Cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, oil, repeat. If your nighttime skin care routine is starting to feel, well, routine, it might be time to experiment with a new step — one that requires zero extra effort and is easy enough to do in your sleep. Actually, for this new crop of skin care products, that’s kind of the whole point. Skin care sleeping masks are on the rise, promising to deliver hydration and glow overnight (and revolutionizing the term “beauty sleep” in the process). To get the scoop on the trending must-have, TZR consulted derms and beauty brands about why, when, and how to use sleeping masks.
Though they share a common category, sleep masks are different from typical face masks in almost every way. “Regular face masks can serve to lightly peel damaged epidermis, hydrate, and calm down irritation and are applied for 15 to 20 minutes, whereas sleeping masks are applied for long periods of time and are designed to provide longer, more substantial care,” Dr. Neil Sadick of Sadick Dermatology tells TZR. “Sleeping masks typically contain hydrating or remodeling agents such as hyaluronic acid and retinol, and their consistency is thick but non-comedogenic, meaning they let the skin breathe without clogging the pores,” he says.
You can think of them almost as super-potent moisturizers… but they won’t necessarily take the place of your regular moisturizer. “Sleeping masks are best applied as the final step — layered on top of a complete regimen — ideally just before bed,” Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist, tells TZR. Knowing how to use the LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask — one of the most popular sleeping masks — and other overnight masks is simple: Just add it in as the last step before you go to sleep. So go ahead and pile on the essence, serum, moisturizer, and face oil beforehand. (And no, these products won't mess up your pillow any more than your usual skin care regimen would.)
“You can definitely layer it with other products (as I do!) as long as there are no silicones in any of the products you apply beforehand,” Miranda Kerr, the founder of KORA Organics (and, you know, an iconic model), tells TZR of her brand’s Noni Glow Sleeping Mask. Since silicones create a moisture barrier on the skin, essentially locking in hydration, they’ll block the absorption of your sleeping mask. “We do not use silicones in any of our products — that’s why it’s totally fine when I apply the Noni Glow Sleeping Mask on top of my Noni Radiant Eye Oil and Noni Glow Face Oil,” she says. “All the products will absorb.”
For some sleeping masks, it’s best to apply directly on clean, washed skin, Tammy Yaiser, the Vice President of Product Development at Algenist, tells TZR. "It’s what we recommend with our SPLASH Sleeping Pack,” she says. “It contains a red microalgae polysaccharide and skin-energizing electrolytes to help restore essential moisture to replenish dehydrated skin overnight” — in other words, it provides all the hydration and moisture you need in one easy step. But still, check the instructions of your particular sleeping mask to find out if it works best layered or on its own.
Product layering does present a bit of a problem when it comes to topicals prescribed by your dermatologist, which are typically intended for overnight use, too. Dr. Sadick notes that hyaluronic acid-based sleeping masks, like the new Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask and LANEIGE Lavender Water Sleeping Mask, are gentle enough to be layered over your prescription creams without a problem. “But sleeping masks that contain additional active agents need to be used with care in combination with prescriptions,” he warns. “Consult your dermatologist on the best method of use.”
As for how often to reach for these products? “I recommend using the mask only every other night, or less often as a solo act, after cleaning and prepping skin,” Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of DERMAdoctor, tells TZR. They can be particularly helpful during season shifts, when the skin is craving more moisture.
While Dr. Kunin notes that there are no known risks associated with sleeping masks, Dr. Sadick suggests cross-checking the ingredient lists of your skin care products to ensure you’re not double-dosing on potent actives, like vitamin C or retinol. “Make sure there is no excess of these agents, as it can lead to skin irritation,” he says.
Ahead, 15 hydrating, brightening, glow-inducing sleeping masks that dreams are made of.
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“I created this Noni Glow Sleeping Mask because I wanted an organic hydrating treatment that deeply moisturized my skin,” Kerr tells TZR. “It’s a bouncy, gel-like texture that dries as a translucent film over your skin to lock in moisture. It contains silver ear mushroom, coconut milk, caviar lime, kakadu plum, and natural hyaluronic acid to help boost moisture levels in your skin and deeply hydrates. It won’t rub off on your pillow!”
“When we sleep, our skin switches into recovery mode and is at its peak to receive the treatment benefits of formulas,” Yaiser explains. “Our SPLASH Sleeping Mask contains a red microalgae polysaccharide and skin-energizing electrolytes to help restore essential moisture to replenish dehydrated skin overnight.”
“An overnight sleep product, like our Sleeping Collagen — which isn’t technically a sleep mask but a nourishing night cream that delivers collagen-boosting treatment benefits while you sleep — takes advantage of the skin renewal to deliver benefits while you dream away,” Yaiser explains. “It contains skin-mimicking ceramides, our patented alguronic ccid, and microalgae oil to help repair the skin barrier and visibly nourish the skin overnight.”
With a dose of brightening vitamin C, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and antioxidant maqui berry, Youth to the People’s sleeping mask does the most. (In a good way.)
LANEIGE was one of the first brands to introduce sleeping masks to the skin care category. This new lavender-spiked version adds an extra layer of calm to the hyaluronic acid-based formula.
Made with CBD oil, salicylic acid, and vitamin A, this equally exfoliating and calming mask is best applied to freshly-cleansed skin and worn alone.
This offering from Glow Recipe features over 70% avocado in the formula for an incredibly moisturizing mask that also boosts the skin’s natural production of collagen.
Talk about a dream team: Allies of Skin’s formula pairs hydrating ingredients (like fruit seed oils) with powerful skin resurfacers (like retinol).
This drugstore must-have uses kiwi extract and lemon peel to brighten skin overnight, so you wake up feeling *and* looking refreshed.
Looking for bouncier, glowier skin? Slather on a coat of Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask — a new classic.
This sleeping mask from Fountain of Truth is totally clean — no parabens, sulfates, or silicones — and relies on botanical oils and alpha hydroxy acids to plump and polish skin in eight hours flat.
Sheisedo’s take on the sleeping mask trend includes yuzu citrus, which is high in vitamins A, C, and E, in order to help moisturize, hydrate, and brighten dry skin overnight.
This luxury overnight mask from Perricone MD not only gives your face intense hydration while you sleep, but it also contains concentrated ingredients, such as alpha lipoic acid and coconut oil, that work to visibly minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
Building on the formula of LANEIGE’s OG sleeping mask, this hypoallergenic product is specifically designed to soothe irritated and sensitive skin. With the ingredient of fermented forest yeast extract, this overnight mask strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier for a healthy and hydrated complexion.
Korean skin care brand belif’s overnight mask addition to their Aqua Bomb product lineup lives up to its name: It gives your skin a dewy glow from the explosion of hydration packed into its jelly-like formula, which includes the soothing herbs lady's mantle and Scottish heather.
Dr. Neil Sadick, founder and president of Sadick Dermatology
Dr. Craig Kraffert, board-certified dermatologist
Miranda Kerr, founder of KORA Organics and supermodel
Tammy Yaiser, Vice President of Product Development at Algenist
Dr. Audrey Kunin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor
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