Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"My Favorite Sheet Masks" Review

There is so much out there in the land of K-Beauty, I hardly know where to begin!  So I'm going to go back to sheet masks for a brief moment and tell you about my favorites.

Neogen Code 9 Oxygen Bubble Peeling Mask

In my last post, we discovered that the Neogen brand is about the serious business of skincare.  This product is no exception.  In fact, it is also the rule!  Say hello to their Oxygen Bubble Peeling Mask.

Unlike a good majority of the sheetmasks out there, this is a cleansing mask.  The purpose of the cleansing mask is to remove dirt, oil and leftover makeup from the epidermis, much like a foam cleanser.  The difference is, obviously, it's in mask form which stays on the skin for an extended period of time, lending to a more effective cleaning.

The Claim

"This Oxygen AHA Bubble Peeling Mask has an impressive skin clearing formula containing AHA and BHA that will suck out the dirt, clean the pores, and remove dead skin cells to leave the skin clear, smooth and glowing. Save yourself the manual exfoliation and deep cleansing headache as you sit back and watch the bubbles do your work towards healthier and clearer looking skin!*"

How it Works

Hang onto yourselves.....this is one fun mask!  After cleansing, place the mask onto your face and smooth out, making sure there's no bunching.  Immediately you should feel a slight tingle on your skin as bubbles begin to form on the mask.  BUBBLES!!  Leave the mask on for 5-10 minutes then remove.  *Rinse skin thoroughly.

My Thoughts...

Neogen is already one of my favorite brands.  This mask is the reason why!  The clean that I receive with this mask is unparalleled.  If my skin is feeling scuzzy for whatever reason, I reach for this mask.  When the mask hits air, oxygenation occurs causing the ingredients to bubble, which exfoliates the epidermis (that's my theory).  By the way, the reaction sensation is incredibly mild. Not stingy, but breezy. At the end of 10 minutes, a layer of bubbles lays gracefully atop the black mask.  When you remove the mask, there's another layer of bubbles beneath.  It's a truly deep clean that you can't get from any other sheet mask. Awesomesauce!

Llang Self Clinic 3-Step Kit

When you're talking about travel, a 10-step beauty regimen can easily become a logistical nightmare!  So many products to carry with.  And in today's travel climate, with all of the liquid restrictions, it's enough to make a grown woman cry!  That's why these 3-Step sheet mask kits are a must for any K-Beauty arsenal!
Llang's kits are skin concern specific - pore control, moisturizing or brightening.  The only other product required of you is your favorite cleanser to start the process.  Llang will take it from there.  Each kit comes with a toner, ampoule and a sheet mask.  Everything a girl needs for a nice
relaxing evening in.

Swab down those stubborn pores!  I like the idea of the swab.  It keeps the germs and oils from your fingers away from your freshly cleansed face.  Afterward, your pores are nice and tight.

Ooh!  The rich ampoule goodness!  Don't let the color scare you. It goes on clear and is lightweight.  The ampoule adds back the perfect amount of moisture and maintains pore control.

Finish off with the black charcoal sheet mask.  Llang sheet masks are always drenched in essence, so grab a resealable sandwich bag and store the packaging from the mask.  The essence can last you days!  Simply pour a little onto your fingertips and tap onto face like you'd do with a bottled essence.
I'm ready for my closeup!

Timeless Truth Shark Delicate Hydrating Squalane Mask**

Is this packaging not adorable...and a little bit intimidating?  This is my fave from gumiidotshop! Just look at it - with a shark on the front you know it has to be effective, right?

The Claim

Though it's called a "shark mask", this mask contains plant-based squalane which provides your skin with delicate hydration and glowing finish. Together with HEDI Shea butter, this mask boosts cell regeneration, revitalizes skin and delivers nutrition deep into the dermis. 

What is Squalane?

Squalene is shark liver oil, which was commonly used as a moisturizer in cosmetic products.  Once it was discovered that its use was endangering the shark species, plant based versions came along.  Squalane is a plant-based derivative of of the oil. Animal based or not, squalane gets the job done!  It leaves the skin feeling deeply hydrated, soft and smooth.  Not just smooth, smoove!  You will not want to stop touching your face.  For hydration this deep, I'd normally wait to use until the winter months with drier skin; however, the excessive moisture did not wreak havoc on my oily and sweaty summertime skin.  Bonus!  

