When it comes to skincare, masks were HUGE in 2016 – particularly, the Korean sheets variety. You know, the ones that make you look like Hannibal Lecter? I guess we have social media to thank for the explosion of this trend, as the sheer entertainment factor of wearing one is better than any Instagram filter! Dewy skin and Insta-hilarious post? Now that’s a winning combo.
But for me, the standout mask of the year was another type: The Warming Eye Mask. It also comes from the Far East and its purpose is to help you switch off, relax and unwind. Let me tell you, it does work!
I first got hold of one through my flatmate, who stocked up in China and offered me a few. Clever girl! She told me “these are actually amazing” and explained how simple they are to use: all you do is open a sachet, pull out the folded-up mask, open it and pop it on your eyes (it’s designed like a sleep mask, so you tuck two straps behind your ears) and wait for it to heat up. Then, you just enjoy the experience and throw it after use. I loved the concept and was super intrigued, but nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow.
As instructed, I lied down in bed and let the mask do its thing. Within thirty seconds, I started feeling it heating up and after a minute or two, it hit the perfect warm temperature. My face felt comfortable and relaxed. At that point, my mind started to wander off, as if the mask was performing some sort of lullabying magic on my tired, computer-screen-worn eyes. “What kind of badass sorcery is this?!” I thought, as I drifted very close to sleep. The answer is actually a Microsteam technology, which is air-activated when the mask is opened and delivers a gentle steam, designed to soothe and moisten eyes.
The feeling of a mini-heatwave on my face lasted a good fifteen minutes before wearing off. I felt so rested and at peace with the universe, it was very hard to get up afterwards. I was hooked, but where was I to get my next fix? I naturally tried to convince my friend to sell them in the UK and assured her: “stressed-out Londoners will love this. You’ll make a killing.” and I was convinced of that. I didn’t expect something so simple to have such an instant impact on my wellbeing, and I was sure Londoners would feel the same!
Funnily enough, a few months later I saw a YouTube advert for the UK version of the same product by Optrex to “relieve and relax tired eyes in just 10 minutes”. I literally squealed of excitement! I haven’t tried this version of the mask (yet), but sounds like good value for your bucks as you get 8 masks for £9.99 at Boots. It does so much more than just relieve tired eyes, it’s instantly relaxing – and it also forces you not to look at a phone or computer screen for twenty minutes. Ha.
My favourite experience was using it a flight. Anyone who lives in London knows that journey to and from the airport is probably the longest/most annoying part, so why not make the most of it and have a nap on the train with it? Personally, I waited until I was in bed. Combined with chamomile tea, it was THE BOMB – and bye, bye jet lag! As soon as I took the mask off, I drifted to sleep in no time. Try it if you’re feeling restless, as I think it works well as a natural sleeping aid. It’s instant wellbeing.