K-Beauty Sleeping Masks

K-Beauty Sleeping Masks

By Kate Limond
31/01/2023 | Read time: 5m

K-Beauty Sleeping masks are a great last step in your routine to lock in moisture.

What’s The Deal with Sleeping Masks?

Sleeping masks are a separate category of moisturiser to the usual day and night moisturisers. It may sound like a marketing term but, as always with K-Beauty, there’s a reason behind it!

You could definitely use a moisturiser as your last step. That’s totally fine, of course, but a sleeping mask is designed to be occlusive, whereas a standard moisturiser might not be.

Occlusive is generally taken to mean something that stops moisture evaporating from your skin – “ingredients that exhibit occlusive properties include petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oils and silicone derivatives” and this list could also include vegetable oils and beeswax.

Have you heard of slugging?

Applying Vaseline as a last step is the slugging trend you might have heard about recently. That’s all very well but it could be clogging and it’s not cosmetically elegant. If you’re a side sleeper like me, it tends to rub off my skin in the night, so I have a greasy pillow and dry cheeks when I wake up. I’ve tried it and it’s not for me!

Why I think sleeping masks are better

I’ve used a lot of Korean moisturisers in my search for the perfect last step and I’ve found sleeping masks tend to be the best balance between occlusive properties and cosmetic elegancy, whilst still delivering the benefits of a moisturiser (with good ingredients and extracts).

Admittedly, I like to layer an emulsion or light cream under my sleeping mask but that’s because my skin wants a lot of cream, even though it’s combination. And yes, I know I’ve linked to the Mary & May Blackberry Idebenone + BlackBerry Complex Intensive Total Care Cream again but it’s my favourite and I’ve ordered two more jars of it since my initial review, which you can read here. Plus, some creams with no dedicated occlusives, like my beloved Mary & May moisturiser, actually do a good job at reducing moisture loss, although I prefer to minimise moisture loss as much as possible for my aging skin!

The other thing about a sleeping mask is that it is obviously meant for night-time. Although I’ve used them as day creams, they might have a more shiny finish than a typical day cream. But, as I mentioned in my Isntree Hyaluronic Acid range review, if you put make-up over them (like I do with the Isntree sleeping mask), make-up gets rid of the shininess and it’s an excellent make-up base.

I’m focusing on the face sleeping masks I’ve tried here but there’s a wide range available including sleeping masks for your lips, so you can wake up with super soft, hydrated lips too!

COSRX Sleeping Masks

Cosrx’s Full Fit Propolis Honey Overnight Mask is a thick jelly texture but it spreads really easily on my skin and isn’t sticky. It has that lovely, sweet honey propolis smell from the extracts (it’s fragrance free). The mask is great for oily skin that needs a bit of love because it’s not heavy or creamy but it will lock in the moisture from your previous steps.

I’ve written about why propolis is so good for oily, acne-prone skin here. Whilst all skin types can use this mask, drier skin will probably need a product with oil, too.

The Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask is beautiful, dry skin will adore it because it has a good oil content. I can’t fault the name: it is the ultimate nourishing moisturiser because of the combination of oils and silicone. Although it’s very moisturising, it’s not thick and spreads very easily.

I especially like that it has 2% niacinamide, along with the rice extract, for brightening skin. You can read more about rice extract here. But for me, the honey propolis mask has the edge, as I find the rice mask a little too oily for my skin.

Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Water Sleeping Mask

I have already reviewed this and I’ve linked the review above so I’ll keep my comments short and sweet!

It’s been a few months since my review and I’m pleased to say that this is still one of the best last steps I’ve tried, as it is very effective at locking in moisture. It’s also great for sensitive skin that needs some TLC because the beta-glucan is soothing as well as moisturising.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Ex

First up: the texture of this Laneige mask – it’s a classic gel cream and reminds me of the Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream but less gloopy and stretchy, more like pudding. It spreads easily and it feels refreshing like a splash of water, light and comfortable on my skin – it doesn’t feel heavy at all and it keeps moisture in.

It is most cosmetically elegant of the sleeping masks I’m comparing here (although I do like the texture of all of them for different reasons).

Arguably, it might just have the best ingredient list. Here’s my reasoning: it’s got a variety of silicones (occlusives), squalane (a very light oil, good for all skin types), ferment plus a little beta-glucan (soothing, moisturising), tranexamic acid (brightening) and a ceramide (barrier repair).

Most of all, my skin just looks great when I use it! I do use a lot of brightening, glowy products but my skin looked especially glowy after using the mask for a few nights. It’s nearly as effective as the Isntree for occlusiveness so I’m pleased to find a glowy alternative to the Isntree and it’s not quite as shiny when I use it during the day. I don’t find it quite as moisturising as the Isntree so that’s worth keeping in mind.

The Laneige is fragranced but it’s not too much and I don’t find it irritating. It is a bit more perfumey than some fragrance K-Beauty products I’ve tried and if you have extremely sensitive skin, maybe try the mini first to make sure your skin tolerates it!

Final Word

There’s something for all skin types and preferences in the sleeping mask category – and it’s more than just a moisturiser, it’s about keeping that moisture where it belongs: in your skin!