Category Archives: sheetmasks

Aprilskin mummy mud mask review

AprilSkin Mummy Mud Mask and Mermaid Hydrogel Mask

I just realized that it has been awhile since I last reviewed a sheet mask so let’s remedy that right now, shall we? Today I have not ONE but TWO sheet mask reviews, and they’re pretty great sheet masks at that!

Let’s take a closer look at these masks!


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Product Name
April Skin Mummy Mud Mask Continue reading

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Quality 1st All in One Sheet Mask Review

Like most other people, every January I always feel the desire to be an overall better person. As it relates to my skincare hobby, I’ve resolved to be a more conscientious and less wasteful consumer. The main goal for the first part of this year is to get my stash of products down to a manageable quantity, and to that end I am trying to focus on finishing products I like before buying new ones. You might even see a few empties posts!

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Also in the spirit of reducing waste, I’m trying to streamline my sheet mask collection. I think I’ve come to the somewhat sad realization that sheet masks for me are an means to an end – I love how plump and hydrated my skin looks with regular sheet mask usage but I don’t feel like I enjoy them in a proper, treat yo’self manner. I love seeing instagram posts of the prettiest, silkiest trendiest masks, but I can’t help but feel they would be wasted on me. More appropriate for my needs, I think, are Japanese bulk sheet masks, the “low-cost airline,” as RatzillaCosme puts it, of sheet masks. First on my list of bulk sheet masks to try are these Cosme Award winning masks from Quality 1st.

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At a Glance

QUALITY 1ST ALL IN ONE SHEET MASK
Size: 105g, 7 masks
Price: $5 at Image Beauty Store and Imomoko.
Packaging: All masks in one resealable, plastic bag container
Fragrance: Mild, naturey scent. I’m not a fan of the scent, but it is faint and disperses almost immediately.
Sheet Material: This mask is made out of a thick, sturdy cotton. It’s a little stiff, but conforms to the shape of my face really well.

INGREDIENTS
FullSizeRender-2Acne Triggers & Irritants: Roman Chamomile Flower Extract (2) and Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract (1) flagged as potential acne triggers.
Full Ingredients:

水、BG、DPG、グリセリン、リン酸アスコルビルMg、加水分解シルク、白金、ヒアルロン酸Na、サクシニルアテロコラーゲン、クレマティス葉エキス、スギナエキス、ヒバマタエキス、セイヨウキズタ葉/茎エキス、セイヨウナツユキソウ花エキス、水添レシチン、ダイズステロール、セラミド3、ローマカミツレ花エキス、トウキンセンカ花エキス、ヤグルマギク花エキス、カミツレ花エキス、セイヨウオトギリソウ花/葉/茎エキス、フユボダイジュ花エキス、ビルベリーエキス、サトウキビエキス、サトウカエデ樹液、オレンジエキス、レモンエキス、水溶性コラーゲン、アロエベラ葉エキス、クロレラエキス、カッコンエキス、ヒトオリゴペプチド-1、ポリソルベート80、PEG-60水添ヒマシ油、キサンタンガム、マンニトール、ダマスクバラ花油、ニオイテンジクアオイ油、パルマローザ油、ラベンダー油、グレープフルーツ果皮油、ローズマリー油
Water, Butylene Glycol, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hydrolyzed Silk Protein, Platinum Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate, Succinoyl Atelocollagen, Clematis Vitalba Leaf Extract, Equisetum Hyemale Extract, Bladderwrack Extract, Hedera Helix Leaf / Stem Extract, Spiraea Ulmaria Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Soybean Extract, Ceramide 3, Roman Chamomile Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Hypericum Perforatum Flowers / Leaves / Stem Extract, Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Bilberry Extract, Sugar Cane Extract, Sugar Maple Sap, Orange Extracts, Lemon, Soluble Collagen, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Saxifraga Extract, Chtoligopeptide-1, Polysorbate 80, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Xanthan Gum, Mannitol, Damask Rose Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Lavender Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Rosemary Oil

Performance

These are definitely budget sheet masks. Because there are 7 masks packaged together in one pouch, there is less essence to go around. As a result, each of these masks only last about half an hour on my skin, which is significantly shorter than the individually packaged cotton masks I’m used to (which usually last an hour +) and a bit shorter than silk sheet masks (which last about 45 minutes).

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What the masks look like folded up in the pouch.

