Korean face masks: Are they cuteness over quality?

I got a parcel from my friend in Hong Kong. One of the great things about Hong Kong is that they’ve got a whole collection of Korean beauty products, and one of the great things about having a friend in Hong Kong is that I get them. Some of them. I get some of them.

The thing that most people know about Korean products is that they’re cute. The packaging I mean. Each one is designed to be as eye-catching and pretty as possible. They have anime girls prancing around on the cover, or they’re in the shape of a cherry…with anime girls prancing around on top. There’s so much focus on making the packaging look attractive that I think it can actually put buyers off.  The whole style over substance comes to mind. Is that fair though?

Anyway, I got sent these two masks.

Korean face masks

Yeaaaaah, pretty cutesy huh? So I was interested to see if these were just vacuous beauties, or if there was something more to them.

The first one I tried was an egg white and honey mask by the company Labcosmo.

Close up tiiime

Close up tiiime

Aww, isn’t it cute? Want to know what I looked like with the mask on?

Down right adorable that's what.

Down right adorable, that’s what.

When I took the mask out from the packaging my hands were instantly covered in the oily product that coated it. I couldn’t help thinking of cod liver oil. Still, because it was so heavy with the stuff, it stuck to my face easily and I didn’t have to worry about it sliding off. It said on the back that it was supposed to be moisturising (because of the honey I guess), and I really thought that it would do the job.

However, after the recommended fifteen minutes, I took off the mask and my face just felt mildly sticky and actually kind of dry. Honey is great at moisturising the skin, and egg whites are good at firming it up, but this mask did neither of those things.
So style was great but substance was far from egg-cellent (…..I’m so sorry). Disappointing, but I still had another mask left, so I was determined to stay on the sunny side up (okay I’ll see myself out).

Numero dos! The eye patch mask from Tony Moly.

Eye patch mask tony moly

Now I don’t know about you, but when I think about bags under the eyes I always think of hamsters. Especially hamsters that want to be your friend.

image (3)

Sorry, best friend. I also really like the brand Tony Moly, and I feel like they usually have the right balance between design and quality.
Now it said on the back that it would brighten dark under eyes, and honestly, that’s not a problem that I have at the moment. Still, I know that dark circles are one of these things that people are supposed to wake up in the night screaming about, so I can see why it was made.

I was a little concerned when it said it contained ‘whitening hydrogel’ as hydrogels usually contain acids, and although it’s a very weak acid (and is sometimes even used in babies nappies) I didn’t really fancy putting it near my eyes. I also wasn’t too keen on a mask that whitened my skin. I know that in Japan and Korea pale skin is seem as extremely beautiful and there’s lots of skin whitening kits but…just for under my eyes?

I was worried about two things. One, that I’d have an allergic reaction and my eyes would swell shut, and two, that the mask would work too well and I’d spend the next week looking like a panda.

Still, I took the plunge.

Here's proof

Here’s proof

It felt a little tingly while I was wearing it, and I assumed that was the acid in the hydrogel, but it never felt painful or as though I should rip it off. I kept it on for the full 30 minutes, scowling silently when my mum laughed at me (I have very cruel parents), and when I took it off I was surprised to actually see and feel a difference. The skin around my eyes was tauter, smoother, and yes, lighter.

There was actually a feint line like I’d tanned everywhere but my eyes. I’m not too keen on the skin lightening part as I feel I’m probably pale enough, but I loved every other aspect of this mask. I wish it had been a full face mask instead of just for under the eyes as I could really see it making a difference to my skin. Tony Moly wins again, and it definitely makes me want to check out their full face masks.

All in all, I think these two masks show perfectly how some companies have great designs with great products inside them, and how some companies win out only on the cute factor.
So if you see a face mask with a tiny chick on, (making you feel extreme guilt about that omelette you had the other day) think twice before you’re lured in by its ‘kawaii’ appearance. It might all be style and no soul.

And no. I don’t think I’m being dramatic at all.

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3 thoughts on “Korean face masks: Are they cuteness over quality?

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