Reusable Sheet Masks Are Better For Your Skin, the Environment *and* Your Wallet
Plus, the best ones to shop.
Who doesn't love a sheet mask? They're easy to use, a self-care staple, and effectively deliver skin-loving ingredients that stave off expensive spa visits. However, since each sheet mask is a single-use product that relies heavily on plastic materials, they're almost impossible to recycle properly and have significantly contributed to the ever-growing increase of landfill waste. No bueno.
"It has been estimated that over 75% of plastic waste will end up in landfills and oceans, causing irreversible environmental impacts," explains dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose M.D., FAAD. Since sheet masks contain the mask pouch and plastic sheet around the mask, not only are they not eco-friendly, but they're actively contributing to the problem.
Knowing how harmful sheet masks can be, several beauty brands have stepped up and found a better way to create a sheet mask that doesn't harm the environment. Enter: reusable face masks.
What's the benefit of using a silicone face mask?
"Silicone face masks provide an occlusive seal to drive ingredients and hydration into the skin," says Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "This minimizes evaporation, which usually occurs when you apply products to the skin. Reusable silicone face masks, unlike your typical sheet mask, allow the user to individualize their treatment based on what their skin needs, so the wearer can choose their skincare products and use the mask to improve absorption."
Are reusable face masks more effective than disposable ones?
"Skincare product efficacy is increased when paired with a silicone reusable [mask]," says Nurse Jamie, founder of her eponymous beauty brand. She explains that since silicone masks are hypoallergenic and chemically inert, they don't have potential reactions to active ingredients and are durable, which means they can be recycled. Disposable sheet masks, on the other hand, aren't chemically inert, are non-recyclable, and can pull at the delicate skin of the face, neck, and décolletage. Nurse Jamie explains that this will pull off your skin's protective barrier and leave the skin feeling smooth but ultimately damaged.
What's the best way to use a reusable face mask?
To use a reusable silicone sheet mask, apply a thick layer of your favorite serum or moisturizer and put the mask over it. The silicone layer will seal the products into the skin and give it that "treatment" effect you get from disposable face masks.
If you're using it with an exfoliating product, don't use it more than once a week to prevent over-exfoliation and sensitizing your skin. If you're using it to occlude a moisturizer, for example, Dr. Murphy-Rose says you could use it every day. Additionally, she says that silicone sheet masks can help speed up the recovery of post-laser resurfacing or microneedling procedures as they're a great way to give the skin an extra dose of moisture.
What's the best way to clean a reusable sheet mask?
Silicone is a non-porous material, making it easy to clean. "Wash [it] with mild soap and water, then ensure it's completely dry and store it back in the pouch it comes in," suggests Mallory McMahon, the associate director of research and innovation for Honest Beauty.
How are reusable face masks good for the environment?
Traditional sheet masks are single-use products and are typically made of synthetic fibers or cotton, and since they're usually soaked in serum they can't be recycled. Silicone, however, is so durable that "it can last indefinitely as long as it hasn't lost its form and isn't torn," explains Dr. Murphy-Rose.
Silicone masks do everything your favorite sheet masks do. However, Nurse Jamie says that they also give you peace of mind as you aren't actively using a product that isn't recyclable and ends up sitting in a landfill where it takes hundreds of years to break down, and when they do, these materials break down into micro-plastics and release greenhouse gases.