If you can get over that hurdle, these masks are actually quite nice. The material is thick and a little stiff, but conforms to the shape of my face surprisingly well. The flap that goes on my chin refuses to sit still, but every other part of it stays firmly put once on. I was wearing one of these masks earlier this week while cleaning and doing laundry, and it stayed glued to my face. I feel like I could’ve done an entire Olympic gymnast routine and the mask wouldn’t have budged!

My two pet peeves when it comes to sheet masks are fragrance and residual stickiness. These masks avoid both of these pitfalls. These masks are not entirely scent free- when I first remove them from the pouch they have a mild, natural-type herby/floral scent that I’m not a fan of, but the smell dissipates as soon as the mask is unfolded and once on my face, I really don’t notice the scent. Also, when I remove these masks, my face feels clean. There is no stickiness or tackiness, and there is no residual product. I can continue with my skincare routine without having to mist and pat at my skin, waiting for the mask essence to absorb.

The Takeaway

There are 7 masks in a pouch and I used them all up in a week. After which, I can totally understand why these masks are so popular and so highly ranked in Japan. They are not the most pampering masks in the world by any measure, but if you’re just trying to get your daily sheet mask in to maintain your skin, these sheet masks are one of the easiest, least annoying ways to do so. Their ability to stay put on my face and their lack of scent means I can wear these while doing household chores and forget that it’s even on my face. The lack of stickiness and quick dry time makes them a very low time / effort commitment mask. As for effects on my skin, they’re pretty middle of the road, maybe even above average. Given how cheap these are, I’d say that’s pretty good!

Benton Honest TT Mist (2)


Disclaimer: I purchased these. There are no affiliate links. 

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Ciracle Snail Hydrogel Mask Review

I don’t write a lot about sheet masks because I don’t actually know very much about them. Unlike most steps in skincare, sheet masks are one area where I don’t like trying new things. There are just too many potential pitfalls and ways for a mask to go wrong. Like this mask. I really, really wanted to like this mask and there is actually a lot to like, but it’s just not for me.

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At a Glance

MASK TYPE: Hydrogel Sheet Mask

PRICE: $5 per mask at Melodycosme & Wishtrend, $5.50 per mask at Memebox, where I got this; $11.72 for a pack of 4 on KD, $12.86 for a pack of 4 on RRS, $21.44 for a pack of 4 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS: Water, butylene glycol, glycerin, snail secretion filtrate, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, hydrolyzed ceratonia siliqua gum extract, chondrus crispus (carrageenan) powder, cellulose gum, polyacrylate-13, disodium EDTA, sodium polyacrylate, polyisobutene, polysorbate 20, phenoxyethanol, fragrance, sea water, camellia sinensis leaf extract, panax ginseng root extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) flower/leaf extract, pelargonium graveolens extract, melissa officinalis leaf extract, origanum vulgare leaf extract, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf extract, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf extract, eucalyptus globulus leaf extract, mentha spicata flower/leaf/stem extract, sodium oleate, hydrogenated lecithin, acetyl hexapeptide-8

Butylene Glycol (1) identified as an acne trigger.

Snail secretion filtrate is the star ingredient. See here for more snails.

FRAGRANCE: None detected

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Hydrogel material is webbed and dripping in essence.

Performance

I like hydrogel masks, but it bothers me that they so rarely achieve a good wetness level. Some are too dry from the beginning (i.e. Guerrison, Innisfree), which not only makes them feel very rubbery and condom-like but also results in their drying out too quickly. Considering hydrogels are sometimes many times the price of cotton sheet masks, I want them to stay moist on my face as long as possible! Other hydrogels (i.e. LJH) have more essence than the material can seemingly handle, which means I have to lay on my back for the first couple of minutes or the mask will slowly slide down my face. Ciracle gets it right! This mask is drenched in snailey goodness yet stays completely put on my face. I can easily get an hour of masking time in before the texture becomes uncomfortably rubbery.

On top of that, the fit of this mask is fantastic. It is comfortable to wear with well placed holes for the eyes and mouth, and is the only hydrogel I’ve used so far where the mask can cover my entire forehead. I don’t have a large forehead either, so if you do, you would likely appreciate this even more!

So wearing this mask is great. It’s comfortable, wet, and stays put, but all of this only makes the lack of visible skin benefits all he more disappointing. The mask doesn’t do anything bad, in fact my skin emerges from it looking and feeling substantially hydrated, but not any more so than what your average cotton sheet mask can do. Considering this mask easily costs 5X as much as a regular old cotton mask, I was expecting more. I also do not experience any calming effects which I get from snail cream. My skin is very prone to redness and suffers from inflammatory acne, so I need all the skin calming I can get from skincare products that I can get!

