And that’s exactly what happened.
For about an hour, I dozed off, mask still clinging to my face. When I jolted myself awake, I was in a mild panic. The packaging said to keep it on for 15 to 30 minutes! I ripped the mostly-dry sheet mask off my face, slathered on some moisturizer, and fell back asleep.
The next morning, I took a good look at my skin, post-mask mishap.
To my surprise, my skin was ridiculously smooth and moisturized.
It was as if leaving my mask on for longer than the suggested time was…a good thing?
I shared my good skin fortune on Instagram; I mean, I fell asleep while wearing a sheet mask and my skin didn’t go haywire!
I had several people tell me that they had once fallen asleep while sheet masking and everything was fine. Moreover, there were a number of responses that said they normally mask for an hour regardless and their skin is usually better for it.
If there is one thing I’ve enjoyed about being a part of the Instagram skincare community, it’s learning about habits. Everyone has their own approach to skincare. Regardless of whether it’s “right” or “wrong,” the fact is that everyone has their own needs and preferences. I like learning about others’ habits because it gives me an idea of what I could possibly be doing more (or less) of in my own routine.
Upon receiving significant response to my sleep masking story, it was time for me to run a series of polls!
Others’ sheet masking habits: Time edition
Question 1: Do you always follow the recommended wear time for sheet masks? (41 responses)
- Yes: 85%
- No: 15%
Question 2: Typically, how long do you wear a sheet mask? (41 responses)
- Less than 5 minutes: 0%
- 5-10 minutes: 2%
- 10-20 minutes: 39%
- 20+ minutes: 59%
- Some elaborated on their times beyond this threshold. Most prefer to wear their masks for 45 minutes max. A few said they don’t follow a strict time, but wait until the mask feels dry.
I usually do about 30 minutes because I think it will be better for my skin. Can’t hurt, right?! — @ericalynnmoody
Question 3: “I wear my masks for a long time because…?” (39 responses)
- I’m lazy: 26%
- I’m a rebel: 5%
- I feel my face gets more from it: 69%
If [the mask] is still wet, I ain’t taking it off! — @my.seoul.sister
Question 4: Have you ever fallen asleep with a sheet mask on? (51 responses)
- Yes: 39%
- No: 61%
Examining my own sheet masking habits
More often than not, I follow the recommended time for sheet masks because I’m a huge nerd who feels that directions must always be followed. And because I once read this article featuring the following excerpt from Soko Beauty’s Charlotte Cho, which made me scared to ever do it:
“Your skin will soak in the ingredients for a period of time, but after that, it can have the reverse effect.” Cho says when a dry sheet mask is left on the skin, it will “draw the moisture away from your face.”
But as I’ve learned, and others have so kindly told me, that doesn’t necessarily happen. Nor does it make any sense. Of course, I think some masks might fare better than others when it comes to hour-long wear — think hydrating masks, drenched in essence. But while some sheets may cling to your skin if they get too dry, they won’t completely suck your face of all its moisture.
What do we really gain from masking beyond 20 minutes?
For one, a sense of money well spent. As skincare enthusiast Alexia (@tae_jungkook) explained, “I don’t want to waste extra essence. I feel like if I mask for 5 to 10 minutes, I’m wasting my money.”
Writer MsMerriam agrees: “I don’t like the feeling of wasting good essence by tossing it when it’s still drenched!” She also added, “Besides waste, [masking for a long time] helps my skin absorb thick or heavy layers underneath much better.
As for sleeping with a sheet mask on?
For the most part, those who have fallen asleep while sheet masking have reported positive results. Of course, sheets are not meant to be worn while sleeping; mask aficionado @my.seoul.sister said one time when she fell asleep, her mask “dried up and flew away under the bed,” but her skin “was still okay!”
Unfortunately, there was a unsuccessful sleep masking experience shared by blogger Skindeavor: “The mask wasn’t a great one and it completely dried out.” Well, not every sheet masking story can have a happy ending.
What have I learned from this?
I need to mask better!
One thing that I kept thinking about during this experience was the number of sheet masks I may have reviewed then subsequently poo-poo’ed because I followed the recommended time to a tee. What if I left some of those masks on for a few moments longer? Perhaps I’d have complained a lot less about how watery or poorly-absorbed the essence was. Or maybe I would have enjoyed benefits that were instead mitigated due to my need to take a mask off after the suggested 15-20 minutes, regardless of whether or not all of the essence had been fully distributed on my face.
Recently, the fantastic Fiddy Snails held an Instagram Live via @taiwaneseam_org, during which she explained how long she typically wears a sheet mask. I can’t recall the exact answer she gave, but it was along the lines of, “’til it starts to feel dry.” Admittedly, I thought to myself, “Why, though? Isn’t that bad?” Fiddy, I’m sorry I ever doubted you! Let’s consider my falling asleep wearing the Dr. Jart sheet mask as the universe’s way of telling me that it’s okay to wear your mask for as long as possible.
Of course, it pays to be a mindful masker. As the hilarious @yayayayoung recently shared, when a sheet mask totally dries up on your face, you’re gonna have a bad time. However, it can be something that a good mist would be able to help fix, unless the mask is of really poor quality and/or you left that thing on for like 12 hours.
But even considering that hazard, I’ve learned in many cases, there’s no rush required when it comes to sheet masking. Take advantage of all that sweet, sweet essence. Kick your feet up and relax with a good book or movie, and let the mask work its magic.
And remember that falling asleep with a sheet mask on won’t damage your skin forever. Just maybe try not to make it a habit.
Now over to you…
How long do you prefer to mask? Do you see a reason to follow the suggested times or are you fine with masking until the very last drop? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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I am not a professional. All opinions are my own.