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Daily sheet mask usage all the rage for K-beauty fans : While some celebrities swear by the 1day1mask trend, skin care professionals warn that its not for everyone

The mantra of “1 day 1 pack,” which refers to the act of using one sheet face mask a day, has become the addictive daily routine for K-beauty fans around the globe. 

The latest Korean beauty craze that is both affordable and convenient seems to have captivated both women and men around the world, and it’s not difficult to encounter face mask selfies of celebrities and friends on social media with a hashtag, #1day1pack in Korean or #1day1mask in English. (Koreans use the word “pack” to refer to all beauty masks for skin.) To illustrate, there are over 50,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag “1day1pack” in Korean, showing people with a sheet mask plastered on their face with holes for the eyes, nostrils and lips. 

Since a sheet mask can be purchased for as little as $1, or even two for 1,000 won (87 cents), the “1 day 1 mask” ritual seems like a feasible at-home alternative to expensive facial treatments. 

Sohn Jeong-min, 27, who was shopping for sheet masks at Olive Young, a local health and beauty retail chain in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, on Monday afternoon said the “1 day 1 mask” has been her staple for the past year. 

After watching Korean celebrities attributing their amazing skin to their daily use of a sheet mask, Sohn decided to make it her habit as well. She puts on a sheet mask every night for 20 to 30 minutes before bed. She misses some days, but usually she uses at least five sheets a week. 

“I buy my sheet masks at Olive Young. I tend to buy different types of sheet masks every week to try out the new ones that come out,” Sohn said. 

“But the new ones tend to be quite expensive so I buy one good one and six cheap ones so ‘1 day 1 mask’ becomes possible.” This week, Sohn picked one “Seok-go [plaster] contouring gold mask” that costs 8,000 won per sheet and six other sheet masks that were being sold in bulk for 3,000 won. 

Sohn says that she can’t say that regular masking did wonders to her skin, but she has kept doing it because it makes her skin glow and feel hydrated immediately after use. 

“I think it helps makeup to [stay] better in the mornings,” said Sohn. 

But she also said it doesn’t mean that she’s been having glowing skin everyday ever since she began her daily use of sheet masks. 

“I do get blemishes from time to time and get a bout of acne even though I use sheet masks everyday,” she said. “But I think if I didn’t use them everyday, I might have more frequent outbreaks.” 

With the rise in competition, new types of sheet masks using unique ingredients and materials, like gold powders and tin foil for example, are being introduced almost everyday, eager to attract consumers in the already saturated face mask market. Some of the new sheet mask products even come in curated packs of seven, intended for daily use. 

But how effective is it to use one mask a day? 

According to experts, “1 day 1 mask” may sound like a magic spell that can give you a flawless complexion like they are being advertised, but it’s not as good as it sounds. 

“Without understanding what type of skin you have, using one sheet mask a day can actually do more harm to your skin than good,” said Jang Yoo-hee, a skin therapist at Sungae Hospital in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul. 

“It’s a sad truth, but only those born with great skin will benefit from using any kind of sheet mask, whether it’s a 1,000-won sheet mask or a 20,000-won sheet mask,” said Jang. 

“But for others, it’s really important you pick out a product that best suits your skin type, or else, it will irritate the skin.” 

Moreover, according to Jang, its best for those with acne or oily skin to not use sheet masks at all. 

“Those with troubled skin tend to engage in a ‘1 day 1 mask’ routine more than others in hopes of finding the best way to treat their skin,” she added. “But sheet masks prevent your skin from breathing, which can exacerbate the trouble.” 

Jang said she’s had a few patients who came to see her claiming that their skin became itchy and irritated after using sheet masks. 

“The ones with colorful prints of animal faces especially seem like they are irritating sensitive skin,” she said. 

The highly-enriched serums that are soaked in sheet masks, according to Jang, can also irritate the skin for young people who lack sleep, are overly stressed or have an unbalanced diet. 

“You need a decent amount of sleep and good nutrition for your skin to regenerate. Trying to put on highly-enriched serums without fulfilling these necessities will only irritate the skin,” said Jang. 

“Unless you’ve found a sheet mask that really suits your skin type, it’s just better to put on a good chunk of the moisturizing cream you put on everyday. You’ll have a similar result to using a sheet mask.” 

But for those who are interested in using sheet masks as a seasonal reboot, Jang says to pick out a sheet that’s not made of cotton - the cheapest material used to make sheet masks. 

“It’s better to use a gel-type or the new plaster-types that don’t dry up that fast,” said Jang. “For these as well, however, it’s important to leave it on for less than 20 minutes. If left on longer, the sheet will absorb the moisture in your skin, which is a cause of all skin irritations.” 

According to Jessica Jung, CEO of a Canadian cosmetic brand Aebe Su, which also produces sheet masks under its brand S0381, there’s no formula that goes well with all kinds of skin. 

“Even if it says the product is made of natural extracts, it can cause allergic reactions to sensitive skin,” said Jung. “So in order to minimize skin irritation, we make products using ingredients that are less potential irritants and that qualify as safe by clinical trials. Therefore in picking out which sheet mask to use, it’s better to check who the manufacturer is, rather than trusting the distributor.”

Jung warned not to “be blinded by attractive packaging and advertisements of sheet masks, but pick out the ones that show the manufacturing process, and suit your skin type.” 

Aebe Su’s sheet mask uses a cupra fabric that prevents moisture from evaporating. 

“If you want to use a sheet mask everyday, you should pick out a product that’s gentle on your skin and hypoallergenic,” said Jung. “It’s highly recommended to just use a quality sheet mask that suits your skin, when you feel like you need a boost.” 

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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Jessica Jung