Dermatologist Talks: The Ultimate Guide To Sheet Masks

I have been regularly asked by both my patients and beauty journalists on the myths and facts surrounding sheet masks in their skincare regimen. In my journey of engineering the MoistureMax™ Skin Healing Polysaccharide Mask with my team, we conducted extensive research on the various materials available in the market. In this article, I shall share our findings and dispel some myths via the following FAQs.

1. Are there any sheet masks I should avoid if I have sensitive skin?

Definitely avoid clay or charcoal masks. These masks often contain astringents which are known to excessively dry out the oils on one’s face. This can result in dry dehydrated skin. Additionally, when these masks are applied for prolonged periods, they can certainly cause the skin to develop facial eczema.

2. I tend to have bad breakouts. Will sheet masks help?

The answer is no. If you have bad breakouts, you have an underlying problem with acne. Acne is a medical condition caused by multiple underlying processes. This includes genetics, inflammation, and the process of forming comedones involves micro-comedones at the bottom of the skin arising to the surface and getting secondary infected by bacteria, exacerbated by oil. In this situation, using sheet masks with ingredients that help moisturise the skin may result in the reduction of redness but it will not stop pimples from arising.

3. What sheet mask material would you personally recommend for people with sensitive skin? 

Fabric masks made of plant-derived ingredients, such as biocellulose and tencel, or synthetic materials, like microfiber, are considered hypo-allergenic fabrics which generally do not cause irritation and are better tolerated by sensitive skin. In line with the recent trend towards novel materials for face masks, we critically evaluated the function of these materials. This brought us to the creation of our polysaccharide masks. The MoistureMax™ Skin Healing polysaccharide facial mask has a unique porous structure that traps cosmeceutical active ingredients in mini-reservoirs within the mask, with enhanced delayed release of cosmeceuticals. The application of the mask optimises the absorption of moisturising ingredients contained in cosmeceuticals.

 4. How exactly do sheet masks work?

Masking is based on a concept called wet occlusion, where the sheet mask increases the absorption of topical ingredients. The function of the mask material is to act as a reservoir to maximise the retention and subsequently the absorption of skincare ingredients, preventing evaporation of the essence to the air. The second quality of sheet masks would be the cosmeceutical active ingredient itself- what matters would also be the concentration and the formulation. For example, hydrating serums, whether they are plant extracts or the moisturizing molecule, hyaluronic acid, are only as effective as the purity of the ingredients. This is why scientifically backed skincare formulations have to be researched and produced in a laboratory with a team of chemists and scientists working together with a dermatologist to access product efficacy in a clinical setting. I personally chose to separate the mask material and the active ingredients as it gives much more flexibility while ensuring the quality of the sheet masks itself. My patients have started on a cosmeceutical custom face mask regime where they have customised face vials with active ingredients to their skincare needs sent to them via subscription sent to them every month which they can use together with our reusable polysaccharide mask. This enables them to have a specially curated home facial customised to their personal skincare needs.

5. How often should I use sheet masks?

I would use it daily if I had the time. The main thing is what you are using with the sheet masks. Just ensure that the mask delivers moisture and appropriate antioxidant ingredients instead of astringents (such as clay or charcoal).

Dr.TWL Pharmacy is a proprietary specialist skincare pharmacy run by Dr. TWL Dermaceuticals, providing custom compounded prescriptive cosmeceuticals for common skincare concerns. It is located on-site at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Clinic, a Ministry of Health accredited dermatology practice headed by dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin. The pharmacy formulates skincare prescriptives for the treatment of various skin concerns including acne, hyperpigmentation, anti-ageing, excessive oil production, age spots and skin sensitivity/redness.