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This article contains affiliate links* Winter here in Germany is currently challenging my poor skin with a vengeance, making it feel and look dehydrated, sallow and unpleasantly saggy, ugh. But hey, thank god for my Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask, which more than deserves a thorough review article!
Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask – Do You actually Need a Sleeping Mask/Cream?
Few K-beauty product categories are as contested as that of the sleeping mask/cream/pack. “Aren’t they just a night cream?” is what I hear most often when introducing sleeping creams, and – well, it’s kind of difficult to claim that they are totally different from a regular nighttime moisturiser when their texture is as moisturiser-like as that of the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask.
As with most of those Korean skincare categories, the answer is neither a “yes, they are totally identical to night creams” nor a “nope, they are entirely their own thing, to be used separately from your moisturiser.” Just think of essences, which are sometimes used like a serum or toner and sometimes indeed its own separate product! The same is true for overnight masks: the first sleeping creams, masks or packs that appeared on the market – invented, in fact, by Laneige – were thick, strongly occlusive, mineral oil heavy, yet surprisingly gel-like products, meant to seal in all those amazing hydrating layers from toners, ampoules and co. They kind of mimic the “slugging” trend currently taking TikTok by storm, though unlike pure vaseline, these types of sleeping packs also contain humectants and often a host of anti aging ingredients.
But, yes, sleeping masks were mostly meant to be used in addition to your nighttime moisturiser, as an overnight mask, to be washed off in the morning. They build a noticeable film on your skin and also tend to leave a bit of residue on your pillow. You don’t really use them every night, though it doesn’t hurt to do so. Just like any other mask treatment, you apply a sleeping mask for some extra “oomph” when needed.
Oh, and just a little note on the “slugging” trend: most mainstream publications claim that this is a K-beauty trend, which thoroughly confused me because I had never seen anyone from Korea talk about this?! Since I am sadly not fluent in Korean, I asked wonderful K-beauty expert Odile Monod if she knew anything about the origins of slugging. And, well, it really doesn’t seem to be a Korean beauty trend at all, except there was a time in 2019 when the “vaseline pack” (바세린팩 in Korean, according to Odile!) in combination with a hyaluronic acid serum was a social media phenomenon. But no, Koreans didn’t start the current “slugging” trend – it seems to be more of an American thing, if you ask me. I know that it was a big thing in the 1950s to slather your skin with vaseline, so maybe this is where it all came from? I’m still confused as to its sudden virality, but I most definitely do not consider it a current “Korean” beauty trend. Thank you to Odile for enlightening me, as it was driving me crazy not not figure this out!
By now, almost every Korean brand has their own version of the original Laneige Water Sleeping Mask*, and not all of them manage to convince me that they are their own category of products. Indeed, many sleeping creams just seem to be a regular, slightly heavier moisturiser, and there is really no reason to pretend they are something else. As long as a sleeping mask or cream contains pretty much the same ingredients as any old moisturiser and doesn’t have that thick, gloopy, occlusives-heavy texture I associate with a good overnight mask, I would honestly use them in place of a moisturiser. But if they do something special, e.g. save your skin barrier overnight or give you red carpet ready dream skin, then, to me, they are their own thing.
So, do you need a sleeping mask? No, of course not, no one with healthy, normal skin “needs” anything beyond the basics in skincare, especially if you are still young and don’t yet suffer from age-related skin issues such as loss of collagen and dehydration. But if you, like me, tend to deal with overnight dryness, tightness or a loss of hydration – especially in winter – then a sleeping cream can do wonders for your skin. You can also try slugging of course, but for me, slathering my skin in pure mineral oil absolutely does not work, as it tends to break me out. And if you do try out slugging, make sure to use properly hydrating and moisturising products underneath your mineral oil ointment, because pure vaseline/petroleum jelly does not offer moisturising or hydrating benefits, it really just prevents the moisture in your skin from evaporating overnight.
Now…about the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask. It’s definitely more in that category of overnight products that are a lot like, if not exactly the same as, a regular nighttime moisturiser. But I am still head over heels for this product, for a variety of reasons!
Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask – What the heck Is “Forest Yeast”?!
The first thing that struck my eye when reading through the marketing materials I could find about the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask was the key ingredient highlighted by the brand called “forest yeast.” I had to do some intense googling to find out more about this mysterious ingredient and sort through all sorts of scientific articles telling me that it’s a type of mould that can actually be pretty bad for skin. Because, surely, that wouldn’t make any sense now would it? In the end, it was the Paula’s Choice database that gave me some much needed explanation.
