I don’t set aside enough time for ‘self-care’ at all, but after a stressful week at work and lots of deadlines it was time to get out a face-mask, some journal writing and some good music. My go-to face mask when I do make the time to chill out is always a peel-off mask of some sort that hardens like cling film and peels off relatively stress free (most of the time), but having received the Soap and Glory sheet mask in a gift bundle I was keen to see why sheet masks are rising in popularity. I have very dry skin, even during spring and summer when skin is supposed to be oilier, my skin is always incredibly dry despite the amount of face cream and cleanser that I apply. A face mask at least once a month is always necessary to put life back in to my dried out skin so that it doesn’t look like my make-up is falling off after an hour of applying it.
I started by following the instructions on the back of the pack, cleaned my face with some cleansing wet-wipes and peeled back the foil on the packet. My first impression was that the extreme citrus smell hitting me as soon as the packet was open was unbearable, the thought of my face smelling the same way was not reassuring. But the fact that the packet informed me that it’s full of vitamin C I persevered in the hope that the results would be worth the smell. The next stage was to retrieve the mask and ‘gently unfold’ it; retrieving the mask was a task in itself, I am completely comfortable with fetching the liquid from a peel-off mask packet to apply, but putting my hand in what felt like a packet of juice to retrieve a soaking cloth mask is my idea of sensory-hell. By this point my coping was low, the smell was too strong for a mask and fetching the mask was not pleasant. Unfolding it proved to be tricky, I was being very gentle (and getting the gel everywhere – do this in a bathroom preferably), delicately unfolding the mask, and yet the cloth was already starting to tear at the edges of the eye slots.
I just about got through the process of getting the mask out (genuinely wondering if this is as horrific for neuro-typicals because how is this relaxing for anyone!?) and was left with what I can only describe as a Mike Myers mask. The mask creeped me out, to the point where I had to get it on my face as fast as I could so I didn’t have to look at it anymore. After getting it on my face my anxiety levels shot up instantly, suddenly the overwhelming smell was not only even stronger and making me feel nauseous, it was causing a tingling sensation all over my face, to the point where some parts felt like they were burning slightly. I was also feeling very claustrophobic from having a piece of cloth over my face, despite having plenty of space for breathing my instinct was to panic as though it was going to suffocate me. Despite smoothing it over my face, as instructed, the mask sat awkwardly on my face, because I don’t imagine anyone has a face as perfectly round as this mask is. The gel/liquid was dripping from the cloth on to my eyes and mouth, an incredibly unpleasant experience. Honestly, this was a task to relax and unwind from a stressful week, instead I felt like I’d just put myself through a sensory endurance test.
I left the mask on for 20 minutes (packet says 15-20, I chose the upper limit because my skin was so dry and neglected), and after quickly peeling it off to end the horrible experience I was expecting to have some gel to gently dab off my face (according to the packet), but instead was left with most of the gel still covering my face to the point where I had to use a towel to remove it rather than the recommended cotton pads. I loved how soft my skin was at first (dried out again pretty quick, 5 minutes approx.) and how nourished it looks (no dry-skin patched and improvement of skin creases, even after my skin no longer felt soft) but the smell lingered and as it dried out I have to admit the smell started to remind of sweat, not the effect I wanted for my face.
Verdict: Will never use this or another sheet mask again. I imagine other sheet masks would be less intense smell and feel wise but the concept of an eerie looking mask soaked in juice that is dripping everywhere and is unlikely to fit anybody’s face right just doesn’t appeal to me. The only relaxation I got was from listening to Shawn Mendes to cope with the experience.