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When you think of sleep masks, perhaps you envision a lady of leisure, lounging in bed with her Pomeranian, a sleep mask pushed up on her forehead and a martini in hand. (No? Just us?) Or perhaps you think of the frequent flyers slipping one on as soon as the cabin door closes. And while yes, they’re fitting in both of those scenarios, it may also be worth making one part of your regular bedtime protocol. Popping on one of these masks can help improve the quality and quantity of your ZZZs in several different ways.
First of all, covering your eyes forces you, quite literally, to stop the incessant phone scrolling that always seems like such a great pre-bedtime activity—spoiler alert, it’s not—giving both your eyes and mind a much-needed break. Similarly, a sleep mask is a great choice for blocking out any kind of ambient lighting; because our brains equate darkness with sleep, this can be a game-changer for less-than-stellar sleepers. “As well as being incredibly relaxing and soothing, they force us to completely unplug from our hectic lifestyles, and can be used to conquer stress, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and tired, dry eyes,” explains Harriet Inglis, founder of Spacemasks.
Sold? Slip on any one of the best sleep masks below and thank us later.
Best Overall: Slip Silk Sleep Mask
The beloved pillowcase from this brand may get most of the attention, but the eye mask is equally worthy of some time in the spotlight. Both are made of the same hypoallergenic silk, which, unlike cotton, doesn’t absorb moisture and glides smoothly across skin and lashes without tugging. The band is made from the same silk, too, so there’s no need to stress about it snagging and creating major bedhead and knots while you snooze. Available in 11 colors and prints, coordinate your pick with your favorite PJs or bedding.
Best Budget: Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask
You truly can’t go wrong with this affordable pick. Simple and straightforward, it’s made of 100% mulberry silk on both sides and has an easy-to-adjust band. It also comes in a wide array of 30 different colors and fun prints (options, people, options). It’s no surprise it’s one of the best-selling eye masks on Amazon, consistently pulling in rave reviews.
Best for Side Sleepers: Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask
Not only does this completely block out light with a unique design that covers even those tiny gaps around the bridge of your nose, but it also has a winged triangle on each side. This both keeps the mask in place—even if you’re not sleeping on your back—and alleviates any pressure or discomfort when you’re sleeping on your side.
Best Cooling: Earth Therapeutics Gel Bead Sleep Mask
This mask is kind of like applying cucumbers to your eyes, but better (and less messy). After a long day of staring at your computer, or whenever your eyes feel puffy and swollen, the cooling sensation can’t be beaten. Chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or pop in the freezer for five to 10 minutes; the gel beads get nice and cool, though the inner side is covered in soft fleece so the mask won’t feel too chilly against your skin.
Best Cotton: Lunya Washable Silk Sleep Mask
This mask—with 54% supima cotton—is machine washable, ideal when eye cream or makeup residue gunk up the mask. We especially like that the mask is thick and padded, with a wide strap that both prevents hair creases, but also helps muffle noise, too. Bonus points for the four pretty hues.
Best Weighted: Gravity Weighted Sleep Mask
Just like weighted blankets may help promote relaxation and better sleep, the same principle applies when it comes to an eye mask. This one evenly distributes about a pound of weight against relaxation pressure points, in ultra-soft, micro-plush fabric. If you thought a standard sleeping mask was relaxing, just wait until you try this one.
Best for Eye Fatigue: Morihata Binchotan Activated Charcoal Eye Mask
This mask is made of super soft organic cotton…with benefits. It’s infused with Japanese binchotan charcoal, which can both help ease tension and reduce puffiness around the eyes. An adjustable band helps ensure you get just the right fit.
Best Innovation: Sound Oasis Glo to Sleep Therapy Mask
Hold this up to a light source for about 30 seconds before wearing it. Keep your eyes open once you slip it on (it doesn’t sit directly on your eyes) and stare at the soft blue lights inside the mask; a form of light therapy, it’s meant to help boost the alpha brain waves that help calm your mind and body. You can also download an accompanying sound mediation on your phone to listen to along with it.
Best Luxury: Derek Rose Finley Cashmere Eye Mask
There’s truly nothing more decadent than cashmere, particularly when you’re talking about a cashmere sleep mask. This uses Lora Piana cashmere (some of the best out there) and is gently padded for the ultimate in comfort and coziness. Jet-setters will appreciate that it comes with a silk carrying pouch, too.
Best Blackout: Mindfold Blackout Sleeping Mask
With foam padding and cut-outs inside, this mask may look a little strange, but the cut-outs let you open your eyes completely and still be in complete and total darkness. Think of it like blackout curtains, but cheaper and easier. An added boon: Because it doesn’t touch your eyes, it’s a good pick for anyone sporting lash extensions that can't get smushed.
Best Disposable: Spacemasks Self-Heating Eye Mask
Not only are the one-time-use masks perfectly practical (you get five in a box, making them an exceptional choice to dole out at a bachelorette party or girls trip), they have the unique feature of warming up as soon as you open them. Iron powder warms up the self-heating masks as soon as you open them, almost instantly relieving tension and tired eyes. Comfortable ear loops help keep it in place.
Best Anti-Aging: Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask
Copper is a known skin-loving mineral, with the ability to boost cell renewal and deliver some serious anti-aging benefits. Here, copper ions are infused into the fabric, so that this mask can pretty much take the place of your eye cream. Seriously, wear it nightly for brighter skin in just two weeks, and fewer lines and wrinkles in four weeks. Beauty sleep indeed.
Best Eco-Friendly: Half Asleep Ruffle Sleep Mask
With sustainably sourced fibers and packaging and dyed using only plant-based pigments, this mask is choice for the conscious consumer. The brand also donates a percentage of sales to organizations that help the homeless, and plants a tree for every item purchased as well. Not to mention that the ruffled edging and band are just super stinking cute.
We're giving top honors to Slip Silk Sleep Mask (view at Sephora). It's made out of hypoallergenic silk so it won't absorb any moisture and will keep your lashes and hair free of any damage while you sleep. Looking to really amp up your beauty sleep? Try the Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Eye Mask (view at SkinStore). Copper is infused into the fabric to help boost cell renewal and deliver anti-aging benefits in just four weeks.
What to Look for in a Sleep Mask
The perfect sleep mask will be comfortable to wear and won't irritate your skin and hair. Silk is a great option, not only because it feels great, but also because it won't collect moisture, tug at your skin, or tangle up your hair.
Your sleep mask should slip on and off easily, but it should also fit you well enough that it doesn't slide around while you sleep. Most sleeping masks come in a one-size option, so make sure it's neither too tight nor too loose.
Beyond blocking out light, there are some sleep masks that can be heated or cooled to help relieve tension and soothe the eyes. Others are weighted to help relax pressure points. Some sleeping masks help fight off wrinkles while others use light therapy to help calm your mind and body. You can even find sleeping masks that cover your ears to filter out sound. How advanced you want your sleeping mask to be is entirely up to you.