What’s the Deal with Sleep Masks?

Chances are that at this point in your life, you know the wonders that a great night of sleep can do for your skin. And you also know what a really good face mask can do for your skin. So why did it take us this long to combine the two?

If they aren’t already, sleep masks — or overnight masks —are about to become your new favorite skin secret weapon. Applied just before bed as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine, sleep masks are moisturizing powerhouses. You see, no matter how many serums and oils you may apply pre-bed and no matter how moisturizing their ingredients may be, there’s nothing to stop them from evaporating throughout the night.

It’s like if you put a bunch of super-cute puppies in a yard without a fence; sure, some of the puppies might stay behind obediently, but many of them will probably make a run for it. Now, if there was a fence, you’d get to keep all those super-cute puppies. Same goes for skincare: you need an occlusive barrier (a layer that keeps water in) on top of everything to make sure you’re getting all the moisture you so rightfully deserve. Because not only does that occlusive top layer mean your other products aren’t escaping like those puppies, it also makes sure they’re penetrating your skin better while still being light enough that your skin can breathe while you sleep.

Now, you may be asking, “Ok but what’s the difference between a sleep/overnight mask and a regular moisturizing mask?” To that, I say, “good question!” But I also say, “How long do you leave a standard mask on your face, on average?” The beauty of a sleep mask is that it provides prolonged, deep treatment for your skin. Since you’re zonked out while wearing it, a sleep mask is totally undisturbed and so can really get to work at a deeper level than a standard mask you wash off after 15 minutes.What’s more, sleep masks are also often more gentle on your skin than their quickie counterparts. Since that 15-minute mask only has 15 minutes to get its job done, the concentration of powerful ingredients is super-high, which may not agree with your skin. Sleep masks, however, have those same powerful ingredients but at a lower concentration so they do their job gently and over time, not in a slap-dash sort of way.

For example, at nighttime, if you’ve got oily or problematic skin but find the serums and treatments targeted to you are too drying (because the concentration is too high), look for a sleep mask with hyaluronic acid to hydrate without clogging your pores or drying you out. If you want to even out skin tone but find retinols irritating, a sleep mask with a low dose of retinol could be the way to go for a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach. If you’re dealing with redness and inflammation, look for soothing ingredients like rose water and ginkgo biloba to bathe your skin in their healing powers all night.

Listen, you’re already sleeping every night, so why not add a layer to your routine that takes minimal effort and will have you waking up glowing every morning? It is called beauty sleep, after all.


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Thank you for pointing out the difference between regular masks and sleep masks! Guess I’ll be incorporating the latter into my routine more often now!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

Absolutely love it! x

4 years ago

Now I really want to try sleep masks! :)