Did you think I was done with reviewing sheet masks? Not even close! I’ve got over fifty stashed in my crisper as we speak, and I’m having a blasty blast trying out all the different varieties and figuring out which ones I love (and don’t love). Today we’re going to take a look at my first ever Etude House I Need You sheet mask. Last night I tried out the Vita Complex mask.
Etude House is a fairly inexpensive Korean cosmetics brand. I haven’t paid much attention to EH until now, because their marketing targets a younger audience (schoolgirls, I’d think, and younger college girls at the oldest). Etude House tends to emphasize a prettyprettyprincess aesthetic that does not appeal to me at all. I’m not a pretty pretty goddamn princess. I’m a mothereffin QUEEN!
But I’ve heard some positive things about their I Need You line of sheet masks, so when I saw a 20-piece assortment for a good price on Amazon (and with free Prime shipping, of course!), I jumped on it. Can never get enough sheet masks. The Vita Complex mask is particularly compelling.
Purpose: Etude House’s I Need You sheet mask in Vita Complex claims to use several vitamin derivatives to clarify and brighten skin “for a healthy natural glow.”
Do not use if: You are sensitive to alcohol, tocopherol (vitamin E), botanical extracts, fragrance, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: After cleansing (and after toner, serums, and/or essences if desired), unwrap mask, unfold, and fit over face, pressing down onto skin so that the damp mask sheet adheres to skin. Leave on for 10-15 minutes, or longer if you want. After removing mask sheet, pat or massage in any excess liquid and seal in with an emollient or occlusive moisturizer as needed.
Ingredients list: Water, butylene glycol, glycerin, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, alcohol, panthenol, carbomer, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, xanthan gum, potassium hydroxide, ethylhexylglycerin, allantoin, niacinamide, sodium starch octenylsuccinate, calcium pantothenate, maltodextrin, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, camellia sinensis leaf extract, tocopheryl acetate, pyridoxine HCL, sophora angustifolia root extract, lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, prunus persica (peach) leaf extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, gingko biloba leaf extract, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, silica, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance.
My CosDNA analysis turns up pretty clean, with butylene glycol scoring a 1 as an potential acne trigger and carbomer getting a 1 as a potential irritant. As always, the alcohol may be a problem for some.
Notable ingredients: Based on what I said above about Etude House, you might assume that I didn’t have high hopes for this mask, and you’d be right. I figured it would be a fairly standard hydrating sheet mask: nice, but nothing to write home about. When I took a look at the ingredients list, however, I thought to myself, Maybe it’s time to get some monogrammed stationery and a stamp.
Unlike many of the sheet masks I’ve tried recently, which usually stuck maybe one or two star ingredients into an otherwise very standard essence formulation, the Etude House Vita Complex sheet mask is chock-full of interesting and nonstandard ingredients.
Let’s take a look at the “vita complex” first. This mask contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), one of my all-time favorite ingredients and a workhorse antioxidant that brightens, strengthens the skin barrier, helps control oil production, reduces inflammation, increases ceramide and fatty acid levels in the skin, and improves skin elasticity over time. Along with the niacinamide are sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP), a weak but gentle and stable vitamin C derivative with antioxidant and acne-fighting properties and some brightening potential; tocopheryl acetate (synthetic vitamin E), which is also an antioxidant as well as an effective moisturizer; pyridoxine HCL (vitamin B6), yet another antioxidant and anti-acne ingredient; and calcium pantothenate, an anti-acne active with wound healing and UV-protective potential. As actives, only the niacinamide is particularly exciting, but the rest of the vita complex does sound beneficial, and the fact that it consists of the shelf-stable versions of these vitamins shows a level of care that I wouldn’t expect from a road shop brand without the best skin care reputation. Good job there, Etude House.
The goodness doesn’t stop at the vita complex, though. This mask also contains several botanical extracts, many of them drawn from traditional Chinese medicine and with demonstrated skin care benefits. Sophora angustifolia root extract has been shown to be an effective skin lightener. Lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract is calming, anti-inflammatory, and has UV-protective potential. Prunus persica (peach) leaf extract is said to show promise against wrinkles and for strengthening the skin against stress damage. Paeonia albiflora (peony) root extract is yet another antioxidant with soothing, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing powers. Gingko biloba leaf extract continues the trend of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and UV-protective botanical extracts, and, finally, scutellaria baicalensis root extract is not only antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but also shows some skin whitening capabilities.
All in all, it’s a really impressive list, despite the lack of hyaluronic acid (this may be the first sheet mask I’ve ever used that doesn’t have HA–either that, or I’m blind and missed it in the list). Of course, whether all those ingredients (or any of them) actually do anything still remains to be seen.
Wow–this mask sheet fits me really well, better than any other mask sheet I’ve tried! The forehead, as you can see from my wildly attractive Blue Steel above, is a little bit short (because I have what some might call a “five-head”), but other than that, it’s cut nearly perfectly for my face. I prefer masks with smaller eye openings, like this one, so that more of the skin around my eyes gets coverage. I do imagine that the cut of the EH mask sheet could be problematic for people with larger eyes or stronger features, though. If you find that it doesn’t fit you well, the thin, silky mask material is fairly easy to cut or tear.
This is one of the wettest mask sheets I’ve tried. It’s on par with My Beauty Diary in terms of saturation, so I settled in on the sofa, looking forward to a luxurious 45 minutes or so of cool, refreshing hydration and relaxation. The essence has a very light fragrance, halfway between peachy and flowery. It’s subtle and pleasant and didn’t bother me at all, even though I already had a headache. Very promising so far.
I was able to keep this mask on for about 50 minutes before it began to feel dry, and I could probably have gone another 10-15 minutes, but I was hungry and running out of patience. Upon removal, I was much more impressed than I’d expected. My skin was visibly brighter and more even, a couple of little red spots I’d noticed earlier were reduced to nearly nothing, and when I massaged in the little bit of light essence that remained on my face, my skin already felt very very smooth and plump to the touch. Juicy would be an appropriate way to describe it. The essence only took a few more minutes to fully absorb, leaving behind a slight film. I didn’t mind the film at all, since it wasn’t sticky, oily, or heavy. In fact, it made me feel that all the vitamin-y goodness was properly sealed in to my skin (though I did follow up with some Benton steam cream and Mizon starfish cream, as usual).
I didn’t discover the real value of the Etude House I Need You Vita Complex mask until I cleansed my face this morning, though. When I was toweling off, I looked in the mirror and noticed that my skin had become super bright and very translucent. The effect was fantastic, and as I type this up at 1:50 in the afternoon, I still see those results when I look at my reflection.
Conclusion: I definitely didn’t think I’d like this mask as much as I do. It did everything it claimed it would do and then some, and it did all that with a very pleasant user experience and, for me, no downsides. I made a spreadsheet last night to keep track of my sheet mask inventory and which masks I would repurchase, and this one gets a check mark in the “HELL YEAH!” column.