12 best sleep masks and eye masks to block out light

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NOT just a beauty gimmick, eye masks can be a beneficial addition to your sleep routine.

To find out which ones really work at blocking out light and providing an all-around better bedtime routine, we put some of the most popular sleep masks on the market to the test.

Sleep masks are designed to slip over or tie up around the head, completely covering the eyes and stopping any light from creeping in.

This may help you to drop off quicker and provide an uninterrupted night’s sleep, leaving you feeling more rested in the morning.

There’s even some evidence that wearing a sleep mask at night can improve brain function.

Nowadays, there are lots of different styles of eye mask to choose from, from luxurious silk and velvet fabrics to high-tech models that play music, with prices ranging from under a tenner to upwards of £100.

To help you decide which ones are worth your money, we tucked ourselves into bed to put a few popular eye masks to the test, marking them on comfort, style and how well they block out light. Here are the results…

Pros: Adjustable eyes cups that don’t press on the lids, breathable fabric, non-slip and adjustable strap, fastening doesn’t get stuck in hair, feels light to wear

Manta’s are like the Rolls-Royce of sleep masks, with a huge showroom of high-tech designs to choose from. We tested out the PRO, but the brand has other models which cool down the face, release gentle steam and even play music through the straps.

The PRO has a long list of impressive features: adjustable C-shaped eye cups ideal for side sleepers, breathable fabric that doesn’t get sweaty at night, a non-slip strap that fits perfectly over the ears, and a fastening made with a clever type of velcro that doesn’t get stuck in your hair.

Despite all this, it’s super-lightweight, feels really comfortable and stays in place all night, blocking out 99.9% of light. The PRO even comes with earplugs, too.

Sure, it looks a little odd, like you’re wearing ski goggles to bed, but eye masks don’t get much smarter than this.

If you want to look as chic as possible while you’re getting your forty winks, this silk mask from spa brand ESPA is for you. Elegant and efficient, this simple mask is the perfect size and with the perfect amount of padding, blocking out light well.

The one thing we wished was different was the elasticated strap, which fitted rather snugly around our large head, as it does press a little against the eyes and the tops of ears.

Pros: Doesn’t squash eyelashes, doesn’t put pressure on eyes, soft silk, comes in a gift box

Specifically designed for those who wear eyelash extensions (or those blessed with especially long natural lashes) this has cushioned pads around the eye socket so the mask doesn’t touch your eyelid. In fact, you can even fully open your eyes underneath it.

We found this to be one of the comfiest eye masks we’ve ever tried, with the contour pads creating a relaxing, pillowy wall around the eyes that stops them getting squished in your sleep, and the elasticated strap was the perfect fit.

It’s certainly not the cheapest, but our tester’s has lasted them for years (and despite the ‘hand wash only’ instructions, they found that it fared well in a delicate machine cycle).

A favourite with celebrities like Vogue Williams, Drowsy masks are uniquely designed, a wide stretch of thick padded silk that wraps completely around your head like a snuggly duvet for your face.

It feels incredibly comfy and cosy, does a great job at blocking out light, and the velcro strap fastening means it can be made to fit any size of head comfortably. It’s available in lots of colours and comes in a smart gift box.

Claustrophobic types may not like how they cover up so much of your face (including your ears), however, and it can get a little sweaty under there in hot weather.

Cons: Strap not adjustable, care label needs to be removed for comfortable wear, doesn’t block out all light, hand wash only

Rating: 3/5

If you’re looking for an eye mask that looks beautifully luxurious, this is it. With a simple, slimline design and made from silk, it looks as timelessly chic as The White Company bedding.

While it feels lovely and soft on the eyelids, we found the strap a little tight for our large head, and the care label needs to be cut out to stop it from poking you in the eye.

Material: 100% silk Adjustable strap?: No Colour options: 2

Pros: Lightweight and travel-friendly, warm and soothing, may help ease migraines or tired eyes

Cons: Single use, doesn’t block out all light, comes off easily throughout the night

Rating: 4/5

Not your typical eye mask, these are instead of single-use cotton pads that cleverly heat up as soon as the packet is opened, staying warm for about half an hour. This creates a relaxing, snooze-inducing experience, and may help to ease headaches and migraines.

These original ones have a faint jasmine scent, and other fragrances are available. They slip loosely over the ears and are comfortable to wear, although won’t block out 100% of light.

We love them as a little spa-like treat if we have a five-minute lie-down rather than as an everyday sleep essential and they’re handy for flights.