My biggest complaint with this mask is that it leaves my face uncomfortably sticky. Most sheet masks that I have tried do this, which is actually the main reason why I hate trying new sheet masks (the other being terrible fragrances). This mask is far from the worst – in fact, some of the Evercos masks that I use regularly are worse perpetrators of leaving this residual stickiness than this mask, but again, at $5 a pop, my expectations are higher.

The Takeaway

This is an exceptionally comfortable hydrogel mask that sadly did not deliver any benefits beyond hydration for my skin to justify its cost.

Final Score

Disclosure: Mask was purchased by me. This post contains affiliate links. Please see here for my full disclosure policy. 

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Spotlight on Horse Oil!

It seems like every couple of months, a new oil emerges as the new darling ingredient of beauty editors and natural-minded skincare folk everywhere. Coconut oil kicked off this trend in the late 2000’s, I think, and since then we’ve seen argan, rosehip oil, grapeseed oil, seabuckthorn oil, and even dilo oil being championed as the next do-it-all oil. My personal favorite skincare oil, which has been popular in Japan for years and is growing in popularity in Korea, will sadly never be popular in the States but that doesn’t mean I can’t rave about it here! Today’s post is entirely dedicated to my winter skincare MVP, horse oil!

First Things First. Am I Killing Horses?

This is probably the first question that pops into everyone’s head, for good reason. The short answer is no, but the oil does come from dead horses.

Allow me to explain. Horses are killed for their meat, which is something many Americans probably aren’t aware of. Horse meat is consumed in Belgium, Japan, Kazakhstan, Italy, and (many) other countries. As a consequence of processing horses, there is a good amount of horse fat that is produced as a byproduct. Initially, this residual horse fat became a cheaper alternative to lard consumed by the poorer classes. At some point, cosmetic companies started buying it up.

If you think about it, horse oil as a skincare ingredient couldn’t really be feasible unless it’s a byproduct of meat production. Horses have very little fat. Pound for pound, they have about 40% as much fat as cows. Coupled with the fact that horses are rather expensive animals to raise, horse oil would be astronomically expensive if horses were killed for their fat. If your desire is to not contribute to the death of horses, you can rest easy. However, if you were hoping horse oil was something like lanolin (which extracted from wool without harming sheep), you may want to skip this ingredient.

As a former (albeit short-lived) vegan and someone who makes a big deal about eating grass fed and/or free range dairy and meats whenever possible, I strangely have zero qualms about using horse oil. My childhood best friend was an equestrian and I’ve ridden horses a few times in my life, but I don’t seem to ever have developed any emotional ties to them. That said, I understand I am likely in the minority here, at last amongst Americans. However, because it is a byproduct, the use of horse oil in skincare is actually reducing the amount of potential horse being wasted. That counts for something, right?

What is Special About Horse Oil

The amount of scientific information about horse oil’s effect on skin is (understandably) limited, but even so there are a few apparent reasons why horse oil is worth paying attention to. Horse oil, by reputation, is known to be very similar to human sebum so I set out to understand why.

Luckily, I was able to find a few research papers comparing the composition of fats of horses to fats of other animals, including humans. One observation that stood out and was pretty consistent through the different papers is that horse oil is comparatively low in palmitic acid and stearic acid content while being comparatively high in linolenic acid content

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Horse and Man are the bottom two rows. The saturated acids composition is fairly similar. Source.

Palmitic acid is what excess carbohydrates are converted to in the body. It is the most common saturated fatty acid, followed closely by stearic acid. Horses are unique in that their fat contains far less of these types of fatty acids than other livestock animals. In this way, horse fat is similar to human fat, which also contains relatively small amounts of palmitic acid and stearic acid. Interestingly however, horses actually contain even less than humans.

The second standout observation about horse fat, particularly from pasture-fed horses, contains a notable amount of linolenic acid. By comparison, cows and sheep contain little to none. This is pretty surprising because linolenic acid is actually frequently found in plants and nuts! There are two types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid more commonly associated with flax seed and walnut than barn animals, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 usually associated with hemp, borage seed, and evening primrose oil. Linolenic acid is an awesome skin conditioning and skin communicating agent and is thought to have barrier repairing and anti-inflammatory properties. One source postulates that although the mechanisms of action of gamma-linolenic acid are only partly understood, GLA could influence epidermal barrier function, modulate the metabolism of eicosanoid (a pro-inflammatory hormone), or modulate cell signaling. Another source demonstrates both linoleic acid and linolenic acid can reduce UVB-induced skin injury in mice. 

