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This eye mask gives new meaning to beauty sleep

A few years ago, I attended a beauty conference in Milan about sleep and skin. The dimly lit venue was made to resemble a night’s sky with thousands of glittering stars projected onto the ceiling. Various scientists spoke, including Estée Lauder’s senior vice-president of research and development, Nadine Pernodet, a no-nonsense French woman who knows everything there is to know about nocturnal skin processes (she’s the brain behind all the upgrades to the brand’s famed Advanced Night Repair franchise).

She said something that night that I will never forget: that the slightest, tiniest bit of light in your bedroom could impede the quality of your sleep and actually make you age faster. “It’s instantaneous!” she declared. “If the light is touching your eye, you stop the release of melatonin, and everything in your body is going to be affected by the lack of repair and recovery and the accumulation of damage over time.”

I almost choked on my Aperol spritz! See, it occurred to me that I had likely not had a single night of deeply restorative, total-darkness sleep in … probably my entire life. I mean whose home is completely devoid of light? Between the digital alarm clock you got so you could keep your phone out of your room and the pretty — but apparently evil — moonlight filtering in through your trendy linen drapes, no one is safe. (Also, if your parents put a night light in your bedroom when you were a kid, I think it’s only fair they now compensate you for your Botox.)

I’m being dramatic, but studies have indeed shown that sleeping in the absence of light leads to greater cellular regeneration, which has anti-inflammatory and hormonal-balancing effects. That, in turn, allows the body to heal faster and actually slows down the aging process. Armed with this information, I did the only sensible thing I could think of and began slipping on a sleeping mask every night.

I felt very smug about this little habit until exactly four months ago. That’s when I heard Dr. Lara Devgan, a top New York plastic surgeon (a wizard is more accurate; you must follow her on Instagram).

During the episode, Devgan shared an array of illuminating beauty tips, including how one should avoid sleeping on one’s face at all costs to prevent wrinkles, prompting the younger Foster sister to ask if sleeping in an eye mask could help. This was the doctor’s response: “A silk eye mask can be nice, but there’s some suggestion that it can impair your eyelash growth because you have rapid eye movement during sleep and there are some people who argue that it can make you lose your lashes.”

Well, isn’t that rich! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t — there is apparently no winning here. But then, just when I’d lost all hope, a solution landed in my inbox straight from the heavens (OK, more like from a PR agency). A sleep mask featuring hollowed-out cavities that safely sit away from your lids and lashes. Genius!

The mask was actually designed with lash extensions in mind, but anyone could benefit from it, really, especially if you’re paranoid about premature aging or losing all your lashes (just me?). It is also a delight to wear thanks to the buttery mulberry silk and extra-plush padding. It’s almost like the mask just hovers over your face instead of making you feel squished or constricted in any way.

This feature proved especially nifty when trying to get some shut-eye on a flight recently. With my mouth and nose already covered snuggly with my three-ply face mask, it was nice to have something a little lighter up top so as to not feel full-on mummified, you know?

So anyway, if you’re in the market for a sleep mask or looking for a gift idea for a frequent traveller or beauty lover in your life, I cannot recommend this eye mask enough. It’s helped me sleep more soundly than ever, probably partly because I’m no longer agonizing about stray bits of moonlight or potential eyelid baldness.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Slip Lovely Lashes Contour Sleep Mask, $77, SHOP HERE

Slip Lovely Lashes Contour Sleep Mask, $77,

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Katherine Lalancette is the beauty and lifestyle director of The Kit, based in Toronto. She writes about beauty and trends. Reach her on email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @kik_tweets