The concept of ‘sleeping masks’ or overnight masks are a relatively new trend born from Korean skincare that has really surged in popularity. But the idea of leaving a face mask on your skin overnight while sleeping can make some people scratch their heads. So in this post I’ll detail the reasoning behind the sleeping mask trend before giving you some options should you wish to invest in one.
Sleeping masks? Please explain.
The idea behind a sleeping mask is ‘beauty sleep’. It’s a real thing, when our body is working hard on the inside to repair damage and turnover cells. During the day, our skin is under constant attack from external environmental aggressors and our cells are therefore constantly fighting these insults. However, while we sleep, our body switches from ‘fighting’ mode to recovery mode, an intense period of regeneration. As we wind down for sleep, a hormone called melatonin is increased, which follows a circadian rhythm of secretion. This not only gears our body for sleep but melatonin actually has a strong anti-oxidative effect. Therefore it’s thought to be implicated in the repair of our skin cells by inhibiting the effects of reactive oxygen species that can cause cellular damage, as well as DNA damage. Human growth hormone (HGH), is also another hormone that increases cell turnover during our sleep. Interestingly, during periods of deep sleep, our core body temperature is at it’s lowest yet our peripheral skin temperature is at it’s highest (because it’s trying to release the heat from our core), but this accelerates water loss through the surface of our skin. This is why when you wake in the morning your skin feels more dry than usual (well, for me anyway).
So our skin is working hard during our sleep to make itself the best version it can be when we wake up, a feature that is taken advantage of with the conception of the sleeping mask. Why not provide more armour for our skin to give it the best chance to regenerate overnight? If there is a way to help achieve the perfect skin, and it involves sleep, it’s pretty much a dream come true. Thus, the idea of the sleeping mask was born.
What’s wrong with my night cream?
Nothing actually. Both a sleeping mask and a night cream have their place in our beauty routines. It really comes down to the formula. Night creams are generally geared towards treating dry or dehydrated skin by providing your nightly dose of hydration. But sleeping masks are generally a thicker formula with a tonne of emollient and humectant ingredients, and are a more concentrated formula. Active ingredients can also include those that can help with skin brightening, cell turnover or repair. Most are designed to leave an occlusive layer on your skin – to seal in all the goodness of your previous skin care products, add in extra moisture and lock it all in place overnight to reduce the effects of water loss as we are sleeping. Sound familiar to night creams? Well, that’s because they are very similar. You apply them in the same way (although I like to slather a thick layer of my sleeping mask), and still have to wash your face in the morning to eliminate any residue. The more concentrated formula of hydrators and ingredients to prevent water loss means that a sleeping mask is a good replacement for your night creams every few days. However, because of the more rich formula it’s generally not a product that should be used every night.
My experiences with sleeping masks
So I thought while we are on the topic, why not share my experiences using some sleeping masks? If you’re interested in trying one out, any of these could be a good option. Each has their own differences, pros and cons, so it’s up to you to decide which one may be best for your skin.
Alpha H Beauty Sleep Power Peel
Although labelled as an overnight peel, it still falls under the same umbrella as an overnight treatment. It contains 0.5% Retinol, glycolic acid, and glycerin among others so has a dual purpose of being a skin resurfacing agent as well as a hydrator and anti-aging skin restorative. Now, it’s a little more on the luxury side coming in at RRP $129.00, but Alpha H is a pretty trusted brand when it comes to skincare.
The packaging on this is pretty cool and very hygienic. It’s a pump applicator where you press down on the lid and product expels from the top, so the rest of the product doesn’t come into contact with your fingers or mask brushes which may contain bacteria and contaminate the product. It’s a thick and creamy yellow formula with a subtle fragrance. I do like to apply this mask in a thick layer, but it does leave a slightly sticky film (I guess you’d expect this from using an overnight mask). It doesn’t stain my pillows, but I do make sure I allow a good amount of time for it to sink in before I lay down.
When I apply it I do experience a slight tingle, but I generally do with any retinol actives. It’s important to remember not all tingling is a sign of a sensitivity to the product, but can be a sign that the active ingredient is actually starting to perform it’s job. It’s not a lingering tingle, so I know it is not an irritating product for my skin. I definitely feel more hydrated skin when I wake up, I think perhaps the high content of glycerin really helps with that. I generally wake up with bright and clear skin, but this has definitely helped to amp that up just a little bit more. I love retinol products in my skincare so I’m really liking this sleeping peel.
You can purchase this product directly from RY and it’s currently on sale!
Payot Anti Fatigue Sleeping Mask
While the Alpha H sleeping peel is a creamy and thick formula, this is the opposite. The Payot sleeping pack is more of a gel formula, quite thin in consistency. It is thought that the gel formula of sleeping masks can help with absorption of active ingredients into the skin. Again, it features glycerin, and its actives are extracts from botanicals and ‘super fruits’ e.g. apricot, silk tree, acai palm, and goji berry as well as the all powerful sodium hyaluronate (you can read up on hyaluronic acid in my previous post here). The extracts act as antioxidants and some are meant to energise the skin during sleep. The glycerin and sodium hyaluronate help to add hydration into the skin and prevent water loss.