In addition, I was actually able to dig up some research that directly investigates the effects of topical horse oil on skin. I could only find the abstracts, so the sample size and statistical robustness of these findings are unknown, but the results are promising. This study demonstrates horse oil exerts an anti-bacterial effect on P.acnes and S. aureus and increases expression of type I collagen in human skin fibroblasts. Another study demonstrates horse oil has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces erythema. I definitely would not recommend anyone use horse oil as their main source of acne or anti-inflammatory treatment, but it’s nice to think that in addition to being an awesome moisturizing ingredient, horse oil might have some other skin benefits too!

Personally, my love for horse oil has less to do with science (which I didn’t know anything about until after I had been using horse oil products for awhile to be honest) and more to do with the way it way it easily and seamlessly sinks into my skin. I have a long history of trying to force allegedly dry-skin-appropriate creams (usually very heavy ones) and facial oils to work on my skin. Most of these experiences end with my face looking or feeling like an oil slick while still being as dry as ever.

Horse oil, by contrast, manages to thoroughly moisturize my lizard dry skin without feeling heavy at all. The first couple of times I’ve experienced it, I literally could not believe it. It does exactly what I’ve always hoped moisturizers would do! Even now I am still sometimes surprised at how light and natural horse oil feels. It’s the most effective and pleasant occlusive agent I’ve used!


How to Incorporate Horse Oil Products into your Routine

So now that you know all about horse oil, you may be wondering how to start incorporating it into your routine. To be transparent, these days I mostly just use pure horse oil. It’s fantastic to use directly on my skin and also great for mixing into any number of other products. However, it took months of experimenting with other horse oil containing products before I was comfortable doing so.

The guide below is designed to help you determine what products may be good ones to start with, depending on how comfortable you are with the idea of using horse oil.

For the Horse Oil Skeptics:

Horse Sheet Masks!

This is a great low-commitment way to try a product with horse oil. I’ve tried quite a few, some of which I’ve liked better than others. The ones above all do a good job of moisturizing my skin (if I slap one on at night, my skin is almost guaranteed to be bouncy and soft the next day!) and are blissfully un-sticky. I’ve been developing and deeper and deeper aversion to anything sticky as of late, and these masks have been a great way to get my sheet masks in free of stickiness! Of these, my absolute favorite is the Ciracle From Jeju Mayu anti-aging mask, followed by the Guerisson 9Complex hydrogel. I’ve also been using quite a few Sinma Skin Revitalizing Masks and no:hj Aqua Soothing Mask Pack with Horse Fat, just because I have them, but I likely will not reorder these. Sinma is made of a silky material but does not fit my face very well. I purchased the no:hj masks because the packaging seemed so elegant but the masks have a strange, play-doh like scent.

The Yeon Mayu 8 Cream

The Yeon Mayou8 Multi Care Cream is a body cream that smells a bit aggressively like orange flavored PEZ candy (which would be a huge problem if this were a face product but is tolerable as a body product) and contains 3% horse oil. This is a good occlusive but not a great hydrator, so I find it to be most effective if I use it immediately after showering. When I do, it glides on easily, without the annoying tug that some lotions have, and leaves my skin buttery and soft.

Honorable Mentions

Three other awesome horse products are the Sungwon Maeux CreamGuerisson 9 Complex Essence, and Guerisson 9Complex Cream.

The Horse Oil Overachiever

Spa Cream

You know how there are tons of those no-nonsense serums on amazon all with the title “Best Anti-Aging Product EVER!!!” and contain every superstar ingredient under the sun? I feel like this Reishi Shop Spa Cream is the Japanese/Rakuten equivalent but instead of Vit C, retinol, and hyaluronic acid, it’s full of Reishi and Cordyceps mushroom extract, Horse oil, Spa Water, Astaxanthin, and a mishmash of other ingredients. This was a totally random find but turned out to be really interesting! This cream is very light and soft, but has the texture of something between a gel and a balm. It’s bizarre but kind of awesome! When I start rubbing it into my skin, water droplets seem to emerge out of no where. It’s really fun to use and because it is both a great occlusive but also full of hydration, one of my go-to products on days I am in a rush and trying to consolidate my routine into as few steps as possible. A little bit goes a long way!

