The Face-Mask Craze Has Gone Next-Level

If there's one thing our deep dive into Korean beauty rituals has taught us over the years, it's this: Whatever your skin needs, there’s a sheet mask for it. Addressing beauty concerns from head to toe, this mask craze provides products for toning, hydrating, brightening, anti-aging, drawing out impurities, and a whole host of other issues.
For those not yet savvy to the sheet-mask trend, these potent mini facials are delivered via a sheet soaked in nourishing essences and nutrients. After just 15 to 20 minutes of wearing one (and looking kind of scary in the process), you’ll be the embodiment of #wokeuplikethis.
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The average sheet mask is made of microfiber or cotton, but some are made of hydrogel, which looks and feels like gelatin. The latest evolution of the sheet mask is made of biocellulose, which is reportedly 10 times superior to cotton in adhesion and delivery of nutrients.
Because of their potency, face masks aren't for everyday use (too much of a good thing, yada yada yada), but using them once or twice a week can mean hitting the proverbial reset button for tired, neglected, stressed-out skin. On top of all that, sheet masks, for the most part, also happen to be surprisingly affordable, and they can help stretch the time between visits to your aesthetician. Lazy girls, are you listening?
While just starting to become mainstream in the States, South Korea is a sheet-mask wonderland. In any given Korean drugstore or beauty shop, an entire aisle is devoted to these masks for every part of the body. Seriously — among the different mask materials, essences they're soaked in, and areas where they can be applied, it's totally possible to cover yourself from top to bottom in them. Treating everything from your cuticles to your eye creases, our favorite Korean sheet masks are straight ahead.


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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
Look like a panda while banishing dark circles? Fantastic idea. The marketing ploy here is that a panda’s dream in life is to be rid of its dark circles — this panda and I share the same dream. The eye patches contain bamboo sap and shoot extracts to brighten the eye area and moisturize. They're also totally black with cutouts for the eyes, making for some quality I’m-a-panda selfie time.
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Photo: VIa Lassie'el.
I remember the days when I used to store a spoon in the freezer, but now I have hydrogel eye patches. These jiggly crescents fit snugly under the eye to hug those bags away, while morus alba extract helps soothe the skin and hydrate.
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Photo: Via Lovien.
This hydrogel mask is for the “apple zone.” Judging from its shape, we assume this means under the eye and around the mouth. This mask is probably useful for smokers or people who want to direct some hydration to laugh lines. The main ingredient here is pitera, which promotes skin-cell renewal. The mask also contains galactomyces, an enzyme that helps regenerate the skin.
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Photo: Via Too Cool For School.
Another contender for the “apple zone,” Too Cool for School’s version is shaped like a butterfly. It covers the under-eye, top of the cheeks, and corners of the mouth. The apple zone happens to bear the brunt of the sun’s damaging rays, which means it could always benefit from some extra care. This mask is not a hydrogel, but I really love the coverage and adherence this one provides. Cherry blossom, acacia, portulaca, and chamomile extracts hydrate the sensitive area.

Too Cool For School Applezone Butterfly Mask, $4.30, available at Korea Depart.
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Photo: Via Etude House.
“Petite beauty” in Korea represents minor, noninvasive cosmetic procedures like Botox or fillers. Etude House’s Petite Beauty Smooth Forehead Patch doesn’t contain Botox but promises similar topical effects. It contains cucumber and aloe extracts to hydrate this wrinkle-prone area and create smoothness.

Etude House Smooth Forehead Patch, $9.57, available at Korea Depart.
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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
A hydrogel laugh-line mask made to look like a mustache. I’ll be totally honest: This is a novelty, “fun” mask with maximum selfie potential, but that shouldn’t diminish its power to hydrate. This soaks the laugh-line area with berry, sesame seed, and bean extracts to minimize the appearance of creases.
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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
These hydrogel patches are super-cute, round, pink patches that are applied directly to the cheeks to deliver hydration and a soothing cooling effect.
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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
When it comes to pampering skin, people seem to forget the neck exists, which is a huge mistake since the area is especially prone to wrinkles and sagging. For me, the most my neck used to get was a few swipes of my face’s leftovers. (“Oops, I squeezed out too much moisturizer. There you go, neck.”)

