What Do Overnight Masks Really Do for Your Skin?

Victoria Moorhouse
face masks

Photo: Joerg Steffens / Getty Images

We’d usually never dream of slathering on a gloopy face mask and then directly heading to bed. Do you know the damage charcoal or clay could do to a white silk pillowcase? It’s not great. But thanks to an entire genre of overnight face masks—which are actually meant to be worn while you sleep—we’ve been rethinking our nighttime beauty routine.

And if you’ve ever seen the word “overnight” slapped on bottles or tiny tubs in the Sephora aisle and wondered whether or not your skin would benefit from such a thing, you’re in luck. We went the pros to find out who should even consider these formulas and what they really do for your skin.

While the standard procedure of giving yourself a facial is usually as follows–wash your face, apply said formula, wipe it off—this category makes it simple. You apply and, well, get some shut-eye.

According to dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, Dr. Francesca Fusco, overnight masks are meant to treat your skin to an intense treatment over a longer period of time, specially when you’re asleep. “Sleep time is when your skin (and body) has an opportunity to repair and recover,” she says. “Dry skin, wrinkled skin, even will benefit from an overnight mask that delivers continuous, potent ingredients to address skin issues.”

What’s more, she says overnight masks could allow deeper penetration than something that’s only meant to be on your face for 20 minutes.

There’s quite a few different types out there, but one large category is overnight masks meant to restore moisture to your skin. Clinique ($24), Origins ($26), and Kiehl’s ($35) all have products made specifically for hydration. And Dr. Fusco says if you have issues such as dry skin or are dealing with dryness from an acne treatment, these masks can prevent your skin from looking dehydrated or sallow. She also notes they may be beneficial for those who have had laser treatment, but you should discuss with your dermatologist first.

However, if you have acne-prone skin, overnight masks that focus on moisture might not be the best bet. According to dermatologist and author of “Skin Rules,” Dr. Debra Jaliman, the occlusion can make breakouts worse.

There are also overnight masks, like Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Overnight Firming Mask ($88, elizabetharden.com) that claim to help with anti-aging concerns like firming and boosting skin’s radiance. Dr. Fusco says this category is ideal for those who don’t always have the time to give their skin TLC. “My patients are always saying how busy they are, and how they need to rush out of the house, limiting the products they use and the opportunity for layering. An anti-aging overnight mask solves that problem,” she says.

But regardless of the type you pick, using them couldn’t be simpler. Dr. Fusco says to follow the direction on the tube and to always have a clean face before applying it. “I tell my patients to apply 30 mins prior to bed—to allow initial penetration and avoid ‘wipe off’ for active tossers,” she adds.

She also mentions that your sheets and pillowcases may get damaged, so laying down a towel or switching your pillowcase completely (ya know, if you really love it) might be smart. Hey, when you score sheets with a high thread count, you cherish them.

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