For Horse Oil Purists

Sonbahyu 100% Horse Oil

I had known for awhile that I wanted to try an 100% horse oil product but was scared. Apparently, some of the lower quality products can smell like a barnyard, which I did NOT want to deal with! Sonbahyu seemed like a safe bet because their products are so prevalent on Rakuten and overwhelmingly positively reviewed. As it turns out, this oil is 100% scent free- it smells gloriously like nothing!

I use this horse oil both on my face and body. On my face, I will either use it by itself, or I will mix it into other creams. Even adding a tiny amount to my other moisturizers makes that moisturizer so much better! I actually have a ton of creams that I do not frequently use because I don’t like the way they feel on my skin, but with this Sonbahyu horse oil, I’ve been able to salvage quite a few of them!

When I use this oil directly on my face, I sometimes make the mistake of applying too much (a little bit goes a long, long way). When this happens, I am shocked at how light and breathable this oil feels. Even when my face looks like greasy, it doesn’t feel that way. And over time, my skin manages to absorb all of the horse oil. After application, my skin is soft, pliable, smooth, and unrecognizably not-dry and stays that way for hours.  I’m in LOVE with this oil and never want to be without it! ❤


What do you guys think? Have any of you tried horse oil? Also, if I’ve convinced any of you to give horse oil a try, do let me know how it goes!

Also, you can also see my other ingredient spotlight on ginseng here. There will be more to come!


Disclosures: All products mentioned here were purchased by me. This post contains affiliate links. See here for my full disclosure policy.

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May Coop Raw Sheet Review

I’m not a sheet mask snob, but I am a sheet mask neophobe. I think this is because my first couple of experiences with sheet masks were so terrible that I’ve come to expect new sheet masks to be terrible. As a result, when I find a sheet mask I like, I buy A LOT of them, and these sheet masks from May Coop are one of my latest obsessions!

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Appearance and Wear

I’ve been lemming for May Coop products, particularly the Raw Sauce, for a long time, but have held back due to the mixed reviews. When I spotted these masks, I jumped on the chance to finally give May Coop a try!

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Look at all that extra essence!

The masks are made of a thickish-woven, unbleached, cotton (I think) fabric. Thin masks seem to be all the rage these days, but I actually really like the weight of this mask. The thickness helps the mask stay moist for longer, prevent excessive drippiness or uneven drying speeds of different parts of the mask, and feels like a blanket for my face. Also, you know those masks that develop a papier-mâché-like stiffness once dry? These masks dry into a surprisingly soft, pliable sheet, which is a small, mostly unimportant but luxurious detail.

I also find that each package contains more essence (25ml total) than the mask can hold. If you like the harvest and bottle up the excess essence in sheet mask packages, you would probably appreciate this. Personally, I try to pat as much of the excess essence onto my skin as possible before putting on the mask. I admit a lot of the essence ends up being rubbed onto my neck and arms.

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Look at that weaving. Also, it’s not super obvious here but there are little dark specs all over this sheet due to its unbleached nature.

Lastly, I am fairly pleased with the fit of this mask overall. The eye holes are bigger than I like, but the position and size of the nose and mouth holes work really well for my face. I have some difficulty getting the chin part of the mask to stay adhered to my chin, but I have this issue with a lot of sheet masks.

Key Ingredients and Effects

The full ingredients, as found on the official May Coop website, are as follows. Cosdna identifies butylene glycol as an acne trigger (1) and carbomer (1) as a potential irritant.

Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Sap, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Arginine, Chlorphenesin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Acorus Calamus Root Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panthenol, Lepidium Meyenii Root Extract, Acacia Concinna Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Schizandra Chinensis Fruit Extract, Coptis Japonica Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Pinus Densiflora Leaf Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris Extract, Truja Orientalis Extract, Disodium EDTA, Dipostassium Glycyrrhizate, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Fragrance

Sugar Maple Sap is the star ingredient here. According to the folks at May Coop, maple water absorbs better than into the skin due to its smaller molecule size. I don’t know enough about maple or chemistry to really know what that means (smaller molecule size is not always a good thing), but there are a few reasons to be optimistic about the effects of maple sap as a skincare ingredient. Remember a few years ago when maple syrup was being touted as a superfood? A lot of the hype was due to the research of a Dr. Navindra Seeram, who identified 50-some compounds in maple syrup that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s impossible to extrapolate any concrete disease fighting or health benefits simply from the presence of these compounds, but it does provide some incentive (hopefully) for further research. Currently, research on maple sap’s effect on skin is very limited, but this study shows acer tegmentosum (another kind of maple) may suppress inflammatory activity and have positive effects on atopic dermatitis-like skin legions.

