10 Sheet Mask Mistakes You Might Be Making

 Model getting a sheet mask treatment from Dr. Jart backstage during the Opening Ceremony Spring/Summer 2017 fashion show

Image: Anna Webber / Getty

Applying a sheet mask may seem pretty straightforward. You open up the package, carefully unfold the mask and apply it to your face. Then you remove it after the instructed amount of time has passed. Provided you don’t rip the mask into multiple pieces when you’re opening it, there’s not that much that can go wrong, right? Not exactly. There are small things that you could be doing during your masking regimen that could be negatively impacting the results.

When it comes to Korean skin care, or skin care in general for that matter, we know that efficacy and effectiveness are two of the most important qualities when it comes to getting superior results. A good sheet mask offers both, but the mask is only as good as how you use it.

If you’ve ever been disappointed with a sheet mask, the issue may not be the actual mask, it may be the way you apply it. It could even be what you’re doing to your skin before or after the routine. Furthermore, it could be the other products that you’re applying to your face. We asked some experts about the most common sheet mask mistakes we might be making.

Failing to Prep Your Skin Properly

You do not want to apply your sheet mask to a dirty face. Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of popular Korean beauty site Peach & Lily, writes that you should apply your sheet mask to a freshly cleansed and toned complexion for optimal results. Then you can let the sheet mask work its magic.

Not Following the Instructions

It seems like an obvious one, but Dr. Ava Shamban, Beverly Hills dermatologist and founder of SKINxFIVE, says that’s actually a common mistake. It’s something that can make or break your masking session, so make sure you read the instructions in full before you rip open that package.

Not Having Your Mask Adhere to Your Face

The prep stages of your mask lead to the best results. Ideally, you want your mask to adhere to your face almost like it’s another layer of skin. To apply it, Yoon says, “Place gently on the face matching all the cut-outs to your eyes, nose and mouth. Then smooth the whole mask down over your skin.” The bit of extra time you spend applying your mask is worth it. She adds, “The more the mask clings to skin and intermingles with skin, the more the essence in the sheet mask will absorb into skin, so be sure to try to keep everything hugging the skin as much as possible.”

Applying Moisturizer Before Your Mask

You want to make sure that your skin is cleansed and toned before you apply your sheet mask, but you do not want to moisturize before advises Shamban. Save that for later.

Not Removing the Backing From Your Mask

Some sheet masks have an extra backing layer that helps them not stick to themselves when they’re folded up in the package. If you apply a mask with the backing to your face, you’re not going to get the results you want. One Miss Spa skin care expert explains, “We’ve seen some people forget to remove the backing to our sheet masks … When placing it on your face, removing the backing will help the mask adhere better to the shape of your face.”

Leaving the Mask on Too Long

This is one time when longer doesn’t equal better. In fact, leaving your mask on for longer than the instructed time can actually make your skin worse. Yoon explains, “If the sheet mask dries up too much, reverse osmosis can happen and moisture can be sucked back out of skin into the dry mask. Be sure to remove the mask while it’s still damp with essence.” And make sure you don’t fall asleep while wearing your mask.

Washing Your Face After Applying Your Sheet Mask

The benefits of a sheet mask don’t end when you remove it, they can continue long after. Instead of removing that excess essence from your face, take full advantage of it by tapping it in. Jean Baik, founder and chief creative officer of Miss A, states, “All the hydrating essence and ingredients from the mask are meant to be soaked into your skin.” When you wash your face, you’re wasting all of that skin-nourishing goodness. Oops.

If you find that your mask is making your face feel tacky and you have the urge to wash it, Yoon suggests switching to a new mask that doesn’t leave behind the residue.

Not Patting in the Excess Essence

If you’re wiping the excess essence on your face off with a tissue or cotton ball, it’s as bad as washing your face. You should be taking advantage of every last drop of essence. Pat the residue into your skin until it’s fully absorbed. If there is still some essence in the packaging, apply it to your neck and décolletage.

Ditching the Rest of Your Skin Care Routine

FYI: Your sheet mask doesn’t take care of everything, so it’s a good idea to still follow up masking with moisturizer. Not only will it keep your skin hydrated, it will also help the essence from your sheet mask. Yoon explains, “While it’s not always necessary to use a moisturizer afterward, it’s typically a good idea to do so. The moisturizer will seal in all that moisture and great ingredients and prevent it from evaporating out.”

She adds that if you don’t moisturize, your skin may feel even dryer after masking compared to what it normally does after your regular skin care regimen. She cautions, “The hydrated skin after a sheet mask often still needs that moisturizer sealant, so don’t let the super glowy skin trick you!”

If you want to apply your serum, you can do it before your moisturizer, but be aware that it’s not essential, according to Yoon. If you do decide to use your serum, note that you’ll probably need a smaller amount than you normally do.

Forgetting Sunscreen

Are you a fan of morning sheet mask sessions? Make sure you’re not forgetting your SPF. We know how important sun protection is and it’s one area that your average sheet mask doesn’t cover. Yoon writes that you should be using your moisturizer and sunscreen post-mask application in the morning.

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