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Wait, Do Sleep Masks Cause Wrinkles? The Answer Will Surprise You

Image by Katarina Radovic / Stocksy
June 3, 2022
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Some types of wrinkles are simply unavoidable (friendly reminder that gravity affects us all at some point), but others are within your control, to an extent. And within the latter bucket, you'll find a few sneaky offenders that can deepen folds over time, like constantly staring down at your phone and screens, skipping oil during gua sha routines, and some less than stellar sleeping habits. 

Let's pause on that last point: According to Sabrina Noorani, founder of ClearForMe, sleeping with an eye mask on can also potentially lead to fine lines (yep, we were shocked, too). "I recently learned that it's not recommended for [healthy skin aging]," he declares on an episode of Clean Beauty School. "So I'm wrestling with what I should do." We simply had to investigate. 

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Can eye masks cause wrinkles?

Eye masks are not frivolous bedtime accessories—many are quite chic, yes, but they're also helpful for blocking out any excess light that creeps into your sleep space. Even the tiniest bit of light can send a signal to our brains to stay awake, so encouraging as much darkness as you can is key for quality sleep. Noorani finds them particularly helpful for her wind-down routine: "As soon as I put on an eye mask, I can immediately shut off and go to bed," she explains. 

The problem is, the fabric has to be pretty secure in order to comfortably stay snug all night long. That constant pressure on the delicate eye area can lead to compression wrinkles (known colloquially as "pillow lines"), especially if you sleep with your face smashed into the pillow. And if you toss and turn throughout the night, that fabric can tug at the skin around your eyes—which, over time, can lead to fine lines. As you grow older and your natural collagen levels decline, those folds may start to stick around: "They will deepen over time with repetition as skin thins and elasticity wains with both age and sun damage," notes board-certified dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care, about this type of wrinkle

What to do about it.

Again, wrinkles are inevitable at some point, but the fabric you choose has some say in the matter. Cotton or linen are porous and therefore rougher fabrics, while silk and satin prevent friction and provide some slip for delicate skin, so it's much softer on the eye area. "Silk pillowcases are often recommended for preventing sleep creases because the soft material is less likely to crease your skin," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., and those same properties make silk a solid choice for a sleep mask. This hypoallergenic, 100% silk mask from Good Side is especially plush and cloudlike (not to mention, the cool, sage green hue is associated with a calming sleep space). 

At the end of the day, though, quality sleep is paramount for healthy skin aging—arguably even more important than gentle fabrics. Let's not forget that your skin shifts to recovery mode at night, with the regeneration process up to three times faster than during the day (ever wake up with a noticeable glow after clocking quality hours of sleep? That's why). So if an eye mask (silk, cotton, what have you) is what you need to help ease your mind and body into rest, please, carry on. 

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The takeaway.

Do eye masks lead to sleep wrinkles? Potentially, but these sleep accessories can help secure a good night's rest, which is even more important for healthy skin. Better yet, if you don a softer silk number, the fabric should slide across your delicate skin with ease.