Something to note: I've only ever seen these at, and the price point is great at $2.99.
This mask is worth every penny.  And remember, free shipping at $10.
**Note: this is a Taiwanese sheet mask

MediHeal Pinkcalamine Meshpeel Mask

Randy at recently added this item to their Mediheal product line and let me tell you - it will knock you socks clean off!  Let me introduce you to the Pinkcalamine Meshpeel mask.

Yes - pinkcalamine as in calamine lotion. The same pink calamine lotion that your parents dabbed onto all of those worrisome chicken pox back in the day.  For YEARS, calamine lotion has been used to help dry out skin irritation, slow bacterial growth and prevent infections from worsening. Mediheal has combined the calamine formula with a meshpeel mask that is designed to lift impurities and excess oils from the skin and strengthen skin elasticity. There's no need to mix anything or add water.  Starting with the bottom sheet (this mask comes in 2 pieces - a top and bottom sheet), simply peel the protective wrap from one side of the mask , press mask onto face and remove the top protective wrap.  Do the same with the top sheet, making sure to overlap the sheets, leaving no open spaces.  Sit back, relax and let the mask do the hard work!

What's the Catch?

This is not your typical fiber mask.  Meshpeel is designed to deeply penetrate the pores to extract below surface impurities.  As the mask dries, it hardens, absorbing all of the excess sebum, blackheads and dead skin on the epidermis. This process takes nearly 60 minutes.  60 MINUTES! It almost seems as if you're making a papier mache mask.  When the mask is d-r-y, peal away from the skin.  It does leave a pink cast, which easily comes off with a quick rinse.  My skin was rather dry afterward, so I finished up with eye cream and aloe. 

The Verdict?

The pinkcalamine mask is going to be a staple in my K-beauty regimen.  The results from just one use wholly justify the time commitment and cost of the mask itself ($5.00). Baby soft, smooth, oil-free, blemish-free, anger-free skin. You can't beat that!  

I Dew Care's Disco Kitten

The Disco Kitten is all the rage right now!  The stuff has literally been flying off of Ulta's shelves.  They simply cannot keep it in stock. If you haven't heard about it, you're probably living under a rock (or just haven't had a moment for yourself in ages).  But I Dew Care does care and cares in a truly phenomenal way - in the way of an Illuminating Diamond Peel-off Mask, designed to make you, like Rihanna, shine bright like a diamond.

What's it like?

I'm so glad you asked!  This mask reminds me of Elmer's glue.  Did you ever pour it on the back of your hand and watch it dry, ooh-ing and aah-ing as your glue-covered skin turned wrinkly?  Oh stop it!  You know you did this too.  Anyway, same premise, different results.

What does it do?

Pearl Powder gently exfoliates skin to brighten the complexion, while Diamond Powder boosts elasticity and removes impurities to illuminate lackluster skin. Rice Bran Extract delivers vitamins that moisturize and improve skin's texture, while the superfood Oat works as an antioxidant to keep skin healthy and strong. To take this mask another level higher, a White complex of Lily, Jasmine, Orange Flower, Elder Flower, and Magnolia replenishes the skin with rich vitamin content so skin is noticeably softer and tone is more even.

I use my silicone mask brush to paint the product on, making sure I apply a somewhat thick and even layer.  I say "somewhat thick " because the line between too much and too little product is very thin (that was punny).  Too little product and you have a difficult time peeling it off in one piece.  Too much product and you're waiting forever for your face to dry.  Anyway, allow product to dry, approximately 20-30 minutes and peel off. Voila!

What I love about this product

There are a number of peel-off masks out there that harden into a rubber type substance and when you go to peel the product off, half of your skin goes with it.  They leave the skin red and burning, often causing additional irritation.  Not this mask! Disco Kitten gently lifts off of the skin, no pain involved.  And it's effect is immediate!  LUMINOUS skin! My face was resplendent y'all!  Who knew that one simple product could give you the coveted pregnancy glow without  all of the hoopla that goes with a pregnancy???  In my "totally-done-with-having-babies-but-don't-want-my-skin-to-look-it" stage of life, that's fantastic!  

