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Sleep masks may seem to all be the same, but from how much light they block out to the amount of pressure they apply to your eyes, these sleep aids can indeed vary greatly. So over the course of more than a month, we tested eight sleep masks to find the best option out there. We focused on the uniqueness in design, how much light each filtered out and comfortability during several nights’ worth of sleep. Ultimately, one won us over for its dream-inducing design choices.
Best sleep mask overall
The Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask features a genius nose wire, so it blocks all — and we mean all — of the light. The mask is soft on the eyes and comfortable on the head, and it never so much as budged during the night, no matter our sleep position.
You don’t always have to pay top dollar to get the best the world has to offer. Case in point: the Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask.
Let’s get right to our favorite thing about this mask: the adjustable nose wire. Similar to the nose wire in the masks that we have become all too familiar with in the last year, the Mavogel’s nose wire lets you get the perfect light-blocking, lock-in-place fit. Many masks had a slight crack of light around the nose bridge. This mask, though, formed the best seal around the edges, blocking out more light than any other mask we tested.
The 100% cotton fabric is some of the softest jersey we’ve ever felt against the eyes. The Mavogel is so light, soft and airy that it has a barely there feeling. While we found all masks to press on our eyelids ever so slightly so that blinking was noticeable, this mask provided the lowest amount of pressure on the eyelids of all of the nonelevated masks that we tried.
It’s the slim, nonelevated profile of the Mavogel that makes it a winner for all sleep styles: back, side, stomach — or combination somewhere in between. It withstood a rigorous tossing-and-turning test like a champ by not budging out of position — thanks to that nose wire — and hair was not tangled in the strap. We do wish that the adjustable head strap were a tad wider to spread out the line of pressure around the head, but it was so subtle that we’re really splitting hairs to make this comment. Tapered wings connecting the strap and mask prevent light leakage from the sides and these little ditties did the job just right. Other masks that we tested had much larger wings without a larger observed benefit.
And, although more than half of the masks that we tested come with their own travel bag or box, this one was the most well thought out. The small pouch comes with a little carabiner so that it can easily be clipped onto any travel bag. The only thing we don’t like about the bag is that the mask has to be folded to fit inside, which affects one of the most brilliant things that this mask offers: a nose wire. We found that the nose wire can become deformed over time if you keep folding it up to fit into the pouch.
Thanks to its unique nose bridge, effective side wings and staying power, we’re confident you won’t find a better sleep mask — especially considering its sub-$10 price.
Light blockage: A sleep mask that doesn’t block the light is like a swimming pool without water. That’s why we weighted this category more than others. Masks that even showed the slighted crack of light lost a point. We tested in broad daylight and at night in a less-than-pitch-black New York City apartment. Material composition: When something is going to sit on your eyes all night while you sleep, it has to be soft and breathable. While testing, we were careful to note whether the skin where the mask touched felt hot, cold or uncomfortable at all. We also paid attention to how our eyes felt after a night of rest with the mask on. Were they dry? Did they feel stifled? The softer and more breathable the mask, the higher the score. Face shape versatility: No two faces are exactly the same, and that becomes glaringly apparent when trying to find an eye mask that works for everyone. We judged each mask on its ability to accommodate a variety of face shapes and sizes, nose types, cheekbone types and eye types. The more versatile, the higher the score. Overall build: We stretched elastics, balled them up, washed them, dried them and slept in them to see how they held up to typical wear and tear. Then we judged which ones took a beating, still worked and looked like new. Packability: Sleep masks are a popular travel companion for frequent flyers, and our top pick had to pack well. We looked at how the mask itself withstood being jammed into a suitcase or purse and whether it came with a travel bag of its own. Masks lost points for getting wrinkled or damaged and also for damaging other objects in the bag. Weight: Going into this test we weren’t sure if weight would matter or not, so we decided to weigh each mask and then determine if that had an impact. It turned out that it wasn’t a consistent way to judge a mask. Some lighter masks felt better than heavier and vice versa, so we ended up blending this with the comfort score. Washability: This was another surprising category. We had assumed that at least one of the masks would be machine-washable, but none of the masks that we tested met that expectation. We judged by how difficult each mask was to clean, dry and make ready to wear again. Some did better with the press of an iron, while others could be rinsed in the morning and worn in the afternoon without any fuss. One was completely unwashable. The highest points went to the masks that could be cleaned well without extra steps or difficulty. Color options: We like options when it comes to a personal accessory like this, so masks that offered more colors and patterns got higher marks. Function
Rest quality: Now, this category was a tricky one. We judged how well a mask stayed on while sleeping, but sometimes it didn’t matter if it fell off. Why? We kept on sleeping and didn’t even notice the mask was missing because it helped us fall asleep so hard. We considered that a win, minus a point or two. Stability: The last thing that we want is to notice the mask in a way that’s distracting, painful or annoying. Masks that shifted, were noticeable or even — gasp! — woke us up lost points. We especially noted if it caused uncomfortable pressure on the head, eyes or face. If a mask stayed put and felt invisible, it came out on top. Heat/dryness: Ew. We hoped we wouldn’t come across a mask that really failed this test, and luckily we didn’t. Some felt dry and some felt a little swampy, so they lost points, but none were a total fail. Phew. Adjustability: During this test we measured each eye mask and band to determine the minimum and maximum head circumference and then weighed that against the averages for adult men and women. It was surprising to see how far a few masks strayed from meeting the average in both directions. Hair damage: Wearing an elastic band around your head all night could cause breakage or other hair damage, so we put each mask to the test. Masks that left our hair less tangled and with more typical bedhead got higher scores. Warranty: Because masks tend to be low-ticket items, a guarantee or warranty turned out to be elusive at best. If one was available in a
This sleep mask is our light-blocking, dream-inducing favorite
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