Do Sleeping Masks Really Work? We Investigate

There’s definitely no replacement for a good night’s rest. Take it from a sleep-deprived mom of an active toddler! But when I’m feeling a bit indulgent at bedtime, I slather on some of my lavender-scented sleeping mask and the world begins to feel like a better place. I may wake up groggy but hey, at least I have soft, fresh-looking skin in the morning. 

Over the last few years, the market has been flooded with numerous sleeping masks (also known as overnight masks) and this made me wonder, ‘Do these really work for the skin or are they simply feel-good products you apply before bed?’ So, I connected with dermatologist Dr Madhuri Agarwal, Founder and Medical Director of Yavana Skin Aesthetics to get her expert opinion on these.

Do Sleeping Masks Really Work?

First off, do these actually benefit the skin? “There are multiple options of overnight masks available with targeted actives that can actually help skin while you are sleeping. When you use the appropriate overnight mask for your skin type and concern, they do work well,” says Dr Madhuri. She says the key benefit of overnight masks are rejuvenation and hydration for fresher-looking skin. 

Decoding How These Work

A sleeping mask is formulated to help ingredients penetrate deeply as you sleep and it works as a barrier preventing dirt and dust from entering your pores. It also acts as a sealant and locks in your other active products as well as actives in the mask itself, allowing all the goodness from these to seep into your skin. 

Dr Madhuri says, “An overnight mask is left on the skin for 6 to 8 hours. This gives adequate time for the active ingredients to be absorbed into the skin while the overnight skin repair cycle is ongoing,” she says. But can they block pores? “Since the masks are gel- or lighter cream-like formulations they usually do not block pores. Instead, they support skin renewal and repair at night as they contain active ingredients like antioxidants and hydrators,” she points out.

Sleeping mask

Sleeping Masks Versus Night Creams

In case you’re wondering, the answer is no – these cannot replace your night creams. “Sleeping masks are akin to the creamy night moisturiser but with concentrated actives in a lighter formulation that can be left overnight on the skin,” says Dr Madhuri. Thus, while night creams are gentle enough to be used every night, sleeping masks should be used twice or thrice a week as they are more potent.

Pairing Sleeping Masks With Serums & Actives

A sleeping mask is the last thing you’ll put on to your face before bed, and so if your PM skincare routine is one that includes multiple products, Dr Madhuri shares a few words of caution. “Sleeping masks can be used with other actives and serums under it provided the mask is not a concentrated version of the serum used or the skin is not a dry, sensitive skin type.” She suggests doing a trial run with the mask solo and then introducing the serums gradually under the mask. This will help to rule out any reactivity with the overnight masks over the serum.

Are Sleeping Masks For Everyone?

These are better suited for those who are 30 years and over and for dry or normal skin type mainly. Dr Madhuri also advises that they should be used with caution by individuals who are acne-prone or dealing with active acne. “Active acne, extremely oily skin type and sensitive skin should avoid overnight masks or use it with caution after checking the ingredients,” she says.

Dr Madhuri suggests avoiding an overnight mask that contains alcohol as it can irritate the skin. She further advises, “The skin changes with age and weather so adapt and change your overnight masks accordingly. Also, do not use overnight masks immediately before and after in-clinic procedures, instead, check with your dermatologist first.”

Some of the more popular ingredients used in overnight masks include ceramides, natural moisturising factors (NMF), glycerin, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, dimethylaminoethanol or DMAE (that helps with skin tightening), peptides, retinol, and centella asiatica (cica). So, you can choose formulations to target your specific skin issues such as pigmentation, dry or dull skin, dark spots and anti-ageing concerns.

Keen to try out a sleeping mask? Here are some of our picks:

Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask 


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This skin barrier strengthening mask helps to improve the skin’s natural strength to withstand external irritation. It is suited to sensitive, dry, flaky skin and one that is prone to redness. The sleeping mask is packed with moisturising ingredients like shea butter, squalane, panthenol and glycerin and the regenerating effect of Amorepacific’s patented cica ingredient, forest yeast, that helps strengthen the skin barrier overnight.

belif Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask


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If you love the brand’s Aqua Bomb moisturiser, you’ll enjoy this sleeping mask. Formulated with skin-soothing Scottish Heather and ultra-hydrating herb Lady’s Mantle, this overnight mask replenishes and revives dull, dry and fatigued skin for smoother, more supple-looking skin and a healthy glow. It is a lightweight formula that absorbs quickly, and is suited to all skin types.

Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask

A luxurious sleeping mask formulated with traditional Korean herbs that supply ample moisture and nourishment, this mask works to bring out the skin’s natural radiance overnight. It features Sulwhasoo’s exclusive Nutritive Red Elixir formula, with jujube and pomegranate extracts, that helps strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.

L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Overnight Mask

If you’re scouting for an anti-ageing sleeping mask, try this one. The mask fights the first visible signs of ageing and actively repairs skin from any blue light and other external aggressor damages. It is infused with the brand’s Immortelle complex which acts as a natural antioxidant and hyaluronic acid, which boosts skin hydration. It works to reduce dull skin, fine lines, uneven skin texture and dehydration, leaving the skin smoother, brighter and more even-toned.

COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask


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Enriched with more than 65% rice extract, this mask is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It provides intensive nourishment and deep moisture to the skin and helps in refining and brightening the skin while you get your beauty Zs.

Quench Botanics Birch Please Intense Hydration Water Sleeping Mask

This lightweight gel mask delivers intense doses of moisture to stressed and parched skin. It is formulated with birch juice, passionflower and sea buckthorn that hydrate, nourish and calm the skin. The aromatic scent infused with calendula, lavender, aloe and tea tree relaxes, soothes and comforts, while damask rose and honeysuckle help brighten, even out skin tone and shrink pores.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost 3D Sleeping Mask 

This mask that contains purified hyaluronic acid, olive extract and ionic mineral complex helps achieve five dimensions of ideal healthy skin – hydrated, luminous, bouncy, firm and smooth. It helps enhance skin translucence, firms up skin and reduces fine lines so that you wake up with hydrated, supple skin in the morning.

Dot & Key Glow-C Sleep Mask

This pineapple and vitamin C sleep mask infused with hyaluronic acid works overnight to boost the skin’s natural glow and helps fade pigmentation and dark spots. It is suited to oily, dry & combination skin.

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