Beauty clinic: Sheet masks and illuminating primer

Q. Are sheet masks better than those in tubes or jars?

A. It all comes down to ingredients. Sheet masks are novel, Korean-inspired things with the appeal of a spa treatment on-the-go. Each is infused with serum, though materials range from the cotton or non-woven fibers of budget masks to hydrogel and biocellulose for luxury versions.

The serum’s formula is what really determines whether a sheet mask is better than your favourite cream or clay.

This is a fast-growing area of the beauty market and perhaps the number of fine formulas these masks deliver will improve but at the moment there aren’t many I recommend.

Lancer Lift and Plump Sheet Mask, €37.12 at, is great for a quick moisture surge. The formula is fragrance-free and rich in antioxidants and hyaluronic acid.

Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask, €74 for four, is so replete with peptides and nourishing plant oils it seems a shame to dispose of it. Wringing out and patting on every last drop is an idea. A great pair of under-eye patches (or mini-sheets, as they function), are useful for early mornings and generally less expensive.

Masque Bar Eye Puffiness Minimizing Patches, €13.49 at Boots, are soothing and less congestive than using a cream mask on this delicate area. If you suffer from problem skin, whether extreme dryness or acne, it is best to stick to tube masks.

Dry skin treatments can usually be worn overnight to maximise results and a sheet will likely slip off while you sleep. A clay-based mask like Lab Series Urban Blue Detox Mask, €37, which soaks up shine and temporarily shrinks pores, is best patted directly (and relatively thickly) onto the skin.

Q. Can you recommend an illuminating primer that won’t highlight dry patches?

A. In The Glass Castle, Jeannette Wells’ reminiscences of a rackety childhood spent moving around the American Southwest, the author recalls how she and her siblings “discovered large sheets of mica that you could pound into powder and then rub all over your body so you’d shimmer under the Nevada sun as if you were coated with diamonds.”

The stuff is used widely in makeup for the same reason. But mica — radiance-enhancing, flaw-blurring mica — will also gather and spotlight dehydration if a formula is not emollient enough.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Radiance, €36, launched this week. Formulated to effect light at the “magic” hour, that time when light is reddest and softest, it is loaded with amber and bronze mica.

This luminous cream functions as both a luminous primer and a highlighter. The formula is rich in shea butter and hyaluronic acid and shea butter, so both glides on and temporarily plumps the skin.

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