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Is a sleeping mask the new K-beauty item that you absolutely have to add to your skin care routine? It’s touted as the next must-have for hydrated skin, but I think there’s a little more to it. Using most face masks make me feel like I’m going out of my way, but a sleeping mask certainly doesn’t.
Putting sleeping mask on takes seconds, and it works overnight to magically transform the skin – allegedly. When new products are released brands try to introduce them as something essential, and while that is certainly not true for sleeping masks… they’re actually pretty nice.
In this article, we’ve selected the 15 best sleeping mask options that you can buy online anywhere in the world. We’ll explain what sleeping masks are and how they differ from night creams, so you understand if a sleeping mask will be right for you. To finish things off, we’ll make sure you use your sleeping mask correctly with a detailed guide.
Sleeping Mask Skincare Guide: Contents
- 15 Best Sleeping Mask Creams to Buy
- What Is a Sleeping Mask and How Does It Differ from Night Cream?
- Overnight Sleeping Mask Benefits
- How to Use an Overnight Sleeping Mask?
For that sound beauty sleep, here you have the best sleeping mask creams that have become cult-favorites!
1. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
This was one of the first sleeping masks introduced in the West, and many consider it the best sleeping mask on the market. It is a gel mask that boasts hyaluronic acid as its second ingredient, right after water, which is nearly unheard of and ensures serious hydration capabilities.
It also contains a few antioxidant-rich plant extracts that give a nice boost. Since it contains glycolic acid, it also acts as a mild exfoliant, so it should only be used a few times a week. It’s got a sweet watermelon scent that might be polarizing. Get it at Sephora!
2. Julep Beauty Julep Night Shift Sleeping Mask
Whipped and mousse like, this is one of the creamier sleeping mask options out there, although it is fabulous for all skin types. It hydrates the skin with a collection of humectants, but it also seals in the moisture with shea butter and a bit of coconut oil. It has copper peptides to promote collagen formation, and just the tiniest hint of AHA to resurface the skin a bit – not so much that it can’t be used on a nightly basis, though. It is available in a squeeze tube at Nordstrom.
3. Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
This is another gel-based sleeping mask, with one of the lightest textures around. This would be the best sleeping mask for those with oily yet dehydrated skin, as it is very heavy on the moisturizing ingredients but doesn’t have heavy occlusives that’ll weigh you down or make you feel greasy.
It’s an extremely soothing sleeping mask made with a range of minerals that hydrate and calm the skin. Its fragrance, of orange flower, rose, and sandalwood, is intended to have a mood calming effect that should prepare you for sleep. You can buy it from Sephora.
4. Kora Organics Noni Glow Sleeping Mask
If you’re an organic beauty fanatic, we think this will be the best sleeping mask for you. It boasts all of the exceptional hydrating effects of other sleeping masks, but with all-natural and organic ingredients. It contains some buzzy sounding ingredients like caviar lime and kakadu plum extracts, but the results don’t lie: this mask works shockingly well. The formula is one of the more occlusive ones here, so you can use it even with very dry skin. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
5. Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask
This thick, velvety cream is an anti-aging sleeping mask meant for those with normal to dry skin, as it deeply hydrates the skin and prevents extrinsic aging. It is made with a blend of tea extracts to boost the skin’s free radical defenses, along with glycerin and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate. Jojoba esters act as emollients to soften the skin and prevent water loss. Fermented extracts add a boost to the skin’s microbiome, making it the perfect soothing blend. You can find it at Sephora.
6. Lancôme Énergie de Vie Overnight Recovery Sleeping Mask
Even French brands like Lancôme are taking note of the incredible potential of a sleeping mask and releasing their own great versions. This mask contains goji berry extract to keep the skin bright and fresh, as well as lactic acid and glycerin to hydrate. This lovely formula is cooling, soothing and softening, especially for dry, normal, and combination skin types. It is available for purchase at Nordstrom.
7. Belif Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask
The mixture of natural ingredients and K-beauty formulation techniques makes this one of the best sleeping mask options for those with sensitive dry skin. It contains a variety of herbal extracts to soothe the skin overnight, ensuring you wake up with hydrated and clear skin that is free of redness. Pick it up at Sephora!
8. Amorepacific ‘Moisture Bound’ Sleeping Recovery Masque
This sleeping mask comes in the form of a lotion-gel that is light yet uniquely occlusive, helping to pull moisture into the skin but then sealing it in. This formula includes skin-soothing ginseng, moisturizing squalane, and both glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Further down the list it’s got some amazing vitamins and minerals to fortify the skin against environmental damage. You can get it from Nordstrom.
