Whether it’s a Friday night in with friends, an evening off work or date night with your partner, sheet face masks have become the ultimate self-care accessory.
This comforting ritual has gained alarming popularity over the past five years, touted as a way to deliver super-potent serums quickly and directly to your skin. It also doesn’t hurt that they are fun to use (I’ll confess to buying masks simply because they had puppies printed on them). But on the other side of this relaxing activity is the fact that single-use sheet masks are enormously wasteful. In fact, it’s estimated that globally one million are thrown away every day.
Most are made from synthetic fibres, cotton, cellulose or coconut pulp, and they are often soaked in a serum that renders them impossible to compost or recycle even if they are made from natural materials. They also come wrapped in plastic, which means virtually all the materials used end up in the bin.
Faced with this problem, two major retailers have decided to ban the sale of the single-use beauty craze. Leading UK health and wellbeing store Holland & Barrett is the latest to announce it will no longer sell sheet masks online or throughout its 1,300 international stores. Holland & Barrett’s beauty trading director, Joanne Cooke, said in a statement: “We know our customers are eco-conscious and passionate about protecting the environment and we hope this move makes it a little bit easier for them to make their beauty regimes more sustainable.” US clean beauty retailer Credo also banned the sale of them last year, and it’s expected other international brands will soon follow suit.
While that news might prematurely send you into panic, a relaxing session with a reviving beauty mask doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. Several brands, including The Base Collective, have created a reusable version made of silicone. These masks are designed to be worn on top of your skincare products and then washed, stored away and reused infinitely. While silicone is still a byproduct of the petroleum industry, it’s a better (though not perfect) alternative to single-use face masks.
“We have been asked continuously for years now to bring out a sheet mask due to their sales potential but it just didn’t fit with our clean, green, safe ethos,” says The Base Collective co-founder Cassie Sanghvi. “Our reusable ultra infusion mask not only solves this issue but also enhances the absorption of your skincare so we are proud and excited of the solution it brings to the industry.”
The advanced silicone technology can make your already established night-time routine more effective, as it essentially intensifies the properties of skincare products. When we put moisturisers and serums on our face, most of the water evaporates during application. But the sheet mask adds an occlusive layer on top to lock the product in and make it work harder (without you spending any more money).
Although the silicone mask might make you look like you’re wearing a thin slice of ham on your face, it’s a “chemically inert” material meaning you won’t have potential reactions to active ingredients. In other words, you can wear it on top of any skincare product safely and without adverse reactions. Plus, because it’s non-porous it’s incredibly easy to clean, so if you’ve had a run-in with acne there’s no need to fret.
I don’t know about you, but I’m officially convinced there’s no need to buy single-use sheet masks again. Jump onto the reusable skincare bandwagon with me.
The RIISE team are huge fans of Foile and its cruelty-free products, sold in refillable, custom-designed (and very cool) glass bottles. The Skin Sponge Serum contains a combination of sodium hyaluronate and B5, with added kelp, horseradish root and cucumber oil for hydration.
Featuring Bidens pilosa, an alternative to retinol, this evening oil promises to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after only 28 days. It’s certified cruelty-free and suitable for sensitive skin; we also love that REN’s packaging is made from recycled plastic, and this product’s glass bottle can be recycled after use.
Fluff is another refillable beauty brand we adore (whose products you’ll find in just about every RIISE staff member’s handbag or bathroom cabinet). While it’s best to choose an oil based on your complexion and skin needs, we’ve had a few rave reviews about #3, a targeted blend for breakouts, pigmentation, lines and scarring. Nourishing ingredients include hempseed oil, frankincense and bakuchiol.
Lesse’s calming and detoxifying Ritual Serum is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Cruelty-free and elevated by bio-actives, this serum reduces redness and inflammation, is hydrating and, with ongoing use, can help fade hyperpigmentation. Lesse is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2024 and this product is recyclable.
This fast-absorbing face oil is packed with super berry antioxidants to leave skin hydrated and glowing. Prickly pear and squalane oil lock in moisture with the help of omega fatty acids and vitamin C. It’s made with 100 per cent vegan ingredients and sold in recyclable packaging.