From non-recyclable plastic packaging to potentially toxic ingredients, the beauty industry has had to answer for a lot when it comes to the environment. Many beauty brands have majorly up their game, swapping plastics to reusable materials or recyclable alternatives, as well as avoiding potentially harmful ingredients, but it now seems that there may be another beauty-generated threat to the planet; sheet masks.
According to market researcher , sales of sheet masks in the UK have soared by 47% between August 2017 and August 2018. It's not surprising - not only are the skincare treatments supremely selfie-worthy, they're also a fun and efficient way to deliver potent ingredients to the skin for often immediate results.
We tried the 'jet lag' face mask that's all over Instagram right now and it did not disappoint
But while they may be great for our complexions, they're not so kind to the environment. In fact, one online Korean beauty retailer has already banned the sale of sheet masks on their website. "They may be wonderful for the skin, but ultimately they are bad for the planet. Which is why, over the next couple weeks, we will be phasing our current sheet masks and other single use masks out," says Poppy Greenwood, founder of online apothecary .
Sheet masks are often made of cotton or hydrogel, which may be compostable as pure materials, but are also saturated with chemicals and skincare ingredients that make them non-biodegradable and certainly not organic. Plus, the packaging is either plastic film, aluminium or a mix of materials, which are generally not able to be recycled, or else only by specialist services.
On top of this, sheets masks themselves are single-use and promote the concept of throw-away skincare. "I suddenly realised that by selling sheet masks and other ‘one use’ masks we are selling ‘single use polluting’ products," says Poppy.
So, if you're serious about cutting down on your waste, you might want to rethink your sheet mask addiction...