My Summer of Cult Classic Korean Face Masks


Something about having adult acne and wrinkles rubs me the wrong way.

Not only is it profoundly unjust to be burdened with acne and wrinkles simultaneously, but the sprinkling of new freckles (age spots) on my forehead and cheeks really does nothing to ease my transition into… into… whatever it is I am transitioning into at age 42. An old lady? An elephant? This time of change has not been good for my ego. Between my recent development of light, downy micro-hairs on my cheeks, to my persistent solitary chin hair, my face is not looking particularly fresh. My youthful, dewy glow? Is nothing but artfully applied makeup and flop sweat.  

Like any rational woman with zero chill, I set forth to conquer my skin defects with no reservations and lots of face masks. LOTS. 

I ordered all the Korean face masks available on Amazon and set off on a journey of skin renewal and beautification. Korean skin care has reached cult status in the US, and nothing I tried was particularly expensive. This was a fun and stress-free diversion from having my child home with me 24/7 all summer. In no particular order, here are the face masks I tried. Use them at your own risk…

Cult Korean face masks1. The Black Mask

This face mask is the most well-known of the bunch, and also the most painful. I’ve tried several different brands by this point, and find them all to be nearly identical. This mask requires you to spread a layer of black goo over your face. It is ESSENTIAL that you do NOT get this mask in your hair, close to the sensitive skin of your eyes, or anywhere particularly delicate. It is a peel-off mask, and it will remove every last bit of downy hair from your cheeks. Win/win? OW!!! The black mask hurts a lot. But… I love it. That said, there are many compelling reasons why it might not be a great idea to peel off all your skin and baby hairs. 

Black face mask, before and afterThis mask is so amazing that it even made my neck wrinkles look smoother. 

2. The Snail Jelly Mask

Honestly, the name should have warned me. But, when I purchased this mask, I was really into snails, having accidentally started breeding my own when my diligent tank cleaners started spending a little too much time doing adult activities in broad daylight, and I ended up with a tankful of cute, tiny, yellow cannibals who promptly devoured their parents and set to growing at a pace that honestly terrifies me. 

This face mask was cold, clammy disappointment. 

It was nothing at all like my beautiful and ferocious pets. The particular snail jelly mask that I purchased (believe it or not, snail exudate is a skin care thing now) is snail slime impregnated on a towel that you place on your clean face. To be fair, I believe this is a moisturizing mask and I have no need for moisture in the summer months when my face sweats visibly all the time. The snail jelly mask made me feel slimy and icky, and I noticed no change in my skin. I will try it again during the winter, to see if it really is a dud, as I suspect. If it is not a dud, I will immediately motivate my pet snails into producing more slime, for science and profit. It’s high time my hungry cannibals earn their keep!

3. The Blackhead Steam Balm

This mask got hot when I rubbed it on. That was super cool. And it came in an egg-shaped container that I found pleasing. That’s it. I have nothing more to add about this mask because it didn’t do anything. (Sad face!) But it was very entertaining to use. 

4. The Carbonated Clay Bubble Mask

This mask was so much fun! Moments after applying a smooth paste, it starts foaming and turns into glorious bubbles all over your face. I loved it because it was delightful, but again, I didn’t see a dramatic difference in my skin after using it. 

Carbonated clay bubbling face maskI almost don’t care; this mask was so entertaining and surprising that I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. It might not do anything dramatic to your skin, but when you’ve spent endless unstructured time with your child (or children) during the summer, this is basically the facial equivalent of a glass of prosecco. Enjoy it, but not too much, and not too frequently.

5. The Magnetic Mask

This product was clearly designed with me in mind. 

You apply this mask with a tiny spatula. As you spread it, your face gets hot. And stays hot for several minutes. After the mask has been on for about 10 minutes, the real fun begins. The mask kit comes with a Parcheesi-shaped and sized magnet. You wrap the magnet in tissue (or a baby wipe, or whatever) and hover it just above your skin. The AMAZING magnetic mask comes off your skin and onto the covered magnet, leaving your skin covered with a layer of clear goo. You are supposed to rub this goo into your skin and then rinse with water. 

This mask was truly the most fun, surprising, sciency, and unique face mask I’ve ever tried. I am happy with the process and the results. 

My summer of Korean face masks really did seem to improve the overall quality of my skin. While some of the face masks were less than thrilling, none of them left me damaged in any way. I will continue along on my skincare journey, shocking my child when she barges in on me in the bathroom mid-mask and moving ever forward on my quest for beautiful skin. 



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