Thursday, August 14, 2014

Korean Sheet Masks: Nature Republic Snail Therapy & Charcoal

MOAR sheet masks! Mask sheets! Shask meets! Yay! I know, so much enthusiasm - but they're really fun to try, and even though my skin's been going through a pretty rough patch lately, I still like to pamper it with a soothing, cooling mask once or twice a week. This fortnight, I've been trying two masks from the Korean brand Nature Republic, which focuses on natural ingredients: their Snail Therapy Mask Sheet ($17 for 5 masks on Korea Depart) and the Given by Nature Charcoal Mask Sheet ($6 for 5 masks on Korea Depart).
From what I understand, both of these masks have actually been discontinued, but you can still get them online. The Snail Therapy Mask Sheet has been replaced with the Snail Solution 1,000 Hydrogel Mask Sheet, reviewed by my friend Kar Yi here (the gist of her review is that she enjoyed it, but didn't notice enough results to justify the higher price tag of $6 per mask). So my review is for the older version, but I'm still hoping it can be somewhat useful.
Now, snail mucus filtrate has been one of the most popular ingredients in Korea for a couple years now. The alleged benefits of snail secretion in skincare include moisturization, skin renewal and regeneration, thanks to significant amounts of allantoin, collagen, elastin and glycolic acid in the secretion. I don't really buy into snail slime as a wonder ingredient a whole lot, but still it was nice to try out. The Nature Republic Snail Therapy mask is a generously sized paper mask, saturated in a thick, and dare I say, somewhat slimy essence. I had some issues fitting the mask on my nose, but thanks to the tacky feel of the essence, the mask stuck to my face really well, even when I was moving around the kitchen cooking and doing the dishes (yeah, I like to multitask). The mask felt cooling but a little tingly on my skin, and had a pleasant fresh scent. When I removed it after about 20-30 minutes, my skin looked hydrated and plump, but also quite red and aggravated, and the surface of my skin felt very, very sticky. I tried patting the rest of the essence in, which resulted in my hands also getting very tacky - I've waited for about 15 minutes, hoping for the sticky residue to absorb, but no such luck, so in the end I had to just rinse it off. I wasn't able to reuse this mask, which is just as well; I really didn't care for this one.
The Given By Nature Charcoal Mask is meant to mattify oily skin and balance out moisture levels. The key ingredients in this one are charcoal powder, grapefruit extract, green tea and peach tree leaf extracts. Unfortunately, alcohol is actually listed above all of these lovely natural ingredients, and you know I'm not a fan. In spite of that, I really, really enjoyed this mask. The paper on this was thinner and more see-through but still resilient, and the fit over the eyes/nose area was rather good. The essence itself had very little scent and was a lot thinner and more watery in consistency than all of the other sheet masks I've tried so far. The mask felt very refreshing and cooling on the skin, although once I removed it, my face felt warm; I'm guessing this was caused by the alcohol. After removing the mask, my skin was definitely less red and more even, and my breakouts and scars looked less noticeable. My face felt hydrated and soothed, and the remaining essence absorbed well with little residue and no tacky feeling - a huge plus! I wouldn't say my face looked mattified after using the Charcoal Mask (it still had that moisturized glow from the essence) but overall, I'd say it's a great mask for oily/combination skin, as it feels more lightweight and absorbs better than many other sheet masks.

And there you have it! After my first experience with Nature Republic sheet masks, I'm definitely curious to try a couple more next time I visit their store. Have you tried anything from Nature Republic? If so, what are your favorite products from the brand? I have two more skincare products from them that I'm currently testing - look out for my reviews in the upcoming weeks.

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