January 20th 2021
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about slapping on a face mask and splashing it off ten minutes later that leaves me just a tiny bit unsatisfied. Did it really have time to do its business? And was the whole process a bit of a waste of time? Leaving a mask on overnight on the other hand requires less faff and clockwatching, gives ingredients a fair stab of working their magic and actually encourages me to scurry along to bed at a decent time simply at the prospect of healthy, glowing skin by morning. Obviously leaving a fast acting, exfoliating product to fester overnight isn’t advisable (Sex and the City Samantha’s post-peel face springs to mind at this point), but a tailored, targeted night time treatment can hold in moisture and other goodies to make even snatched naps revitalising from a radiant skin point of view. You may still need that coffee on the concentration front, however. Click through for bedtime beauty, at its finest…
Where better to begin than the origins of the overnight sleep mask itself; Korea? As with many modern ‘skinnovations’, South Korea is streets ahead of most markets, with soaring exports and a yearly spend of over $6.5 billion US dollars on facial skincare as a population of 50 million according to Vivienne Rudd, Director of Global Innovation and Insights at market analysts Mintel (ours is a paltry $1.1 billion dollars for our population of 60 million). Erborian, a French-Korean brand that specialises in adapting Eastern beauty rituals for a Western clientele, fuses two famous skincare traditions with the aim of delivering truly ‘intelligent beauty’, introducing Korean beauty breakthroughs to European consumers especially.
This particular face mask promises both radiance and hydration in equal measure but did it deliver? I would say oui. My skin felt softer and smoother the morning after; I was impressed and would use it again as a weekly treat (treat being the operative word given the price, although we know that South Korean men and women are willing to invest in their skin so maybe they’re onto something). The cream itself is transparent which is a definite plus in terms of pillowcase preservation and for not scaring your bedfellow. The nourishing formula does leave skin feeling replenished, and on massaging it in the next morning before rinsing it off it's quite gratifying in a gross kind of way to see dead skin flaking away, with beaming newness in its place. This is the stuff of dreams, not nightmares.
From South Korea to Hungary, the birthplace of the late leading dermatologist Dr Erno Laszlo, relied upon by royalty, high society and you know, just Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, with the former reportedly declaring: “50% of my beauty I owe to my mother, 50% to Erno Laszlo.”
That’s quite some accreditation, and if waking up à la Audrey appeals, this seemingly everlasting sleep mask will do its best by breakfast (at Tiffany’s?) time. I say everlasting as you need only the most microscopic amount of the bouncy pink gel to achieve an all over face application; the smooth, light texture slips over skin and sinks in with no traces of stickiness. Rich in plant stem cells and kelp derived omegas 3, 6 and 9, it’s basically a balanced meal for your visage, feeding it with youth boosting nutrients as you snooze and boosting any serums or treatments you’ve applied underneath it. Also, the springy texture is based on memory foam developed for the NASA Space Programme. Casual.
Another buoyant beauty aid is this cooling, refreshing face jelly, designed to plump skin and blast away signs of fatigue, especially when combined with The Body Shop’s prescribed massage technique. A bit of a facial rub down never hurt anyone (don’t press too hard obvs), and using this moisturising but lightweight skin soother is a real pleasure post-party. It absorbs fairly quickly, so won’t take up too much actual and very precious sleeping time, and in my experience it saves face when your skin probably deserves to look a little ratty thanks to a newly adopted ‘festive’ lifestyle. Keep in fridge, don’t eat, apply on face, go ‘ahhhhh’.
If you’re thinking more along the lines of heavy duty than lightweight in terms of solving parched skin issues, and simply want to slather on something rich and old skool, ever-reliable Kiehl’s has a suitably comforting remedy in the form of this fragrance-free, skin barrier protecting mask. Abundant in plant based lipids and moisture attracting glycerin, there’s no flies on this, just to the point, highly effective hydration. It’s the kind of luscious unction that comes into its own in peak central heating and ski season, and luckily, the hefty jar means that there’s lots of it.
On a dark dark night there was a dark dark spot...that evened out over time with consistent use of this brightening, pigmentation reducing overnight mask. That’s the idea anyway, and while our tester didn’t notice a remarkable difference in terms of melasma reduction, its softening, plumping effects definitely improve skin’s appearance and surface texture. Lighter than your average night cream and formulated with vitamin C rich plant extracts that supposedly possess melanin inhibiting properties, it’s an ideal example of potent but gentle modern skincare. If uneven skin tones or sun damage are your bugbears, it may be worth welcoming Dr Weil into your bedroom. Not in that way.
If you feel that you’re still not quite in a traditional ‘night cream territory’, but definitely need a little skin blanket in winter, Pixi’s offering is perfect for those in need of a hit of moisture binding hyaluronic acid in a ‘barely there’ format. It works very well alone, but is a marvellous skin shield for anything you slip beneath it, boosting product efficiency and skin’s retention of beneficial peptides et al. Combine it with Pixi’s famed Glow Tonic and you’ll soon be more luminous than your Christmas décor.
The skeptic in me says that overnight miracles are hard to come by, but this Asian inspired sleeping ‘pack’ does visibly rejuvenate skin, with none of the grease of a heavier lotion. The ‘rested’ effect lasted 24 hours, with skin retaining its plumpness and smooth feel, thanks no doubt to a surge of hyaluronic acid and exfoliating LHA. If you’re very sensitive of skin, however, watch out for the addition of lavender oil. Otherwise, it’s a brilliant all rounder that takes into account our measly yuletide budgets…
Garnier Miracle Sleeping Cream, £12.99
If oils and fragrance do tend to aggravate your skin, clearly it’s best not to marinade your skin in them as you sleep. You should be safe with this creamy, fragrance-free overnight mask, which soothes and fortifies dry, delicate skin. It’s so mild that it can even be used around the eye area, so lurking crow’s feet will get a good seeing to too. Whether you’ve got dry skin by nature, are enduring a dehydrated patch or your skin is generally going haywire, Moisture Surge makes everything look and feel better, and you can apply it as often as needed to reap the dewy rewards. Let the botanical butters, calming algaes and cell stimulating antioxidants work their magic; you can just lie there and be a blob.
Obviously the natural way to benefit from beauty sleep is to make sure that you clock in enough hours in the first place, but if that’s proving challenging there’s another natural route to resuscitating dull skin by way of this fig, honey and cupuaçu butter based leave-on night mask. Free from parabens, silicones, mineral oil and synthetic fragrance, among other potentially undesirable ingredients, emollient and antioxidant honey gives very dry skin sweet relief, while fig extract brings the vitamins. Omegas 6 and 9 ramp up the moisture quota even further, so it’s no surprise that 100% of initial testers reported that it left skin feeling instantly nourished. If your skin is suffering, some R&R with Overnight Repair will do it the world of good.
I’ll conclude with a mask that gives a glow in a different, more literal way. Sleep Mask Tan has become a cult favourite among models and the beauty clan for its streak-free, overnight, non-pore blocking bronzing expertise. A near weightless, non tacky gel, the colourless formula develops as you get your z’s, while moisture binding hyaluronic acid and antioxidant red algae take care of hydration and protection, meaning that you’re not sacrificing skincare benefits for a sunny complexion. Aloe vera and cucumber extracts also minimise irritation, and if all is well you should rise in the morning with a subtle tanned tint (only apply a thin layer and build up on subsequent nights if you have darker ambitions). For gloomy mornings when you’ve pressed snooze a few more times than you should have, this complexion enlivener is a saviour, and you may find you need a bit less base than usual too.
January 20th 2021