It's the beauty world's latest obsession - and even if you've never heard of it, you've probably purchased a beauty product that's been inspired by it.
So, what's the trend? K-beauty or Korean skincare and make-up.
Blame it on a backlash against the Kardashians (and their love of heavy make-up and contouring). Or the fact that Korea created many of the most innovative beauty developments in recent years (BB creams, sheet masks and cushion compacts all hail from there.)
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that the Western world has finally caught up to the fact that Korean women have gorgeous, dewy skin - and we want in.
Korean skincare is famously rigorous, with many Korean women following a nightly 10-step beauty routine. Yep, 10 steps.
I'm not game to attempt 10 steps every night - but I was tempted to try a Korean face mask.
If the Internet is to be believed, Korean face masks are here to solve all your skin problems. Dry skin? They’ve got your back. Blackheads? Wave them goodbye. Complexion looking a bit… dull? You’re in luck, Korean face masks can fix that too!
We put three masks to the test: 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask, Caolion Premium Hot & Cool Pore Pack Duo and Dr Jart+ v7 Toning Mask Ultra-Fine Real White Sheet Mask.
MASK 1 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask
To be honest, I am guilty of skipping face masks because they feel too time consuming. While I often plan to pamper my skin on a Sunday evening, sleep usually wins out instead. However this isn’t an issue with the 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask because the mask works its magic while you’re sleeping!
Step 1: Apply the mask.
The cream glides onto your skin like a moisturiser, albeit a thick one. It’s non-sticky formula spreads smoothly and after a while, doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all.
Step 2: Sleep
This is undoubtedly the best part of the process.
Step 3: Wake up and wash off
Voila! After using the 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask, my skin felt like a dream. It was smooth, soft and well moisturised. This product also has whitening and ant-wrinkle capabilities which become more apparent over time.
You can buy the 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask here.
MASK 2 Caolion Premium Hot & Cool Pore Pack Duo
The Caolion Premium Hot & Cool Pore Pack Duo is broken up into two parts: a steaming mask and a cooling mask.
First off the bat is the hot Premium Blackhead Steam Pore Pack. Now is probably a good time to point out that reading the packaging before use is always a good idea. I failed to do so and thought the heating sensation was my skin reacting to the formula. However, that mild tingling sensation is just the mask doing its job.
The hot Premium Blackhead Steam Pore Pack is an exfoliating scrub that cleans pores using a grain powder. It’s made using a charcoal powder, which extracts excess sebum and unclogs pores. For best results, massage the mask onto clean skin, wait 5 – 10 minutes and rinse off using cold water. Yes, your skin will feel hot but that’s okay.
Once your pores have been thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to tighten them using the cool Premium Pore Original Pack. This mask promises to sooth the skin using a mixture of Alaskan glacial water and menthol.
Simply apply the product to dry, clean skin and leave on for 10 – 15 minutes. Within the first minute or so, you will become *very* aware that the product contains menthol. It will make your eyes water. You may even look like you're crying. While it isn’t necessary uncomfortable, it is an unusual sensation.
After washing the cooling Premium Pore Original product off, my skin felt amazing. The product did exactly what it promised: it removed dead skin cells, reduced the appearance of pores and made my skin feel revitalised. It’s a big tick from me.
You can buy the pore refining duo here.
MASK 3: Dr Jart+ v7 Toning Mask Ultra-Fine Real White Sheet Mask
At the forefront of the Korean skincare trend are sheet masks. In fact, they’re so popular, they’ve even got their own hashtag: #sheetmask. Type #sheetmask into Instagram and you’ll be confronted with thousands of ghostly women staring back at you.
The Dr Jart+ v7 Toning Mask Ultra-Fine Real White Sheet Mask promises to brighten and clear uneven skin tone using a seven vitamin complex (Vitamin A, B3, B5, C, E, F, H), along with β-Glucan and Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid to regenerate skin.
Buyers beware: this mask should only be used in the comfort of your own home. And while you’re at it, don’t even think about answering your front door within the designated 10 - 15 minute time frame. Why? Well, once applied to your face, the mask will make you look downright creepy.
For best results, simply cleanse and apply to skin, adjusting the around the eyes and mouth. Discard the film liner and wait 10 – 20 minutes while the ingredients work their magic, taking care not to bump into anyone you know. Once the time is up, you can remove the mask and pat down the remaining serum until fully absorbed.
After one use, the Dr Jart+ v7 Toning Mask Ultra-Fine Real White Sheet Mask made my skin feel great. However, to truly achieve a brighter and clearer skin tone, it would require repeated use.
You can buy the Dr Jart+ sheet mask here.
The Caolion Premium Hot & Cool Pore Pack Duo mask is the overall winner. However, an honourable mention goes to the 3CE White Milk Sleeping Mask for an easy, overnight moisture hit. Finally, the Dr Jart+ v7 Toning Mask Ultra-Fine Real White Sheet Mask is best for scaring your friends.