Thursday, May 22, 2014

Slippery and Scary: Review of Freeman paper masks

Disclosure: This post contains no affiliate links.
I've never been particularly excited about sheet masks, because I don't really get the point. Why not just apply the serum/moisturizer directly to my face? I guess the idea is that it won't dry up/absorb as quickly, so you can let it sit in its wet state on your skin longer, in order to . . . do something. Absorb more, I guess? But I got three of Freeman's paper masks a while back in an Ipsy bag, and I thought I'd review them here, because (1) I love Freeman's Avocado and Oatmeal Clay Mask, and (2) they're pretty damned cheap at $2 a piece.

The three I got were the Feeling Beautiful Rose Brightening Facial Paper Mask, the Feeling Beautiful Blue Agave Hydrating Facial Paper Mask, and the Feeling Beautiful Star Fruit Purifying Facial Paper Mask. I tested them, in that order, over the course of several weeks.

The ingredients in these masks are actually not bad. The Rose mask has niacinamide as the second ingredient in the list, after water, and also contains AHAs. The Star Fruit mask also contains lots of niacinamide, but it has a significant amount of witch hazel as well, which is not great. The Blue Agave one has glycerin, aloe, allantoin, and hyaluronic acid, which are all good for moisturizing. I just wish that Freeman was selling these things as little bottles of serum instead, because the masks are really fucking annoying to use. They do have one really valuable function, however: terrifying any people you happen to live with.

No review of a sheet mask is complete without a horrific photo
No review of a sheet mask is complete without a horrific photo.
The photo above is of the Rose mask, which is the first one I tried. I had the same problems with all three masks, which are the identical size and shape: the eye holes were way too fucking close together. I don't actually have a gigantic face and my eyes are, in fact, a bit more close-set than average (judging from my glasses-shopping experiences). The nose and mouth hole placements are fine, as is the overall width of the mask, so I think it's just poorly designed. The eye holes should be wider. It seems like it was designed for a cartoon. Putting one of these masks on my face seriously impedes my range of vision, as well as locating the mask's fluid uncomfortably close to my eyes. You can actually see in the photo about that my eyes are tearing up a little. That might just have been from the evaporation of the stuff on the mask, but it probably would have been less of an issue if the mask wasn't partially covering them. My eyes were definitely stinging. I also a little worried that the liquid would run into my eyes, though I don't think that actually happened.

And that brings us to the second problem with the masks: they're way too fucking wet. I recommend opening these over a sink, because they will drip all over the damn place. The slippery wetness also makes them very difficult to unfold and place properly on your face. They feel extremely soppy and gross once you've got them on. I couldn't really keep my face properly upright without the mask slipping, but I also didn't want to lie down in case that caused some of the goo to drip into my eyes. The slimy feeling of these masks sliding around my face was too much for me, I'm afraid, and so I only kept the first two on for 3-5 minutes total, instead of the recommended 5-15. (I also find wearing damp clothing horribly uncomfortable, so this might just be something I am particularly sensitive to - but not all sheet masks are this soggy.) After removing the mask, you're supposed to rub the remaining liquid into your skin and not rinse it off.

After taking off the Rose Brightening mask, my skin felt a little dry and sensitive. That might have been the result of the AHA exfoliation that it promises. My skin also felt kind of hot while the mask was on it, which might have been mild irritation from the AHAs, though usually I don't have that experience. It had a fairly strong rose scent, but it was pleasant. After removing the mask and letting the remaining serum dry, my skin texture felt somewhat soft and smooth, but I'm not sure that there was any meaningful improvement in its texture or appearance. Perhaps if I had left the mask on longer.

The Blue Agave Hydrating had several similar properties: it also stung eyes my eyes, and this one burned a little on the skin around my nostrils as well. It was equally slimy, and so I only managed hold out maybe 3 minutes with it on my face. The scent wasn't as intense as the other masks'. It left lots of liquid on my face that took a while to dry, and when it did, my skin felt sticky, but it looked nice - fresh, somehow. After about half an hour, however, my face felt a little tight and not particularly moisturized or soothed.

I think that the Star Fruit Purifying mask, which is intended to help with breakouts and irritation, was the soggiest of them all. I had pretty much given up on using these properly at this point and just spread the mask over my skin to distribute the serum, and then removed it immediately and massaged the liquid in. Once it dried, my skin felt very sticky and fairly tight and uncomfortable. I ended up applying moisturizer over top of it, and even that didn't help with the stickiness. Blech. I also didn't like the scent of this one, which was like a strong, artificial mango fragrance.

Though the ingredients of the Rose and Blue Agave masks are promising, the design of these products make them a huge pain in the ass to actually use, so I don't think they're worth it. Just use some goddamned serum or moisturizer with similar ingredients - I guarantee that unless it is ridiculously expensive, one application will cost less than the $2 you would pay for one of these masks. If you really want to treat yourself, you can just pile a shitload of the product on your face and let it soak in for 15 minutes, if you think that will make some sort of difference. Listen to some Enya.

If you are absolutely determined to try one of these masks for the novelty factor or whatever, I'd recommend the Blue Agave, since its fragrance was the least obnoxious, and it left my skin feeling nicest. The Rose one is second-best, but be sure to use sunscreen for several days after you use it, because AHAs can increase photosensitivity. I'd just avoid the Star Fruit mask all together, with its stench and irritating ingredients.


  1. hahaha! I'm sorry you had such trouble with these pesky masks, but this was an entertaining post to read. The photo is also pretty terrifying. I've never tried a sheet mask, and after this review, I probably never will! The only mask I've tried that I think makes my skin better instead of worse is the Origins uhh.... which one is it again... Drink Up 10-Minute Mask, which I'd actually recommend leaving on for 30-40 minutes.

    1. It was hard to keep my eyes wide open to take the photo because they were stinging!

  2. I used the Star Fruit mask and it gave me redness and irritation. Hooray! But speaking as someone who does actually like sheet masks a lot, I'd agree that these are a skip. They're oddly-shaped and just not very good, alas.

    1. Ugh, I'm glad I didn't keep it on longer then. Yes, I don't think these are the right ones to win me over!

  3. I started using sheet masks after reading an article about Korean beauty and how they are a staple of any Korean beauty routine. However, because I am cheap, I bought a pack of compressed dry face masks and a bottle of Korean facial conditioner and just make my own. All you do is squirt some conditioner on the face mask, scrunch it up a bit to distribute evenly, then put it on your face. It also lets you decide how wet you want your mask to be :)


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