Sheet Masks vs. Rinse-Off Face Masks: Which One Is Better?

Make your next self-care moment less confusing.

Sheet Masks vs. Rinse-Off Face Masks: Which Is Better?

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There's no right or wrong way to indulge in a moment of self-care, but a face mask is arguably the best option. Not only does it force you to take 10-20 minutes of your day to just chill, your skin also benefits from the relaxation, whether you need a boost of hydration or your pores need unclogging.

However, deciding to do a mask isn't the only choice to make. Then you have to pick what kind of mask you want to do. While personal preference is a big factor in picking between a sheet mask and a rinse-off face mask, they're not one and the same in terms of results.

So should you use a sheet mask or a rinse-off face mask? Two top dermatologists break down the differences between the two products.

What Are Sheet Masks?

Sheet masks are typically single-use products made from fibers, cotton, or cellulose cloth that have cut-outs for the eyes, nose, and mouth. They're a staple in Korean skincare, but now they're popular around the world.

Sheet masks can offer a range of benefits, from brightening to hydrating. What each one does will vary based on what skincare ingredients have been infused with.

"They can be saturated in a number of ingredients including collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, glycolic acid, etc.," says Dr. Karan Lal, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey. "Sheet masks are made to sit on top of the skin in efforts of improving penetration of ingredients. They usually have higher concentrations of various ingredients as they are meant to be placed on the skin for short periods of time."

How Do You Use Sheet Masks?

The big draw of sheet masks is that they're express skincare treatments. The reason they're infused with higher concentrations of active ingredients is so that they only need to be left on for a short period of time.

Sheet masks can be used during your morning or nighttime skincare routine, and are best applied on clean skin followed by moisturizer. As for how often to use a sheet mask, Dr. Avnee Shah, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Verona, NJ, says to think of them as an "adjunct to your regular skin care routine, as they do not replace any specific part of a typical skincare routine."

While sheet masks are safe to use daily, Dr. Shah recommends using them once or twice a week. If you're getting ready to attend a big event, the dermatologist says you can up use to every day for a week or two leading up to it.

Sheet masks are safe for all skin types, but consider whether you have sensitivities to any active ingredients or fragrance when choosing which one to use. "While they are safe for all skin types I would be cautious as many have fragrance," Dr. Lal says. "Even if you don’t smell anything it may still have a fragrance to mask other fragrances. If you have eczema-prone skin, I would stay away from sheet masks."

What Are Rinse-Off Face Masks?

Like sheet masks, rinse-off face masks are also express skincare treatments. In lieu of high concentrations of active ingredients, these masks typically contain thicker base ingredients like clay, charcoal, or cream. Dr. Lal says these masks are usually left on for 15-20 minutes and then washed off with lukewarm water.

Rinse-off face masks also offer a range of benefits that vary based on their ingredients. "They can have a variety of benefits depending on the ingredients, for example: They can brighten and exfoliate with glycolic acid or be deeply cleansing with clay," Dr. Shah shares.

How Do You Use Rinse-Off Face Masks?

Because many rinse-off face masks are intended to absorb excess oil from the skin, they're best used once or twice a week to prevent excessive dryness.

It's also wise to consider your skin type before reaching for a face mask. "They are usually reserved for people with oily or combination skin," Dr. Lal says. "Those with dry skin types may get irritation from rinse-off masks."

How Choose Between a Sheet Mask or a Rinse-Off Face Mask?

When deciding between a sheet mask or rinse-off face mask for your moment of self-care, there are a few factors to consider. First, consider your end result: if you're looking for a boost of hydration, a sheet mask will be your best bet, whereas if you're concerned about clogged pores, a rinse-off face mask will be the better option.

It's also important to be practical with your choice: Do you have time to sit and let the mask marinate for 20 minutes, or do you need a quick treatment that you can do on the go? "Sheet masks work quickly and provide more immediate, but usually temporary, results, while wash-off masks may show changes occur over time and can last longer," Dr. Shah says of the difference in the ingredients.

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