Beyond maple sap, this mask contains glycerin, which is a good old humectant that will help provide your skin with hydration, and a plethora of extracts including licorice root, ginger root, and camellia sinensis (tea).

This mask definitely has a plumping, cooling, and soothing effect on my skin. If I use this mask at night, these effects will last through the next day. As someone with very dry skin, this is no easy feat! Furthermore, this mask does NOT leave my face sticky, making it my preferred mask to use during the day before special events. Whodathunk the sheet mask made of sugar maple sap would be my go-to nonsticky mask?!

The Takeaway

I really like this mask! The plumping effect is nice plus the material, amount of essence, and lack of stickiness make it a joy to use!

I purchased these masks from 11st. They were <$3 each when I bought them, but they seem to have gone up in price. If you are curious about how to order from 11st, see Cat’s guide here. These masks are also now available on Peach and Lily at $6 a pop, which is pretty steep, but you can use this link to get $10 off your first Peach & Lily order.

Final Score

Disclosure: I purchased this. No affiliate links, just one refer-a-friend link.

evercos masks

Sunday Sundries! Ingredients to the Evercos Herbal Clinic Hanbang Sheet Masks

These herbal clinic sheet masks from Evercos are some of my favorites! I’ve searched far and wide and could not find the ingredients for these sheet masks in English anywhere on the internet. I generally like to know what I’m putting on my face, so I buckled down and translated them for you all!

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All the pretty sheet masks!

Cat, who definitely knows her sheet masks, first raved about these sheet masks here and here a few months back. Everyone’s skin is different and there have been plenty of sheet masks loved by many that I have been less than fond of, but as a ginseng lover and hanbang liker, I immediately went grabby hands all over these! I first ordered the ginseng and licorice ones with Avecko’s assistance, LOVED them, and proceeded to order all the different varieties from 11st.

Btw, Cat also put together this awesome guide on how to order from 11st, which is one of the two places I know of to find these masks (the other being Testerkorea).

The masks are humbly made out of cotton, which may seem boring given all the fancy hydrogel and silk masks available these days, but they are incredibly soft, pliable, and soaked in essence. Also, the scent on all of these except ginseng is pretty subtle.

Ingredients and Impressions

In alphabetical order:

APRICOT KERNEL // 행인

evercos apricot kernel

Fragrance and Impressions: Wonderfully soothing and hydrating. This mask is faintly scented and smells sweet and floral! It’s my favorite of the bunch to use in the mornings, because I find it to be very refreshing. Also, if you are wary of herbal scents, this is a good one to start with because I cannot detect any herbal-ness to it at all. Also, despite 행인 written on the front of the sheet mask, I don’t actually see any apricot kernel in the ingredients, which is kind of weird. It’s possible I’m translating 행인 incorrectly, but google is pointing me towards “prunus armeniaca,” which is a type of apricot, and testerkorea has this mask listed as apricot kernel. It does contain chestnut shell extract though.

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Castanea Crenata (Chestnut) Shell Extract, Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Coix Lacryma-Jobi Ma-yuen Seed (Job’s Tears) Extract, Angelica Dahurica Root Extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Methyl paraben, Fragrance

GINSENG // 홍삼

evercos ginsengFragrance and Impressions: Great for hydration. It has a medium-to-high intensity ginseng scent. If you like ginseng, you will likely love this mask. If you don’t like ginseng, consider yourself warned! This is the one I reach for when I’ve been spending too much time outdoors or in the sun because I find ginseng to be a very calming scent.

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ginseng Extract (1% concentration), Witch Hazel Extract, Angelica Leaf Extract, Angelica Extract, Natto gum, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Sodium hyaluronate, Carbomer, Tocopherol Acetate, Triethanolamine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl paraben, Fragrance

HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA // 어성초

evercos HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA maskFragrance and Impressions: Skin feels nicely hydrating after use. Whenever I’m putting this mask on, I start humming hakuna matata to myself. My brain can’t quite figure out how to pronounce “houttuynia cordata” so I just remember this as the hakuna matata mask!

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Cnidium Officinale Root Extract, Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

LICORICE // 감초

evercos licoriceFragrance and Impressions: Skin feels nicely hydrated after use. Licorice is an anti-inflammatory and brightening powerhouse ingredient. The scent is barely detectable but has a hint of smokiness to it.

