The best time to water your plants is in the morning. The best time to take a nap is in the afternoon. The best time to amp up your skin care routine? The evening.

Skin does most of its healing and rejuvenation while you sleep, yet skin care is often viewed as a daytime ritual. In actuality, nighttime is prime time for skin care to go to work. So, if you're wondering when to layer on your serums and creams, it's right before bed.

To take your evening skin care to the next level, consider adding an overnight face mask to your existing lineup. This type of product isn't one you come across every day, so let's dive into why this type of skin care mask is a game-changer and how to use it.

What Is an Overnight Face Mask?

An overnight face mask is also commonly referred to as a sleep mask or night mask. As the name suggests, it's applied at night and worn while you sleep. Just like how sunscreen rounds out your daytime routine, a night mask is the grand finale of an evening regimen.

Using an overnight mask has many benefits. The first and primary objective is to support the skin's natural recovery mode that happens at night. Like the rest of your body, the skin is tied to your circadian rhythm. Further, the repair of skin DNA cells peaks at night, according to a 2019 study in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Think about it—there are fewer demands on your body during deep sleep, making it the perfect time to catch up on some needed restoration.

A sleep mask is like a powerful night cream, but don't get the two confused. Your moisturizer seals in your skin care products, but what seals in your final step? A good night mask forms a protective barrier not only around skin but also around layers of skin care products, so they can penetrate deeper and work harder.

An overnight mask can also help your skin appear less tired. Getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night is no easy feat, and the effects of sleep deprivation can show on your face. A night mask helps conceal those dead giveaways—dark circles, puffy eyes, dull appearance, fine lines—that your beauty sleep was cut short.

Finally, a night mask is a chance to pamper yourself. Skin care is self care, and a night mask is an extra luxurious step to ensure that your skin is getting the attention it deserves. It only takes a minute to apply, but the effects can be seen and felt for hours.

How to Use an Overnight Face Mask

Timed face masks and single-use sheet masks are simple: put them on and remove after a certain amount of time has passed. An overnight mask has different rules, and they're less strict.

The one rule of a nighttime face mask is that it should be applied as the last step of your evening skin care routine. So, get your face wash, toner, serum, and moisturizer out of the way first.

Unlike regular face masks, an overnight mask doesn't have a specific end time. There are no penalties for leaving it on longer than intended. Put it on before bed, go to sleep as usual, and wake up to a refreshed complexion—it's that easy!

Washing your face in the morning is a good habit to get into, but you don't have to rinse off your overnight mask first thing when you wake up. If you have oily skin, cleansing twice daily is recommended. But those with dry skin can get away with a simple splash of water in the a.m.

Determining how often to use a face mask is really up to you. Unlike regular face masks, which are usually recommended for use one to three times per week, an overnight skin care mask can be used daily. Incorporate it into your regular routine to encourage skin repair on a nightly basis and wake up to glowing results.

Adding a Night Mask to Your Routine

All and all, your existing nighttime skin care routine can be elevated with a good sleep mask. Simply add an overnight mask as the final step to your current routine to support your skin's natural recovery and form a barrier around your skin and your ultra-hydrating evening products.

For radiant skin, follow the EltaMD Skin Recovery System. It's a four-step regimen that visibly reduces redness and helps repair skin barrier damage, which is often the culprit of many skin woes. Powered by a patented blend of amino acids, the four steps work harmoniously to increase skin hydration, decrease sensitivity and irritation, and boost skin repair for healthier-looking skin overall.

The final step of the system—the EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask—is the solution to tired skin. It contains antioxidants to fend off the environmental stressors your skin faces each day and boosts the nighttime renewal process. This mask works overtime while you sleep, so you can wake up with brighter, supple, and hydrated skin.


  • Lacey Muinos

    Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.

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