What’s the first thing that comes into mind when you think about eye masks? If you’re like most, you’d think eye masks are either made for frequent travellers or women who always want to look good. You’re almost sure you don’t need one because you’re neither a jetsetter nor a beauty-obsessed socialite.
But eye masks, especially those filled with gel, are not only aesthetically beneficial, but they’re also seriously therapeutic. Whether used hot or cold, they can soothe a host of eye discomfort and, surprisingly, help improve a few health conditions.
Allow us to shed light on the benefits of these peeper covers, and explain why this could be one essential product you never thought you needed.
What are eye masks?
Search “eye masks” on Google and you’ll see products that come in various shapes, sizes and types.
Whether made from gel-filled plastic to silk or cotton fabric, eye masks are intended to cover your eyes and parts of your nose, cheeks and temple. Some eye masks come with elastic bands or adjustable Velcro straps that you can tie around your head. They can be used more than just to have some peace and quiet.
- Sleep eye masks – These are usually made from soft fabric such as silk, blended cotton, nylon, neoprene or PVC. Some are cushioned and some are not. They’re meant to block out light, helping you relax and sleep better.
- Gel eye masks – They can be used warm or cold to soothe you from various eye discomfort or to relieve headaches, migraines and sinusitis, among other conditions.
Some are made of plastic, filled with gel, and with attached Velcro straps, while some are sold in a set with fabric sleeves, giving you a multi-purpose eye product.
When to use hot or cold eye gel mask
Depending on your specific condition and preference, the eye gel mask can be used for hot or cold treatments.
Cooling your eyes is beneficial to ease swelling, allergies and general pain, while warming them is better for alleviating specific eye conditions such as MGD, styes, blepharitis and dry eyes. That’s because a warm gel mask can help stimulate oil production, thin out clogged oils, relieve pain and soothe eye strain.
Although you can use cooled or warmed eye masks to help you sleep better, go for a heated mask if you’re aiming for a more relaxing and soothing touch.
How to use the eye gel mask
For fuss-free relief, this optician-recommended, multi-purpose eye gel mask works wonders for your eyes, reducing puffiness and swelling in no time. This eye mask comes with two gel inserts that you can use alternatively.
All you have to do is pop the gel packs in the fridge for two hours and place them inside the insulated eye mask cover for the safest eye cooling experience.
If you want a warming eye gel mask, just place the gel insert in recently boiled water (boiled water that has cooled off a bit) for five minutes, wipe dry and place inside the insulated eye cover.
The benefits of using eye masks
1. Improves sleep quality
Our ancestors’ circadian rhythm (the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle) was simple, they were mainly awake during the day and slept through the night. But upon the invention of electricity, things got a bit complicated, and our sleeping patterns got distracted. It seems our busy lifestyle and the digital age are mostly to blame for chronic sleep deprivation, which, according to estimates, affects up to 70 million individuals in the US.
Light exposure in the evening negatively impacts the production of melatonin, the hormones responsible for a person’s sleep and wake cycle. Blue light is notoriously known for suppressing melatonins in humans, disrupting our circadian rhythms and resulting in sleep deprivation, a study discovered.
As humans associate darkness with sleeping, experts recommend simulating a “dark room” to improve sleep quality and duration. Eye masks, with their ability to block out light, can be used instead.
2. Makes you healthier overall
By allowing for a deep slumber, eye masks help increase melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is an antioxidant, and producing a fair amount of it will not only help you sleep soundly but it may help prevent cancer, cardiovascular issues and other health conditions.
Your body might not be able to ward off the DNA damage done by cancer-causing chemicals and too much sun exposure on its own, so you need antioxidants for extra protection.
3. Contributes to better mental health
Here’s another reason for you to sleep in total darkness: a recent study linked depression to light exposure during sleep. When using an eye mask to block out light while you sleep, you’ll have a cheaper and chemical-free alternative to medical sleeping aids.
