K-Beauty Sheet Mask 101: Why the Price Difference?

What’s good about facial masks? I fell in love with them immediately. They are light and leave my skin feeling refreshed all day long. And you know, the secret to having moisturized and anti-aging skin is to put on a facial mask. There are so many different kinds out there that you shouldn’t stop until trying them all – come join the new sheet mask era!

The Beginnings of a new Sheet Mask Era

The Korean beauty craze is starting another big boom with their ‘sheet masks’. It is a special luxury sheet mask that is sold for 30,000 KRW (per sheet) in Korean cosmetic stores. Many celebrities appeared in recent cosmetic commercials wearing these popular sheet masks on their bare skin. But really… what is the whole hype about these new sheet masks?!

The full-fledged sheet mask era is just beginning. It used to be no more than a special treatment facial mask for minimal weekly care purposes, but sheet masks are now becoming the most biggest representing product for daily skincare. Long ago, TV commercials advertised limited offers on facial essences and creams alike, which unfortunately ran out of supplies sometimes.  But now Leaders Cosmetics and Medi-Heel are designating actor Hyun Bin and actress Park Min Young as their main models for advertising their sheet masks in order to attract a large fan base to allow having massive productions in order to distribute to the market. This, moreover, widened the category for choosing different sheet masks and having various price range in the sheet mask market. More store brands are beginning to recreate and reproduce their existing face masks, using more ingredients and high technology. Facial masks now vary from 1,000 KRW to 30,000 KRW, or even more, that can possibly equal to facial essence products.

What made all cosmetic brands become so passionate towards using sheet masks? It is the growing sheet mask market, of course. In Myeongdong, there are tens and hundreds of sheet masks being sold every day to Chinese and Japanese tourists, but that’s not the only reason why it’s becoming a huge boom. Sheet masks are beginning to become popular in American markets as well. Since 2014’s K-beauty boom in America, the sheet mask market has been growing nearly up to 100% annually. America with its temporary apply-and-wash masks and overnight leave-in-masks are now slowly entering the new sheet mask era, and it all started right here in South Korea. If sheet masks become popular in America, the market’s ripple effect will be tremendous. The consumers will become diverse and everyone would be including sheet masks in their daily skin care item – the world won’t spin without facial masks!

The inside story of inevitable price difference

Why are some facial masks only 1,000 KRW when some are over 30,000 KRW? Does it have to do with the brand manufacturing them? The price range varies significantly, and consumers wonder how this all happens. To tell you the truth, there’s not really a profit for selling a face mask for 1,000 KRW. According to the Institute of Cosmetics Manufacturers, a typical sheet mask itself usually costs around 400 to 500 KRW. Think about the dripping wet essence always spread on top of the face mask. That costs a lot right there, too. The cost of production for a normal cosmetic mask is 15-20% of the retail price, which does not match the ‘unwritten laws’ of cosmetic prices. But store brands are not pausing their mask production rates because 1,000 KRW masks are only a mere plan to draw in the consumers to buy other store products; in other words, it’s a strategy to get consumers to enter the store and buy other things on top of buying these masks at a really cheap price. Nail colors can attract people in the makeup section, but sheet masks can attract people in the skincare line. That’s why stores have a huge variety of sheet masks with multi-functioning tips in their showcase windows, and they continuously test out new masks of different shapes, prices and more to have more customers.

However, when large cosmetic brands start selling their products at a very low cost, there could be other reasons besides drawing customers in. Big brands sometimes experience business depressions, where they have to massively sell existing items before putting new products out on the shelves. Their strategy is to stay safe and sell popular items before actively advertising the new products.

To name a few, Estee Lauder’s immovable bestseller products’ Advanced Night Repair line for launching new foil type sheet masks, and Lancome’s profitable product Genifique sheet masks, and SK-II Whitening line’s sheet masks have all experienced business depressions and at least once followed this strategy to overcome the situation. These big three brands are known for using only high-end, rich ingredients and technology that yields to such costs. But of course, fixing the price to boost the products’ good image can be a strategy for having more consumers relying on the brand. It would also require big investors to invest on such products. For example, Estee Lauder’s foil type sheet mask, which is a completely new and different form of design, probably had an in-house production where the research and development cost would have been extremely high for the OEM Technology Cooperation to monopolize trade, again making the price expensive. That just basically means that innovative sheet masks will cost more for their highly functioning features and mass production. The sheet mask market will continue to expand, and we will never know where this will take us next year.


Original Source: Allure Korea

Editor – Lee Mi Hyun
Photographer – Jung Sung Won
Model – Han Eu Deum
Hair – Ahn Mi Yeon
Makeup – Kim Mee Jung

Jihee Park

Jihee Park is the Lead Beauty Editor of K-Beauty Now. Based in the heart of Seoul, her professional expertise and approach in academic, social media, and lifestyle coverage provide compelling articles the community can trust. Translated from Korean to English, bringing you the latest k-beauty news straight from South Korea.