So, aureobadasidium pullulans ferment is, of course, actually good for your skin (well, as always – personal skin sensitivities excluded from that statement – always patch test new products!). Basically, the ingredient isn’t the fungus itself, but rather a natural polymer produced by said fungus (god, I hope my English lit self is getting this right!), fermented to add some probiotic goodness and enhance skin absorption. But that’s not all the benefits aureobadasidium pullulans ferment offers: it contains polysaccharides, natural sugars that act as humectants, drawing water into the skin, and can help deliver active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin, especially in its fermented form. The main reason Laneige is pushing it as one of the main ingredient in the reformulated Cica Sleeping Mask is its skin microbiome supporting superpower. The skin microbiome friendly product trend is still massive in Korea (and by now also in the rest of the world), and probiotic skincare remains as popular as ever. Oh, and did I mention the antioxidant properties of aureobadasidium pullulans ferment? It really seems to be a great skincare allrounder!
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask:
“Water, Propanediol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Squalane, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Glycerin, Panthenol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acrylodyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ethyhexyglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Asiaticoside, Madecassic Acid, Sorbitan Isostearate, Asiatic Acid, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Aureobasidium Pullulans Ferment, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Tocopherol.”
I swear I read somewhere that the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask was fragrance-free, but then maybe this was the older version, before the reformulation? Even though I could not actually detect a scent from this cream, it does contain two fragrant essential oils, palmarosa and tea tree, so be careful if this is a trigger for your skin. Of course, a cica product has to feature centella asiatica! The Cica Sleeping Mask contains three centella asiatica compounds: asiaticoside, madecassic acid and asiatic acid, all wonderfully soothing, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory skin goodies, especially when combined with superstar ingredient panthenol. Glycerin offers plenty of hydration, while shea butter is the main moisturiser in this creamy formula. The sleeping mask is free from any drying alcohols.
Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask – How I Use It and why I Love It!
Given how much time I just spent on defending thicker, occlusive sleeping masks as a skincare category in its own right, the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask certainly doesn’t represent the classical sleeping mask. This is somewhat surprising, given that Laneige started the sleeping mask craze in the first place. I can’t lie, the Cica Sleeping Mask really doesn’t seem any different to me than a regular moisturiser for dryer skin types. The texture is that of a milky-soft cream which smoothly glides onto skin when applied. It doesn’t have the same gloopy-tacky gel texture of the other Laneige sleeping masks and also doesn’t leave a tacky residue on the skin when applied. It just sinks into skin exactly like a regular cream, and so in this case, I’d say it works best as a nighttime moisturiser.
That being said, I personally love to pair this with either a light emulsion or a very light gel cream underneath right after my hydrating products, just because layering is still my thing in winter, despite the current skipcare trend. It just feels so comfortably nourishing for my skin to combine a light moisturiser with the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask, while at the same time not leading to breakouts or greasiness.
Because this is the amazing thing about Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask: even though it is quite rich and deeply moisturising, it doesn’t feel too heavy. I think the magic lies in its texture, so creamy and smooth, a bit like semi-whipped cream or more compact yoghurt.
Despite the Cica Sleeping Mask containing essential oils, it doesn’t really have a noticeable scent, and overall I do find this to be a very gentle product. Using this on days where my skin looks rough and extra dehydrated always leads to great overnight results, and I would say this is one of my number one skin barrier supporting and repairing moisturisers right now. It is ideal for winter and works best for dryer skin types, plus those of us with combo skin who suffer from dry patches and dehydration in colder weather. You can try this with oily skin too, for sure, but be aware that the shea butter content does make it quite rich and buttery, despite its light texture. See if you can find a travel sample of the sleeping mask to see if it works for your skin!
So, do we need sleeping masks? Well, maybe not but – a well-formulated overnight mask can be an absolute godsend when your skin is suffering from winter blues. The Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask may not be a “classical” sleeping mask, but it still won my heart thanks to its creamy-smooth texture and beautifully soothing, repairing and skin barrier respecting formula.
So, where can you purchase the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask?
The 60ml jar is available at at Stylevana* for currently only 17$, and they also have a small sample size to try for only 2$. You can also find the Cica Sleeping Mask at Yesstyle* for currently around $32, or at Stylekorean* for currently $23. And sometimes you can get lucky and get this on sale at Jolse* – this is where I got mine, for under 18$ back then! Also, Olive Young* has a cute set on special at the moment with minis of the original Laneige Sleeping Mask, for 30$.
Let me know in the comments: What’s your take on the probiotics and microbiome craze? Do you use sleeping masks?
Take care guys, and stay safe – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest K-Beauty and skincare news, and check out my other work, e.g. my review of the new Beauty of Joseon sunscreen!
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