was provided with 5 sheet masks, none of which I’d ever heard of (because trust me, there are hundreds!), and all aimed at hydrating and smoothing the skin. They retail at prices ranging from below $1 up to $12.

In order to keep this a fair comparison, I didn’t look at the prices until after I’d reviewed all five. Plus, I thought it would be fun to see if I could work out which were the cheaper or more expensive ones. I also spaced the applications out by several days to a week, to give my skin time to ‘lose’ the benefits of one before moving onto another.

I have not been compensated in any way by the brands featured here, and all opinions are of course my own. Now, shall we get onto the reviews?

 Egg Cream Mask (Hydration) by Too Cool for School

  1. Egg Cream Mask (Hydration) by Too Cool for School

This hydrating sheet mask is made from microfiber, soaked in a water-based serum with egg and coconut. It promises to brighten and hydrate. Upon removing it from the package, I immediately felt the difference of a microfiber versus a traditional paper-like sheet mask – it’s thicker and more cloth-like. It was also wrapped around a stiff mesh sheet, which I assume is meant to hold its shape so it doesn’t wad up in the corner of the packet. The care with the packaging made me think it is a more expensive mask.

The serum had a pleasant smell but was quite slimy – the mask nearly slipped out of my fingers several times while attempting to peel it from the mesh! The general size of the mask and cut-outs seem slightly smaller than I’m used to, which required some stretching and maneuvering to adjust the placement on my face. Once on, I patted the excess onto my neck and chest – don’t let that extra go to waste! – and then let it sit for 30-40 minutes.

The skincare results: I must say, this one is a keeper. I was skeptical about its hydrating benefits, but my skin had developed dry patches after a trip to the colder climate in the mountains and immediately felt about 70% restored. My skin was softer, the dry patches weren’t as rough, and the tight, itchy feeling you get when your skin is dehydrated was mostly gone. It did exactly what it advertised. I think a few more days applying this mask nightly would likely do wonders for my currently dry skin issues.

Price Point Guess? $10

Actual Retail: $6

Final verdict: Boy was I surprised at the price of this mask. It was definitely my favorite and at a great price to boot. I would totally pack this for short trips instead of the glass jar of a night cream I usually bring. Well worth the cost.

 Soothing Hydra Solution Mask by Dr. Jart

  1. Soothing Hydra Solution Mask by Dr. Jart

Upon opening this package, I was hit by a medicinal scent that reminded me of the Chinese herbs my grandmother used to brew. It was quite strong and very... herbal. I couldn’t quite place it, but the ingredients list told me this mask contains aloe, aquaxyl, and xylitol. Yes, Xylitol, the plant-based sweetener also used in things like gum and toothpaste.

The “cellulose” sheet was cloth-like and folded onto a plastic backing. It felt very thin, and an earlier facial sheet mask fiasco (you’ll read about it below!) cautioned me to be careful. So, I attempted to apply it with the plastic still on. Big mistake. As I peeled the backing off, all the excess liquid that it had been helping hold onto poured into my eyes. Many involuntary tears and frantic blotting later, my eyeballs had survived. I readjusted the sheet (it turned out to be quite durable, and very stretchy) and laid down to recuperate.

This hydrating sheet mask definitely had plenty of product, no skimping here. The brand name and the simple packaging conveyed a clinical, results-focused feel, rather than the pretty scents, cute packaging and gimmicky touches (glitter, jelly masks, etc.) that seem to be such a trend these days. So I was expecting great things from this one. But that smell… ick. I can’t get over it!

The skincare results: I kept this one on for about an hour before I went to bed for the night, and in the morning my skin felt and looked oily. That’s a first. Rinsing with water alone simply wasn’t an option; I had to use a cleanser to prep my face for makeup. Initial strange oily skin reaction to this facial sheet mask aside, I did feel my skin was a bit glowy. I enjoyed the effect of the mask all day. Even my makeup went on better than usual. But then I promptly broke out around my hairline over the next few days. What a bummer. While that might have been unrelated, combined with the unpleasant smell and oily feel, I can’t say I loved this mask. 

Price Point Guess: $6

Actual Retail: $6 

Final verdict: I’m not surprised I got this one right on the nose. I guessed on the higher side because it gave me a nice glow. Even if it was very temporary.

 Luminous Dewy Skin Sheet Mask by Tatcha

  1. Luminous Dewy Skin Sheet Mask by Tatcha

I pulled this Japanese-branded mask out of its pretty purple package and it immediately started dripping all over my sink. They certainly didn’t skimp on the product on this one. However, it made for a very messy application. I ended up squeezing a bit of the serum out to pat onto my neck and chest before applying so that it wouldn’t run into my eyes.