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Licorice Extract, Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Taraxacum Platycarpum Extract, Artemisia Capillaris Flower Extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Methyl paraben, Fragrance

PHELLINUS LINTEUS // 상황버섯

PHELLINUS LINTEUS evercos maskFragrance and impressions: Skin feels nicely hydrated after use. In addition to phellinus linteus, which is a medicinal mushroom, this mask also contains Job’s Tears (aka Chinese Pearl Barley, aka Adlay), which is another ingredient used for its brightening properties! It has an herbal, earthy scent. My mother used to make me drink this Chinese traditional medicine soup as a child whenever I had a fever, and when wearing this mask I get whiffs of that soup. For this reason, this is probably my least favorite of the masks. However, the scent is so faint that I doubt most people would be bothered by it.

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Phellinus linteus extract (1%), Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Coix Lacryma-Jobi Ma-yuen Seed (Job’s Tears) Extract, Angelica Dahurica Root Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Methyl paraben, Ethyl Paraben, Propyl paraben, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance

PORIA COCOS // 백봉령

evercos poria cocosFragrance and Impressions: Skin feels nicely hydrated after use. I actually find this mask best for immediate brightening effects – the areas of my face prone to redness look less red immediately after this mask. It has a faint, somewhat sweet scent. Also, remember how the apricot kernel mask didn’t have any apricot kernel in it? This one does!

Ingredients (Click here for Cosdna Analysis): Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Poria Cocos Extract, Natto Gum, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium hyaluronate, Witch Hazel Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Extract, Licorice Extract, Tocopherol Acetate, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl paraben, Fragrance

Side-by-Side Ingredients

Here are all the ingredients, side by side, if you’re interested in how similar / different these masks are to each other. Ingredients common to all masks are highlighted in blue. As you can, see there a lot of blue!

evercos ingredients vanityrex

My personal favorites are the ginseng mask, because I find the scent of ginseng to be pleasant and calming (although there are plenty of people who don’t like the scent so this is a very personal preference here). The poria cocos mask, which interestingly is the only one that uses sodium ascorbyl phospate instead of ascorbic acid for Vitamin C, has the best anti-redness effect on my skin. The apricot kernel mask, which actually contains walnut shell instead of apricot kernel, is another favorite because of its floral scent.

My one gripe about these masks is that they do leave my face sticky. Most sheet masks make my face sticky, so this isn’t some horrendous oversight of Evercos’s or anything. How I deal with this is after I remove my mask, I will spray my face with a non-sticky, oil-free mist, then pat my face until dry. If I’m sitting around reading a book or watching Netflix, I will repeat this a few times. I feel like the mist helps the excess essence, which is causing the stickiness, to absorb into my skin better, and the wetness of the mist will slowly lessen the stickiness of my face.

That’s it for today! There will be more sheet mask round-up posts to come! What are your favorite sheet masks? Also, if you guys have any tricks to deal with residual stickiness, I would love to know!

evercos ginseng mask

Spotlight on Ginseng!

There are a lot of “all-natural beauty” types out there who swear by the refrain if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. I’ve always thought thought that guideline was silly, not only because there are a lot of chemicals that are awesome for your skin, but also because if I only put stuff on my skin that I eat, I would be toning my face with Coke Zero and moisturizing with butter.

I also would not be using any ginseng products, because despite having grown up with it and forced to consume it in my childhood, I don’t actually like eating ginseng. It tastes like perfumey dirt and is frequently served with jujube fruit in chicken soup, which is a terrible association because I happen to detest jujube. Yet, on my skin, none of this seems to matter – I not only love how ginseng makes my skin feel but also love how it smells!

And so today I’m going to talk about ginseng, what it is, what it does, and what are some of my favorite products that contain it!

WHAT IS GINSENG and WHAT DOES IT DO?

Panax ginseng is a root used widely in traditional Eastern medicine. You may have heard the term hanbang (한방) being thrown around to describe certain skincare products that contain traditional, oriental medicine ingredients. Ginseng is one of the cornerstone ingredients of hanbang and is touted as a cure to everything from erectile dysfunction to high blood pressure. Most of these claims revolve around eating ginseng, but if you dig through the scientific literature there’s a good amount of evidence ginseng has positive effects when applied topically as well! For example:

In addition to these healing and UV protective effects, I personally find ginseng to have aromatherapeutic mind-calming effects! Putting on a ginseng sheet mask at the end of a long day is a quick, effective, and alcohol-free way to destress!

Here are some of the ginseng products I’ve been using, grouped into different levels of ginseng enthusiasm:

For the Ginseng Newbie –

evercos ginseng mask

Evercos ginseng masks are everything! First of all, Evercos masks are my favorite sheet masks. I even like them better than any silk masks or hydrogels I’ve used because they are just so incredibly soft, pliable, and generously soaked in essence without being drippy.

