Sheet Mask Smackdown!

Sheet masks have never been my thing.

I have and will always be a clay mask kind of girl. Thanks to my oily, acne prone skin, I found lots of sheet masks overbearing on my skin. Particularly Taiwanese & Korean ones that are absolutely DRIPPING in essence. So much that there is usually a pool of excess essence left in the packet, which is a good thing that people tend to look for. However, for me, it’s just too much.

Most masks are so saturated that it feels as if they are slipping and sliding off my face. The essence is so thick that it feels as if it isn’t penetrating my skin. Thus, I hated “patting” in the goo after I have removed the mask from my face. Often times, I end up breaking out.

As I grew older though, my skin has definitely changed. It’s now more combination oily. Plus, after using retinol, my skin does get dry and I have to be more diligent about hydration.

 

With new formulations and new brands, I decided to give sheet masks another shot.

 

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LuLuLun Masks, US$3.90-$19

This is my first introduction into Japanese sheet masks. My best friend, Diyanah, brought back a pack for me from Japan. Their masking concept is slightly different because there are 7 sheets in a pack and it is meant for DAILY use. Though it sounds excessive, these masks are perfectly formulated for that. They are thin cotton masks that are saturated in a cocktail of skin-loving ingredients. The keyword here is “saturated” but not soaking, sopping wet. It’s perfect for oily skinned girls like me who can’t stand rich textures. The LuLuLun masks are hydrating and emollient, but not occlusive.

I’ve tried a bunch, my favourite being the brightening one that comes in a silver packet. The moisturizing range is bit heavy for me, so I do find that I have to rinse my face after use, to get rid of any residue. They are alcohol free, which is very important for me and have a short but effective ingredients list. If you are confused as to what is in the different ranges and colours, I found a blog that explains the different types you can get here.

Best of all, they are so inexpensive at less than 10 bucks a pack.

 

Leaders Insolution & Mediu Masks, S$3-$9.90

The hype on these masks are real. The Leaders masks are well-loved globally. They are pretty pricey, but boast immediate results. I have tried two types and I have to say that I really do like both (insolution & media amino masks). It brightens and any acne I have going on is visibly less red and irritated. The cotton used in these masks is thicker and more plush than the LuLuLun ones. They cling to the skin better and have a better, more luxurious fit on my face.

As expected, I had to wash off the residue after taking off the mask because korean mask formulas are just too moisturizing for my skin. But the results are still noticeable. This would be a special occasion mask for me. Perhaps if my skin is experiencing a bad breakout or is generally looking a little rough, I would splurge on a sheet as a treat.

 

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Naruko Snail Essence Hydra Repair Masks, S$29.90

This Taiwanese drugstore skincare brand always impresses me with their ingredients list. It is packed with botanical extracts and effective ingredients, whilst omitting alcohol, parabens and other nasties. I’ve heard great things about their snail essence mask and I was not disappointed.

First thing you will notice is how incredibly slimy the mask is. Absolutely dripping with snail goo, which isn’t the most appealing thing to slap on your face. But once you get over that, the mask itself is thick and stays wet for a very long time. There is a rather strong fragrance – a notable downside for me. It’s very cooling and this treatment can be left on longer than all the masks I’ve tried.

The essence does drip around a bit so be warned, it can get messy. The result is worth the slimy hassle because I was left with clarified and calm skin. It really helped with my hyper pigmentation and acne scars. It’s another special occasion type mask but it’s great stuff!

 

Japan Gals Pure 5 Essence Masks, S$24.90

This is, I daresay, my HOLY GRAIL sheet mask. I found this Japanese sheet mask on a whim at John Little. It has a similar concept to the LuLuLun masks in the sense that they are meant for daily use and come in large packs of 7 to 30. Personally, I have never heard of this brand, but what peaked my interest was the simplicity of the ingredients list. It’s very simple, without any alcohol or parabens, featuring 5 main ingredients that make up majority of the formulation. Due to the lack of parabens, the masks have to be used up within 2 months of opening. That pushes me to use them daily and oh my god.