That's it for now.  I hope you have enjoyed this post and will give some of these products a try.  Please stay tuned for my next posts, where we will begin a series of case studies. We'll put K-beauty products to the test on various skin types and personalities. You won't want to miss it!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Who & Where?

In case you didn't catch it in the last post, I own a LOT of product.  There's a few reasons for that.

A.  Price point;
2.  the sheer number of brands and products and that are available;
III.  my philosophy.

A.  Price Point

I obviously cannot mention this enough.  The prices of K-Beauty products are significantly lower than their western counterparts.  Western eye creams start around $40.  I don't know about you, but I don't have $40 to waste on an eye cream that may or may not work.  You can easily find a good K-Beauty eye cream for $10-$15.  And it doesn't stop there!  The essences, serums, night creams - everything can be purchased for under $20/item.  The next time you're in Sephora or Ulta, take a look at their prices and compare.

2.  Brands

Tony Moly is one of my absolute faves and the first big K-Beauty brand I discovered.  They carry a plethora of products for the entire body, hair included.  They are a leader in the industry and can be found wherever K-Beauty products are sold.

 If you find yourself looking for product and you come across the most adorable cartoon egg (ala Sanrio - think Hello Kitty) you've ever seen, then say hello to Holika Holika!  Don't let Gudetama fool you!  These products pack a punch and get the job done.  HH also sells body care from head to toe.  I particularly like their Aloe line, which boasts a 99% pure aloe concentration, and smells amazing.

The packaging department at Etude House had totally outdone themselves - and the rest of the
K-Beauty industry.  This brand caters to the pretty pink princess in all of us!  They even have a Disney collection.  Etude House carries a large collection of skincare and an even larger selection of makeup.

This is the world of the Piggy - Witch Piggy, Milky Piggy, Green Piggy.  The Piggies may seem cheesy, but Elizavecca carries great skincare at fabulous prices. My faves: Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask and  Witch Piggy Hell Pore Control Hyaluronic   Acid.

I love Neogen!  This was the first set of products I purchased when I was in (the) South Korea(n airport).  Neogen is about the serious business of skincare.  In my opinion, their products are highly effective and innovative, and come with a slightly higher price ($5-$10 higher).  Try their Gauze Peeling Exfoliators or their Green Tea Cleansing Stick!
Mizon is also serious skincare.  While their products are just as effective as others, they don't have the price tag to match.  Their Snail Mucin products are legendary (yes - snail mucus - we'll get into that later).  I adore their eye cream and ampoule.

A few other favorites are shown below.  But where can you purchase these wonderful products?  I thought you'd never ask!

My journey first began with Randy at  Randy regularly travels to South Korea and has curated a ridiculous number of Korean sheet masks from a ridiculous number of brands, which are sold at ridiculously low prices.  You can also find a selection of other K-Beauty items there as well.  The site is easy to navigate and each product listed has how-to instructions and an ingredients list.  Masksheets is based in the US, which means faster ship times.  Randy does a wonderful job of keeping hot items stocked and bringing in new items as well.  Subscribe to the site to receive a discount and Randy's monthly newsletter!

Another sheet mask site that is well on its way to becoming a leader is gumiidotshop.  This is a newer supplier of Asian sheet masks and skincare, meaning you can find items from Japan, Taiwan, etc., as well as Korea!  Gumii prides itself on customer service, which I have experienced first hand.

What's really cool?  Gumii's main concern is making sure their customers get the most of their products.  Each product comes with English instructions, written reviews and tutorials by other users!   Gumii carries an extensive but completely different inventory than it's industry rivals (try the Squalane Mask - it's phenomenal - review soon!).  Register with Gumii and receive a discount and free shipping with purchase over $10.

One trend I have observed recently is online stores discontinuing sales on their own sites (Memebox, etc.) and fulfilling orders through Amazon.  The Amazon juggernaut has been quickly devouring everything you can imagine.  I'm sure it's hard for smaller companies to compete with their prices.  I don't have to tell you about Amazon.  They're into everything everywhere.  K-Beauty is NO exception.

iHerb is a site that's just come up on my radar.  I discovered them while doing the research for the last post.  Their prices are very reasonable and, dare I say, rival Amazon's numbers???  Shut yo' mouth!  I haven't ordered from them yet, but I will, and I'll report back.

