Sheet masks are huge in Asian beauty markets, and they’re finally catching on in the West! Find out how to get in on this trend without breaking your budget.

The first time I used a sheet mask several years ago, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. I was living in Japan at the time, where these unique beauty items have been a beauty staple for years. Sheet masks are thin paper or cotton masks soaked in emulsifying lotions formulated to deliver a wide variety of treatments. They’re often sold individually in simple foil packets, and they’re as common in Asian drugstores and beauty shops as Chapstick and chewing gum are in the United States. Using a sheet mask is as simple as pulling it out of the packet and laying it onto your face, lining up your eyes, nose, and mouth with the mask’s pre-cut openings. Ten to twenty minutes later, you toss aside the mask and revel in your fresh, glowing complexion.

Of course, they do look a little creepy. But I wouldn’t call that a downside! Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the best beauty treatments involve cackling maniacally in front of the mirror and/or terrifying the delivery guy?

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Sheet masks: The perfect look for summer.

I became so addicted to sheet masks while living in Tokyo that staying in supply was one of my top concerns when I moved back to the United States. Luckily for me and you, the West is finally getting hip to this incredible beauty item.  The most widely known sheet mask in the United States at the moment is probably Shiseido’s SK-II facial treatment mask, which has attracted a loyal following among Hollywood celebs and skincare gurus. But while the price of individual high-end sheet masks can run up to $95 and beyond, there’s no need to drain your bank account to get your fix. Asian drugstores abound with more basic varieties of these high-impact moisture treatments available for less than a cup of coffee.

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Pure Smile sheet masks in Rose and Royal Jelly.

Pure Smile brand lotion masks have been my go-to since my days in Japan, where they’re found in nearly every drugstore and beauty shop in the country. Made in Korea and sold individually in cute foil packets, the masks come in a wide variety of formulas and fragrances including aloe, seaweed, rose, and even snail! While not as heavy-duty as the packed-cotton versions like SK-II, Pure Smile masks are surprisingly potent. They promise to boost smoothness and elasticity, and just one fifteen-minute treatment leaves your skin looking noticeably softer and happier. Plus, there’s something strangely satisfying about arranging the wet paper mask on your face. Be sure to utilize the under-eye sections! Once you’re done with the mask, massage the excess lotion into your skin for maximum goodness.

These things are instantly addictive, and that’s okay: For under two dollars a pop, you can afford to pick up the habit. Get Pure Smile masks online through vendors like Imomoko, or look for them wherever Asian beauty products are sold. For extra fun, hunt for the more unusual formulas popular abroad — my favorite is potato!

Do you have a favorite beauty product from abroad? Recommend it in the comments below!

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