Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard of or even tried K-Beauty’s most popular beauty export: sheet masks!
Though it took them a little while to cross Korean borders (the first generation of Korean sheet masks was already developed in the early 1990s), they meanwhile have successfully hit drugstore and beauty store shelves all around the globe. And their popularity continues to skyrocket in 2018!
Clean Beauty Is A Thing In 2018
Another thing that it currently going on in the beauty scene is “Clean Beauty”.
More and more people seem to care about the safety of cosmetics ingredients and keep watching out for beauty options with “clean” ingredients.
I can clearly perceive this trend going on in Korea right now. You’ll find a lot of newer and smaller Korean brands these days that are focused on providing “clean” beauty products and many of the larger Korean beauty brands have meanwhile launched their own “derma” or “low irritation” lines to cater customers’ demand for “clean” skincare.
Do you love using sheet masks as much as I do? And are you keen to go a bit “cleaner” with your skincare routine, but don’t know where to start and find it tiring to go through ingredients lists?
Then read on, I did the tedious work for you!
In this post I’m going to introduce you 15+ Korean sheet masks worth checking out if you think it’s time for a little detox in your skincare routine!
But First… What Does “Clean Beauty” Mean At All?
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of the term “clean” and its meaning may vary depending on who’s using it.
I think the general concept of Clean Beauty is based on the idea that a product is free from harmful or irritating ingredients but other aspects like cruelty-freeness, the amount of “natural” ingredients and a product’s eco-friendliness play a role as well.
When it comes to the question what ingredients a product should be free from to qualify as “clean”, it really gets confusing – what seems to be totally ok for some can be a big no-no for others. More or less, the safety of every single ingredient in conventional skincare seems to be challenged in some way.
In Korea, skincare products claiming to be health-friendly are often labeled “derma”, “low irritation”, “10 free” (or even “20 free”), “EWG safe” or similar.
If you have a closer look at Korean “derma” brands or lines, their products are usually (not always!) free from:
- (simple) alcohols
- synthetic coloring agents/dye
- (synthetic) fragrance
- mineral Oil
- polyethylenglycol (PEG)
to only name the most relevant ones.
This isn’t particularly thrilling, because these are more or less the usual “bad guys”.
Though I agree that some of them do probably not deserve their bad reputation, I’ll skip discussing the sense or non-sense of skincare ingredients stigmatization for now, because it would make this already way too long intro to this post even longer lol…
I just want so say that it’s totally fine to avoid some or all of these ingredients if you feel uncomfortable with them, as long as the “critical” ingredient’s replacement isn’t even worse or jeopardizes the stability or preservation of the product (like these poorly preserved paraben-free products that pop up sometimes and turn into little germ farms once you open them – no one needs that!!).
It’s certainly not the worst idea to gather some knowledge on ingredients safety in case you aren’t already familiar with this topic. But try to choose your sources wisely and avoid reading too much random stuff! There is a lot of misleading information on this topic out there with a lot of scaremongering going on. Take some time to think about it and then go for whatever makes you feel safe and your skin happy!
Ok, let’s get back to the main topic: Another important thing to know about K-Beauty ingredients is that ”derma” or “low irritation” (or however they may call it) isn’t understood as “free from essential oils” in Korea! K-Beauty tends to be quite obsessed with them and though all sheet masks I’ll be mentioning in this post are free from synthetic fragrance, some of them do contain essential oils.
Keep this in mind if you are sensitive or allergic to essential oils and check the ingredients lists I’ve uploaded for each sheet mask.
So let’s just conclude from this section that the term “clean” in K-Beauty can be understood as “free from ingredients that are commonly accused of being harmful or irritating (particularly the seven ingredients I listed above) but not free from essential oils, because K-Beauty loooves them”.
Sheet Masks Unmasked
Ok, now that we have defined what “clean” is actually supposed to mean here, let’s quickly check how “clean” Korean sheet masks are in general.
I reviewed tons of sheet masks ingredients lists from brands of any size and any of their lines (not only from “derma” lines).
Here’s a very brief summary of the findings of my little research:
- The majority of sheet masks contained fragrance and/or PEGs.
- A significant number of them contained simple alcohols (particularly ethanol or alcohol denat.).
- Some (but few) contained parabens or phenoxyethanol.
- Mineral oil and artificial dye didn’t play a role.
I’m aware that brands aren’t very hesitant with adding fragrance to sheet masks, so it wasn’t a big surprise to find that really a lot of popular sheet masks were NOT 100% “clean” in this respect.
It was a little surprising though that it was quite hard to find sheet masks that are free from fragrance and simple alcohol. Interestingly enough, once you find one without these two, they very often don’t contain any of the other “unclean” ingredients listed above as well!
So from this bunch of “clean” sheet masks I found, I put together a collection of 15 for this post which are in my view a good mixture of road shop, indie and some middle to higher end brands (not high end!).
