Month in Masks - November 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What would this blog be without my Month in Masks roundup? A self-indulgent and useless endeavor? Probably.

Sheet masks are among my favorite skincare products, and I have come to realize that I'm privileged to be able to try out an inordinate amount of them every month, thanks to...

     A growing obsession with said sheet masks. They're like going to the spa, but better. The spa doesn't have Netflix.
     My amazing, knowledgeable, and generous blogger, instagram, and Asian Beauty forum friends,
     My also amazing blog partners and sponsors,
     And the fact that I generally have no reservations about Asian skincare or 'weird skincare ingredients'. I've always been one to try anything once.

There are so many un-vetted sheet masks out there. I'm happy (and my face is happy) to play the part of sheet mask tester to help you discover some new gems and duck some of the oh-god-nos out there.

Read on to learn more about the best and worst masks I slapped on my face in the past 4 or so weeks.

Disclosure: I either purchased or received these masks as gifts. Also, about halfway through writing this post, I realized it was going to get way too long - so I made these mini-reviews! 


Taiwanese brand Sexy Look gets both irony and sarcasm.

INGREDIENTS Rose Water, Tranexamic Acid, Elastin, Collagen, Sodium Hyaluronate, Resveratrol, Job's Tears Extract, Pearl Extract, Glycerin, Tuber Aestivum Extract, Ellagic Acid Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Niacinamide, Xanthan Gum, 1,3–Butylene Glycol, Sodium PCA, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Propylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Iodopropylnyl Butylcarbamate, Perfume, Water [ANALYSIS]

This mask was an experience for me in that it burned (mildly) for much of the time that I wore it.
My skin is sensitive to acids, so chances are, if you are already using acids in your skincare routine, you won't experience any discomfort at all. And even if you fear a little discomfort, the results of this mask were well worth it.
When I unhooked the TWO sets of ear straps holding the thick, saturated cotton face mask and NECK PIECE (!) against my skin, and ran to the mirror to see if my flagellation by skincare was worth it... I was treated to the brightest skin I've ever experienced so far.

There are two reasons why this could be...
1. Tranexamic Acida synthetic replication of the amino acid lysine, which is actually alkaline, so probably not the cause of the burning.
Tranexamic acid blocks melanocytes from overproducing melanin (pigment). You're probably familiar with melanin inhibitors already like vitamin C. Tranexamic acid also inhibits tyrosinase activity. Tyrosinase is an enzyme involved in the whole oxidation-to-melanin-production process. More tyrosinase means more melanin production. This lands tranexamic acid in the same class of skincare ingredients as arbutin, kojic acid, and hydroquinone.

2. Ellagic Acid, a pomegranate and/or berry-derived acid. Dingdingding! Probably the cause of the burning.
Ellagic acid is mostly regarded as an antioxidant, that can help reduce the signs of sun damage. According to Paula's Choice Beautypedia, ellagic acid may also interrupt the process that causes excess melanin formation in skin.

Behind the scenes, this mask also contains a host of other antioxidants that help to further protect the skin against UV damage.

RATING 1 2 3 4 4.5 5

The discomfort was well worth the great brightening results. I deducted only half a point for the scent - which is reminiscent of candy necklaces, and also the annoyance of wiping essence off of my ears from the ear straps.

TRY IT AT  MelodyCosme $2/30g mask | Amazon $18.81/10 pack


I recently shared my full experience with these Leader's Cosmetics coconut hydrogel masks in my Leaders Cosmetics one brand overview here.
These are fermented coconut gel masks that are thick, full of essence, and able to stay saturated for over an hour in dry, winter air. I highly recommend them for this time of year.
There are 8 varieties in all, and you can learn more about the differences in the one brand overview I linked above.

RATING 1 2 3 4 5

Leaders is sold out of these masks until 2016 for good reason. They lost a point for the scents, and for the slipperiness that is both a blessing in winter, and a curse when trying to multi-task in an upright position while sheetmasking.

TRY IT AT  My favorite Bio-Medicuring line here, and my less favorite Super Foods line here.


