There was the biggest buzz about the Whamisa Real Sea Kelp Sheet Mask over the summer because Whamisa uses REAL pieces of sea kelp cut into the shape of a sheet mask. It’s also soaked in a glorious essence full of skin-savers that claims to give you moisturization for 72 hours! Following the trend, Tony Moly quickly made a dupe that had an identical ingredient list and uses the same species of sea kelp however I couldn’t handle the putrid ocean/sea kelp smell and wouldn’t repurchase it. Despite the gagging I went through, the essence did as it promised and it brightened, moisturized and anointed me with radiance that lasted for two straight days. Since the essence proved its magic powers, I knew I had to get a Whamisa and compare the brands! It really made me curious to see if the $14 Whamisa splurge was worth it versus paying around $5 for a Tony Moly one. Spoiler: I was able to keep my lunch down this time around. 

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Where I Bought It:

In the USA, Whamisa is available at Glow Recipe for $14 but I bought mine from KCON in the Prudential Center, NJ when Glow Recipe held a pop-up shop selling their k-beauty goodies.

What It’s Supposed To Do

The back of the mask packet says that it will provide:

  • Instant wrinkle improvement
  • Skin brightening
  • Less swolleness
  • Pore contraction
  • Refinement
  • Radiance
  • Skin “gloss” (I think this means dewiness)
  • 72 hours of moisturization

Here’s the description from Glow Recipe:

The Gist:

A 100% real sea kelp facial sheet mask that is simply vitamin and mineral rich. This is a next generation sheet mask, where the actual sheet is made of skin beneficial, nutrient-dense sea kelp. Drench your face in ultra hydration and nutrition for instantly glowing, clear skin. Also helps to improve skin’s elasticity and firmness. For all skin types.

How it works:

Formulated with a 100% real sea kelp mask sheet, each sheet is drenched in a full bottle of fermented sea kelp and bamboo serum. This organic sheet mask adheres to the skin and comes in two pieces for a better fit. Clinically tested for anti-aging, brightening, skin smoothing benefits and 72-hour hydration. Eco-Cert and BDIH Standard Certified.

Free of:

Parabens, Silicones, Mineral Oils, Synthetic dyes & fragrances
Please note: The date marked on the package is the manufacturing (제조) date.

Ingredient List:

The ingredients are jaw-droppingly amaze-balls! The packaging promises that it’s 90.37% organic and Glow Recipe goes the extra mile to denote which ingredients are Certified Organically Grown, Natural Preservatives and Ecocert. The ingredient is clean as a whistle with absolutely no fillers in CosDNA but we already knew that from my Tony Moly review since it’s a duped list.

Laminaria Japonica, *Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, *Lactobacillus/Aloe Barbadensis Ferment Filtrate, Serenoa Serrulata Fruit Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, ☆(-)-alpha-bisabolol, Trigonella Foenum-Graecum Seed Extract, Natto Gum, Leonurus Sibiricus Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Dioscorea Opposita (Wild Yam) Root Extract, *Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, *Centella Asiatica Extract, *Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Anemarrhena Asphodeloides Root Extract, *Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Chlorella Ferment, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Angelica Keiskei Leaf/Stem Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Royal Jelly 0.05, **Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, **Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Plantago Asiatica Extract, **Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, ☆Adenosine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil
*Certified Organically Grown **Natural Preservative ☆Ecocert

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

The differences are:

  • Whamisa is an organic sheet mask with ingredients denoted as such.
  • Whamisa has 33 grams of essence versus 25 grams in Tony Moly’s.
  • Although the list looks identical, I don’t know the ratio of the ingredients in each brand which can be the game-changer in which you might prefer.

Laminaria Japonica is the scientific name for the sea kelp that’s cut into a shape of the sheet mask. Even though Tony Moly and Whamisa uses the same species, the brands seems to use different PARTS of the sea kelp – I’ll get into this later in The Masking section.

Sea kelp in skincare is highly beneficial because it’s so nutrient and mineral rich that it protects your skin cells from free radical damage and acts as an incredible moisturizer. It draws out toxins which can make your pores shrink in size too. If you have breakouts, sea kelp is also anti-inflammatory and soothing.

The Masking

I was waiting for this moment to see if the Whamisa mask was more pleasant smelling than TM’s. A Huff Post reviewer had said that it smelled “nicely of tea” and I said “pshhh” so fast I blew the words off the screen but I can’t knock it until I’ve tried it right?

