It seems appropriate to use the first post of my Asian skin care blog to talk about the product that got me hooked on Asian skin care in the first place. Sheet masks are the gateway drug for many Asian skin care fanatics: their results might be temporary, but they’re also instant. When you want to revive a complexion that’s looking tired and dull, instant results are hard to resist.
What are sheet masks and what do they do?
Sheet masks are ovals of cotton large enough to cover the face, with cutouts for the eyes, nose, and mouth. They look freakish and feel like heaven, especially if chilled before use. Typically individually packaged, they come soaked with essence and are meant for use in your evening routine, after cleansing and before moisturizing creams. All you have to do is unfold the mask, fit it over your face, and leave it on for however long the instructions specify (or longer, which is what I like to do). I like to pass the time playing “serial killer wearing the face of my latest victim” and scaring my family while I wait.
Sheet masks encourage maximum absorption of the essence both by preventing it from evaporating into the air and by keeping it in contact with your skin in a larger dose and for a longer period of time than daily products allow.
But what does that essence do? If you believe the claims on the packages, sheet masks can do just about anything. In my experience, they’re primarily useful for intense hydration and temporary brightening. Sheet masks are also an affordable indulgence, with some high-quality masks available for around $1 or $2 USD per mask. Having a variety on hand helps to spice up your skin care routine. It’s no wonder that a sheet mask is often the first step towards an Asian skin care addiction.
In my opinion, the ultimate Asian skin care gateway drug comes from Taiwanese brand My Beauty Diary, which specializes in sheet masks.
What’s So Special about My Beauty Diary?
Out of all the sheet mask brands I’ve tried, from Lululun to Missha, My Beauty Diary has been the most consistently effective and reliably pleasant to use. By far. I have tried about a dozen MBD masks and enjoyed good results from all but one–and the one that failed for me contained an ingredient, topical collagen, which I later realized irritates my skin but is fine for many other people.
The secret to MBD’s success (at least on my skin) is the basic formula upon which they build their essences. Heavy on the glycerin and hyaluronic acid, the MBD essence hydrates like crazy but doesn’t leave a sticky or oily residue the way some other sheet masks do. Plant extracts add extra anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and moisturizing powers to each essence. After using a My Beauty Diary mask, my skin always looks and feels incredibly smooth, soft, even-toned, and dewy. You can almost see the hydration plumping up every layer of skin from within.
MBD masks come in an assortment of “flavors,”* named after each mask’s star ingredient, and address a range of skin issues. Some claim to hydrate dry skin, others to clarify oily skin. You can find masks that promise to tighten up sagging skin or brighten up lackluster complexions. The company also makes limited edition masks and, if you can’t commit to a full-size box of a single flavor, variety packs so you can sample several.
They sound great, right? Plenty of people agree, enough to make My Beauty Diary one of the most popular sheet mask brands around. They’ve broken out of the confines of Asian supermarkets and established a presence in the warehouses of major retailers, including Amazon and even Walmart.com! Online, a box of 10 MBD masks usually costs about $14, a decent deal considering that most people will only use a mask once or twice a week.
The best My Beauty Diary masks
The MBD masks I find myself recommending to people most frequently are the two pictured in this post: Imperial Bird’s Nest, a favorite over at the excellent Skin and Tonics skin care blog, and Black Pearl, which was the first MBD mask I ever tried. Both provide that signature MBD hydration. Imperial Bird’s Nest is nourishing, soothing, zit-shrinking, and redness-reducing. Black Pearl produces an intense brightening effect, giving a radiance that lasts through the next day. The morning after I use either of these masks, I wake up absolutely glowing–a true #WokeUpLikeDis moment. After years of disappointment caused by overpriced masks that did either nothing or made my skin worse, it’s refreshing to find products that do what they’re supposed to do, every time.
Have you tried any MBD masks? Which are your favorites?
* Do not attempt to eat.