Of course you can order products directly from the manufacturers, but I will warn you: since these are Korean companies, the products are coming from Asia (mostly from South Korea, but also from Taiwan, Hong Kong or Japan).  This means your order will have to clear customs, which, on average, can take from 4 to 10 weeks.  If you're low on stock and you know that you'll have to reach out to your fave company overseas - PLAN ACCORDINGLY!  Also check to see if they have an American counterpart here in the US.

III)  My Philosophy

I call it "Skin Confusion"!  Yes.  It is ridiculously similar to Beachbody's "Muscle Confusion" system.  When you introduce a product into your skincare regimen, initial results can be amazing, just like the initial results from a new workout program.  The difference I see between muscles and the epidermis is in the results over a long period of time.  Once your body is used to a workout, it hits a plateau - there is no change in weight or muscle gain/loss.  My skin, after using the same products over time, tends to revert to its old ways, becoming oily, acne prone and gross. Not anymore!  Thanks to the price point of these products and the vast variety out there, I can purchase a number of products and alter my regimen to suit my daily needs.  Feeling oily and scuzzy today?  Use a cleansing mask with pore tightening ingredients!  Feeling dry tomorrow?  Try the nourishing cleanser along with cheese cream moisturizer.  My skin doesn't get bored because I cater to its immediate needs.  Let me clarify - there are no studies about this that I know of.  I'm just sharing what I've gleaned from constantly dealing with my own skin for the past blahblahblah years.  But it's an interesting concept, right?  Hmmm.....

So...there it is, in a nutshell.  Just a few of my faves.  I consider myself a newbie at K-Beauty, so there will be more to come.  Until then, enjoy and have fun!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine!

Yes - there are 10 steps.

I know what you're thinking.  It's what every working (at home or away) American female thinks when confronted with a routine. "Ain't nobody got time for that!"  But I challenge you to look at your skincare differently.  Think of it as the few minutes out of the day that you take the time to take care of yourself.  You live in your skin for a very long time.  And we all know the better you take care of your things, the longer they last.  Your skin is no different.  This is an opportunity to pamper yourself.  And it's fun - especially once you start seeing results!

The next question that may cross your mind - won't so many products irritate my skin?  I also wondered this.  Korean skincare products, as opposed to our Western counterparts, are designed to be gentle.  You will be hard-pressed to find products with any harsh chemicals or intensely grainy substances.  There are a few manual exfoliation products, which we will discuss, but they have a softness that you tend not to find over here in the lower 48.  Their products are also designed to work together, in complement with each other, so they can be layered with causing irritation.

On average, it takes me about 5 to 7 minutes to go through my steps.  This does not include sheet mask days, as we learned in the post about sheet masks.  You do not do 10 steps every day, but there will be a day or two during the week when you will do all 10 steps.  That being said, let's get to it!

1)  Oil-based Cleanser

Tony Moly / Banila Co.
I initially shied away from the idea of an oil-based cleanser.  After all, my skin has always had an oily component.  When I was younger, my skin was oil slick and acne prone.  As I've gotten older, my skin has gone to an oily T-zone and is dry in patches.  Adding more oil to what's already oily would cause even worse breakouts, right?  This made no sense to me.  What I've learned is exactly the opposite.  The oils in these cleansers are "good oils" that help to extract the "bad oils" - the sebum, oils in makeup and other products - from our skin.  Oil removes oil.  So go ahead and give it a try!  These cleansers come in a liquid form, which is pumped or poured into your hand, or a sherbet form.  The sherbets have the consistency of a petroleum jelly (think Vaseline), and come with a scooper.  Scoopers keep your product clean and hygienic - keeping those fingers out of the product keeps bacteria at bay.  Simply pump, pour or rub into hands, gently rub onto face, right over your makeup, and rinse thoroughly.  Use your oil-based cleanser whenever you need to remove makeup, sunblock, etc. from your skin, once or twice a day.  One and done!