This is my kind of green juice!
This is my kind of green juice!

Well I can kinda see what that reviewer was talking about. There is a very light tea-like scent upon opening the packet – nothing like the murky ocean pollution smell from the Tony Moly one. Giving it a second strong-intended whiff, the sea kelp smell IS present but not too over powering – it did not activate my gag reflexes a-la-Tony-Moly.

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Immediately I also notice that the sea kelp sheets themselves are thinner than Tony Moly’s. The color and essence look almost the same. The sheet is a dark green but the Whamisa being more transparent. The essence from both is a yellow-green color. Since Whamisa is 33 grams, there was definitely essence left over in the packet – green gold I say!

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Plays theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Plays theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The fit was soooooo much better! The thin sea kelp pieces clung to the curves of my face and didn’t slip as much as TM’s. It’s as if Tony Moly bought all the rejected pieces of sea kelp from Whamisa. Whamisa seems to only use the thinner parts whereas TM will use everything, including the parts that are thicker and rubbery. Whamisa’s is smaller in cut overall but I felt that it fit my face shape just right. You can compare my Tony Moly review and see that TM’s looked like a turtle’s bumpy hide (no offense to my turtle friends).

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I don’t know what ocean Tony Moly fished their sea kelp from but the Whamisa mask is the preferred brand from mermaids everywhere.

The mask did slide a bit but it wasn’t too annoying. The oceany smell did not bother me at all this time so I was happy I didn’t have to set aside a vomit bucket. It’s recommended to leave on for 15 – 20 minutes but I was able to leave it on for 45 minutes before the chin, upper lip and forehead began to dry out.

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Spray tan? Sick? No, I just finished sheet-masking,

You will have the same yellow patches of essence left on your face and when you pat in the extra essence, it will look like you have a bad spray tan HAHA! Look how yellow I came out, especially around the mouth area. I masked in the morning so I advise that this mask is done at night when you don’t have anywhere to go. People might ask if you’re sick if they see your sallow face! So I thought I could deal with this until…

Ew, pilling.
Ew, pilling.

About an hour after I was done and doing my thang, I happen to touch my face and felt some residue from the mask. Naturally I rubbed and the essence started to pill off the sides of my cheeks – gross. Since it’s yellow-green, you can see the clumps come off on my finger. I’m not so sure if having extra essence left in the packet was so great now. I ended up using a damp paper towel to pat off the residue feeling and yes, it stained the paper towel so use something you can throw out.

Strangely while the Whamisa essence gave me Big Bird’s complexion, the Tony Moly one did not leave such an obvious sallow color on my skin. TM did leave some yellowing but since it didn’t have extra essence to pat on, I didn’t look MORE yellow. I still recommend that both are used at night time because both will give you a glow but not the type we’re aiming for.

Skin looked very dewy, plump and radiant and made the application from my skin care routine very smooth from BOTH brands. The Whamisa also gave me very smooth and supple skin although there was residue/pilling. I couldn’t stop touching my cheeks and nose – which are the same results from Tony Moly. I have to admit that the effect lasted for two good days and by the third day I couldn’t tell if it was just my normal routine that gave me smooth skin or if the Whamisa still played a part in that. The 72 hour radiance claim is a grey area unless I completely stopped using all my skincare at once to set up a true experiment.

Conclusion

This was a toughie battle to call! I was dead sure that the Whamisa would kick this way outta the sheet mask universe but for the price of $14, I wished the essence absorbed completely and didn’t give that gross pilling. Whamisa overall was a better experience because I want to have a non-gagging moment when I mask. If you don’t think the strong sea kelp smell would bother you, Tony Moly is definitely a good alternative since it’s cheaper and you wouldn’t really need extra essence since it turns your face yellowy and leaves a film that will pill off.

My personal preference is Whamisa because the experience is just more pleasant however the extra essence is not really needed because of the residue/pilling. It had really great softening and moisturizing effects but I feel that I could get that from another mask that cost less. That said, I wouldn’t repurchase but I’m glad i tried it. Like I said in my Tony Moly Sea Kelp Mask review, it’s nice to try this cheaper one to see if you like the effects enough but make sure you can handle strong ocean water smell.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Pretty good product but I just think there are better things out there.