How’s your new year going so far? I’ve been motivated by all of the goals, err, “new year’s resolutions” I’ve been hearing so far, from watching one movie per week for a year, to applying to grad schools, to getting a solo apartment. Exciting stuff!
But one of my most achievable self-improvement promises to myself this new year is to let myself indulge in sheet masks and patches, A.K.A. the “gateway drug” of east Asian skincare.
What? Well, I’m a pretty stingy person. When I first started using Asian beauty products, I wasn’t interested in these single-use masks; $1+ per use was more than I was willing to pay, especially when there are so many other products that seem just as effective or better, at cheaper prices! Last year, the only sheet masks I bought for myself were those cheap, bulk-pack LuLuLun masks. All others were samples or gifts. However, as I used these and read more about sheet masks, I came to see the advantages:
- MUCH more effective absorption of product with regular use, e.g. 2-3x weekly, compared to a typical essence alone
- Cooling effects of a wet sheet mask (or warming, if you’re more into that!)
- Psychological relief, somewhat mini-therapeutic effects
- Saving the extra mask essence for a couple of days
- Trying new ingredients, luxury items, and novelty brands without committing to pricier full-sized products
- Simply treating. yo. self.
And the conclusion I’ve come to is: I should really give sheet masks a fair shot.
Of course, no one really has to do any of these “New Year’s resolutions”; the coldly rational part of me agrees that it’s more reasonable to simply set a goal whenever you feel the time is right, regardless of what the calendars say. This just so happens to be the right time for this, for me in particular. Plus, feels good, man. Aww yeaaah.
All of this being said, I’m going to start this year by sharing with you an old AB favorite: the My Scheming Snail Essence Hydrating Mask!
There’s not a ton of official info about the My Scheming brand online, at least not in English. My Scheming is a popular Taiwanese brand established in 2004 (source), and has a very affordable line of masks. Sounds like my style! The brand also received the Golden Summit award in 2006 and has been certified by SGS Switzerland, a worldwide company recognized as the “benchmark for quality and integrity.”
This Snail Essence mask in particular claims:
“The essence of snail’s saliva extract enriched with moisturizing factors & a variety of nutrition. It helps to intensive hydrating skin cuticle, enhance skin hydration level & forms visible skin protective layer, maintain skin hydration level throughout the day, leave your skin supple & glows with health.”
The ingredients you should be eyeing:
- Snail mucin
- Aloe vera
- Hyaluronic acid
Yup—these are certainly promising to be as hydrating as its name claims!
Here’s the full ingredients list. See Cosdna for more details. Those with 1 or higher “Acne” or “Irritant” value, as well as a red “Safety” value, are bolded*:
Water, butylene glycol, hydroxyethyl urea, propylene glycol, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, glycerin, sodium PCA, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, aleuritic acid, glyceryl polymethacrylate, glycoproteins, yeast extract, sclerotium gum, sodium hyaluronate, dipotassium glycyrrhetinate, PEG-120 jojoba esters, xanthan gum, acrylates/C10-30 alkylacrylate crosspolymer, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, methylisothiazolinone, fragrance
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. Cosdna is a highly informative yet imperfect tool. The amount of ingredient actually in the product, as well as the product’s overall formulation, greatly affect the potential for irritation. Not everyone will be sensitive to these bolded ingredients, and you may be sensitive to ingredients that are not bolded. Every individual’s skin may react differently. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
Snail mucin is one of my first K-beauty loves, but this is actually my first sheet mask with this beloved ingredient. I’m so glad this Taiwanese brand is using snail, too. I received two of these My Scheming masks as a bonus treat from the kindest Redditor in existence. And how I wish I had more…
The silk (well. It says it’s silk) mask has a paper backing; this sturdy layer actually makes it easier to put the mask on.
It also means this is one of them fancy masks. As I smooth it down, the mask looks like it’s melting right into my skin. It feels like it, too! If you’re concerned about how a mask looks on you, then this is perfect for you. But really, you don’t need to be worried about anything. You’re beautiful.
