A sleep mask is one of those items that you don’t realize how valuable it is until you use it — and consequently have the best night’s rest of your life. But while this bedtime accessory is a major supporting player for getting solid beauty sleep, wearing one may have potentially negative long-term effects on your skin. Specifically, they may counteract all of the hard work you put in with your anti-aging regimen.
According to Dr. Ellen Marmur, NYC dermatologist and founder and CEO of Marmur Medical, masks can certainly cause wrinkles. There are several factors that can contribute to it, like your skin health and the mask’s material and tightness. “If it’s too tight, it can pull and stretch the skin,” explains Marmur. It’s a similar concept to sleeping on certain types of pillowcases. While the signs of catching good Zzzs may be waking up with imprints of the fabric on your face — over time, too much friction from materials like cotton or microfiber can pull at the skin. That could be especially irritating to the skin around your eyes. That’s why we like the Manta Sleep® Mask ($30) — the total-blackout design features two donut-like eye cups that surround the eye area instead of pressing it, avoiding friction.
If you prefer a standard mask, choosing the right fabric is key. NYC dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak recommends selecting a sleep mask made of copper or silk. “Copper is a cofactor in collagen production,” explains Russak. “Several studies have shown that copper is one of the essential molecules involved in the synthesis of mature elastin and collagen, main proteins that play a role in maintaining youthful wrinkle free skin.” Copper already exists naturally in bodies to help support wound healing and to increase collagen, so adding it to your skincare routine — even through an eye mask — will only boost its benefits. Try the iluminage™ Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask ($35). It has copper fibers woven throughout to help smooth the look of wrinkles. Plus, there’s extra fabric sewn in to cradle the undereye area for an extra comforting sensation.
However, Marmur prefers silk sleep masks. “Material such as silk is beneficial due to the softness and comfortability,” she shares. “It’s also hypoallergenic, sweat-wicking, and insulating, compared to polyester or other blends that may expose the eyelid skin to chemicals and irritants.” If your skin is particularly sensitive, consider this when shopping for your next eye mask. We’re particularly fond of the Slip® Sleep Mask ($50), which was the first on the silk eyewear scene. It’s both made of it and filled with it for super softness, and it’s been tinted with non-toxic, non-irritating dyes. You can also try the silk Asutra Eye Pillows ($17) — it has small, built-in pockets that you can stuff with lavender to add an extra boost to your bedtime routine.
Keep Your Mask Clean
Another eye mask issue that could cause irritation is hygiene. Russak notes that it’s important to keep your sleep mask clean. “Often times, we use eye creams around the eyes before bed and then put on our sleep masks,” she explains. “Any residue left on the mask can cause irritation and breakouts.” To this point, Marmur adds that any inflammation or irritation can lead to collagen breakdown and eventually wrinkles.
“If you use the sleep masks every night, you are more likely to create creases that can lead to wrinkles,” says Marmur. While it’s easy to get used to the quality sleep that can come with wearing eye masks, try to give your lids a break from time to time.
Skincare Matters Even More When Using a Mask
Your evening skincare regimen is especially important, as well. That’s because skin repair is maximized at night due to the parasympathetic nervous system and circadian rhythm. “Be sure to remove all eye makeup and mascara with a gentle oil cleanser and rinse and dry with a soft cloth,” recommends Marmur. She also advises applying her MM Repose Serum ($85), which contains blue-green algae, evening primrose, and night-blooming Chinese cucumber to help maximize hydration and improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and tired skin.
Although evening is prime time to focus on your skin (as it works to regenerate while you sleep), Marmur notes that getting your rest is most important. “Insomnia can cause wrinkles,” she says, “because poor sleep throws off our circadian rhythm, increases stress in skin, and creates dehydration and fine lines.”
If the difference between a sleepless night and waking up wrinkle-free is a sleep mask, choosing the right mask is a necessity. Better sleep — even with a mask— will benefit your skin’s quality, texture, and tone. So go ahead and use that mask, but when choosing it, choose wisely.
Dr. Ellen Marmur is a paid Allergan consultant.
Products may have been gifted to the author for the purpose of writing this article.
Allergan may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article.