The best sustainable sheet masks for your skin and the environment

The ones to watch for 2020

Words by Ella Yuill

There’s no denying the power of the best sheet masks. After a long day at the office, during a long-haul flight or even just on a Sunday afternoon, there’s something that feels undeniably luxurious about carefully lining up your features with the allocated spaces for eyes, mouth and nose, smoothing into place, and then relaxing whilst the mask does all the hard work for you.

Despite their ability to pack a punch of moisture, soothe irritated complexions and provide anti-ageing benefits, sheet masks are one of the latest beauty products to be called out for their potentially negative impact on the environment. With the majority of masks being single-use, some have likened the beloved sheet mask to plastic straws.

Traditionally, many sheet masks are made up of a combination of synthetic materials (think polyester, nylon and plastic) that cannot be recycled or completely composted and will most likely end up in landfill – where they won’t benefit our skin or our ecosystem.

However, in recent years, the use of eco-friendly biocellulose, a hydrogel made from synthetic polymers, has meant that our Netflix-and-pamper nights could be free from plastic when it comes to the mask on our face.

‘Many sheet masks on the market are cotton or paper, which can dry out on the skin after a few minutes,’ Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8, tells us. ‘We harnessed the power of bio-cellulose in our Ultimate Recovery Bio-Cellulose Mask, an extraordinary material which absorbs many times its own weight in water. Bio-cellulose is a biodegradable natural fibre obtained from the fermentation of coconut water. The tiny bio-cellulose fibres form a veil so fine it is able to fit into contours and fine lines to ensure optimal hydration levels where you really need it.

But just like all those shows on Netflix, not all sustainable sheet masks are created equal. Those masks that, when removed, leave a thick shiny residue on the skin might feel good, but, if containing silicones, the sticky film left on the back of the sheet mask may contradict its ‘biodegradable’ status.

‘Silicones are generally not biodegradable, and thus theoretically a high concentration of silicone in a sheet mask formulation may coat the outside of the bio-cellulose and prevent it or impair it from degrading,’ explains Daniel.

‘The good news is that the Ultimate Recovery Bio-Cellulose Mask does not contain silicones, and will readily biodegrade after use. The mask is also housed in a recyclable sachet, to minimise our impact on the environment.’

To save you the trouble, we’ve listed our favourite, more environmentally friendly sheet masks below. This way, we can all still indulge in a little pamper without fretting about the external damage too much.

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