Anyway. My face feels cool and ready to soak up the snail juices.
MASKING PROTIP: Cutting a mask to fit can be a hassle, not to mention potentially unhygienic if your scissors aren’t properly sanitized. If you don’t feel like cutting it, just fold it. After aligning the eyes, nose, and mouth, I like to smooth down the T-zone area first including my whole forehead, nose, philtrum area, and chin, then smooth down the rest of the mask based on how it ends up draping. Sadly, masks are flat, unlike our faces. I tend to fold the temple area, each cheek, and the chin if it’s still loose.
There’s an amazing amount of essence left over, even after spreading it on my décolletage and arms. I like to fold the top of the foil pouch and zip it up in a Ziploc bag to use as a regular essence for a couple of days. Honestly, this essence could probably last like a week; for hygienic reasons, though, I’m wary of using any mask essence longer than 2-3 days even if it is stored well.
Unlike some other masks I’ve tried, I find it’s easy to continue my skincare routine after using this My Scheming Snail Essence mask for my usual 30-45 minutes (instead of the instructed 15-20). The essence just soaks in and hydrates my face without making it feel sticky or unpleasant afterward. I can practically feel that boing-boing skin already.
After a couple of uses within one week, my face feels all of the typical effects of snail mucin. My skin had been feeling dry lately with the cooler weather and possible excessive BHA (Stridex) use; this mask seems to seep into all of the dry cracks! My skin also feels somewhat smoother, and I even had a hormonal breakout which got the relief and speedy healing it needed. (I talk more about the benefits of snail mucin in my Mizon All-In-One Snail Repair Cream review.) It’s always hard to tell whether or not a sheet mask considerably speeds up healing, but in my case, it feels like the case. Most sheet masks are almost inherently very hydrating, but it seems the aloe vera and hyaluronic acid in this mask can give you a huge boost in addition to the snail mucin’s effect.
This mask’s benefits aren’t as long-term as simply using a regular snail-mucin-based essence or cream; after all, sheet masks are typically used only every few days (though you can certainly mask daily if it fits your budget!). Of course, you can still see and feel the effects longer if you use the leftover essence like I do. Besides, with My Scheming masks, by the time you’re out of leftover essence, it’s already time to grab a fresh new mask.
Hardly any. The smell is light, simple, and fresh, not strong at all. This should be fine for most folks who are sensitive to fragrances.
You can find these on Amazon for about $15 per 10 masks, YesStyle for about $11~14, Sasa for about $10, and on eBay at various price points. However, be wary of fakes on eBay. My Scheming is usually on the affordable end of the sheet mask price scale.
I highly recommend My Scheming Snail Essence mask for all skin types if you need skin relief, hydration, or even just some relaxing time, as long as you aren’t allergic or sensitive to snail mucin and other ingredients in this mask. Before trying My Scheming masks, I knew they were popular, but now I definitely see why. My skin feels very rejuvenated, healed, and luxuriously hydrated. Plus, there’s a ton of extra essence to enjoy later. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about this, at least not yet, aside from the fact that I probably have to buy this online only. Anyone in Hawai‘i know where I can get these?!
Overall, it’s extremely comfortable, simple, effective, and yet at a very afforable price point for such great quality. I therefore award this mask my very first rating of…
Overall Rating: 5 / 5 !!!!
5 / 5: HOLY GRAIL STATUS. I dare you to pry this from my cold, dead, kpop-glowy hands.
4 / 5: I really liked this! Would repurchase until I find a better alternative.
3 / 5: So-so. Unimpressive results, but may work better for others with different conditions.
2 / 5: Would not repurchase. Possibly caused some issues for me, but may work for others.
1 / 5: This lied to me. It did nothing that it said it would, and caused some issues.
0 / 5: Do not buy this. No one should have to suffer the way I did.
Damn, Taiwan! Your sheet mask game is on point. (Or whatever the youngsters are saying these days.)
Have you tried My Scheming masks before? Is anyone else unreasonably obsessed with Empress of China? What are you promising yourself this year? ☺