Take a look at the #kbeauty hashtag on Instagram, and what do you see? A collage of clean, glowing faces, interspersed with pictures of colorful packets covered with beauty buzzwords like “moisture”, “pore-refining”, and “collagen”, along with a slew of characters from the Korean alphabet.
You also spot a ton of faces, and maybe even a few celebs, wearing peculiar-looking—even a little creepy—masks. Those are sheet masks, a product central to the cultural phenomenon that is Korean skin care, which has made its way into the United States over the last couple of years. Proponents of the regimen aren’t afraid to drop major cash and invest a great deal of time (a K-beauty routine can consist of as many as 10 steps!).
Even among those who aren’t quite that committed to upkeep, sheet masks have gained popularity both because they’re fun to use and give real results. The masks, usually cotton, are infused with ultra-hydrating and sometimes anti-aging ingredients, which can evaporate from a traditional cream mask. Not so with a sheet mask—the fiber minimizes evaporation, which is beneficial for moisture retention. And once you peel it off, there’s no need to rinse—it’s best to massage the residual fluid into the skin so it can continue doing its work.
For sure, packaged sheet masks are convenient—and these days they’re not necessarily as expensive as they were when they first hit upscale retailers in the U.S. They’re so popular these days that you can get them at drugstores. But in the spirit of customization, which is the true essence of a Korean beauty regimen, why not experiment with making your own? It’s fun, and easier than you think. Our three-ingredient DIY sheet mask is refreshing for most skin types (dry skin will be particularly happy to soak this one up).
The star of this recipe is the serum. Choose one based on your skin’s needs. We like Acure's antioxidant-packed vegan formula, made exclusively with plant-based oils (safflower, pumpkin seed, sweet orange, and cranberry seed). Fragrant rosewater, which can soothe irritation and perk up the complexion, is the base. Combined with vegetable glycerine, a natural humectant that attracts and retains moisture from the air, it helps your skin more easily absorb the active ingredients in the serum.
In a bowl, combine serum, rosewater, and vegetable glycerine, and mix thoroughly. Soak cotton pads (or gauze) in mixture. Separate cotton layers and place them all over the face, including the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and jawline. Leave on for 20 minutes. Peel off and massage any leftover fluid into skin.
Optional: You can add an egg white, which contains collagen and protein that boost natural lipids to help tighten and even out skin tone. If you’re acne-prone, you might want to skip it since it may potentially clog pores.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho