By Trisha Chawla
Sheet masks are the torch bearers of self-care and relaxation. Your favourite supermodel uses it, your neighbour uses it and there’s a high chance you’ve used one and posted a picture of it on your social media too.
But is slathering on a serum-infused sheet of biodegradable paper while you sip on a glass of wine really doing your skin any favours? Or is it just a social asset that relieves you of the monotony of your everyday routine? We spoke to Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, dermatologist and founder of ISAAC Luxe Clinics in New Delhi, to settle the debate.
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Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, dermatologist
Your cheat sheet to healthier skin
“When your skin is dehydrated, it will have a weaker skin barrier which contributes to increased irritation, faster collagen breakdown, breakouts, and hyperpigmentation. Sheet masks help prevent this by restoring moisture levels in your skin,” says Dr Mittal Gupta. They allow your skin to be saturated in moisturising, brightening or anti-ageing ingredients, giving your skin an extra boost when you need it most.
What’s more is that sheet masks may also be primed to infuse your skin with certain ingredients better than a topical cream or serum. Mittal Gupta says, “Sheet masks contain a high dose of H2O that can help deliver extracts of hydrophilic plants, hyaluronic acid or peptides that work better when combined with water.”
How to get the most out of your mask
The list of benefits doesn’t just stop here. “Your sheet mask itself functions as an occlusive barrier that improves the penetration of these targeted actives and locks them in,” says Dr Mittal Gupta. Meaning all the good things stay in and nothing gets out. it is also essential you cleanse your skin before applying one. The good doctor also recommends keeping it on for 20 minutes and following it up with a moisturiser to really seal in the moisture.
The ‘ difference
when you’re picking a mask to meet your skin goals, should you go for the creamy ones in a jar or a sheet mask? “Your rinse-off face masks work more on exfoliation or to target a particular concern over time,” says Dr Mittal Gupta. Sheet masks, on the other hand, work best to hydrate and rejuvenate your skin by fighting free radical damage. However, they cannot be used to treat long-term concerns like pigmentation or acne.
The ‘oh sheet!’ angle
Wearing a sheet mask while catching up on your favourite sitcom may seem like the perfect mid-week routine. But overwearing can do more harm than good. Dr Mittal Gupta says, “Using a sheet mask for extended periods of time (over 20 minutes) can actually have a reverse effect and absorb moisture from your skin once it turns dry. This can also lead to signs of premature ageing, like wrinkles.”
Some variants may also be infused with a high percentage of alcohol content or steroids which can dry and damage skin in the long run. You can check your labels to be mindful of this. Pro tip: alcohol should never be in the first 3 ingredients on the list.
Remember that your sheet mask can’t be a swap for your daily skincare can certainly supplement on days where you need a little extra dose of TLC.