They’re so much more convenient than the gloopy, old-style face masks. They give our parched or crepey faces an instant hit of hydration.
They make great pictures for social media, and their popularity with celebs from Kim Kardashian to Victoria Beckham — who have both posted pictures showing off their latest versions — has made them hot purchases, though even the most beautiful faces can look a bit Hannibal Lecter.
Sheet masks — face masks made from folded sheets of papery fabric or gel, laden with skin-nourishing serums — have become a routine skin-fix for many of us. When they first appeared, they seemed strange and alien, not to mention, fiddly. But over the past few years, we have taken to them as a small but significant treat, on a major scale. The value of the sheet masks market is expected to reach £1.49 billion worldwide by 2023.
Alice Hart-Davis revealed a selection of the best eco-friendly sheet masks for a clear complexion (file image)
Why do we love them? Well, they’re easier to use than old-style clay masks that get all over your fingers, your towels and into your hair, and the mask, being made of gel or fabric, helps to hold serum on the skin for long enough that the skin can drink up as much as it needs.
But although they may improve skin conditions ranging from pigmentation to wrinkles, the one thing sheet masks aren’t good for is the environment.
Like plastic straws and wet wipes, they aren’t easy to dispose of. One Korean online beauty retailer has banned selling them.
Susan Stevens, founder of Made with Respect, a company that promotes sustainable brands, says: ‘They are made to use once and throw out, creating a lot of unnecessary waste. There’s a pouch, a mask, and in some cases the mask is wrapped in a plastic sheet, too. Then there are the masks themselves. If a sheet mask is produced using a synthetic material like nylon, it cannot be composted.’
The good news? There are sheet masks which aren’t so bad for the environment.
Anna Teal, CEO of Aromatherapy Associates says: ‘Sustainability and transparency has always been at the heart of our brand. We source 100 per cent natural ingredients with traceability right back to the farmer and the original source of the essential oil. Our packaging is also sourced to minimalise its impact on the planet.’
Here are five sheet masks that will keep your conscience as clear as your complexion.
DOESN’T BUDGE AND GETS RESULTS
Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Intensive Mask, £6, boots.com
Alice said Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Intensive Mask (pictured) didn’t budge once in place and took only five minutes to use
The Claim: Hydrates skin intensively and reduces appearance of lines and wrinkles
Eco-credentials: Made with revolutionary biocellulose technology that, unlike most other sheet masks, is 100 per cent biodegradable.
The Verdict: Not going to lie, biocellulose masks are strange. They are made of a strong, stretchy sort of gel. This one boasts ‘superior skin-tight dermal adhesion’, which means that once I have draped it on to my face and patted it into place, it doesn’t budge. Which is brilliant. It only took five minutes, didn’t drip at all and my skin felt cool and hydrated afterwards.
BUDGET-BUSTING . . . BUT BRILLIANT
Maskologist Lavender Youth Miracle Hydrogel Mask, £84 for four masks, maskologist.com
Alice revealed Maskologist Lavender Youth Miracle Hydrogel Mask (pictured) produced good results and left her skin feeling lovely
The Claim: Contains high performance ingredients for rejuvenating the skin and improving radiance.
Eco-credentials: They are created without the plastic mesh base structure of other hydrogel masks, which means they are completely biodegradable and made from plant cellulose. They will also dissolve fully in water. The packaging is biodegradable, too.
The Verdict: A beautiful thing, made from mauve gel with fragments of lavender embedded but fiddly to get out of its packaging and arrange the two parts of the mask — one for the eyes and forehead; one for the lower face — into place. I had to stay still for the 15-20 minutes I used it. My skin felt lovely afterwards. This costs a fortune, but did produce good results. A clear-conscience indulgence.
A HYDRATING HUG FOR YOUR FACE
Pumpkin 24k Gold Mask, £8.50 from Boots
Alice said Pumpkin 24k Gold Mask (pictured) left her face feeling well hydrated and stayed in place for the designated 15 minutes
The Claim: Hydrates tired, stressed skin while the enzymes and alpha-hydroxy acids from pumpkin help increase cell turnover and brighten the skin, plus Vitamin A boosts skin elasticity and the gold particles in the formula help amplify facial radiance.
Eco-credentials: It is made from bio-cellulose fibres which are 1,000 times thinner than human hair and so degrade fully.
The Verdict: Very nice. The biocellulose gel mask hugs my face well and doesn’t fall off for the 15 designated minutes. It leaves my face feeling well hydrated.
Star rating: 4/5
TAD TOO TINGLY FOR COMFORT
Brightening Vitamin C glow boosting Paper Mask, £3, from beautybay.com
Alice claimed Brightening Vitamin C glow boosting Paper Mask (pictured) dried out quickly and leaked onto her hair
The Claim: Hydrates and protects the skin thanks to aloe vera. There’s also a dose of antioxidants in the form of Vitamin C, to help brighten the skin and improve its radiance.
Eco-credentials: Plastic-free, vegan-friendly and made from lightweight, 100 per cent cotton with a 96 per cent natural ingredient formula. A paper mask made of cotton? Yes.
The Verdict: Tingly when it first went on but it says on the pack that ‘if it’s tingling, then it’s working’, so I don’t worry. It seemed to dry out quite soon. It was huge on my face so it leaked onto my hair. A bargain but not the most sophisticated.
Star Rating: 2/5
FABULOUS FRAGRANCE OF FRANKINCENSE
Aromatherapy Associates Hydrosol sheet masks, £42 for four, aromatherapy associates.com
Alice said Aromatherapy Associates Hydrosol sheet masks (pictured) left her skin looking dewy and smelt of frankincense
The Claim: Hydrates and firms the skin thanks to its special blend of rejuvenating frankincense oil, hydrating hyaluronic acid and protective turmeric (an antioxidant, thanks to the curcumin it contains).
Eco-credentials: Biodegradable and 100 per cent free from synthetic fragrances, artificial colours, sulphates, parabens and mineral oil.
The Verdict: A papery mask soaked in plenty of high-quality serum. It took careful unpacking but turned out to be firm enough not to fall to pieces. Because it is papery rather than a gel, it was hard to make it stick to my face. This is one to wear lying down. Nice and soothing, and I loved the smell of the frankincense. My skin looked dewy afterwards.
Star rating: 3/5