Since their launch, sheet masks have become an integral part of our skincare routine. Dry, flaky skin? Put on a sheet mask. Inflamed skin? Cool a soothing sheet mask in the refrigerator and then put it on. Stressed? There’s a sheet mask for that too.
Different sheet masks have different ingredients in the essence that they are soaked in, making them ideal to address different skin concerns. But what makes all sheet masks so effective is that in the 10 to 15 minutes that you have one on, it acts as a seal over the nourishing ingredients, forcing them to sink into the skin rather than evaporate into the environment. And this is why your skin is always visibly better after you’ve used a sheet mask.
Like most of you, my usual routine when it comes to sheet masks is to use a toner or essence, and then put on my sheet mask, usually a hydrating one. After 10 to 15 minutes are up, take it off and seal in all the goodness with a moistursier. Of course if you have normal, combination or oily skin, you can skip this step.
So, what is reverse masking?
I recently read somewhere that you can get more out of your sheet mask if you put it on after your entire skincare routine at night. Yes, that means after you’ve used toner, essence, serum and moisturiser. The rationale behind this is that if it can seal in the good stuff from the essence it’s soaked in, it should be able to do the same for your entire skincare routine. So I decided to test this theory.
But first, the right sheet mask
There are different sheet masks to tackle different skin concerns: brightening masks for dull skin, pore minimising masks for oily skin, hydrating masks for dry skin, etc. But for this particular exercise, I chose to use a simple hydrating bio cellulose mask. I didn’t pick a brightening or anti-ageing mask because I didn’t think my skin would be able to absorb any of the benefits of brightening or anti-ageing ingredients after four layers of my own skincare.
I picked the The Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar Moisture Sheet Mask, $8, a bio cellulose mask because the material fits snugly, hugging the contours of your face like they are lovers on the third date. Cotton sheet masks are sometimes too loose for me, but they could work equally well if you find a well-fitting one.
The night I was supposed to use the sheet mask over my skincare, I picked the most soothing, nourishing skin care to use. I wanted all the calming, anti-inflammatory and hydrating benefits of THEFACECHOP Dr Belmeur Cica Peptite Ampoule, Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Repair Concentrate, Dior Capture Youth Intense Rescue and my Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser. Not forgetting eye cream, the Antipodes Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream.
I applied them as usual, going from lightest to heaviest texture, and finally putting on the bio cellulose sheet mask. Then I scrolled through my Instagram for 15 minutes before removing it and jumping into bed.
To see just how much of a difference it made to put the mask on after my entire skincare routine, I used the same mask the usual way—essence, mask, moisturiser the next night. I made sure that I used the same products (from cleanser to mask and moisturiser) on both days. When I woke up, my skin was not as dewy as when I reverse-masked.
First of all, I find not having to do additional skincare steps after a sheet mask very liberating. Something about having a sheet mask on for 15 minutes lulls me into such a relaxed state that I don’t want to do anything after. Not even my skincare. So using the sheet mask last works perfectly for me.
Aside from that, there are real skin benefits to be had when you apply your mask last. I sleep with the air-conditioning on, and usually I wake up with my skin feeling and looking quite dehydrated. But when I used the sheet mask after the rest of my skincare, I woke up with dewy, plump skin. My skin stayed hydrated longer the next day, and my makeup looked better.
As you can see in the image above, when I use the mask before my whole skincare routine and just use a moisturiser over, the results are quite underwhelming.
I definitely see myself switching around when I use a mask in my skincare routine. And while there is no right or wrong way to use a mask, this way works so well for my skin. You can switch up the way you use it depending on how your skin is feeling.