INGREDIENTS Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Witch Hazel, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Fermented Red Ginseng Extract, Aspergillus/Fermented Licorice Root Extract, Fermented yeast extract, Lactobacillus / fermented soybean extract, Fermented Pachyma Extract, Fermented green tea extract, Lactobacillus / fermented oenothera odorata extract, Fermented western dandelion leaf/root extract, Trehalose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Dipotassium glycyrrhizate, Malt extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Propylparaben [ANALYSIS]

This mask (a Snow White and the Pear favorite) was amazing. I've only tried it once, which makes me feel a bit wary to hurl superlatives at this mask... But it came through in a time of need during one of my monthly - bimonthly bouts with hormonal acne. The spots went away soon after I took this mask off. Nuff' said.
It also contained a lot of soothing, anti-inflammatory botanical extracts.
As you can see, the mask has a lot of excess material which means, it will fit most faces. The material is also quite nice - a very soft pima cotton-like material. The essence was very typical, except for the fact that it looked like tea. It was beige/tan. There was no backing with this mask.

RATING 1 2 3 4 4.5 5

This mask came through in a time of need. . I deducted only half a point for the scent which, apparently is very important to me - it smells very nice and herbal, but is quite strong.

TRY IT AT  eBay $12.99/5 masks | imomoko $2.99/per mask

...L'herboflore Sweety Cocoa Moisturizing Mask

INGREDIENTS Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Propylene Glycl, Lactobacillus/Cocoa Fruit Ferment Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Mannitol, Sodium Citrate, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Isopropyl Alcohol, Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyquaternium-51, Triethanolamine, Polyglutamic Acid, Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Methylisothiazolinone, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Sodium Acetate, Phenoxyethanol  [ANALYSIS]

You may recall that I tend to like L'herboflore masks on the whole, going so far as to call them mon amour. I maintain that most L'herboflore masks are excellent.
I would say that the only thing to keep in mind with L'herboflore masks is that they vary quite a bit in terms of mask fit and material, so it's a good idea to look up reviews.
I've had L'herboflore masks that are made of cotton pulp, with no detectable grain or thread. I've also had L'herboflore masks that are made of extremely soft, thin, and clingy silk. Still another that I tried, had a two-piece fit and was made out of a very sturdy and thick silk material.
This Sweety Cocoa mask is one of the cotton pulp masks.

And it smells like a deep, dark chocolate mocha latte.
It also lasts 45 minutes.

RATING 1 2 3 5

This mask, like most L'herboflore masks smells delicious. I deducted a full point because the mask material is made of cotton pulp, the kind with no grain or thread, which generally seems to retain less essence.

TRY IT AT Chuusi $2.21/30ml maskBeautibi $4/30ml mask 


These adorable eye masks don't do anything except warm up when exposed to air, similar to the hand and foot warmers available at the ski lodge.
They have two kinds. I couldn't resist getting both.
After opening the pack, you slip the two ear flaps over your ears, and enjoy being bathed in the scent of lavender (in the case of the tiger masks) or bamboo (the panda masks) for about 30 minutes. The masks warm up to 41.5 degrees Celsius. The warmth is very noticeable, but I wished they warmed up even further. That said, I always fall asleep when I put them on. I've repurchased these twice already. They're also a great beauty gifts for friends! You don't run the risk of accidentally offending anyone - and while only a certain type of person would probably buy them for themselves, almost anyone can benefit from the relaxing 30 minute downtime.

RATING 1 2 3 5

I love these. I only wish they would warm up just a little bit more.

TRY IT AT eBay $13.88/pack of 5 | Memebox $3/per mask | Amazon $16.88/pack of 5  


INGREDIENTS Fermented Bamboo Sap, Red Clover Flower, Hibiscus Flower, Gold-Silver Flower [FULL LIST at SKINMILKBAR]

As befitting a 'best splurge' category... I'm not going to let the cost of the mask bring the tone of the review down. By definition it's a splurge! And the experience and the effects of the mask are nice enough to put the ledger away and just focus on that.
It's a pale blue hydrogel that's different from other hydrogels because it's meant to melt into your skin to deliver hydration. I can confirm that the mask did feel thinner after I used it. It smells brightly citrusy but not too tart or acidic.
The mask adhered well to the face for a hydrogel (usually a weak point), and held on for 45 minutes. It left my skin much softer, and firmer than before.
One of the things that I noticed with hydrogels is that they tend to be more firming than sheet masks. Almost every hydrogel I've tried has helped with elasticity, while cotton and silk masks that actually firm and lift are rare.

RATING 1 2 3 5

While the mask was certainly unique, especially with the melting concept and the color, now that I've had a look at the complete ingredients list, I wish it brightened a bit more, since it has some brightening ingredients in it.