My skin has never been better. The masks come in a giant resealable bag, with plastic tweezers to take a sheet out, making it more sanitary. The cotton masks themselves are of a thicker, more plush cotton than the LuLuLun and they have a larger surface area as well. This is one of the very few masks that completely absorbs into my skin, leaving zero residue. I can put on moisturizer and makeup as soon as I am done masking, without feeling sticky or slimy. With regular use, my skin tone is SO much clearer and even toned. So even that I have been going out without a shred of foundation or concealer. It’s liberating.

I highly recommend this mask for anyone with oily or dull skin. They offer a wide range addressing different skin concerns. It’s relatively inexpensive considering there are 30 sheets in the pack. But keep in mind that these are meant for daily use.

 

For what it’s worth, unwinding everyday for 10 mins with a little pamper routine like this can do more good for you than your skin. Treat yourself!

 

 

Empties #2 : Japanese Faves

Recently, I am making a point to use up my current rotation of products before buying any new ones. And so far, I  have been doing really well.

Japanese products are where it’s at when you want something that is effective and affordable. I initially fell in love with their “no-nonsense” approach to skincare, and slowly found myself in the middle of a Japanese product invasion – right down to the toothpaste I use.

It all started with my desire to use more affordable skincare, after finishing up my SK-II facial treatment essence. I found that with daily use, though effective, high-end skincare products are just too burdensome for my measly pockets to warrant repurchasing again and again. I realised that there were many offerings in the Japanese drugstore category that perform amazingly! *cough* Hada Labo *cough*

After using a couple items up, I thought I would do a small round up of my thoughts from using these products from start to end.

 

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1. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, S$99

Let’s begin with the item that kickstarted my Japanese product craze. I bought a trial pack of the coveted SK-II treatment essence after reading countless raves about this “miracle water“. Their patented ‘pitera‘ is made from fermented rice and is said to be the key ingredient in keeping your skin balanced and fight against aging. The trial pack came with an SK-II sheet mask and a 75ml bottle of their essence, which lasted me a long, long time (more than a year). I did see an improvement in my skin clarity and it does help balance my skin. My acne scars faded more quickly and overall, it was a great addition to my skincare routine. However, I found that there are now a lot of other essences, priced affordably, that feature their key ingredient ‘galactomyces saccharomyces ferment filtrate’, also known as ‘pitera’.

Therefore, currently I have switched out my SK-II for Missha’s First Treatment Essence and it has been working well. There were more visible results from the SK-II, but in terms of its anti-aging benefits, the Missha suffices.

 

2. Hada Labo Tamagohada Mild Peeling Lotion, $17.90

Speaking of essences and lotions, this Hada Labo one is absolute holy grail status for me. This is the 8th bottle I’ve gone through and needless to say I will continue to repurchase this amazing skincare item. For people with sensitive skin who want to exfoliate without irritation, this is your answer. I use this as a very mild exfoliating toner as it contains ‘gluconic acid’, a natural enzyme occurring in fruits and wine. On top on that it also has ‘tranexamic acid’ that helps to brighten the overall complexion (similar to ferulic acid).

As with all Hada Labo products, the pH is slightly acidic and perfect to protect your skin’s acid mantle, making this a suitable for all skin types. It doesn’t dry out the skin and can be used day and night, to prevent the build up of dead skin cells and clogging of pores. No nasty ingredients in this one. More importantly, it’s affordable and effective. I highly recommend.

 

3. Hada Labo Air Aqua UV Day Emulsion, SPF 50, PA+++, $19.90

While we are on the Hada Labo train, I finished up my holy grail sunscreen, also by the same brand. This is my second bottle that I’ve gone through and I already have a back up waiting. I can’t stress enough how much I love this SPF. It’s perfect for everyday, super lightweight and sits well under makeup. It comes in two formulations, one for oily/combination skin and the other for dry skin. I’ve tried both and both work well! The dry skin formulation is perfect for lazy girls that want to just slap on only one thing. It definitely can be used as both a moisturiser and SPF, thanks to the addition of skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, resveratrol and vitamin C.