Interestingly, this smells a little like Garner Fructis shampoo. Its a fruity scent but still fresh nonetheless. The packaging is super simple and to the point, I really like the orange colour as well. As above, you apply this as you would a normal face mask. Because it is a lighter texture, it doesn’t leave too much of a residue either (but there is still a film mind you but it’s not sticky). I do feel like this helps to keep my skin looking more ‘awake’ than usual, however in terms of hydration it doesn’t feel as rich and emollient as the Alpha H overnight peel. I think the Alpha H should be used when you need extreme treatment for your skin, so I like to rotate my sleeping masks according to the condition of my skin at the time.
You can also purchase this sleeping pack directly from RY.
Clinelle HydraCalm Sleeping Mask
Clinelle is a brand from Malaysia that I’ve only just recently been exposed to, and they boast a unique 3x Hydracalm action of this range which features sodium hyaluronate, thermal spring water at pH 5.5, and a Bio-calm complex that I can’t seem to find too much info for (this slightly frustrates me, I want to know what this ‘complex’ is). All I know is that it’s a proprietary complex that contains bioactive ingredients to interrupt the inflammation cascase and reduce flushing or redness. But, looking at the ingredients list, I also see glycerin in high content. Other ingredients are of course sodium hyaluronate, and a whole array of different botanical and fruit extracts like lavender oil, lemon peel oil, bergamot oil among a bunch of others including one I’ve never heard of before: Mugwort extract (I can’t seem to find any research supporting the benefits of this particular ingredient in skincare – but I’m fond of the name nontheless). I really like the quality of the packaging here. The bright blue glass jar is sturdy but heavy, and reflects the hydration component of this range. It is in a jar, so be mindful when applying this because it’s not as hygenic as the abovementioned sleeping masks. The formula is again a gel-like consistency and is really light weight. I like the fresh and subtle fragrance of this as well.
Upon application you can feel the cooling effects of this formula immediately. I generally don’t like cooling products in the Winter but I am willing to sacrifice this small discomfort if a product performs the way I like it to. Again, I sweep a reasonably thick layer of this gel mask over my face and let it sit for about 15-20 mins before hitting the sack. Interestingly, I started to notice small water droplets forming on my skin after application and actually found out later that this is one of the characteristics of the formula. I’m guessing it’s because of the sodium hyaluronate – if you remember my post back on the HydroSkin hyaluronic acid range I noticed small water droplets forming on my skin after application as well. I kinda like this effect, I’m guessing again that this would help subsidise water loss throughout our sleep too.
Overall I really liked using this product and found it to be in the middle of the Payot and Alpha H sleeping masks in terms of hydration. It really helps to balance out the water content of my skin (estimated by touch), however is not so thick and heavy on my skin as the Alpha H one is. Again, this is in rotation and used based on my skin hydration levels at the time.
Dermalogica Nightly Lip Treatment
Although not a sleeping mask, I feel like this is a really important product to chuck into this post. Our lips do not produce any sebum for hydration or lubrication, and most of the hydration on our lips is dependent on our water intake. Therefore I feel it’s super important to treat our lips much in the same way as we do our skin. Especially overnight. Dermalogica also feels the same way and recently released their nightly lip treatment which is designed to be used not just on your lips, but on the perioral area outside our lips to reduce fine lines and increase hydration and ‘plumpness’ of our skin.
This product features Indian Gentian Extract, advanced Volumizing Technology and Sesame Seed Extract to help not only restore skin volume and plumpness, but to reduce laugh lines and the feather lines on our lips. I really enjoy the packaging and applicator of this product. The metal pump top has a cooling sensation to the lips, and the pump is much more hygenic than a pot or stick balm (remember to wipe the tip after each use though!). The formula of this is quite unique and hard to explain – it almost feels like a silicone primer. It’s not glossy nor does it feel like a regular lip balm, but it’s not unpleasant. The way to apply it is to dot the product on your lips and perioral area, and massage the areas with the tip of applicator upwards and sidewards so as to ‘lift’ the skin and smooth out feather lines on the lips.
I really notice the difference hugely when I use this. Not really in terms of eliminating feather lines (yet, I have only been using it for a few weeks now), but there is a definite difference in the volume and hydration of my lips. It also helps repair my cracks and tears in my lips that I get from constantly being in dehydrating air conditioning in the lab, and from the harsh cold of the Winter. It softens my cracks and really helps to heal them as well. Overall, this has become an absolute necessity before bed and I really feel the difference if I don’t use it. The only issue is when applying it, I usually apply my serums and other skincare products first, so I’m not sure if the mixing of this treatment with my other skincare products around my perioral area would make a difference. I’d like to apply this first before skincare products but then I wonder if it would impair the absorption of my skincare ingredients in this area.
The Dermalogica lip treatment can be purchased from RY.
That completes this post on the overnight sleeping mask trend! Have you been using any sleeping masks or overnight treatments? Let me know in the comments if so!
Kleszczynski, K. and Fischer, T.W. 2012. Melatonin and human skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 4(3): 245-252
*All products mentioned in this post were sent for editorial consideration however I was under no obligation to publish a post. All material presented is genuine and my own. The Beauty & the Geek AU is no expert in beauty or skincare so please do not substitute my opinions for professional advice