2)  Water-based Cleanser

Neogen / Tony Moly / Cosmetea / Tony Moly / Benton / Holika Holika
Oh yes!  This is called the double cleanse!!  See those exclamation points?  This is exciting!
The water-based cleanser is designed to open the pores and remove all of the other dirt and gunk that wasn't removed by the oil-based cleanser.  They come in a watery forms with a foam pump, gels, and even creams.  K-Beauty cleansers focus on retaining the skins moisture, not stripping it.  They are light, fluffy and fun and leave your face squeaky clean!  Use twice a day, morning and evening.  What more could we ask for?  Except maybe an.....

3) Exfoliator

Exfoliation is a process that can be accomplished on its own with a dedicated product, or combined in steps 2 or 4.  Exfoliation is that process of removing dead skin from the top layer of the epidermis, removing the dullness and leaving the skin glowing and radiant.  In my opinion, it's the step in Western skincare where we got it all wrong!  GENTLE!  Gentle is the name of the game in Korean skincare and it has not steered them wrong in centuries!  We have the tendency to want to scrub our skin to death - literally.  Overstimulation causes irritation - redness, dryness, breakouts.  K-Beauty is designed to be gentle.  So while it may not feel to the touch as though dry skin is being sloughed off, the product is doing exactly that, but in a much safer, much more effective way.

K-Beauty exfoliators are either chemical, manual or a combination of both.  Chemical exfoliators use safe acids and chemicals - alphahodroxy acids (AHAs), betahydroxy acids (BHAs), glycolic acids, etc. - to slough away dead skin.  They can be watery or creamy and go on with a cotton ball or specially designed cloth pad. They can even come in a peel that rolls away the dead skin from your face.  Manual exfoliators are grainy and have texture (like the apricot facial scrubs that we're used to, but much smaller granules).  Use your hands to apply.

Most exfoliators are rinsed from the skin, especially if they're combined with your cleanser.  Be sure to read the label.  You definitely don't want to leave an exfoliator on your face that's supposed to be removed.  Ouch!  Your exfoliator should be used no more than twice a week.

4) Toner

Ah, toner.  The portion of the routine designed to refresh the skin, tighten pores, balance pH, hydrate and improver skin tone and texture.  There's a lot taking place here.  Make sure to stay away from toners with a high alcohol content, if any, which can dry out the skin and cause irritation.  How can you tell?  Ingredients are listed on a product from highest to lowest concentration.  If the alcohol is listed first, odds are the content is high.  There are certain alcohols used that are non-drying, cetearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol being the most common.  These are emollient and are good for slowing down water loss.  I lean toward toners that consist of all natural ingredients, my favorite of which is Witch Hazel.  The smell to me is like heaven - sterile and clean!  A basic toner can be used twice a day, morning and evening.

K-Beauty manufacturers also make exfoliating toners. They contain chemical exfoliators - glycolic acid, salicylic acid, etc. -  to provide deeper cleansing and absorption.  Most are the consistency of water.  These toners come in varying strengths.  Due to the higher concentration of chemicals, it's suggested that you start using only once a week and build up to twice a week, depending on the product.  There has been a lot of buzz about these toners lately.  Many users think they work wonders and are all the rage!

5) Sheet Mask /
This is one of my favorite parts of the regimen!  I won't go into detail here, as my last post delved pretty deeply into this K-Beauty staple.  I do want to add that sheet masks can be used quite often.  Many people like to use them once a day.  I tend to use a mask every other day, and I select the type of mask based on how my skin is behaving that day.  If I've had a long night and was up late partying into the wee hours, I choose a hydrating mask.  If my skin seems dull, it's a brilliance mask.  If it's that time of the month, I'll use a calming mask and if it's dry - nourishing.  Use your sheet mask after you have cleansed and toned.  Follow directions for the duration of time that the mask should be used.  Which reminds me: IF YOU CAN'T READ THE DIRECTIONS (these are Korean products written in the Korean language), go back to the site where you purchased your products.  Every site has a "How To" link with the directions in English.  There should also be links with an English language ingredient list as well.

6) Essence

Stay with me, now.  We're over halfway there...

I consider Essence the powerhouse of the K-Beauty system.  Essences make all of the other steps more powerful.  Why?  Essences take care of the skin on a cellular level**, helping cells turn over - shedding the dead skin - and regenerate faster and more effectively to let the new radiant skin burst through.  Essences help to hydrate the skin (attacking fine lines and wrinkles), balance pH levels, brighten and even skin tone.  They moisturize deeply, helping Serums do their job.

