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Are Sleep Masks Just Glorified Night Creams? We Asked An Expert

Bringing a whole new meaning to 'beauty sleep'.

Is the term "sleeping mask" a marketing ploy, or does it actually accomplish something that my nighttime moisturiser doesn't? 

It's a crime of sorts to embark upon a night of slumber without first applying a protective coating of some moisturiser or another. Your skin is at its most receptive while you’re asleep—with your body at rest, it gives your largest organ a chance to regenerate. That’s why night creams tend to come packed with more potent active ingredients than your standard daytime moisturiser; you want to take advantage of those blessed hours.

This is also the thinking behind the many, many overnight treatments and “sleeping masks” you’ve probably noticed popping up on the market. It’s a relatively new category in skincare, and it’s all about slathering on those more hardcore ingredients when your skin can make the best of them. But realistically, is there really—and I mean really, not just in theory—an actual difference between the function of a classic night cream and a novel overnight “mask?”

I’m one of those people who will try anything that’s new and being marketed as the next big thing, partly because it’s my job but more so because I’m a sucker for consumerism. Sad but true. So I asked Geraldine Jones, a qualified aesthetician and founder of Skin Formulas, who, unlike me, isn't buying night treatments by the dozen just because she likes the packaging. 

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"Overnight masks are like night creams on overdrive and are a more powerful way to achieve a healthier, more radiant complexion overnight," explains Jones. "By leaving them on as you sleep, they create a seal to retain moisture and water and help active ingredients penetrate the skin more efficiently, without feeling sticky to tacky."

It all comes down to the formula, really. "Night creams typically contain more hydrating and nourishing ingredients than your daily SPF moisturiser," says Jones. "When looking to give the skin a burst of hydration I always recommend turning to a good, active night cream to achieve it. At night our skin rejuvenates itself, it stimulates cell renewal and has the ability to replenish lost moisture due to air conditioning, cold weather etc."

They're both good for you, but it's kind of apples and oranges—like comparing a sheet mask with your go-to moisturizer. Your night cream provides you with your nightly dose of hydration, but you might reach for a sleeping mask once or twice a week if you're looking to add in extra benefits like brightening, anti-ageing, and more. Jones' advice on which to opt for? "When trying to decide between night creams and overnight masks, its best to look at your main concern, and then address it with the better option."



Skin Formulas Mask Exfoliator is an ultra-hydrating mask containing fruit enzymes. Developed to gently exfoliate the build-up of dead skin cells, the mask adds essential antioxidants to improve general skin health. Top Tip: This mask should be gradually built for more regular use, after a continued period of use it can be left on overnight to enhance its penetration.

Mask Exfoliator, €35, Skin Formulas

If you needed a reason to buy another GlamGlow product, add its DreamDuo to your cart, stat. Technically, it's not a "mask," but rather a two-step treatment that puts in just as much work as any other sleeping mask. To start, slather the DreamSerum—a clear gel with luminous pearl particles—all over the skin before locking in the moisture with the DreamSeal, a grey (goes on clear), lightweight cream that delivers a rush of hydration.

DreamDuo Overnight Transforming Treatment, €46.45, Glam Glow

Some overnight sleeping masks can feel slightly suffocating on your skin. Not this vitamin-rich jelly sleeping mask though—it is super lightweight and soaks into your skin in seconds without any heavy or sticky residue. I like to keep mine in the fridge for some extra cooling and de-puffing action when I pop it on.

Waso Beauty Sleep Mask, €49, Shiseido


Skin Formulas Night Cream contains advanced ingredients such as prebiotics and resveratrol which work together to maintain a healthy barrier function. Designed to visibly reduce dryness and brighten the skin within 2 weeks. 

Night Cream, €50, Skin Formulas

One of the major concerns that come along with ageing skin other than fine lines and wrinkles is discolouration or dark spots, both caused by sun damage and hormonal changes. Glycolic acid aids in resurfacing the skin and targeting those areas of discolouration, and Viniferine (sourced from grapevine sap) acts as a potent anti-ager. To maintain skin’s plumpness and hydration, there is hyaluronic acid paired with Vegetal Butylene Glycol, which helps trap water and hydration in the skin. An added bonus: It’s free of ingredients like sulfates and parabens.

Vinoperfect Night Cream, €35, Caudalie

This wallet-friendly night cream does it all: It tightens up sagging skin, brings deep moisturization, and helps fade age spots. Soy seed proteins work to boost elasticity and reduce fine lines, while shea butter hydrates. 

Age Perfect Night Cream, €17.50, L'Oreal Paris

Main image by  @bellamichlo on Instagram

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