A short masking session is like pressing the mini trashcan icon and effectively deleting last night's tequila shots, sweaty dance party, or the fact that you didn't wash off your makeup when you stumbled in at 3 a.m. They can draw out impurities, transform your texture, brighten your complexion instantly, and even provide a Gatorade-like swig of hydration. Whatever the claim, masks are generally intensive treatments that translate into instant (sometimes mic-dropping) gratification.
And most of our favorite masks are coming from overseas, specifically falling under the broad and growing category of Korean skin care. In South Korea, the “put a mask on it” mantra has spawned multiple categories, including peel-off, modeling, bubble, water, sleeping masks, and even finger masks. It’s also common to layer different treatments in a sort of
mask cocktail to address specific needs (for example, a clay mask to purify pores paired with a hydrogel sheet mask to rehydrate).
Things can get a little confusing with the overwhelming number of masks claiming to be one-shot wonders. Ahead, find a list of superstars to give you the lay of the land and save you from picking up a dud sheet mask next time you're standing in the checkout line. Read on to discover some of the newest and coolest K-beauty masks you aren't using yet, but definitely should be.
We always have a clay mask on rotation. Why? Because
(like kaolin, bentonite, or volcanic ash) soothes, absorbs oil, and exfoliates, which makes it a go-to for congested skin. We love this new one from Whamisa, the daughter of Glow Recipe, that instantly de-gunks pores
soothes redness. Hormonal acne,
see ya. Whamisa by Glow Recipe
Green Tea & Clay Mask, $23, available at
In just a few months post-launch, this Memebox mask sold out
at Ulta Beauty. It's loaded with soothing oat extract, as well as exfoliating pearl powder and diamond dust for brightening. Once it's fully dried, it's meant to be carefully peeled off — which anyone who spent their elementary school days peeling dried Elmer's glue off their fingers will find
I Dew Care Disco Kitten Mask, $23, available at
If you want to jump on board the Korean beauty
craze, this is the sheet mask to get you there. It contains a 3-layer pulp sheet soaked in a nutrient-enriched essence. Designed to deeply moisturize skin in just 20 minutes, this formula contains avocado extract and macadamia nut oil to enhance elasticity for a plumper complexion. Just another point for avocados.
I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask, $3, available at
This pink-tinted gel mask is cooling, soothing, and gentle enough to use every day if you want to pack in the moisture. And if you're not into
wearing sheet masks on airplanes,
this is the mask for you: It's almost completely transparent, so even if you're wearing a heavy layer it just looks like you have glass skin.
Thank You Farmer
Back to Relax Soothing Gel Mask, $19, available at
The Saturday Skin Whipped Cream is a
must-have for moisturizing dull winter skin. I
t's moisturizing, cooling, and gives your face an instant glow. A good pick for the groggy days when you're regretting how many vodka sodas you downed the night before.
Spotlight Brightening Mask, $6, available at
Since this bubble mask came out years ago, it’s continuously been The Saem’s best-selling product. It starts carbonating on contact, and over five to 10 minutes, it turns from a grayish paste to a white airy, bubble texture that purges pores.
Gem Miracle Black Pearl O2 Bubble Mask, $39.99, available at
K Skin Shop
We know this pink
Glow Recipe water-based mask is really good
, because immediately after it launched, it sold out in just
and racked up a waitlist of over 5 thousand people. Why are people so eager to get their hands on it? It might be because it contains so many skin-softening ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids, and soothing watermelon extract. It can be used as a normal mask (keep it on for 10-20 minutes and then rinse it off) or you can wear it overnight for even more brightening action.
Watermelon Sleeping Mask, $45, available at
Also designed for overnight use, this mask harnesses the power of bamboo water (known for its moisturizing qualities). Even if you drag your ass into bed at 4 a.m., you'll wake up looking way more well rested than you actually are.
Bamboo Waterlock Mask, $43, available at
rubbery peel-off masks
were at one time used exclusively by aestheticians, but are now becoming popular for home use. This one comes packaged in a single-use container with a handy spatula to aid in application.
Smooth the gel-like liquid onto your skin before gently peeling it off 15-20 minutes to reveal softer, plumper skin.
Aqua Moist Water Rubber Mask, $9, available at
Solid Rubber Masks
This effective, albeit frightening, face mask delivers the benefits of a rubber mask (like those
DIY ones we love
) without all that goopy mess.
Hydration Lover Rubber Mask, $12, available at
You know the old wives' tale about drinking a glass of warm milk before bed for better sleep?
Although it's not 100% proven
, this mask is making us think that the calming properties of milk might not be total BS. Drenched in milk and aloe extracts, this sheet mask can make even the most pissed-off skin soft and supple. It even has enough excess essence to use on your body, too.
A’Pieu Pure Milk Sheet Mask, $1.75, available at
We like to think of this option as a sheet mask for your lips. It's just as easy to use, too: Place the patch over your lips and leave it on for 15 minutes before peeling it off. Then rub the excess serum into your skin and let the formula work its magic.
Pomegranate Collagen Lip Mask, $4, available at
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