I’m happy to announce that I’m doing well with my new year’s mask-olution! I’m loving my Year of the Sheet Mask, so I am sorrynotsorry for the minor barrage of masking posts both here and on Facebook/Instagram. Also, to those who enabled me with masking gifts over the past holidays and my birthday,
you are feeding a completely unhealthy desire I mean, thank you. If you have any suggestions, I am happy to hear them!
Today’s Nature Republic Help Ceramide Mask Sheet is from TesterKorea, but it’s actually technically a sample. Korean skincare/cosmetic companies and retailers often give out samples to customers, a habit I really wish American, European, and other companies would adapt more. Not just because free stuff, but because… Okay, yes, free stuff, but also it makes me more likely to come back and make another purchase so I can
hoard more samples try more new things. Don’t just hoard samples, by the way. Shop your stash every now and then, or you will get buried by it and die alone.
Anyway. Even if this is just a sample, I just had to share this mask because I know a lot of folks like me (and maybe you!) are looking to repair their acid mantles and skin barriers due to dehydration after years of harsh cleansing techniques. The star ingredient here, ceramide, can really give us a hand with that.
Nature Republic is a South Korean skincare and cosmetics brand founded in 2009. Since then, they’ve enlisted k-pop spokespeople like JYJ, Girls Generation (소녀시대)’s Taeyeon, and EXO to target both domestic and international markets. They’ve been making steady strides in the international skincare industry; we already have two locations here on O‘ahu, a great move on NR’s part because of Hawai‘i’s high population of southeast/east Asian locals and visitors. I expect to see more domestic growth as the U.S. continues to embrace k-beauty as simply a part of our skincare landscape. Woohoo!
The Nature Republic Help Ceramide Mask Sheet seems to be the mask version of the Help Ceramide line of moisturizers/creams. Here’s a quick overview of the star ingredient, ceramide:
- The skin’s barrier system’s extracellular matrix is composed of lipids (fats), including 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 10-20% free fatty acids. Hereafter, I’ll refer to it as the skin’s protective barrier. Sometimes it’s also called the lipid barrier. Your acid mantle is what lies on top of it all, and can be maintained when we stop overexfoliating and drying out the skin.
- When a topically-applied skincare product is well-formulated to mimic this matrix, the product can help the matrix repair itself.
- Research and studies on the specific, ideal amounts of ceramides alongside cholesterols and fatty acids are still a bit shaky. However, the evidence suggesting their effectiveness (especially with conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis) is definitely there. Exciting! Plus, both natural and artificially-produced ceramides are usually deemed to be quite safe, though with varying effectiveness especially when they play with other ingredients.
- Ceramide products need to be applied regularly for maximum effectiveness. Sheet masks can greatly supplement an already ceramide-rich routine, but they shouldn’t be expected to magically repair your skin barrier after just one use.
My skin is currently sort of an oily-combo with dehydrated spots, so I’ve been seeking ceramide-rich products lately to relieve my dehydration and repair my unbalanced skin barrier. This particular mask promises to “give an intensive moisture care to the skin.” Plus, the product name seems to call out to people who are desperately in need of, uhh, help. –raises hand-
Although ceramides are a bit further down the list than one would normally prefer with star ingredients, as I mentioned above, it’s not necessarily needed in huge quantities. What matters more is the overall formulation with the other ingredients.
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, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetyl ethylhexanoate, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) fruit extract, hydrogenated vegetable oil, polyglyceryl-3, methylglucose distearate, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, xanthan gum, ethylhexylglycerin, octyldodecanol, anthemis nobilis flower extract, hydrogenated lecithin, ceramide 3 (or ceramide III/NP), camellia sinensis leaf extract, sophora angustifolia root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, prunus persica (peach) leaf extract, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol, disodium EDTA, phenoxylethanol, fragrance
*Note that these values do not indicate universal truths. 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).
Whew, finally. Let’s talk about why we’re all really here: SHEET MASK.
The cotton mask itself is slightly thicker than I’d like, but that’s probably because I’ve been spoiled by Taiwanese (supposedly) silk sheet masks. Not that cotton masks are bad! Just that I’ve had better. (Heckuva backhanded compliment-giver, huh?) Regardless, the mask is cut to fit pretty well, it’s still somewhat soft, and it’s not uncomfortable. I keep the mask on for about 45 minutes as usual, though the recommendation is 10-15 minutes. Hey, there’s a ton of essence in sheet masks! Ain’t about to waste that!
After removing the mask, my face feels slightly plumper and more moistened, albeit somewhat slick (though not as slick as it did on that 7-day Hawai‘i LuLuLun mask experience). I’ll attribute that to both the ceramides/fatty acids in the mask, and the oiliness of my own dang skin. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not expecting this to magically repair my skin’s barrier in 45 minutes; it’s just a great supplement to add to other ceramide products in my routine. I continue my PM routine starting with Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Lotion, then eventually seal it all in with this Nature Republic Honey & Herb Sleeping Pack I found on sale.
There’s a light but unobtrusive scent. Not sure how to describe it. What do you call that “generic skincare” essence-y scent? Maybe I’ll just call it that: Eau de Generic Skincare.
I purchased this mask for ₩500/~US$0.42. Considering my average spending is about $1~2 per mask, this is totally worth it. These sample masks aren’t available for sale at NatureRepublic.com or retail stores, but you may receive it with purchase. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find on Ebay at about $1-2 each (currently sold out on TesterKorea).
Ceramide products are meant to be used more regularly than just a 1-3 times weekly like sheet masks, and the average skincare enthusiast shouldn’t need to budget for a daily ceramide-rich mask like this to repair his/her skin’s protective barrier and re-balance the acid mantle. But that’s not necessarily what this is intended for; this is simply a great supplement to a routine that already includes ceramides. It’s also supposed to convince me to buy the full-sized Help Ceramide creams, I guess. Heh.
Overall, this mask was not spectacular alone, but it’s perfectly fine for its intended purpose. I would try it again if I find it as a sample or cheap add-on item, but for me, it’s nothing worth going out of my way to buy for more than a buck or two. At that point, I’d rather try other higher-quality masks.
Overall Rating: 3 / 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.
How are your skin barriers doin’? What are your experiences with sample sheet masks? ☺ Or perhaps you are…