Material: Cotton Adjustable strap?: No Colour options: 4 different scents

Pros: Good price, blocks out almost all light, adjustable strap, just the right amount of padding

If you’re after a great value sleep mask that simply does what it’s meant to, this is it. The eye pad blocks out 99% of light, and it’s just padded enough – it feels soft and cushiony against the face, but is still slim and lightweight.

It’s available in an impressive 29 different colours and designs, with prices ranging between £6.99-£9.99 (you’ll probably often find these on offer on Amazon, too).

We found it hard to find any faults with it, other than you may feel the strap buckle under your head, depending on where it lies and how you sleep.

Material: 100% silk Adjustable strap?: Yes Colour options: 29

Pros: Large mask the blocks out all light, pretty pattern, contains real lavender, machine washable

We have friends who swear by this one, so we knew we had to try it for ourselves and we weren’t disappointed.

The mask itself is one of the largest we tested, covering most of the face without feeling claustrophobic. It feels really luxurious with gorgeous designs, real dried lavender inside and velvet ribbons ties.

On the downside, it comes with a luxury price tag. Those with long locks may also find that hair can get caught when tying the straps.

Material: 100% mulberry silk Adjustable strap?: Yes Colour options: 4 printed and 9 plain

Pros: Looks luxe, well packaged, contains real lavender, warm, percentage of profits is donated to charity

Intricately designed with beautiful gold embroidery against jewel-coloured fabric, this makes a lovely gift for a stylish friend, and it comes in not one but two protective pouches.

We also love that Elizabeth Scarlett donates 2% of its annual profits to charities that help the animals that emblazon its products.

While this eye mask feels super soft on the skin and the scented lavender inside is a lovely addition, the strap isn’t adjustable and so may feel a little tight on large heads.

Material: Cotton velvet front, polyester velvet back Adjustable strap?: No Colour options: 6

Pros: Blocks out every bit of light, doesn’t press on the eyelids, 2 year guarantee

Cons: Strap slips down a bit, care label is annoying and would need to be cut out, quite expensive, spot clean only

Rating: 4/5

If it’s a complete and utter blackout you’re looking for then this is the mask for you, as not a single ray of light gets past this padded velour design.

Tempur says the mask’s filling is made from the same pressure-relieving material as its mattresses, and it certainly feels like memory foam, moulding snugly around the face’s contours.

It has a padded lip at the bottom that takes the pressure off the eyeballs and onto the cheeks instead (you can feel this lip, though, if you’re someone who smushes their face into their pillow a lot while they sleep).

Because of this design and its somewhat functional look, we think this would be better suited to travelling rather than a luxurious bedtime moment, but if you’re bothered by light, it’s hard to beat this.

A really unique idea, this mask is made of fabric enriched with copper fibres, which are said to help to boost the production of proteins and cell renewal in the skin. Iluminage says its tests saw a reduction in the appearance of fine lines around the eyes after four weeks.

We admit that we’re a little dubious about these claims, but even without these it’s still a very well-designed silky eye mask: it covers a lot of the face, has extra padding underneath to stop light getting in from the bottom, and has an adjustable elastic strap that doesn’t get tangled in hair.

Material: Copper-infused polyester Adjustable strap?: Yes Colour options: 1

If you’re easily disrupted by light while trying to get to sleep or during the night, then wearing an eye mask may help you to sleep better by blocking light out and if you struggle to keep your eyelids tightly shut, masks can also help to gently keep them closed.

They also provide a comforting sensation, which can contribute towards an overall more relaxing bedtime routine.

Additionally, a recent study showed that wearing a sleep mask can also improve brain function, with participants’ alertness, memory and information retention improved after wearing a mask at night compared to not wearing one.

Of course, it’s always advised to see a doctor if you’re suffering from severe sleep issues.

Dark circles under the eyes can be caused by a number of factors including genetics, allergies, sun exposure and ageing.

They can also become more pronounced if you’re tired, and so while a sleep mask won’t directly ‘cure’ under-eye circles, it may help you to sleep better, which may then diminish the look of tired eyes.

Eye creams, wearing SPF every day and certain injectable tweakments can also help to reduce the look of dark circles.

Deciding which is the best sleep mask for you depends on a number of things: what feels most comfortable for you, when you’re using it and your budget.

Some of the ones we tried would be better suited to travelling, when you’re generally sitting more upright, while others make lovely luxury gifts.

Manta, Slip and Holistic Silk eye masks all scored highly in our tests, while we found Marks and Spencer’s and Amazon’s to be good lower priced options.

If you’re looking at splashing out on one of the more expensive designs above, it’s a good idea to try it out in person first, or see if the product can be returned if it doesn’t suit you.

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