TRY IT AT Koreadepart $63.30/pack of 6 | SkinMilkBar $12/27g mask *Here's $10 off towards your first purchase at SkinMilkBar)


INGREDIENTS Purified water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Carob bean gum, Carrageenan, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Potassium hydroxide, Ginseng extract (10 ppm), Camellia oil, Natto gum, Green tea extract, Fragrance [ANALYSIS]

Like I mentioned in my SU:M37 notes, I've found many hydrogels that are great at lifting and firming the skin. So if a mask is a hydrogel, I'm always enthused. On top of that, ginseng is one of the skincare ingredients I've noticed also works to lift and firm my skin. So add them both together, and we have one awesome mask.
This mask had a lot of essence for a hydrogel mask. It also smells fresh, flowery, and herbal at the same time - quite ginseng-y which I tend to like. I also love the fit of the mask. Some hydrogels don't have enough material to cover the no man's land halfway up the face, but the illi masks are long enough to overlap even.

RATING 1 2 3 4 4.5 5

This is a matter of personal taste, but I tend to love hydrogels that deliver results (since many fail to), and ginseng masks.

TRY IT AT Koreadepart $7.32/pack of 4 | SkinMilkBar $4/27g mask *Here's $10 off towards your first purchase at SkinMilkBar)


At left is the Naruko Taiwan Magnolia Brightening and Firming Mask

INGREDIENTS Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, PEG-4 Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, 1,3 Butylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Shea Butter, Phenoxyethanol, Kalanchoe Spathulata, Licorice Root Extract, Alpine Skullcap / Scutellaria Alpina Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Masterwort Peucedanum Ostruthium Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Artemisia Umbelliformis Extract, Leontopodium Alpinum Extract, Alpine Willowherb Epilobium Fleischeri Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Camellia Sinsensis Leaf Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tremella Fuciformis Extract, Solidago Virgaurea Extract, Triethanolamine, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Lecithin, Carbomer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Algin, Fragrance, Hydrolyzed Hibiscus Esculentus Extract, Argania Spinosa Kernel Extract, Allantoin, Argan Oil, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Michelia Alba Leaf Oil, Arbutin, Tranexamic Acid, Michelia alba, Citrus Limonum [ANALYSIS]

This is another 3D mask with a face mask, neck piece, and two sets of ear straps to hold the mask to your face. What I loved most about this mask was how suitable for winter it was. The essence is more of a creamy lotion. You can tell there's shea butter in there. I also really love white flower complex in my skincare. I find that flowers like magnolia work really well to brighten the face. The mask fits like a corset, while not being too tight on. It smells amazing as well.

RATING 1 2 3 4 4.5 5

It moisturizes and brightens well and gets extra credit for taking care of the neck area too. It lost 1/2 a point for the annoyance of having essence get in your hair and on your ears.

TRY IT AT Koreadepart $7.32/pack of 4

At right is the Manyo Factory Galactomyces 10x The First Treatment Wrap Mask

INGREDIENTS Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (97%), aloe vera extract, witch hazel, chamomile flower water, chamaecyparis obtusa water, prunus meme fruit water,  glycerin, butylene glycol, chondrus chrispus, algae oligosaccharides, sodium hyaluronate, ceratonia siliqua gum, rosemary extract, scutelleria baicalensis root extract, phaseolus radiatus seed extract, jojoba seed oil, centella asiatica extract, guar gum, xanthan gum, chamomile flower extract, licorice root extract, green tea extract, polygonum cuspidatum root extract, lavender oil, 1-2 hexandiol [ANALYSIS]

After I took this mask off, the first time that I used it... My immediate response was to log online and order 10 more. That's how much I love this mask.
It's a dupe in scent, and almost in wiggly hydrogel texture to one of my ultimate favorite hydrogel masks, the Whamisa Organic Flowers and Aloe Vera Hydrogel Mask.
It's just simply amazing. I hopped onto Instagram right away to break the news (very typical of me to do when I find a mask jawdroppingly good...), and I'll just repeat myself here, because each time I use this mask, it feels like the first time...