Of course, I haven’t checked EVERY ingredients list of EVERY single sheet mask out there (haha)! So yep, I definitely may have missed some.
Anyway, sorry for the super long intro – let’s go! Here is the (alphabetically sorted and non-exhaustive) list!
Many of you may have heard of or even tried Benton’s popular Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack containing snail mucin extract and bee venom. If you got your hands on this, it was definitely a good choice (unless, you react to bee by-products, then it’s definitely not good for you)! It’s one of my all-time favorites!
This sheet mask is from a smaller Korean skincare brand called BringGreen and it’s packed with avocado fruit extract (50%). People with dry skin will probably enjoy it most!
Brought to you by the popular K-Beauty online shop Wishtrend, this sheet mask claims to amplify and maximize the effect of the ByWishtrend Pure Vitamin 21.5% Advanced Vitamin C Serum or any other vitamin C serum you use it together with.
People who love DrJart’s bestselling Ceramidin line will probably also love this sheet mask. It’s definitely one of my personal favorites from this list! Very good for normal and dry skin.
5. Etude House 0.2 mm Therapy Air Mask Ceramide, Collagen, Madecassoside, Manuka Honey & Snail
Finally, a Korean road shop brand! I think Etude House has meanwhile launched more than 20 different sheet masks under their popular and affordable 0.2mm Therapy line. The “clean” options in this sheet mask line are: Ceramide, Collagen, Madecassoside, Manuka Honey and Snail!
6. Holika Holika – Pure Essence Mask Sheet Line
Another very affordable “clean” sheet mask line from a Korean road shop brand. The line includes ten different types of sheet masks: Green Tea, Damask Rose, Shea Butter, Cucumber, Pearl, Lemon, Avocado, Rice, Acai Berry and Strawberry.
And one more Korean road shop brand! This time it’s Innisfree with a sheet mask from its very popular line Bija Cica which is based on the magical trend ingredient centella asiatica.
IOPE is definitely a bit more high end compared to the other brands in this list, but this sheet mask is absolutely affordable (Korean price is KRW 3,500)! An interesting thing about this mask is that it only lists seven ingredients! Well, it’s basic… but super “clean”!
IsNtree is a brand I personally like a lot these days. You might have heard of their amazing Hyaluronic Acid Toner which was mentioned by Youtube skincare guru Gothamista in some of her videos some time ago. And yes, like every decent Korean skincare brand, they also have sheet masks in their product range!
10. It’s Skin Derma Thera Bio Cellulose Mask Line
This “clean” bio cellulose sheet mask line from road shop brand It’s Skin comes in three variations: Moist Therapy (blue, Sodium Hyaluronate), Nutri Therapy (yellow, Silk Amino Acids) and Sooth Therapy (green, Centella Asiatica).
11. Klairs – Midnight Blue Calming Sheet Mask and Rich Moist Soothing Tencel Mask
Klairs just recently launched these two new sheet masks and they’re already everywhere on social media. The good thing is that it’s pretty easy for most of us to get our hands on Klairs products, as they’re meanwhile sold in many countries.
Mediheal is a Korean brand with a strong focus on sheet masks with probably more than 100 different types in their product range. Though the Aqua Chip Circle Point Mask may not be their only “clean” sheet mask option, a large number of their masks contain fragrance and some of them alcohol.
13. Nature Republic – Real Comforting Mask Sheet
Nature Republic’s Real Comforting Mask Sheet line is another road shop product line worth checking out. The line includes 10 different types of sheet masks and they’re all “clean”, except for the Allantoin one which contains (a small amount) of alcohol.
Nature Republic Real Comforting Mask Sheet Vitamin E
PACKage is a very small and cute-themed Korean brand with a range of not more than a handful of products, but they successfully managed to launch kind of a hype product with their Everyday Bouncy Facial Mask. It’s definitely frequently seen on Instagram.
Real Barrier is a brand of Atopalm, a longstanding Korean derma company with 20+ years of experience. They focus on barrier-friendly skincare and don’t formulate with potentially irritating ingredients by tradition (just to be clear: they do use essential oils though)! This sheet mask matches Real Barrier’s super popular face cream ‘Extreme Cream’ which is actually pictured on the packaging as well.
Awesome, one more road shop brand at the end of this list. “Dr. Belmeur” is The Face Shop’s derma or low-irritant line and like many sheet masks do these days, this sheet mask features the magical ingredient centella asiatica.
Clean Beauty: What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on the “Clean Beauty” trend? Do you think it’s worth following or is it just paranoid to doubt the safety of conventional beauty products?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments or drop me a message through my Contact Page! I’m looking forward to your feedback! ^-^
For those who are interested in sheet mask reviews: It would have made this post too long if I included my personal opinion on each sheet mask in the list… I’ll try to post as many reviews as possible of the sheet masks listed in this post either here on my blog or on my Instagram! Stay tuned!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope that this post was helpful to you!
Jinjoo Unni xoxo