My Little Pet Patches come in four varieties for laugh lines, the under-eye, the body, and the neck. The body patch is supposed to be for reducing cellulite, but I remain wary of any product claiming to treat cellulite. Of the four, the neck patch is great for delivering a hit of hydration to an oft-neglected area that needs it.
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Photo: Via Skinmiso.
Unlike the pore strips we all know and love, Skinmiso’s nose mask is actually three steps, none of which involve ripping off hardened tape. Before starting, it’s best to steam your face by hotboxing your head over a basin of very hot water. Post shower works, too.

The first nose mask soaks your pores with witch hazel and other plant extracts. Then things get nasty. Removing the mask reveals pores that have collectively decided to regurgitate all the gunk that had been clogging them. It’s pretty satisfying to swab all this sebum away with a Q-tip. Sadly, subsequent treatments didn’t yield as much "stuff" (for lack of a better word) as that first one.

The second mask helps constrict and tighten the pores, and the final application of the essence helps to control oil and sebum buildup.
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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
Michelle Phan included TonyMoly’s lip mask in her beauty haul of must-try products from Korea, and I couldn’t agree more. Painfully chapped lips are the worst.

Pressing this berry-scented gel mask on the lips looks pretty silly — like you’ve drawn lipstick WAY outside the lines — but the results are an ultra-moisturized, flake-free pout.
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Photo: VIa Egyptian.
V-line masks — which try to help create the appearance of a V-shaped chin and jawline — in Korea can get downright ridiculous, looking more like torture devices than beauty aids. Thankfully, this isn't one of those. It delivers nutrients and moisture to an often-ignored area of the face, without the pain or discomfort.

Egyptian V-Line Makeup Mask, $15, available at Memebox.
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Photo: Via Sulwhasoo.
Okay, $130 is crazy, but it’s for 10 masks. So, really, it’s $13 a mask, which is worth the price considering it’s one hell of a mask. Each one is handmade and soaked in fermented ingredients for two weeks. The mask itself is made of biocellulose and contours to the face like a second skin. Sometimes I sleep with this mask on, and the next day my complexion is flawless.
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Photo: Via The Face Shop.
This full-face mask is all about moisture. It’s made of hydrogel and pumped full of hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrates the skin and helps reduce fine lines.
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Photo: Via Enca.
Tea tree oil masks are my favorite. Whenever I feel a blemish threatening to pop up, I throw on one of these and the blemish never appears. I like this version from Enca because it’s 100% cotton and pure acne-fighting goodness. The full-face mask comes in two halves to better fit all face types.
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Photo: Via Cremorlab.
Cremorlab's hydrating mask is made of biocellulose, which means maximum absorption; the mask is proven to increase skin hydration by 62%. It's formulated with algae extract and mineral- and nutrient-rich water, which leaves the skin feeling intensely hydrated.
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Photo: Via Kocostar.
Sheet masks don’t stop at skin. Featured on the popular Korean beauty program Get It Beauty, the GGONGJI hair mask helps hydrate and nourish split ends. To use, you gather your hair into a ponytail and then slip the mask over it so it makes a little sack. Honestly, I wondered just how effective this would be at treating split ends — it was just lying on top of my ponytail, so I didn't think it was truly working on all of my hair.

The efficacy of this product is similar to that of spray-in hair treatments: A few spritzes will haphazardly land wherever (sometimes not even on the hair), but as with all beauty treatments, the key is consistency. Continued use gets these products where they need to go, and the result is healthier hair.

Kocostar Ggongji Hair Pack, $3.86, available at Korean Depart.
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Photo: Via Etude House.
Even elbows get a mask. They can get cracked and dry, and this mask locks in moisture for baby-soft joints.
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Photo: Via Innisfree.
I always make an effort to forgo the embarrassment of offering up a crusty, parched paw to shake if I can’t make it to the nail salon. And, in the winter, this can be a chore, and hand cream can only go so far. Innisfree’s finger masks cocoon each digit in moisture-imparting essences, making my cuticles and even my nails feel healthier (all those gel manis take their toll). The masks come in two varieties: rose with rosehip, and shea butter with argan oil.
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Photo: Via TonyMoly.
I saved the craziest for last. Soaking your foot in this mask will cause your skin to shed like a snake's. It’s disgusting but also amazing. I have the kind of feet that require all manner of apologies when getting a pedicure, and these masks have given my calloused hooves new life.
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