South Korean Beauty Products: Face Mask Sheets

Snail mucus, Placenta and Collagen - Oh my! These are some of the
ingredients found in Korean face mask sheets.

I've never had the patience or knowledge of beauty products to have a very extensive makeup routine. (Yet I'm sure that my appearance could benefit greatly from some expertise in this area). I don't wear makeup on a daily basis. I've been told repeatedly by my Korean co-workers that I look tired, have dark circles under my eyes, etc. etc. etc. I woke up like thisssss (my apologies). Meh. After having coffee at my desk, I'll generally doodle some eyeliner on before first period.

In Korea, stores dedicated to skincare, makeup, and beauty dominate the streets such as Olive Young (my absolute favorite) The Face Shop, Nature Republic, Tony Moly, Etude House, Innisfree, and Aritaum. Spending time in these stores and familiarizing myself with their products made me feel overwhelmed and intrigued by the multitude of cosmetics available.

Let's take a moment to acknowledge the incredible store that is Olive Young.

Where else can you buy a hair straightener, vitamin gummies imported from the USA, opaque stockings, Listerine, double eyelid tape, face mask sheets, a diverse selection of CC and BB creams, and a selection of food and drinks? Olive Young has a diverse amount of imported health and beauty supplies that would be familiar to many Westerners. It also has a massive selection of makeup. This store is amazing: It's sort-of what you would get if you combined Walgreens and Ulta in the US. can buy TAMPONS here.

Tampon Tangent

For those who don't know, tampons can be difficult to find in Korea. Korea is known as The Land of Morning Calm, Dynamic Korea, and The Republic of Sanitary Napkins. I don't know why (although I have my opinions) but Tampons are not sold in many grocery stores, pharmacies, or convenience stores. Thankfully, Olive Young has a vast selection of tampons, with imported brands from America like Playtex and Tampax.

Let's talk about Face Mask Sheets

Even after 2 years in Korea, I'm still pretty low-maintenance with my makeup regimen -  but I have become more aware of how to take care of my skin. Using face masks on a weekly basis is a practice I have happily adopted since living in Korea. Hell, in winter I may use them twice a week because it's SO dry out (dry bones) and I'm crazy like that.

The NYTimes recently wrote about the increasing influence of Korean beauty products in America, and the opportunities that await companies who can market Korean beauty products to American consumers. Face mask sheets get a shout out as the next potential "blockbuster" item to be exported out of Korea:
"In Korea, these are already ubiquitous. “You walk into any drugstore and there are walls filled with sheet masks that cost anywhere from $1 to $10,” Ms. Kim said. “They’re very much part of the routine over there.”

Face masks I've used:
Etude House: Alphabet Sheets

My favorite masks are the Pomegranate sheets from The Face Shop. However, since returning stateside I have been using PureTree masks (ordered on Amazon) and Skylake (bought in Koreatown in NYC). I prefer Skylake. The PureTree masks are fine, I just feel as though my face doesn't absorb as much...they feel kind of waxy on my face. Also, Skylake boasts herb-based "all natural" ingredients (whatever that means) whereas PureTree admits to containing parabens. =/

The best face masks to give as a gift are undoubtedly Etude House's Alphabet Sheets. They are perfect for your Western friend who hasn't used face masks before and who gets spooked when you send them snapchats of your face like this:

Normal Monday night.
[Ridiculous but necessary shower headband from ARTBOX,]
Etude House Alphabet Masks (when sold in Etude House, not online) are ~1,000 won each, and are categorized by letter and matching main ingredient. For example, C is for Collagen, R is for Royal Jelly, K is for Korean Ginseng, etc. I bought them for my friends and family members based on the first letter of their names. None of them had used face masks before, so it was a fun (and cheap!) gift. I was impressed with the quality of the masks as well, given that they roughly cost a dollar each.



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