I would repurchase this again and again. It’s alcohol free and fragrance free, perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin types that usually break out due to SPF. So affordable and beats a lot of high-end SPFs I’ve tried, even the coveted Shiseido/Kiehl’s ones.

 

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4. LuLuLun 7 Days Premium Face Masks, $10.90

I’ve always had an issue with sheet masks, particularly the Korean ones that are over saturated with essences. I find them too rich for my oily skin to use on a regular basis, even though I want my skin receive the extra nutrients. So I stopped using sheet masks for years, until I was gifted this one by my best friend. The LuLuLun masks are super popular in Japan, not just due to its adorable packaging, but also because of its ‘daily mask’ concept. These masks are formulated to be used daily and come in a pack of 7, folded into one zip-lock bag. My prayers were answered with this one.

It has no alcohol and parabens. Everything in the ingredients list is lush. More importantly, the masks are saturated just enough to hydrate the skin deeply, without over burdening the skin or clogging it. It’s because it is more serum based and is formulated to be used every day. Thus, it’s much lighter. I use this every other day and I am loving the results. My skin is so much more radiant and plump. I managed to find a seller in Singapore that carries it, so I’m already on to my next packet.

 

5. BCL Tsururi Ghassoul Oil Cleansing, $18.90

I call this my underdog pick. I found this one at Tokyu Hands (a magical place by the way) and read the ingredients at the back. I had just finished my previous favourite oil cleanser, the Muji Mild Oil Cleansing, and was itching to try something new. This particular one drew me in because it is olive oil based, just like the Muji one, but has the added benefits of Moroccan lava clay, charcoal powder, honey, oat extract and organ oil. It comes out a black oil and takes off makeup like a dream. It’s more purifying than other cleansing oils, without leaving the skin feeling stripped. The clay and honey also helped my acne prone skin tremendously with its anti-bacterial properties.

The only drawback is that is comes in a measly 145ml bottle! Lasts roughly 2 months. I switched it out because of that but after a week of using something else, I came back to this one. My skin just loves it too much.

 

6. Ora 2 Stain Clear Premium in Aromatic Mint, $8.90

BEST. TOOTHPASTE. EVER. I know you’re thinking, it’s just toothpaste. How amazing can it be, right?

Wrong.

This stuff has SAVED my coffee-and-tea-stained teeth. If I had not found the Ora 2 Stain Clear range, I probably would have the yellowest teeth, known to man. Pirate-like. I initially tried the range because it has cool flavours like ‘peach mint’ and ‘apple & rose mint’. But then I realised how amazing it is at keeping my teeth looking white. Granted, it does not replace whitening strips. However, it’s amazing for daily maintenance and keeping stains at bay. Plus, I get compliments on my teeth and trust me, that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t use this one. I’ve tried other whitening brands, but always go back to this one.

 

7. KOJI Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Brown, $24.90

As much I love Japanese products, I tend to use their skin and body care more than their makeup. But if there’s one thing the Japanese got down, it’s their eyeliner formulations. The Dolly Wink eyeliners have a brush, calligraphy tip and the most adorable polka-dot packaging. It lasts forever, even on my oily eye lids and is saturated with pigment. I tend to use brown liquid liner more than black because it offers a softer look, plus it’s less likely to show uneven wing liner application.

I love this one, and would probably go back to it. Though I am not particularly loyal to this brand yet. I feel any Japanese or Korean eyeliner would do the trick.

 

 

And there you have it! My recent Japanese empties. Loads of them I’ve already repurchased. Most are affordable and so effective. I am just enamoured by Japanese products currently.

Who knows which country I will be obsessed with next time.