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How did a piece of fabric soaked in valuable ingredients become a hit in skin care?

How did a piece of fabric soaked in valuable ingredients become a hit in skin care?

According to Charlotte Cho , author of the best-selling book „Beauty Secrets of Korean Women”, sheet masks are the soul of the beauty ritual. They first appeared in Japan, but their phenomen is attributed to the Koreans, who are masters in creating increasingly effective mask recipes. On the wave of popularity, fabric masks (also called sheet masks) fund their way to the West, spreading so quickly that they are present in almost every supermarket. They have become a common product manufactured under contract production and are a permanent piece in woman’s cosmetic bag.


For centuries women caring for their health and good skin condition have used masks or compresses made of more or less controversial ingredients. Powdered nephrite (called the stone of life), pearls, ginseng and lotus root is the recipe for the nourishing mask of Yang Guifei – the concubine of the Chinese Emperor Xuanzong. Various mixtures made of earth goodness were applied to the face and rest of the body. Starting with Dead Sea mud used by the icon of beauty in the ancient world – Cleopatra, masks with herbs, honey and veal compress ending with radium masks! At the begining of the 20th century radium masks have become women’s favourites after discovery of the new chemical element by the Curie marriage. All these beauty practices used by women around the world shows that the health and good skin appearance has been important for centuries. Along with the development of the cosmetics industry new products that made skin care much easier have appeared. Among them, the fabric mask became an important invention.


What is a fabric mask?

Simply put, it is a fabric soaked in active liquid, serum or essence cut in the shape of face with holes for eyes, mouth and nose, closed in a disposable packaging. It is applied to the cleansed face and left for 10-20 minutes. The liquid cocktail that the fabric is soaked in differentiates the masks into: moisturising, regenerating, cleansing and rejuvenating so depending on the type and needs of your skin you can choose a face mask that is right for you. They are also categorised by the type of material they are made of. There are masks on the market made from cotton, silk or biocellulose. According to the tradition the first sheet masks were just pieces of silk kimono that geishas dipped in the rose water. The Givenchy brand stood out with extravagance after releasing a luxurious work of art on the market: a mask made of the highest quality Dentelle de Calais lace soaked in a highly revitalizing black algae concentrate. The popularity of face masks made many companies to start producing them. Regardless of the type of material they are made of the magic of the face mask rely in the phenomenon of occlusion. In cosmetics, occlusion means the formation of a protective coating on the skin which lasts up to several minutes protecting the skin from water loss. Swelling keratinocytes (living epidermal cells) create microchannels enabling the transport of active ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin. In dermatology, occlusive dressings have been used for years to support the treatment of chronic skin diseases. A sheet mask, which is a physical occlusion, can therefore be called a „moisturising sleeping bag” for the skin where all the valuable ingredients are kept inside.


What makes fabric masks so successful?

In the era of so many cosmetisc available on the market , consumers expect quick action and immediately visible effects. Sheet masks meet these two features. A well fitted fabric in a short, one time treatment makes the skin radiant, firmer and most of all well moisturised. Thanks to the occlusion the water content in the stratum corneum of the epidermis can increase to 50% and well moisturised skin is absolutely essential. The big advantage of fabric masks is comfort (in Korea fabric masks are worn even on the way to school or work) and compactness (thanks to their small size they are perfect even when travelling). A face mask is a great solution as a treatment before the big event because it quickly improves the condition of the skin.


Not only for the face

The phenomenon of occlusion has also been used in the production of cosmetics for hands, feet and virtually all body parts. Hand masks come in the form of gloves and foot masks come in the form of socks that fits perfectly and gives very good results. Exfoliating foot masks are very popular and were originally introduced to the market in Japan in 1997 and became available in the US in 2012. Sheet masks comprehensively nourish and care for the skin and are a great way to relax and unwind. To obtain satisfactory results you just need to remember to follow manufacturer’s reccomendations.

Although today the use of a face mask seems to be a routine care their rich history proves that ensuring good skin condition required a lot of experiments and innovation. There are no independent scientific studies showing the benefits of sheet masks, but their effectiveness, convenience and quick effect makes them a permanent addition to everyday skin care.


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