The average person spends approximately one-third of their life sleeping. That may sound excessive (that’s so much time that could be spent doing other things!), but sleep affects everything, including your skin’s appearance, because that’s when your body works to repair damage. Using skincare products designed for nighttime use, such as overnight face masks, can help you make the most of the time you spend snoozing. Think of it as multi-tasking (but without added effort).
Also known as sleep masks and night masks, overnight masks are designed to be applied to your face before bed and worn throughout the night. They often provide deep hydration and help support your skin’s natural repair processes, leaving you with a fresher, more radiant appearance come sunrise. Some have other benefits, as well—it all comes down to the formula. Ahead, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about adding an overnight face mask to your skincare routine. Read on for a deep dive into the benefits of overnight masking, plus discover two of Kiehl’s must-have sleep masks to bolster your nighttime skincare routine.
What Is an Overnight Face Mask?
While an overnight mask can technically refer to any skincare treatment designed to be worn while you sleep (including lip masks and overnight hair masks), the term is generally reserved for face masks. As stated above, they’re applied at night, after cleansing and toning your face, then left on while you sleep. In the morning, you either wash it off or pat in the excess formula before completing your usual morning skincare routine.
Kiehl's Tip: Some products can also be used for DIY overnight treatments. For example, if you have severely dry feet, try applying a thick layer of body cream to your feet before bed. Immediately after application, cover your feet with a pair of thick cotton socks. This helps lock in moisture for softer, smoother soles by morning. You can offer the same intense moisturization to your hands by sleeping in gloves, worn over a generous amount of hand cream.
What Are The Benefits Of Overnight Face Masks?
Overnight masks boast similar benefits to regular face masks: They can help hydrate, address skin concerns, and offer time for self-care. However, unlike regular masks, you sleep with them on, allowing more time for product absorption. The specific benefits of a sleep mask will, of course, depend on the formula you choose. Once you've figured out what skin concerns you want to tackle, you can get started on finding the right formula for your needs.
If your skin is dry, for example, we recommend reaching for Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask with 10.5% Squalane. The ultra-nourishing balm-to-oil formula contains glacial glycoprotein and squalane derived from sugarcane. It helps stabilize the skin’s natural moisture barrier, minimizing moisture loss and visibly improving the appearance of dry skin. Over time, it also helps skin feel less tight and diminishes visible flakiness.
Ginger Leaf & Hibiscus Firming Mask
Those looking to target age-related concerns (such as fine lines and wrinkles) can try Ginger Leaf & Hibiscus Firming Mask instead. The velvety, ginger leaf-infused anti-aging face mask works while you sleep to help firm your skin. It also visibly diminishes the appearance of fine lines over time.
How Often Should You Use Overnight Face Masks?
How often you should use an overnight mask depends primarily on the formula you choose. Some can be used nightly, others are best used more sparingly (think: once or twice per week). The mask you’re using should have specific instructions on the label that tell you exactly how often it should be used. As for the masks mentioned above, our Ultra Facial mask can be used up to three times per week, while you can apply the firming mask as many as five times per week.
Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Kiehl’s Tip: On nights when you’re not masking, reach for a nighttime face oil like Midnight Recovery Concentrate to help restore your skin while you snooze. This Kiehl’s favorite with lavender oil and evening primrose oil helps restore tired-looking skin, leaving you with a more refined, radiant appearance after just one use.
How To Add an Overnight Face Mask To Your Routine
Now that you’re caught up on what overnight masks are (and what they can do for your skin), keep reading to learn exactly how to incorporate one into your nightly skincare routine.
Cleanse and Tone Your Face
First things first: You’ll want to start with a clean canvas. Any cleanser suitable for your skin type will do, but we’re particularly fond of Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil for a nighttime, pre-mask cleanse. The non-comedogenic formula emulsifies with water to create a light, milky lather that effectively washes away dirt, excess oil, and even waterproof makeup. Unlike traditional cleansers, which are generally meant to be used on damp skin, you’ll want to apply this cleansing oil while your skin is still dry. Then, add lukewarm water, rinse thoroughly, and pat your skin dry with a clean washcloth.
Next, reach for a gentle, non-stripping toner, like Ultra Facial Toner. The alcohol-free formula helps remove any dirt and debris left behind after cleansing while simultaneously providing lightweight hydration. The pH-balanced formula contains avocado oil and squalane, and it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Soak a cotton pad in the liquid toner, then sweep the pad over your face, taking care to avoid the immediate eye area.
Apply an Eye Cream
Unless your nighttime face mask is suitable for use around the eye area, you’ll also want to apply a hydrating eye cream so your eyes look fresh when you wake up, too. Try Avocado Eye Cream. The classic Kiehl’s formula with avocado oil, shea butter, and antioxidant beta-carotene provides instant and long-term hydration, immediately improving the appearance of under-eye skin texture. It’s also clinically-demonstrated to brighten and de-puff tired-looking eyes with continued use over time.* You can dab a pea-sized amount along your under-eye area and brow bone, or—for a slightly more intensive treatment—smooth on a generous amount and leave it on for ten minutes before gently wiping away the excess with a clean tissue.
*Results based upon expert grading evaluated with product in a four-week clinical test.
Smooth On Your Chosen Face Mask
While your skin is still damp from cleansing, reach for your chosen overnight face mask and smooth on a generous amount, starting from your neck and spreading the formula with upward sweeping motions. If your mask is a balm-to-oil formula, like our Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask with 10.5% Squalane, make sure to continue massaging it over your skin until the consistency transforms.
Once you’ve finished applying your mask, brush your teeth and crawl into bed. In the morning, you can go ahead and follow your usual morning skincare routine (don’t forget the SPF!)