Beautiful Skin with Korean Facial Masks
Don’t be scared, it isn’t a patient escaped from a plastic surgery clinic… It’s a Korean facial mask! Found in Korean women’s beauty arsenal along with the famous BB Cream, facial masks are an easy and practical way to pamper your skin.
These facial masks, or face packs, are very popular in Korea and can literally be found everywhere, from the cheap corner store to the fancy department store. They basically are one-time disposable paper cloth masks, saturated with different types of serums. Part of each Korean woman’s skincare routine and used 2-3 times a week and available for any imaginable skin concern. These paper masks are also popular in Japan, but their Korean counterparts are a lot cheaper and hence preferred by foreign markets.
Korean cosmetics are increasingly in demand abroad, especially in China and South East Asia where Korean brands are slowly opening their own stores, such as Etude House and The Face Shop. Facial masks have the advantage of being easy to export, low priced, fun to use and are a great introduction to a brand or range of products.
Prices range from 1,000 Won ($1) for basic brands, Nature Republic, to 15,000 Won ($15) for luxury brands, Amore Pacific. The differences from cheap to expansive range from the quality of the serum to the material used for the mask. Most masks are made of thin paper while more elaborate ones contain bamboo fibers making them softer and more elastic.
The cut of the mask will also make it easier to apply and keep on. Some masks are cut loose and are harder to put on, while ones of better quality have “tension fit” where the fabric can be stretched to perfectly fit the face’s contours. Some brands have come-up with 3D face masks which are basically bigger, extend onto the neck and fit better over the face.
There are usually two main styles of serums used: natural, with fruit extracts, or more clinical, with vitamins and acids. The high-end brands like O Hui or Sulwhasoo only offer a few different ones, usually in a pack of 6 to 10 masks. Whereas more commercial brands like Missha and Skin Food have a very large selection to choose from.
My favorites are Etude House Essence Mask Hyaluronic Acid, 2,000 Won ($2), and Su:m 37 Water-full Deep Hydration Mask, 70,000 Won for 6 masks ($70). The first one is perfect to refresh before a night-out or to relax in the evening, while the second one really leaves skin supple and soft when I want to indulge. Mess-free, facial packs are practical for travel and I like putting one one before dosing-off on long-flights.
Similar types of masks are already available at cosmetic shops and pharmacies in Western countries, but they didn’t pick-up. Now just like BB Creams, Korean face masks have become a trademark of the Korean cosmetics abroad. Collagen, pearl concentrate, fermented rice masks… all these can seem strange to Western consumers, but at $3 to $5 women from around the world enjoy trying them-out and typically become fans of the product and its brand.
So sit back, put on your face mask, admire how funny you look like in the mirror, turn on TV and watch your favorite Korean drama!