Since bursting onto the beauty scene a few years ago, single-use sheet masks have become a popular addition to our beauty regimes. Often exports from Korea and Japan, their promise of making your skin more radiant, hydrated and smoother in a matter of minutes makes them an especially addictive end-of-the-week refresh or complexion-boost before a big night-out.
In the quest for better skin, you may have left your sheet mask on for as long as possible, thinking that this would boost its benefits, or simply worn one until you've got the perfect Instagram shot.
As Allure recently discovered though, that could be a path to a worse complexion, rather than an improved one.
While you might suppose that letting your sheet mask dry on your face allows you to utilize all the benefits of its nourishing ingredients, celebrity facialist Sarah Chapman reveals that it actually has the opposite effect:
"Adhering to the time recommendations of any type of sheet mask is very important because the benefits only apply while the mask is still wet. When the mask dries out it will actually begin to draw moisture and vitamins away from the skin, rather than to nourish or hydrate it as intended."
Shari Marchbein, a dermatologist interviewed by Allure, explained this further. "Letting a sheet mask dry on your face, or even just leaving the mask on longer than recommended, can allow even seemingly innocuous ingredients to dry and irritate."
The worst culprits? Ingredients such as charcoal, tea tree oil, plant extracts and acids, Allure revealed.
So, how do you know if your sheet mask habit has gone wrong?
"Dryness, tightness, and itchiness may be a sign that the skin's natural skin barrier has been compromised and, stripped of its natural protective oils," Chapman continues. "This can make your skin more prone to acne and irritation."
Luckily there's an easy way to continue your love affair with sheet masks without going cold turkey. Simply, "read the ingredients of a mask before you apply it," advises Chapman, and only leave the sheet mask on for that length of time, which is normally around fifteen to twenty minutes.
Dr. Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55 and author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin, agrees saying: "I would recommend using sheet masks only once weekly to avoid skin irritation and break sure to remove the mask while it's still damp with essence too and also make sure you don't fall asleep while wearing your mask!"
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.