In recent years, Korean beauty (K-beauty) trends have made serious waves in the U.S. cosmetic industry, with products like cushion makeup and sheet masks growing in popularity. Between trending K-beauty brands and the recent boom in subscription box businesses, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs would marry the two consumer groups.
Enter: Mask Box, a Korean sheet mask subscription box, launched in 2016 by Tammy Funasaki. Originally from Honolulu, HI, Funasaki received her MBA from NYU Stern School of Business in Finance and Entrepreneurship. She sought to find the right entrepreneurial idea and opportunity where she could combine her passions and knowledge – and so Mask Box was born.
The subscription box features hand-picked Korean sheet masks that target a wide variety of skin concerns ranging from dryness to dullness. But what exactly do Korean sheet masks bring to the realm of skincare? We chatted with Funasaki to find out what sets Mask Box apart and to get a crash course in K-Beauty.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got the idea to start a subscription box:
“I’m half Korean, so skincare has always been a large emphasis with my Korean mother,” Funasaki said. “My aunt in Seoul, Korea (pictured below), is a doctor and skincare specialist who helps me source a lot of the products that we test and distribute.
I wanted to focus on masks because I felt that they were perfect for the busy or lazy person because you just put it on and take it off after 15-20 minutes…no rinsing needed! My esthetician says it well: “[Masks are] like a great big gulp of water for your face!”
“[Masks are] like a great big gulp of water for your face!”
Why Korean sheet masks?
“Korea is known to be about 10-15 years ahead of the U.S. in skincare technology.,” Funasaki said. “[Skincare] is a part of their culture, so a lot of their studies and resources go into finding various ways to enhance your skin.
[Sheet masks] are more inexpensive than [Western] products overall, and a great way to get someone who isn’t quite used to a skincare regime on board with it all. Lastly, a lot of my clients mention that it is nice to have a quiet time where you sit and relax, almost in a meditative way.”
If somebody doesn’t know much about Korean skincare products, why should they subscribe to Mask Box?
“Sheet masks are a great entry point into trying other skincare products,” Funasaki said. “I truly believe in the benefits of sheet masks for your skin. I have [also] priced our boxes very low, so that it’s not a huge financial burden to take care of your face.”
“I want everyone to be able to try them out and feel great about themselves, [as well as] having that brief quiet time to themselves to relax and clear your mind. Everyone deserves their mini spa or facial at home!”
What do you think is the biggest differences between Korean sheet masks and American sheet masks?
“I believe that Korea has always been focused on skincare and has a very demanding consumer base – beauty is much more equivalent to great skin,” Funasaki said.
“They are innovative in their ingredients, and have discovered uses for natural products like snail mucin, bee venom, and plant placenta. I have very sensitive skin, and I find that I rarely have any irritation from and my results are better with Korean products overall.”
Can you walk me through some of the ingredients in Korean sheet masks and what they do?
“Snail Mucin sounds disgusting, but it is a common Korean skincare ingredient in both masks and creams,” Funasaki said. “This enzyme is derived from the ingredient snails produce to heals cuts quickly. In beauty products, snail mucin both restores and firms skin by replenishing moisture and supporting cell regeneration.”
“Another commonly-found ingredient is bee venom. This ingredient contains melittin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. For skincare, this is a great anti-aging compound, helping to increase circulation and production of collagen.”
“Lastly, a lot of our masks contain hyaluronic acid. This is a common ingredient often found in makeup primers and foundations that helps with hydration and moisturization, and it leaves skin supple and firm.”
For somebody who doesn’t know which box they want, which one would you recommend starting out with?
“I would recommend the Combo Box because you are given masks for a variety of skin types,” Funasaki said. “You can then see what your skin seems to like most and switch to different boxes month-to-month. I also recommend the Luxury Box because the higher quality sheet masks do give greater results for the most part, especially if you’re a skeptic.”
What makes Mask Box different from other K-beauty subscriptions?
“I feel that we have a specific focus on masks, [whether it be] sheet masks, hydrogel masks, or eye masks. A lot of the K-beauty boxes are pretty diversified across skincare products and cosmetics. I’ve found that having a focus and specialization can be beneficial because we continue to learn and better ourselves on a niche sector, becoming a specialist of sorts.”
Want to step up your skincare game?
If you’re intrigued about Korean sheet masks or are ready to subscribe to Mask Box, check them out on the Cratejoy Marketplace!