A little history…
When someone ask me what the most unique Korean beauty product is, I will say “sheet mask” without 1 second of hesitation. There are millions of mask sheets from all (not even almost) Korean brands, from 99 cents mask of Skinfood to 40$ per piece luxury mask of Amore Pacific. Actually, from the troika era of Korean road shop (Early 2000, Missha / The Face Shop / Skinfood,) 1000 Korean won (1$) masks were popular. However, the launching of Genics’ Cell Derma Hydrogel Mask Pack, aka Ha Yumi Pack (하유미팩) triggered sheet mask war in K-beauty industry. They launched through Hyundai Home Shopping and GS Home Shopping, they sold more than 10 million USD (Korea is a small country, this is pretty a lot lol). Now,hydro gel masks are from everywhere, but back then, Cell Derma’s hydro gel mask was somewhat innovative and sensational in Korean beauty industry, because Genic is the first company, made sheet mask with hydro gel in Korea. After the success of Genic, many Korean companies jumped on “mask sheet” bandwagon.
Now, the big 3 are
1. Mediheal : Mediheal began with small company, providing low-priced sheet mask to Olive Young (Korean cosmetic multi-shop). They have become famous with their signature hydration mask “NMF Aquaring mask.” With an interesting packaged design with IV bottle, they got fame on internet as well. Mediheal has very specific segmentation on their products. There are 11 different kinds of masks for their basic line “essential.” They have several hydro gel masks as well as eye patches.
Recommendation: WHP White hydrating Charcoal Mineral Mask
Mediheal’s best seller with their signature NMF Aquaring line. Good amount of Niacinamide & Sodium hyaluronate prevents pigmentation while moisturizes your skin. The sheet is black because it contains charcoal of Quercus phylliraeoides (They said it’s for clarifying but I could not find any reliable article, so I just mentioned this as a fun factor.)
Leaders: Leaders originally owned by a medical net work (Leader Plastic Surgery & Dermatology Clinic) but now it is sold to other cosmetic brand. Before, they used to produce cosmeceuticals only, but now they have become a kwon mask sheet brand. With mediheal’s Aquaring, Leaders’ Aquaringer became popular but now they make lots of sheet masks with interesting sheet material (fermented coconut gel) and pretty functional package.
Leaders First Ampoule Mask ( Snail Therapy): The mask contains in the test tube (시험관팩). They used chamomile extract / snail mucin as its BASE, meaning no water. It contains other moisturizing agent and no phenoxy ethanol nor parabens. It contains LOTS of serum so you can keep pour the serum on the top of the mask. (In my personal & humble opinion, this is the best sheet mask for me. Lol)
SNP got on the business with low priced pore masks then quickly became a best selling internet based (mostly Gmarket and Auction) cosmetic brand in late 2000. They introduced animal sheet masks and sold more than 10 million pieces, and keep introducing sheet masks with interesting features.
Recommendation: Bird’s nest Aqua Ampoule Mask
I’m not sure what Bird’s nest extract can do for our skin, it was added for the third ingredient. Witch Hazel extract and Centella Asiatica extract calm your sensitive skin and promote healing. It feels quite refreshing but be aware it contains ethanol, if it concerns you.
Jay Jun: Brand name from a famous plastic surgery clinic in Korea. They got famous with “Refine to Shine” black mask. They are one of the first company that attached serum and cleanser in a separated pouch
“refine to shine” mask sheets” It contains good amount of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and moisturizing agent. Cleansing foam and serum is attached as well, so it is really convenient for travel.
Papa’s recipe: Papa’s recipe is a mega rookie in the market. The CEO began to make organic jojoba oil for his daughter, and they got famous with the pure white cream. Their My bottle lemon / Aloe soothing gel is also well known, along with its famous Bom Bee mask.
Bom Bee Honey Mask: Probably, the year 2016’s best seller in Korea, Korean bloggers call it “Honey Jar Mask” because of the printing on the mask sheet envelope. It smells very honey, and contains honey derived ingredients such as honey extract and propolis. Trehalose & hyaluronic were also added as moisturizing agent along with butylenes glycol and small amount of allantoin for anti-inflammatory function. It’s also phenoxy ethanol and paraben free product.
I am also on Reddit and /r/asianbeauty