If sheet masks and eye patches are frequent flyers in your at-home beauty regimen, allow us to introduce you to your next pampering necessity: the nail mask. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a set of disposable, pre-treated sheets designed specifically for your nails.
Just as sheet masks deliver results with minimal effort (seriously, what’s easier than just placing one on your face?), nail masks fit comfortably over each individual nail—imagine a sleeping bag fit for each finger—and treat your cuticles and beds in about 15 to 30 minutes.
To those in the nail industry, this skincare approach to nail maintenance has been a long time coming. “People are starting to realize that nails are an extension of our skin and should be treated as such,” says essie celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders. “Whatever you do to treat your face, you should do to your hands, cuticles and nails.”
So who actually needs a nail mask? Really anyone with dehydrated nails or cuticles, splits or tears, discoloration or simply over-worked hands can benefit. “Anything that can seal in the moisture, like a nail mask, can help promote healthy nails,” says Saunders. Nail masks not only lock in that necessary hydration, but deliver it in concentrated doses—fast.
Needless to say, when picking out a nail mask, you should look for ultra-moisturizing ingredients, says Saunders. Hunt for ones containing natural oils, such as avocado, coconut or almond. Both Julep’s Nail Moisture Mask ($25) and Skinfood’s Pine Nut & Shea Butter Nail Mask ($11) contain shea butter, another highly effective moisturizing ingredient.
Just be sure to steer clear of synthetic-based products, cautions celebrity manicurist and Kiss Nails expert Gina Edwards, as these products simply lay on the skin, and don’t infiltrate the nail surface and cuticle area effectively.
As expected, masks are best used when nails need nourishment the most (i.e. post polish, acrylic or gel removal, when naked nails are particularly vulnerable). For those suffering from splitting, peeling or otherwise damaged nails, Sally’s Box Friendly Milk Nail Masks ($5) offer a dose of goat’s milk extract pumped with protein to aid brittle nails, whereas another popular choice, Kocostar Nail Therapy ($4), relies on a combination of botanicals and vitamins to strengthen and repair digits.
While nail masks won’t magically cure all of your nail woes overnight, they can certainly act as a restorative supplement between manis. Plus, they’re definitely a welcome addition to any spa night, no doubt.