How #skintertainment took over Instagram

Elaine Lim was restless. After a move from Las Vegas to San Francisco in June 2016, she found herself in between jobs and in need of a creative outlet. A long-time fan of Korean face sheet masks — which she’d first tried with her sister at age 14, and quickly incorporated into her skin-care regime — Lim decided to channel her passion into a website and Instagram account (under the handle @maskepedia) that chronicles her forays into masking.

“The trend had just started, and I was curious. Now I’m addicted to the effects,” said Lim.

The hashtag she uses the most for her posts: #skintertainment. And she’s far from alone.

#smotd: #NOHJ Golden Modeling Foil Mask. This is my chance to feel like Iron Man and shoot lasers out of my palms! Kidding I ended up just #masklounging. Today’s #sheetmaskreview is brought to you by the lovely @yumsylee! This mask claims to intensely hydrate with hyaluronic acid being the 3rd ingredient and colloidal gold (nanoparticles of gold suspended in water) as the 6th ingredient. The foil material felt pretty thick and stiff, it aims to deliver all 28g of essence into the skin by reducing evaporation. Fit was terrible. Eye and mouth holes were too small, humongous nose tent and excess material on the sides. Adherence was okay. There wasn’t a significant scent, it was so light I couldn’t smell anything. I had this on for 35 mins, my skin felt warm and slightly uncomfortable as the weather is now warmer. After some patting, the leftover essence absorbed quickly and left a matte finish. My skin felt very hydrated and looked very bright the entire day. However, it did leave behind some creases and gold flecks. Effective as it may be, I wouldn’t repurchase due to the horrendous fit and warming effect. $2.80 @beautequeofficial if you’re curious. Thanks @yumsylee! __________ #hydrate #nohjmask #rasianbeauty #sheetmasks #sheetmaskselfie #sheetmasking #sheetmaskaddict #sheetfaced #abcommunity #instabeauty #instaskincare #skincareblogger #skincare #asianbeauty #asianskincare #sheetmaskreview #selfie #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #maskmayhem #maymaskmonth

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Elaine Lim testing a new mask for her Instagram followers

“Skintertainment” — coined by Christine Chang of Glow Recipe, an e-commerce site for Korean beauty products — is being used by a growing number of people to describe Korean skin-care masks that have an element of whimsy, like fun patterns, making them particularly conducive to sharing on social media. Plug “skintertainment” into an Instagram search and, within seconds, your feed will be flooded with pictures of users smiling from behind face masks bedazzled in gold, decorated with animal faces or so thick they look like concrete.

“Women spend a lot of time and effort to make sure they achieve [beautiful skin], but the routine isn’t something that should be tedious or a slog,” said Glow Recipe’s Chang, who is the company’s co-founder and CEO.

“When you first look at skintertainment [photos, they] seems kind of gimmicky — masks that bubble up on your face or make you look like a clown,” said Anna Yu, who operates the Instagram account @maskaddict. “But it turns out the products are good, too. It’s both fun and effective.”

Anna Yu trials a rice mask

Korean beauty, in general, is hot. The “K-beauty” approach — skin care first, with a focus on natural, rejuvenating products — hit the U.S. market about five years ago and has since exploded in popularity. Its success has been aided by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who have sung its praises and share photos of themselves wearing masks on social media. American brands, ranging from Maybelline to Opening Ceremony, have started adopting similar products and natural ingredients in their own portfolios, and wholesalers like Target are starting to sell actual K-beauty products — clamoring to get a piece of the Korean beauty industry, which Euromonitor expects to reach $13.1 billion by 2020.

Americans seem particularly drawn to the sheet masks, in part due to their accessibility. An average mask costs just a few dollars (they can also be purchased in sets), and they’re quick to use. Most take take no longer than 20 minutes, and cleanup is minimal: Just peel it away from your face and rub in the remaining serum. For many, it replicates the process of getting a facial at a fraction of the cost and time.

Lim and Yu both said they hope their Instagram accounts are good resources for people interested in dabbling in the trend, but that they also offer a bonus: Instagram helps them keep track of their favorite products. Both are considered influencers, and while neither receives monetary compensation, brands, which often approach them to share sponsored posts, give them free products. Yu, for instance, currently has an arsenal of 200 masks in what she calls her “mask stash.”

Yu said she recently hosted a meet-up for K-beauty bloggers and Instagrammers, and even started a Slack group for maskers, which has 80 members from around the world.

“It’s nice to get a bunch of enthusiasts to talk about skin care and how to take better photos,” Yu said. “It creates a dialogue.”

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