There are a lot of sheet masks out there, and most of the ones I consider great have a lot in common. And then there are masks like Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Mask, which I bought with the assumption that they’d be pretty similar to other Taiwanese snail masks I’ve tried and liked, but which turn out to be so different that they deserve an entire blog post of their own.
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Purpose: Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Mask is a hydrating and calming sheet mask.
Best suited for: All skin types.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to algin, snail mucin, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: Use after cleansing, either in place of or in addition to the essence and serum steps of your normal skincare routine. I prefer to use sheet masks as my last stage before creams, as the occlusion and the penetration enhancers in the sheet masks seem to help push previous products more thoroughly into skin. Follow with moisturizer and/or sleeping pack.
Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Mask ingredients: Purified water, algin, snow fungus (tremella fuciformis) extract, hydroxyethylcellulose, butylene glycol, carbomer, glycerin, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, PEG-45M, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, sodium hyaluronate, snail secretion filtrate, allantoin, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, calendula officinalis flower extract, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, triethanolamine, beta glucan, sodium polyglutamate, fragrance, dipotassium glycyrrhizate
Notable ingredients: I started to get the feeling these masks might be something different from the usual when I typed up the ingredients list. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sheet mask that listed algin, a seaweed-derived thickener, as its second ingredient. Actually, I can’t really think of many products that contain algin in the first place. Algin rates quite high on CosDNA as a potential acne trigger and irritant, getting a 4 in both columns, so if you have issues with seaweed ingredients, give this one a pass.
If you don’t think you have problems with algin or carrageenan, however, it may be worth giving this a shot–comedogenicity ratings are pretty flawed, as my friend Michelle from Lab Muffin pointed out. And there’s some good shit in this mask. Tremella fuciformis extract is hydrating and shows promising antioxidant and wound healing abilities, much like the snail secretion filtrate that this mask features. The aloe and oats are soothing and anti-inflammatory. Overall, this mask has potential to deliver on its hydrating and reparative promises.
Ooooooookay. These masks are WEIRD.
I’ve used a lot of Taiwanese sheet masks in my time and generally like them a lot. Brands like My Beauty Diary, My Scheming, and the more upmarket Maskingdom and L’Herboflore all tend to give lots and lots of mask juice on soft and pliable sheets that excel at holding the juice against your face, and the other two Naruko sheet masks I’ve tried have been that way, too. The Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Mask is something else.
The thin, translucent mask sheet itself is similar to other T-beauty masks, but the essence, with its subtle floral scent, is very unusual. The algin and various humectants in this formulation make the liquid thicker than any I’ve felt before; texturally, Naruko Long Name Snailmasks are more like hydrogels than regular sheet masks. And the thick, thick essence is incredibly slimy. Chilled, the mask likes to stick to itself and to pull apart in long strings, much like the super-snaily COSRX snail essence that I love. At room temperature, these masks are easier to unfold but retain that distinctive snaily sliminess.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned about the weird texture. A couple of commenters mentioned it on my Instagram, and they were totally right.
You’ve probably guessed that the snaily-slimy feel of the mask essence isn’t a problem for me at all–actually, it’s pretty exciting and pleasurable in ways I don’t want you to think too much about–but if that kind of consistency bothers you, these masks definitely will.
Which would be too bad, because these are really nice masks. Even after 35 minutes out of the refrigerator on my face, the essence feels cooling and soothing on my skin. It stayed good and moist for over 45 minutes, and when I took it off, I was wowed by how much it had calmed down and evened out my skin. Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Mask isn’t “brightening,” but all the anti-inflammatory goodness in it had a distinct brightening effect anyway. This is the kind of mask that I’d use on a morning when I don’t feel like messing with BB cream or cushion, since the redness reduction it delivers would have the same effect on my look. And actually, that calming effect persisted into the day after I used this mask, so I wouldn’t even have to use it the morning of! On top of that, the Naruko Long Name Snailmask is strongly hydrating and leaves a smooth matte finish on my skin.
Conclusion: I have used a lot of sheet masks in my day, and most of them don’t get a full review because most of them aren’t unique enough to justify so many words. These are. Naruko’s Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Masks are total Snail City, and Snail City is a beautiful place to visit. I bought a box of 10 and I like them so much that I’m regretting my decision to sacrifice one of them for a daylight shot of the slimy essence.
Where can I buy Naruko Snail Essence Intense Hydra Repair Masks?
Naruko isn’t at MBD levels of popularity yet, even though the brand has quite a solid reputation among T-beauty fans. But you can buy boxes of these masks from a couple of places:
- Amazon Prime (and fulfilled by Amazon!) for $16.15* with free Prime 2-day shipping
- Naruko Boutique USA for $22.99* with free shipping
Have you tried any masks lately that were just freaking weird and amazing?