Essences can look a LOT like toners, but they are not interchangeable.  They also come in various consistencies.  Missha's First Treatment Essence has an almost watery feel, whereas COSRX Snail Mucin Power Essence is slippery and has the consistency of a mucus (sorry - that's the least offensive fluid I could compare it to...).

No special tools or materials are needed for your Essence.  Simply use your hands to pat the liquid into your skin.  Essences can be used twice a day, morning and evening.

7)  Serums (aka Ampoules aka Boosters)

Elizavecca / Skinfood / Dearderm / Mizon / Neogen
If you're like me, you like to watch various makeup artists on YouTube and Instagram.  Lately I've seen artists add a dropper-full of liquid to their foundation or contour, or even dropper directly onto the skin.  What they are using are Serums.  A Serum is a more concentrated form of Essence.  It is designed to treat skin issues using powerful ingredients.  Sun damage, hyperpigmentation, redness, dryness, aging, brown spots, scarring, dullness, acne, large pores, etc. - you name it, there's a Serum for it!  The best part - you can layer your Serums to target each skin issue.  They can be used all over the face or as spot treatments.  Rub or tap directly into the skin, or mix with your favorite foundation or moisturizer. Note:  if you plan to head outside, be sure that your foundation or moisturizer has sun protection included before you mix with your serum.  It can be a bit difficult to add a sunscreen once this has occurred...Serums can be used twice a day, morning and evening.

8) Eye Cream

Mizon / Neogen / Benton
I don't know about y'all, but I've never been able to find an eye cream, here in the lower 48, for under $25.  And for a girl on a budget (or extremely cheap, like me) this is unacceptable.  But never fear! K-Beauty has eye creams, gels, and eye masks at nearly every price point!  Like the other products, ingredients boost moisturization as well as target typical issues like puffiness, and dark circles.  Use your weakest digit to gentle tap the cream or gel into the skin,

Eye masks are similar to the sheet mask.  They come in a variety of materials and numerous specialty ingredients, all designed to protect this most delicate area.  Lay on top of the eye area for the suggested amount of time. Some eye masks can be stored in the refrigerator, similar to a compress, which aids in the reduction of swelling.  Discard mask after each use.  Use eye masks as directed.

9) Night Cream / Sunblock

Enprani / Holika Holika / Benton / Purlisse
The best way to protect your beautiful skin, night and day - night cream and sunblock.  There are myriad night time moisturizing potions in every K-Beauty line.  Thank goodness the majority are inexpensive.  This means you can try a bunch and see which suits you best.  Or, as I prefer, get a bunch for shits n giggles!  You'll be amazed at what's out there.  And the textures run the full spectrum - from watery and light to the texture of cream cheese (LOVE IT!)!  And the ingredients - snail mucin, goat placenta, donkey milk, collagen, white tea, green tea, caviar, tomato, syn-ake, aloe, etc. It's a virtual salad for you face!

Yadah / Missha / Dr. Jart+
 And don't forget to protect that lovely skin when going outdoors.  Sunblocks can also be found with an abundance of protection levels.  Use daily, sunblock in the morning and night cream at night.

10) Sleeping Mask

This step is done only once or twice a week.  Sleeping masks are all about delivering intense moisture to the epidermis while you're sleeping - plain and simple.  These masks are especially great during the winter months when the air is dry or any time you've deprived yourself of hydration. Literally slather on in place of your night cream and...go to bed!  Rinse off when you wake up. Use once or twice a week.

That's it!  I know it sounds like a lot, but give it go.  It's so much fun and your skin will thank you!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Staple - Sheet Masks!