The ginseng masks might be my favorite amongst the six Evercos varieties. I find the mask to be very hydrating and calming. My skin inflames and reddens easily and these masks have a way of quickly calming things down.

For those interested, here are the translated ingredients for the Evercos Ginseng masks:

evercos ingredients

Korean Ingredients: 정제수, 부틸렌글라이콜, 글리세린, 홍삼 추출물 ( 1.0% 함유), 위치 하젤 추출물, 안젤리카 잎 추출물, 당귀추출물, 낫토검, 디포타슘글리시리제이트, 밀아미노산, 소듐 아스코빌 포스페이트, 소듐하이알루로네이트, 카보머, 토코페릴아세테이트, 트리에탄올아민, 피이지-60하이드로제네이티드캐스터오일, 하이드록시에칠셀룰로오스, 디소듐이디티에이, 에칠헥실 글리세린, 페녹 시 에탄올, 메칠파라벤, 향료

English Ingredients: Purified Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Ginseng Extract (1% concentration), Witch Hazel Extract, Angelica Leaf Extract, Angelica Extract, Natto gum, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Wheat Amino Acids, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Sodium hyaluronate, Carbomer, Tocopherol Acetate, Triethanolamine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl paraben, Fragrance

I purchased my Evercos masks from 11st. For a guide on how to order from 11st, please see this very helpful tutorial put together by Cat Cactus on Snow White and the Asian Pear. Coincidentally, she’s the one who turned me onto Evercos in the first place

For the Casual Ginseng Fan –

I have very thick and very straight hair and have yet to find the perfect shampoo for it. However, the History of Whoo Spa Shampoo and Rinse is a current favorite! I find it to clean better than Damoae Therapy Shampoo, which I am also a big fan of, and leaves my hair looking shinier and feeling lighter than Shiseido’s red bottle Tsubaki shampoo and conditioner, although Tsubaki definitely leaves my hair feeling softer and silkier.

This is what the bottles look like. I buy sample packs off Testerkorea, not because they're cheaper (they're actually priced on par) but because the full sizes seem to always be out of stock! :(

This is what the bottles look like. I buy sample packs off Testerkorea, not because they’re cheaper (they’re actually priced on par) but because the full sizes seem to always be out of stock! 😦

It also smells amazing! The shampoo fills my shower with the sweet and perfumey but not overwhelming scent of ginseng. The rinse (which is basically just a conditioner) has a different fragrance, one that is less exclusively of ginseng, but still very hanbang in a refreshing and pleasant way. The two together make for a very pampering, hair washing experience! I definitely recommend both, although I do think the duo would work best for thick and straight-to-wavy hair-types. The shampoo might not be appropriate for frizzier hair types, and the rinse might be too heavy for people with tight curls, although I am definitely not an expert on hair types so I could be totally off base.

I purchased sample packs of this shampoo and rinse from Testerkorea (shampoo, rinse). They also carry the full size but it’s NEVER in stock and it drives me crazy because I want it and it’s not outrageously expensive like History of Whoo’s other stuff either. Someday it WILL be mine. Someday…

For the Ginseng Obsessed –

If you really, really love ginseng, maybe even more than I do, you will probably like this essence and cream from Sooryehan.

sooryehan ginseng juice essence and cream

I picked up this essence + cream set because I fell in love with the packaging. They both have gel-like textures and even though the cream is a a bit thicker and denser than the essence, I find the two to be quite similar in how they feel and absorb into my skin. I actually prefer the cream, but the essence does include a handful of other extracts in addition to ginseng. See ingredients for both products here.

For those of you frustrated with skincare products where the top ingredients are all water and filler ingredients like butylene glycol, you’ll be happy to know that the first two ingredients in both are water and ginseng extract. There’s plenty of ginseng in these and it’s very obvious! This stuff smells VERY strongly of ginseng so consider yourself warned!

Top 4 photos are of the essence, bottom 4 are of the cream

Top 4 photos are of the essence, bottom 4 are of the cream.

Unfortunately, these products are not quite hydrating or moisturizing enough for my skin type. I imagine people with normal or oily skin, or those living in more humid and tropical climates may have better luck with it! Regardless, it does feel very luxurious to use this essence and cream and to display them in my bathroom!

Sooryehan essence and cream purchased from wemakeprice.com via avecko. They are also available on eBay (essence, cream).

Have you guys tried any ginseng products? What are your favorites?