4. Wards off eye puffiness
Aging, allergic reaction, sleep deprivation and too much crying (or partying) are few reasons why you wake up with puffy and dark eyes. If you want to look fresh and get rid of panda eyes, no matter the reason, a cooling eye gel mask is your best bet. A cooling eye mask constricts the blood vessels around your eyes to get rid of the swelling quickly.
5. Alleviates eye pain and discomfort
Blepharitis, dry eyes, meibomian gland disorder (MGD) and other eye conditions are best applied with a heated eye gel mask for increased eye lubrication and to unblock oil glands.
The warmth coming from a heated eye mask feels reassuring and is a good pain reliever.
6. Provides unmatched relaxation
More than just needing shut-eye, we also need a quick timeout from the daily grind. When you feel overwhelmed with life’s daily pressures and stresses, you can always put on a hot or cold eye gel mask to relax and refresh.
7. Naturally relieves headaches and migraines
A dark and calming environment might be just what you need to heal from headaches and migraines.
Cold therapy and compression, the kind that this eye mask provides, helps relieve migraines by numbing the pain and providing you with a comfortable and relaxing space.
8. Complements your “power naps”
A mid-day shut-eye or “power nap” is proven beneficial in boosting mental acuity, refreshing your mind and helping you get on top of things at home or at work. A 2005 study commissioned by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in cooperation with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute revealed a person’s working memory performance benefitted from power naps, making subjects more focused and committing less mistakes.
You’re off to a more relaxing power nap if it’s accompanied by a hot and cold eye gel mask or a sleeping mask.
9. Every traveller’s perfect companion
Whether you’re miles above ground or at a posh hotel, you need to combat jet lag and sleep deprivation. Tossing and turning in your plane seat or bed is not a good option. These times call for an eye mask, and maybe ear plugs, so you can have your badly needed snooze in a jiffy.
If you’re frequently stuck in these situations, it’s better to invest in a hot and cold eye gel mask you can use as a sleep aid and to relieve headaches.
How to choose the right eye mask
In choosing an eye mask, think about your needs, comfort, durability and value-for money. For instance, you might prefer a cushioned sleeping eye mask as it offers more comfort than non-cushioned ones, of course. Or, since you’re often on the road, an eye mask made from durable materials works best because of its ability to withstand frequent washes and continuous use.
What are the possible adverse effects of using a gel eye mask?
Being highly sensitive, your eyes only deserve the best care. While eye masks are a natural, drug-free way to relieve various eye conditions, they do come with certain perils, especially if used incorrectly:
- Blurry vision – If you wake up with a blurry vision after sleeping with your eye mask on, you probably wore it too tightly. This is a minor issue and no cause for alarm, unless your vision does not return to normal after a few minutes. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.
- Skin irritation – Eye masks make you feel good, but some components may leave you with skin irritation around the eyes, cheeks or nose. Be sure that you are not allergic to any of the mask’s fabric or additives. Wash off the dirt from your mask regularly with chemical-free detergents or soap, too.
If you developed rashes or acne while using a mask, you may need to switch to another brand or type. Ask your doctor for a better alternative.
- Ice burn – Care should be taken in using cold masks or compresses. If the mask doesn’t come with a sleeve, you should put a cloth in between your eyes and the ice pack to avoid a potentially eye-damaging ice burn.
What’s the best and safest eye gel mask?
Don’t use eye masks that warm via a microwave oven as they result in uneven heating and could burn your eyes if you’re not careful. To keep your peepers safe, use this eye mask instead, as it warms through boiling water, a safer and more stable heating method.
The Magic Gel Eye Mask is recommended by opticians and features an insulator-lined cover that protects you from excessive heat or cold, as it holds either temperature for about 10 minutes. The elasticated strap adjusts to your head size, so you won’t have to worry about wearing it too tightly.
Eye masks are essential for a good night’s sleep and to soothe various eye conditions. Buying one is a worthwhile investment for a restful slumber, as it is way cheaper than blackout curtains, chemically-laden sleep medicines or a high quality bed, mattress and pillows.
How about you? Do you suffer from sleep disorders or eye problems? What’s the best eye mask for you? Let us know.