I have been mentally writing this blog post for about 24 hours now. So while I wait for Dr. Wu’s Mandelic acid to do it’s thing on my face, I thought I should get some thoughts out.
I am very much feeling my previous post on this, what appears to be a series called;
(link to previous installemet ^ )
In the first part, I discussed how little I give a shit whether or not you use sunscreen. The information is out there (albeit, at times conflicting and confusing) and you can decide for yourself if and when you wear it or not.
That posting was inspired by an online conversation that took place on Reddit where, a few people felt so strongly about my thoughts on the matter that they began harassing me in the thread and in private messages . (Shout out to Reddit for their ‘block user’ feature) This post is inspired by some similar disappointment that, so far has not led to any harassment.
To get you up to speed, about a week or so ago, a wonderful person who is living in South Korea posted to the Asian Beauty subreddit. She was informing the users that there have been some sheet mask processing issues she felt were being swept under the rug in Korea. She hoped that by sharing the information with the community, we could collectively be proactive and put some type of pressure out there to brands engaging in unsanitary practices. Namely, home folding of sheet masks for major brands while being paid extremely low wages.
I sheet mask A LOT. Like, twice-a-day a lot with no less than 100 sheet masks in my stash most all the time. (honestly, I have never been one for counting them, mostly because I don’t want to know. WEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!) So it occurred to me to just start emailing companies. I shared what I was doing with The Snailcast* and some of them said they could help with the contacts they had. From there we decided to keep track and god bless the always lovely AB blogger with the laugh that gives me life, Snow White and the Asian Pear who created the form and template for us to track what we found.
*Here,I am going to interject some side bar. I am not “affiliated” with any members of the Snailcast. In that, I get no perks or whatever shillery people like to throw my way. I met all of these wonderful people due to our love of skin care and AB. Fiddy Snails and I got acquainted first. I think we got turned on to K/AB beauty around the same time. We had some interaction, some chats, found I lived in an area she had as a child and just became internet friends/acquaintances. Snow was a mod and after her modding was over, I got to know her. Holy Snails and I became acquainted on Twitter and through her first co-op group and I think FANSERVICED-B just kind of fell into my acquaintance due to a mutual interest in a previous AB ‘scandal’. The only thing I “get” from these women is camaraderie, beauty tips, awesome products Holy Snails makes (THAT I GLADLY PAY FOR) and more dick references than you can shake a stick at.
I’ll save you what that process led to by linking an article, also posted on Racked that I had a small contribution to and I am grateful for the opportunity. They could have very easily left me out of it and they didn’t. Here is the article that came out this morning. I even got like 5 page views today which is my second highest views, second to Brazillian waxing and, why my wrist is killing me.
So, as is mentioned in the article, we opted to share the information we had gathered so far with the AB community via Reddit. I honestly thought it would be appreciated. I mean, we are enthusiasts after all and a good majority sheet mask frequently. I honestly don’t even want to get into the issues of sanitation and sterilisation here or, the fact that the workers who do it are grossly underpaid. I’ve stated my position and feelings on the matter.
I honestly and, very naively thought this compilation of information would be well received. That people may get some relief from what we found. That providing a ‘safelist’ of brands who do not engage in these practices would be welcomed. And to a fraction of users, it was.
But the most vocal (and, most upvoted) replies were not. They we split into two camps-one was those who don’t care for reasons like “everything is gross” “the masks are sterilised later” ( I assume it is using a “flash” sterilisation process because any other method would require them removing the folded sheet from the envelopes. This process does not address debris) And the other camp. Well. Apparently this is about racism and othering, which personally never crossed my mind for a second. If I were inclined to that type of thinking I would guess I wouldn’t use any Asian skin care or cosmetics.
What I do know about racism and appropriation is, I am not supposed to speak on things that don’t effect me as a white woman. I intellectually understand this concept even if at times, I have questions. Somehow, questioning hygienic practices and wanting to spend my money on safe products is actually a sly code for “dirty Asians’. Which again, isn’t even within my scope of emotions way before this. So I feel sad and confused and conflicted.
Am I racist for liking Asian beauty products and favoring them? Is that me appropriating a culture for my whitness? I don’t feel like I am. I feel like I am just a person who has been in the skin care field as well as being an enthusiast all my life who happened to find an amazing niche’ that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Both in the accumulation of knowledge and the wonderful skin benefits I have gotten from them. And the community those things have brought me.
I don’t fan-girl over KPOP or KDramas (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT). I have taken a much more keen interest in learning more about different Asian cultures and I discovered Bibimbap and if that is wrong, I don’t want to be right. AB beauty has definitely expanded my horizons and I cannot view that as a negative at all.
To bring this back to the title of this post; at the end of the day, it’s your face. We were trying to be helpful but that appears to have backfired.
None of us have all the answers. Literally no one. Dermatologist recommend crazy things to people like, using Tretinoin and not using cleansers or sunscreen with them. Chemists and formulators focus on ingredients and formulations but not always the actual effectiveness of their use. Estheticians can be ill informed or self taught and some have great education and some do not. Brands can mislead you for their bottom line. So can shops. Shit, even beauty bloggers sometimes have ill intentions.
Very few if any at all have a well versed and rounded set of information that is always accurate. And even if that were even possible, YMMV and things that are widely accepted as great to use or, confirmed effective can back fire on you as an individual. So we were not trying to “claim” anything other than sharing what we found. It doesn’t mean we are the sheet mask manufacturing authority.
I am not even planning to cease my sheet masking because of all this. I may side-eye some brands and keep an eye on my sheet masks a little better before I use them but, it was never the intent to take down any particular brands or an entire culture. I found out something shady so I wanted to know more. If I were using western skin care brands and heard this type of rumor, I would absolutely feel the same way and would try the same methods of trying to get more information.
I had to get this off my chest so I could stop clenching my jaw. I think it helped. Or it could be the xanax and glass of wine, who is to say.
We never thought or, rather, I never thought that anyone would be anything other than glad to hear what we had found. But you know about that bullshit road paved with good intentions and what not.
In closing, keep an eye on your sheet masks for the time being. Or don’t. I don’t actually care what you do with your face.
You can rub dicks all over it for all I care.But I hope they are clean.