I tried five expensive sheet masks to see which are worth it


Does expensive really equal effective?

Before lockdown, I had always thought of sheet masks as a “sometimes treat” (if beauty products had their own food pyramid, that is). They can be frivolous and fun but are best saved for a special event, or as an indulgent measure when you’re feeling particularly crap, to treat your self, Parks and Rec style.

But as Melbourne has endured week upon week of lockdown, I’ve found myself reaching for treats on the regular. The instant gratification treats bring is helping keep what I’ve affectionately named the ‘lockdown scaries’ at bay. And aside from chocolate, sheet masks have been my treat of choice.

So here’s a round-up of masks I’ve tried and tested – a mix of products notoriously popular with influencers and ingredient lists that boast 24k gold (yes, really). I also enlisted the help of research scientist-turned-digital beauty creator Hannah English, to help me put the products under a microscope.

Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mask

Price: $19.00 for one

Mask says: “A silky-soft, skin-fitting sheet mask that deeply delivers a healthy drink of ultra-hydrating botanical oils and extracts for a dewy glow in just one use.”

Hannah says: “For me, the magic in Tatcha products is the Hadasei-3 complex, containing red algae, green tea and rice. Some ingredients are better at hydrating and brightening when they’ve been fermented (broken down by good bacteria). This can also help rebalance your skin’s own microbiome, but the science is just emerging.”

I say: Soaked in a milky serum, I loved the feeling of the deluxe microfibre sheet and the way it held to my face compared to cheaper masks I’ve tried in the past. It also provided a really cooling sensation while wearing. Afterwards, my skin definitely looked (and felt) more hydrated but the serum left behind a slightly sticky feeling, which isn’t a finish I usually enjoy. However, fast-forward a few hours, and this settled into my skin for a more desirable, velvety touch as promised.

Rating: 4/5

Get it here.

Angela Caglia Facial In A Mask

Price: $88.00 for a pack of three

Mask says: Packed with an “intense concentration” of “active botanicals” and “cutting-edge fibre technology” to hydrate and combat signs of aging, with 24k gold for “brightening and soothing”.

Hannah says: “The standout ingredients are hydrating glycerin and hyaluronic acid, as these are gentle and skin-identical. Our skin already has them so it knows what to do with them. Meadowfoam seed oil is lightweight so won’t break you out, and gives skin lots of glow. For those not used to face oils, this can be a game-changer!”

I say: The gold flecks seemed concentrated on the outside of the mask rather than within, but it was a fun and extra addition nonetheless. I found the application a little awkward, as the shape didn’t fit my face quite right. Once on, it had a nice soothing feel and my skin absorbed the serum well, but I didn’t notice any drastic changes afterwards, I just felt really nicely hydrated.

Rating: 3/5

Get it here.

Femmue Dream Glow Mask Plump + Firm

Price: $95.07 for a pack of six

Masks says: This K-Beauty brand harnesses the “power of plants” and nutrients for this mask, with promises to help boost elasticity and plumpness.

Hannah says: “We have our star hydrator glycerin again, good choice, and niacinamide, which could cover most of our skin concerns on its own. It’s a real all-star for skincare; helping with brightness and minimising the appearance of pores, calming and protecting from free radicals – the list goes on. The rest of the ingredients are plant extracts so we have blueberry, blackberry, grape, and chamomile. Grape, in particular, is great as it contains the antioxidant resveratrol, said to have stronger antioxidant activity than vitamin C.”

I say: This was one of the masks I’d heard the least about, but having no expectations served me well. Encased in a deluxe-netted sheet for an easy application, this hydrogel mask is made from dry bio-cellulose, which can reportedly hold up to 200 times its dry weight in serum. The mask melted into my face and had a jelly residue, leaving my skin feeling plump but slightly glazed. By far the best part was the pleasant surprise when I looked in the mirror the morning after – I had a visible glow and brighter skin with a more even tone, which is all you can really ask for in a sheet mask.

Rating: 5/5

Get it here.

111SKIN Rose Gold Brightening Mask

Price: $40.00 for one

Mask says: This hydrogel mask is infused with 24K gold and damask rose extract “to replenish moisture, nourish, soothe and brighten.”

Hannah says: “This one has a really nice and comprehensive blend of hydrators (sensing a theme here?) and our all-star niacinamide. Interestingly, the ingredients mentioned in the product copy are gold, rose, and silk amino acids, all of which are toward the end of the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of abundance – but that’s not to say they aren’t effective at lower concentrations though!”

I say: 111SKIN is a brand I have seen makeup artists post about, so I was particularly hyped about trying it. The mask itself was a fun rose gold colour to match its luxe, shiny packaging. Another hydrogel mask, I found there was an art to the application that I couldn’t quite master, and in places, it lifted from my face while wearing. I also had to be cautious not to tear the delicate jelly film. Immediately after, my face didn’t have that soaked-in-serum feeling compared to some of the other masks, but the next morning my skin did have a slight afterglow.

Rating: 3/5

Get it here.

Aceology Green T Infusion Mask

Price: $64.00 for a pack of four

Mask says: “If your skin is feeling dull, puffy or dry, this serum-soaked hydrogel-style mask will reinvigorate cells and deliver a potent dose of hydration, leaving skin soft, bright and glowy.”

Hannah says: “Green tea is one of the most well-studied and effective antioxidants in skincare, so it can help offset free radical damage and calm the skin. There’s a lot to be said for calming the skin, as it functions better at everything when it’s not stressed. Another standout ingredient for me is the chlorophyllin-copper complex! Copper is fabulous for calming and regulating skin and gives the mask its gorgeous green colour.”

I say: A brand I have seen all over my insta feed for months now, I was reluctant to buy into it given its price point, but ultimately gave in. Made up of two separate pieces for the top and bottom halves of the face, I have to admit the two-piece mask is undeniably superior. It made for by far the easiest application and most comfortable fit. The jelly mask was a nice weight and felt great on. The mask itself wasn’t very wet, so while I didn’t get that dramatic appearance of hydration, the mask well and truly delivered calming and soothing results.

Rating: 5/5

Get it here.

What did I learn?

Ultimately each mask served a similar purpose at varying, high-end price points, but to pick a favourite, it’s a tie between the Aceology and Femmue masks. They left the longest-lasting impression and expertly toed the line between indulgent and effective.

When it comes to the ingredients, Hannah says there isn’t really a magic recipe, and reminds us that real results come from a good skincare regimen that works for you. “You can’t always tell from the ingredients how [a product] will behave on the skin, kind of like a cake. I could guess what kind of cake you’re baking, potentially, from the ingredients, but I can’t tell you how it tastes,” she says.

At the end of the day, you are paying for the experience; a luxe-feeling moment for yourself. After trialling the above, I can safely say I’m now a sheet mask convert and will be incorporating them into my beauty routine on a more regular basis, as a booster for both my skin and my mood. Plus, there’s something incredibly satisfying about the process of peeling away the sheet in anticipation of your renewed, glowing skin.

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