If you read my "Who Are You?" page, you've discovered that my journey began with receiving my first sheet mask through my favorite subscription service, ipsy.  I was sent the Blue Lotus & White Tea mask from Pur-lisse.  Pur-lisse is an Asian American beauty company founded by Miss Jennifer Yen.  I'll let you read all about Miss Yen on your own, but I'll show you what I received:

Blue Lotus & White Tea Sheet Mask
I had never heard of a sheet mask.  I had no idea why I'd use one or how to, so I shoved it aside and let it sit on my counter.  After a few weeks had passed and I was poised to send ipsy a scathing email because they had forgotten an item in my subscription box, I happened upon my long lost masks (lucky for ipsy...).  My skin was cruddy.  I had hormonal acne breakouts around my chin and nose.  I was desperate to find something inexpensive that would tackly my breakouts and hydrate, nourish and moisturize without causing an over-production of oil.  I figured since my skin was already a mess, I had nothing to lose.  But I still didn't know how to use it.

A sheet mask is exactly what it sounds like.  It's a cloth or material mask that has been soaked (and I do mean SOAKED) in an herbal, vitamin, nutritional or other-based "essence", which is a concentrated liquid, gel or cream.  The masks themselves can be cotton, gel or even rubber.  The essence will differ from mask-to-mask, based on the skin concern it's designed heal.  And there is indeed a fomula for every type of issue: moisturizing, nourishing, hydrating, firming, pore tightening, calming, even cleansing!  The purpose of the mask is to increase the penetration of the essence into the skin, leaving you with an intensely treated epidermus.

According to the directions for this fiber-type mask, and as with most masks, you start with a freshly cleansed and toned face.  The mask is just dripping with goo and has almost a watery feel, but you can tell it's clearly not just water.  You place the mask on your clean face, tugging it into a comfortable position, making sure you can both see and breathe out of the pre-cut holes. leave it there for 15-20 minutes, or as long as instructed.
The masks are designed for one-time use.  When your time is up, gently tap your fingers across your face (as if playing scales on a piano).  This helps to aid in the absorption of any excess essence.  Toss the mask into the garbage (but hang on to that packaging - details to come).

This particular mask is designed to fight free-radicals, improve skin texture, brighten and fim skin.  Basically purify, renew, nourish and moisturize.  The mask was quite slick, so I decided to relax in the tub and let the mask work its magic - and, boy, did it ever!

How Was It?

The first thing I thought while removing the mask is, "this is going to be a sticky mess."  I mean, the mask was drenched in goo.  But after tap, tap, tapping the essence into my skin, the leftover liquid fully absorbed, leaving my skin feeling fresh and clean, not to mention soft.  I also noticed a dewy glow, and this was not the gleam of oil sitting atop my skin.  This was a glow located just beneath the surface of my skin, nothing that could be wiped away.  For the first time ever, my skin was RADIANT - no oil, no shine, just a lovely lighting of my skin.  My skin was also incredibly soft and smooth.  I was sold!  And there was no going back!  I just had to find out more about these amazing products that we Westerners were just beginning to uncover.

What Do I Love About the Sheet Mask?

Skincare for me basically comes down to 2 things:

1) What is the price point?
2) Does it work?

It's hard to find skincare for under $20 and item - and it's even harder to find good skincare at that price.  A large number of Western cleansers use artificial ingredients and chemicals.  They cause the product to be harsh which can strip the skin, causing even more damage, irritations and even allergies.  There are very few artificial ingredients in Korean skincare products.  Most ingredients are natural and organic, which contain vitamins and minerals that work with and not against our epidermis.  The products are designed to hydrate and moisturize while targeting the skincare concern as well.  The result is fresh clean skin that is younger-looking, nourished and unblemished.  Maintaining moisture is the key to beautiful skin, and it's an area where Korean skincare dominates.

As for the price point, Korean skincare prices can't be beat.  This particular mask from Pur-lisse sells for $8/mask.  In my opinion, the price point is high for this particular type of mask.  Korean masks can run anywhere from $0.50 to $15.  And the cheaper masks are just as effective as their pricier counterparts.  What brings the price up is the type of mask (rubber is more expensive than fiber) and any specialty ingredient(s) that is(are) used - from snail mucus to gold leaf!  Fiber masks are on the low end.  While this mask was a great sample to try, I have been able to find numerous masks that are similar for a LOT less!

One Thing to Remember...

The sheet mask is just one of the steps in the Korean skincare regimen.  It is designed to work in unison with its counterparts, so don't throw out your other products just yet!  Stay tuned and together we will work our way through the entire 10-Step Regimen.