I have been a big fan of Korean Beauty for a long long time. The skincare market over there is years ahead of western markets, so I’m always excited to see what new and innovative products they come up with. One of, if not the, most popular sheet mask brand in Korea is MEDIHEAL and it is finally available for consumers here in the states. This brand blew up after they collaborated with international pop supergroup BTS, who are big fans of their masks. One look at the complexion of the BTS boys was enough for me to hit “add to cart!”
I tried three of the MEDIHEAL masks, and here are my thoughts.
N.M.F Intensive Hydrating Mask
NMF stands for Natural Moisturizing Factor! In our skin, NMFs are a chemical protective developed by epidermis in order to keep the outermost layer of the skin hydrated. When our skin is healthy, it contains about 20-30% NMF. NMFs keep skin from losing water, maintaining skin’s young, smooth, non-flaky appearance. In fact, a 2000 study by Sakai et al. cited by Paula Begoun, “the Cosmetics Cop,” found that a decrease in the lipid and NMF content of the skin leads to surface roughness, flaking, fine lines, and a tight, uncomfortable feeling. Within the skin, biologically-formed NMFs are made of amino acids and their metabolites and are found exclusively inside the cells of the uppermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum). Natural NMFs maintain moisture in the skin, even under low humidity, and provide an optimal environment for enzymatic functions (Baumann). As we age, however, NMF production decreases and our skin begins to dry. When this occurs, you can use synthetic NMFs like hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate to replenish the skin.
The N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Mask from MEDIHEAL uses my favorite NMF (sodium hyaluronate) for hydration. The mask is made of cotton which is inexpensive but unfortunately, also has a limited capacity to deliver ingredients into the skin, as it does not bind to the contours of the face well, and, well, quite frankly, it’s hard to move in them. All that being said, I left this on for 15 minutes (as directed) and my skin did feel more supple and hydrated. I don’t think that sheet masks should replace regular use of a hyaluronic acid serum and moisturizer but they make a great mid-week pick-me-up.
Collagen Essential Lifting and Firming Mask
The second mask I tried from MEDIHEAL is the Collagen Essential Lifting and Firming mask. Companies have tried putting collagen in topical products, but most of them merely hydrate because the molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. Some companies have also tried putting collagen into drinkable products, but the studies are very limited and company-sponsored. The only studies that exist about whether a hydrolyzed collagen supplement improves skin health are industry-sponsored studies done by the Rousselot Healthy Choice company for Peptan™ Hydrolyzed Collagen. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled eight-week study, and in another placebo-controlled 12-week study, researchers found that supplements improved cutaneous hydration and had anti-aging effects (Parmentier). Volunteers also self-reported that their skin was softer, brighter, and had better tone. While this sounds promising, more research needs to be done.
This was another cotton mask, left on for 15 minutes and gave my skin a temporary glow but I did not see any lifting or firming happening. This mask is fine, and for the price, you can’t go wrong, but don’t expect any miracles.
Tea Tree Essential Blemish Control Mask
The final mask I tried from MEDIHEAL was the Tea Tree Essential Blemish Control Mask. Tea tree oil is an acne treatment that has been gaining popularity in recent years as people have shifted to more “clean” and “natural” beauty products. While I am skeptical of the “clean movement,” generally tea tree oil has the science to back up its effectiveness. An Australian study involving 124 subjects showed tea tree oil was just as effective as the most commonly used acne treatment, benzoyl peroxide (The Medical Journal of Australia, 1990). Tea tree oil was found to reduce whiteheads and blackheads with equal efficacy. It was far less damaging to the skin because benzoyl peroxide is widely believed to work by causing oxidation (yes, exactly what antioxidants are designed to fight). Doctors recommend a 5% solution of topical tea tree oil to treat acne, applied once or twice daily. A 5% solution was the strength that was proven effective in positive Australian studies.
This mask works great as a weekly treatment in conjunction with your other acne products or medication. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with acne and breakouts.
Overall I think that these masks make a nice addition to an already established skincare routine. They should be used once a week as a treatment, as opposed to a replacement for other existing products. I would recommend the N.M.F. Intensive Hydrating Mask for those with dry skin and the Tea Tree Essential Blemish Control Mask for those with oily/acne-prone skin. Skip the Collagen Essential Lifting and Firming Mask.