The sheet had a similar soft, thick feel as a microfiber mask. It smelled light and refreshing, rather than heavily fragranced. The package says it contains rice germ oil and promises a velvety, luminous and dewy result. I kept this one on for about an hour while I read a book and once removed, there was no sticky residue feel, which my pillow was thankful for. I went straight to sleep.

The skincare results: I woke to softer skin but still had a few dry patches. I didn’t look luminous or feel dewy, but my skin also didn’t feel tight. It definitely has moisturizing properties and I felt like I had recovered some elasticity. The dry patches that have started to take on a crepe-y look in the wrong light seemed a touch softer, but not enough to wow me. I’m on the fence about whether I would buy this one again. Based on the packaging and the place of manufacture, I had already assumed the price point may be a bit higher. However, judgment is based on the result and this mask fell slightly short of my expectations.

Price Point Guess? $6

Actual Retail: $12

Final verdict: I certainly didn’t expect this to be the most expensive out of the five. It just goes to show that packaging and price isn’t everything.

 I’m Real Lavender Mask Sheet by Tonymoly

  1. I’m Real Lavender Mask Sheet by Tonymoly 

There’s nothing I love more than the fresh smell of lavender. That makes me a tad biased for this mask already. The lavender scent wafting out as I tore it open immediately got me feeling relaxed. The serum is plentiful, enough that there was a visible amount remaining in the packet. Unfortunately, the sheet itself is severely lacking in quality. I’d never torn a mask while applying before. I tore this one in three places! In fact, I literally took a chunk out of one corner as I gently tugged it over my jawline. Imagine a wet paper towel – that’s how delicate this one was. 

The skincare results: This mask gave a simple, refreshed feeling, similar to when you’ve just cleansed, toned and moisturized. I sat to watch Game of Thrones while letting this one do its thing. But after about 20 minutes, it was falling off. The sheet mask had dried up quickly! I couldn’t have anything impeding my view of this intense show, so it came off earlier than I would have liked. After, I applied moisturizer before going to bed, because it still felt like I needed it. Going into the following day, I felt no noticeable difference in my skin. As a supposedly hydrating sheet mask, it didn’t leave a good impression. I loved the smell, but I wanted hydration, not a perfume! 

Price Point Guess: $2

Actual Retail: $3.75

Final verdict: Just as I suspected. The quality of the sheet was where the product really lost me. The packaging is adorable and it smells lovely, but it wouldn’t be enough to get me to purchase this product in the future.

 Herb Collagen Essence Mask by Dermal

  1. Herb Collagen Essence Mask by Dermal

This product had what I consider a typical drugstore sheet mask feel – thin and paper-like, saturated with a serum that felt very water-based. It’s not the highest quality material, with barely any stretch, but I wasn’t going to judge the product by its cover. I’ve certainly been surprised, pleasantly so, by the results of cheap masks before. After all, the results are all in the serum, not the sheet that delivers it. And the openings for the eyes, nose, and mouth were a touch roomier, as is usually the case for Korean-branded facial sheet masks. The ingredients showed it contained bamboo essence, aloe, and collagen. It smelled fresh and the serum was neither too sticky nor too runny.

The skincare results: I woke to skin that felt freshly toned, but nothing amazing stood out about this one. It wasn’t a deeply moisturizing mask, but considering the ingredients, I did expect it would have a lighter feel. So I’d say it did its job. I would use this as a soothing mask after a day in the sun, perhaps, because it has such a refreshing feel. My guess is that it is also affordable enough to use several times a week without breaking the bank. Nothing fancy or long-lasting, but not ineffective either.

Price Point Guess? $1

Actual Retail: $0.79 ($7.99 for a 10 pack)

Final verdict: I’ll admit I wasn’t surprised this mask came in at just under a dollar. At this price point, there’s zero guilt in applying one of these masks several times a week. Or even every day, if you really feel like pampering yourself!

So which was the best hydrating sheet mask?

Without a doubt, the Egg Cream Mask by Too Cool for School took the top spot. Excellent results at a low-ish price point.

These trendy facial sheet masks can run the gamut from inexpensive and basic through to luxurious and ludicrously-priced for a one-time use product. I’m looking at you, La Mer! Having tried the range of available masks on the lower end range, I can only imagine the benefits and effectiveness of the higher-end products available.

All in all, facial sheet masks are a simple solution for those who have zero patience and time, to get a bit of pampering and skincare into their already busy day. I challenge you to try your own sheet mask experiment and let us know of any amazing gems you find!

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