I used to be one of those weird teenagers with irrational neuroses who would put myself to bed at 10pm on the dot every weekday. I also had to wake up at 6:20 to get ready for school, which, nearly a decade later, I’m like "What are people thinking making teenagers learn things at 7:55am?” That is literally an insane thing to do.
Now that I am a full-grown woman-person who juggles a bevy of freelance jobs, I can wake up (almost) whenever I want! It is truly a blessing disguised in poor time management and groggy indulgence. I succumb to the grog more than I’d like to admit, but that is only because I’m really bad at putting myself to bed at a reasonable hour.
And then I learn about overnight masks and suddenly I am psyched to conk out come midnight.
So what you masks are telling me is that I can attain MOAR BEAUTY in my sleep? Do the beautifying powers increase the more sleep I get? I am willing to test that.
Here’s the thing, though. Overnight masks are typically heavier treatments than your regular 10-minute masks. They mostly act in the realm of “vitalizing” and “rejuvenating” and “moisturizing”--all things that kind of happen with a good sleep schedule anyhow.
Being that I have gotten increasingly dry in the face and my precious vitality will only further deplete in the twilight of my 20-something years, I figure if I can sleep my way to a future sans Rip Van Wrinkles, why wouldn’t I give it a go?
Marci bestowed upon me four overnight masks that were lying around the xoHQ, which means I caught at least four nights of pretty good zzzs. Augh, you girls keep me young!
Here's what I took away from using them.
AMOREPACIFIC MOISTURE BOUND SLEEPING RECOVERY MASQUE
The first ingredients in AMOREPACIFIC's Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque are phyllostachys bambusoides juice (bamboo juice for moisturizing) and panax ginseng root extract (for the anti-aging). The box tells me it will “replenish moisture as you sleep. Helps accelerate skin turnover cycle. Awaken to fully recovered, vibrant skin.”
I was pretty psyched about this one since Korean brands are usually on top of the skincare game. If there’s one thing I will note being half-Korean, it’s that Koreans are obsessed with their skin. A glowing, clear complexion is pretty much the only beauty goal; everything else is just ornamental. The few times I’ve been to a Korean spa in my parents’ neighborhood in Queens, the ladies were sweetly blunt that “You have wonderful skin naturally… except for your chin. That’s a mess.” I paid you to slather expensive weird creams on my face and pick my zits, not to shatter my ego, thanks very much!
I’d rather stick to treatments in bottles than painful extraction sessions, so I’m pretty hyped about this sleeping mask. After washing my face at night and putting on all my normal serums and spot treatments and stuff, I generously squirted this lightweight cream in my hands and applied it like a moisturizer. It smells divine and feels a bit slick, but half of it seems to absorb into your face within five minutes and the other half kind of just sits on top with the tell-tale sheen of “I have stuff on my face.”
I tried not to roll around too much in bed, lest it smears all over my pillow, but it actually stays pretty much on my face.
Upon waking and rinsing (I didn’t wash it off in the morning, just rinsed with lukewarm water), I noticed that my skin felt a lot moister. The slick feeling on my face when I was rinsing it off dried to a nice, plump, velvety texture. I didn’t have to apply as much daytime moisturizer.
SULWHASOO OVERNIGHT VITALIZING MASK
Next up, was Sulwhasoo’s Overnight Vitalizing Mask, from another Korean brand. I haven't been vitalized in a minute, so it's about time!
It has the same creamy texture as the AMOREPACIFIC one, and a nice herbal scent--very spa-y. Most of the ingredients are all herbal/plant-based extracts. Personally, I was sold upon spying squalane and camellia in the mix, but seriously, the first maybe 20 ingredients are some extract of a plant. I like plants. I prefer them to synthetic chemicals.
But don’t be fooled by all science-y sounding terms. For instance, this one has a bit of hyaluronic acid, which is a substance already found in your body, to cushion and lubricate connective tissue. It is, however, vulnerable to bad diet and bad habits (smoking, ahem), which is why you probably notice that people who’ve been smoking for decades have turtle skin.
Was I necessarily “vitalized” after sleeping in this mask (pretty much the same method as the last one)? I mean, sort of. Nothing crazy. My skin felt softer and my dry patches were nowhere to be seen. But to be fair, this was only the first time. It’s recommended you use this mask once or twice a week.
KIEHL'S ULTRA FACIAL OVERNIGHT HYDRATING MASQUE
Kiehl’s offers what they have dubbed the Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque. That the name is in all caps on the jar seems to tell me that they mean business, though it’s probably more just keeping consistent with brand packaging.
It boasts that it is formulated with Ophiopogon Japonicus, AKA "Fountain Plant." Can you guess what it does? (I will let you guess; I won’t tell you. OK, I'll tell you. It moisturizes.) This formula also name-drops "Desert Plants," so you know it means business. If cacti can remain moist and alive in a desert, theoretically their essence will allow you the same ability, no? Granted, I am not sleeping in a desert, which is great, because I hear they’re freezing at night.
After water, glycerin is the main ingredient, which, duh, is an awesome humectant. I’ll slather straight glycerin on my face any day. This one also has squalane (shout out to my fave lipid!).
The texture is way more goop than cream with absolutely no fragrant frills. It smells like chemical because I guess that’s what it is. Does it moisturize overnight? Hell yeah it does. Possibly TOO moisturizing? My face was stuck to my pillow in the morning, and it required a little soap to rinse off enough to lose the “I have goop on my face” feeling.
That said, you know what this is also great for? A hands/feet overnight mask! The next night, I slathered it on my feet, stuck some socks on, and woke up with gloriously baby-soft feet. No overnight masque left behind!
PETER THOMAS ROTH ROSE STEM CELL BIO-REPAIR MASK
OK, this one isn’t technically an overnight mask, but Peter Thomas Roth’s Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask totally says on the package that you can wear it overnight. Also, it has rose stem cells and smells like roses, so I’m like “Yeah, get on me!” Who doesn’t want to wake up not smelling like roses? Me (double negatives--tricky)!
The idea behind using “five perfect reparative rose stem cells” (including rose commiphora, desert rose, damas rose, pale rose and white rose) is that roses are apparently really good at self-repair and preservation. Another bid for team anti-aging and cell repair, fighting fine lines, wrinkles and dullness. It also claims to brighten, nurture, regenerate, rejuvenate, firm and tone your skin--a tall order for what appears to be transparent pink gel.
I will say, the best part of this mask is the smell. The texture is thick--sleeping required a bit of choreography to not get it all over my sheets. Honestly, I’d probably not sleep in it, but I reallllly want those rose stem cells to get to work. Can stem cells even get anything done in less than eight hours? I imagine they’re like union construction workers, sticking to a rigid schedule of always being over budget and overtime.
My skin felt nice the next morning, but considering I’m not quite yet suiting up for the losing battle against aging, it may just not be for me. Perhaps in the future, we’ll get the lock on whatever technology was keeping that rose fresh in Beauty and the Beast. Oh wait, pretty sure that was a gypsy curse…
So, should you invest in one of these? If you’re a responsible person, you probably clock eight hours of sleep a night, take your vitamins, eat right and don’t smoke or do bad face-wrecking drugs. You are probably an ageless beauty who doesn’t even need makeup and I hate you but in that complicated way where I also want your attention and approval.
It is nice to know that I can still surf the net until 2am every night and slather on a miracle potion that will make me look like said non-insomniac. The thing with overnight masks is that you probably need to consistently use them before you see strong results.
They’re also their strongest when the rest of your skincare game is also upper-level. I’m of the belief that there isn’t really just one miracle product that you can use and eschew all other treatments; it’s best to find the routine that works for you.