Didn’t double cleanse last night? Cell phone chin acne getting you down? Irritating redness from [pick one: indoor heating, brisk winds, too much alcohol] running amok? You may not be able to address all your skin care woes with one product, but these get pretty close: sleep masks. Call them sleep masks, night packs or overnight masks — in our overrun, hyper-busy, never-offline world, these beauty wonders can cover a multitude of sins.
We all know that nighttime is the best time for skin care repair. “Sleep is a time when the metabolic rate increases along with the production of skin cells, while the breakdown of proteins needed for cell growth and repair decreases,” says Diane Nakauchi of Japan-based skin care brand Koh Gen Do. “You can’t replace nighttime sleep with daytime hours as the energy required for tissue repair cannot be fully utilized due to other body organs’ energy needs in life support during the day.”
A sleep mask is the last thing you put on your face before sleeping. It has a higher concentration of “sealing” ingredients (which often are not suitable to wear under foundation as it may affect the wear of the foundation), says Nakauchi, which helps to seal in moisture, preventing moisture loss during the night as your nighttime skin care ingredients work overtime to repair skin.
Different sleep masks address different issues, so find one that works for you. Some of our favorites:
This sleep mask is a light gel, which sinks into skin fast. Despite its light feel, the mask uses a skin-identical ceramide formulation that gently wraps the skin to prevent moisture evaporation during the night. Encapsulated vitamins, A, C & E are released when applied to penetrate deeply into the skin cuticles. Three types of antioxidant-rich red and brown algae not only help to detoxify, condition, soften and aid collagen production, but the red algae is known for its anti-microbial effect that helps to fight blemishes.
This sleep mask from Korean luxury skin care line Sulwhasoo offers soothing creaminess that sinks in well. Hyaluronic acid, the key to skin hydration, and walnut extract promotes long-term moisturization overnight, while white mulberry extract minimizes redness and irritation.
Kate Somerville Age Arrest Hydrating Firming Mask was developed on the principles of Asian sleep masks, a final step in your PM regimen, sealing in other products, while adding additional firming and hydrating benefits. While the texture is thicker than most night creams, it melts into skin, great for dry skin needing a boost during the cold winter months.
For a more active nighttime mask, this sleep mask is a leave-on micro peel which gently infuses skin with pure retinol through its RetAsphere Smart Release™ Carrier System. A combination of 10 percent glycolic acid and lactose also helps to resurface skin. Use this powerhouse every other night.
With its signature caviar extract — rich with vitamins, nucleic acid, phospholipids and proteins to boost skin’s long-term firmness, as well as omega-3s which boost the antioxidant level of defense in the skin and improve the skin’s barrier function — this sleep mask firms skin, while its natural exfoliation enzyme technology smooths and softens. The melt-in formula reduces skin’s trans-epidermal water loss at night and helps skin eliminate cells damaged during the day. This one’s so potent, you use it one to three times a week.
Have oily skin? There’s even a sleep mask for you. Ironically, oily skin is sometimes the product of lack of hydration. This mask, made with a “dream team” formula of calcium, retinol, peptides and vitamin E, is made for combination to oily skin and works while you sleep to control oil as it smoothes the appearance of lines and wrinkles.