This #ManyoFactory #firsttreatment #galactomyces mask reminds me a lot of my last favorite hydrogel - the #Whamisa Flowers and #Aloevera mask. It's wiggly and gelatinous like the Whamisa but has a small diamond tread pattern so it sticks to the face. I'm also into the scent because it's a faint cross between the Missha FTE and the Whamisa masks. And my skin both after the mask and this morning is bright, my laugh lines reduced, and feeling soft and smooth. I asked #Melodycosme to stock this mask since it ranked so high on #koreanbeauty forums - as far as I know they're the only ones that carry this. And I may have just bought ten more after having tried it. If you're a fan of #Missha and #Whamisa I think you may like it!.
Weaknesses: eye holes are large so your lids don't get treated, less essence than a Whamisa but still 35 grams of product, and contains #carageenan which may break some people out.

RATING 1 2 3 4 5

I think it's the perfect hydrogel, and it's available at a reasonable price point. It takes my number one spot away from Whamisa.

TRY IT AT Melody Cosme $3.25/35g mask


These are the Leaders Insolution cotton sheet masks* (press samples) [TYPE 1][TYPE 2] at top left. They're very nice all-arounders with lovely thin cotton material and a great fit. The scary photo at top right is the Tosowoong Pure Deep Sea Water Mask - which smells very soothing like the sea, and has a wide nice fit. It's a thicker cotton and pretty moisturizing. In the middle row, at left are the Naruko Narcissus Repairing Mask, and the Mamonde Heartleaf Houttuynia Pore Care Skin Fit Mask. The Naruko is a nice all-arounder mask that does a little bit of everything, while the Mamonde mask does in fact work well to erase pores. At the bottom left is the Ariul 7 Days Mask in Bamboo Water which moisturizes, but doesn't do much else. It is very affordable though and smells accurate. I also like how the eye holes are small so it treats the area around the eyes. The bottom right mask is the White Cat Spa Potion Aqua Wrinkle Mask*, which is as solid as a Leaders Insolution cotton sheet mask. It does a bit of everything as well but I found it unremarkable. I would repurchase it though at the right price. This came as a part of the November Mishibox (as a press sample) which... I will officially unbox for you on the blog soon.


I found the following masks unremarkable or unsuitable for this time of year. At top right is the Love More Mountain Tea Polyphenols Moisturizing Mask. Love More is the brand that make the thinnest sheet masks I've ever tried and they feel amazing on the face. So freeing and non-constrictive. However, the thinness works against them in cold, dry air and the mask dried up within 20 minutes. At bottom left is the My Scheming Deep Ocean Water Saccharide Isomerate Mask. I actually really love this mask, but it's again unsuitable for this time of year. It yielded me some really super soft and nourished skin, however, it didn't hydrate or moisturize in a lasting way, and I could hardly even tell I used it just 30 minutes later. I have a lot more of these very aromatherapeutic silky/thin masks in store, but will be saving them for warmer weather. At top right is the My Beauty Diary Squalene Facial Mask - 2015 Version, I didn't really enjoy the essence in these masks as much as I thought I would, considering squalene, an olive-derived oil, is one of my favorite ingredients. This and the off-putting scent was enough to make me say nyet to repurchasing. I do love the new silk material and the circular shape of the new 2015 MBD masks though. That was lovely. At right, in the middle row is the Love More French Caviar Anti-Wrinkle and Firming Mask. Unlike the rest, which are mostly just not suitable for the season, this one I just didn't end up loving. It's made out of cotton pulp material, and smells strongly floral. It did a decent job at moisturizing, but it's not something I crave. They're quite affordable though. The Naruko Q10 Age-Defying Brightening Mask I did so long ago that I almost don't have much memory of it. Like most Naruko masks, they're made of a really soft and thin material. This smelled like a floral fruit jelly - so a bit odd, but not unpleasant. Naruko does some really excellent masks, so I just think that if I were to choose from all of the ones available, that this wouldn't be my pick.

All of the extra masking has left me pretty satisfied with the state of my skin these days.

F/W 2015... Results from joining the 1 Day 1 Mask club.

Have you been trying more masks now that the weather has gotten colder?
Have you found any new favorites?
How was your Month in Masks?
Please share!

Disclosure: Some of the products are press samples. They are marked with an asterisk. I am not compensated for my views. There are some affiliate links in this post. Clicking on and purchasing through an affiliate link returns a small sum to me at no cost to you as a consumer. Thank you in advance if you choose to help me support my blog in this way. If you are curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, please see my disclaimer and policies.

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