9. CosRx Low pH BHA Overnight Mask
This is by far the best sleeping mask choice if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. It contains a gentle form of BHA for preventing breakouts, along with niacinamide for controlling oils. It’s still a moisturizing formula, however, with butylene glycol to hydrate and centella asiatica to soothe the skin. It comes in a squeeze tube, which we also appreciate for the cleanliness. Find it online at Ulta!
10. Shiseido Ibuki Beauty Sleeping Mask
This bouncy gel sleeping mask gives fantastic nourishment with a wrinkle-preventing and skin-brightening boost. Despite the light texture of this formula it is super hydrating, even in drier weather. To keep the skin youthful, it contains vitamins E and C, which are micro-encapsulated to ensure they stay fresh and potent even in the jar packaging. It is available at Barneys.
11. Dior Hydra Life Jelly Sleeping Mask
This is a Western take on K-beauty that uses some of the excellent ingredients we’d normally see in Korean products, like ultra-soothing centella extract and hyaluronic acid. It’d definitely be one of the best sleeping mask choices for those with sensitive and dry skin, as it is extremely soothing and hydrating, but also moisture-sealing. Needless to say, it comes in the form of a light gel. You can find this sleeping mask at Nordstrom.
12. Yes To Superblueberries Recharging Greek Yogurt & Probiotics Sleeping Mask
This gorgeous sleeping mask is a little on the heavier side and is quite similar to a night cream. It comes in one of the coolest packages we’ve seen: a squeeze tube with an applicator brush head, for a perfect, mess-free application. The formula is rich, so it’s ideal for dry skin or dry climates, with shea butter, almond oil, and some wonderfully soothing probiotics. You can buy it from Ulta.
13. Dr. Brandt Skincare Hydro Biotic Recovery Sleeping Mask
This is another one of the best sleeping mask options for those who require occlusion. It has a velvety texture thanks to dimethicone, while its skin-fortifying properties come from a probiotic complex. It’s just as hydrating as other masks on this list, but it’s a touch creamier, with a super calming lavender scent. It is sold online through Sephora.
14. Mamonde Calming Hydro Sleeping Mask
This super light hydrating mask should work beautifully for those with oily skin. We gotta fess up – it does contain some alcohol to thin out the formula, but that is totally offset by the incredible amount of glycerin, propanediol, and other hydrators. It also contains calendula and centella to soothe the skin. Pick it up at Ulta!
15. Patchology Restoring Night CloudMasque Sleeping Mask
This gorgeous sleeping mask is one of the best, even for dry climates. It loads the skin up with moisture, but it also seals things in to prevent evaporation. It is crafted with a robust collection of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant extracts like centella and chamomile, but there are also some excellent anti-aging and smoothing actives like retinol, niacinamide, and even some peptides.
It’s one of the best sleeping mask options for those wanting age-prevention. The scent is delicate and reminiscent of jasmine, which is quite calming before bed. Pick it up from Ulta!
Also known as a sleeping pack, a sleeping mask is a hydrating face cream formulated for overnight use, which calms and moisturizes the skin while you are sleeping. The major difference between your average sleeping mask and night cream is the texture, which also ends up impacting the actual method through which each one of them works.
A sleeping mask is usually much lighter in texture than a night cream, because it contains a lot of humectants (ingredients that pull moisture into the skin from the atmosphere) and very few occlusives (ingredients that create a layer over the skin that seals-in moisture). Because of this, throughout the night, a sleeping mask can keep attracting moisture into the skin, which is why you wake up with such glowy, hydrated skin after using one.
The average night cream will have the exact opposite ratio, with more occlusives than humectants. Because of this night creams are a little bit less hydrating on their own, but they are excellent at keeping moisture and hydration in the skin. This is great for those with very dry skin that cannot keep moisture in on its own, and it’s fabulous for environments where the air is very dry so it is very hard to keep moisture in the skin.
Humid climates where the air is very moist are actually perfect for sleeping mask users, because the sleeping mask can pull a lot of moisture from the air. A sleeping mask will be less effective in an area where the air is dry, although that can be mitigated with the help of a humidifier. It is not surprising that the original sleeping mask formulations came from Korea, where the climate is extremely humid.
Those with oily skin will benefit the most from using a sleeping mask, since their skin already has a natural occlusive effect from the oil it produces, and the mask won’t load their skin up with additional, unnecessary oil. Those with dry skin will only benefit from using a sleeping mask if they live in a humid climate.
There are also a few differences that might occasionally pop up. Night creams often contain strong active ingredients like retinol or AHA, while sleeping masks rarely do since their primary purpose is to hydrate the skin. Despite that, some of the best sleeping masks on the market actually do contain glycolic acid and do have an exfoliating effect, so this is definitely not a rule.
There are many benefits to using a sleeping mask, all of which you can find below:
Because of the incredible amount of humectants, sleeping masks are incredibly hydrating to the skin – more so than a lot of regular moisturizers. They are made with a variety of humectants, with the most common ones being glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, and betaine. These humectants pull moisture from the air into the skin all night long, so in the morning you will wake up with glowy, hydrated skin that looks more youthful.
Sleeping masks often contain ingredients that help to boost the skin’s barrier capabilities and fortify it as a result. Even the go-to moisturizing ingredients have a soothing effect on stressed skin, but usually a sleeping mask will be fortified with skin-soothing natural extracts as well.
Almost every sleeping mask on the market is fortified with a few antioxidants to prevent the free radical damage of sun and pollution exposure, which leads to extrinsic aging. In other words, a sleeping mask helps to undo the damage of day-to-day exposure, and thereby it helps to keep the skin looking youthful for longer.
Vitamin E is the most common antioxidant used, along with a variety of mineral and natural plant extracts that also pack a punch. If you’re just looking for prevention then any sleeping mask will work.
Sometimes you will also see sleeping masks fortified with peptides, which are molecules that preliminary research suggests might have a collagen-boosting and wrinkle-fading effect. A product that contains these peptides will be the best sleeping mask for those wanting more significant anti-aging effects.
Many sleeping masks on the market are made with glycolic or lactic acid, to gently exfoliate the skin. Regular exfoliation is important for keeping the skin cells reproducing in top shape, as well as for keeping skin texture smooth ensuring optimal penetration of skin care ingredients.
Many people find it difficult to find the time to exfoliate, especially if they prefer a chemical exfoliant that has to stay on the skin to work. A sleeping mask that is both hydrating and exfoliating is a great way to get two benefits in one, and it does all of the work while you sleep!
● No Mess!
The best sleeping mask formulas are made specifically to adhere to the skin and not leave behind a residue. You don’t need to worry about getting your pillow dirty, as the gels are non-staining.
A sleeping mask can become a wonderful part of your evening skin care routine. Some sleeping masks can be used every night, while others may only be used a few times a week, so make sure to read the directions on the product you’ve purchased.
If your sleeping mask contains any resurfacing ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol, then start off by using it just once or twice a week and slowly increase how often you use it – if your skin gets sensitive then decrease how often you use it.
If you’d like to increase the skin-soothing properties of your sleeping mask then keep it in your mini fridge. The cool temperature will instantly calm your skin, especially if it’s a little stressed.
● Start your evening skin care routine by cleansing your skin in whichever way you like and that best suits your skin, but make sure all makeup, sunscreen and grime are thoroughly removed from your skin, and that there is no trace of the cleanser.
● Do the rest of your night-time skin care routine: toners, essences, spot treatments, and serums all layer very nicely under a sleep mask – creams, however, may not interact as nicely, so it is best to use a sleeping mask instead of a night cream.
● If your sleeping mask comes in a jar, scoop out about a quarter-sized amount with a clean skincare spatula.
● Apply it to your skin in a gentle patting motion, making sure not to rub it in.
● If your skin is feeling a little extra dry or dehydrated, wait until the first layer absorbs and then go back in with a second layer.
● That’s it, your skin is now ready for bed!
● Once you wake up in the morning, rinse off the sleeping mask, as the sealing ingredients in it might not play nicely with your morning skin care. Lukewarm water and a face cloth should suffice, although you can also use a gentle cleanser if you prefer.
If you’re in need of a small pick-me-up any time of the day, you can also use your sleeping mask as a regular skin care mask!
● Apply the sleeping mask to cleansed skin, using the same gentle patting motion I mentioned previously.
● Let the mask stay on your skin for 10-15 minutes.
● Rinse it off with lukewarm water – if that doesn’t seem to be enough you can also use a face cloth or opt for a gentle cleanser.
● Now that your face is glowing and hydrated, ensure that goodness lasts by following it up with the rest of your skin care routine.
● If you’re doing the mask in the daytime, make sure that you have an SPF as your final step to keep your skin protected from the sun.
Photos via @luciebfink, @michmilla, @pink_oblivion, @girlwithnofillers, @blondeyouadieu, @hanaylee