This is You Won’t Regret It, a weekly column featuring recommendations, tips, and unsolicited advice from the Mashable culture team.
I don’t know about you, but my eyes are exhausted.
I spend my days scanning hundreds of headlines, furiously scrolling through social feeds, and reading a significant amount of distressing news. My retinas move from phone to computer to television screen to books with very little rest in between, and they’re strained as hell.
So one weekend, while leisurely browsing a T. J. Maxx in the suburbs of Connecticut, I decided to treat myself and splurge on a blue eye mask full of gel beads. I’d lived my first 24 years of life as an eye mask skeptic, but since the one in front of me was just $3.99, I went for it.
And you know what? It changed my life.
My starter mask is a Gel Beads Eye Mask by Cala Products (listed on-site for $7.50, )and yeah, it was cheap AF though it is listed on its site at $7.50, but it’s one of the greatest purchases I’ve ever made.
What I love about the Spa Solutions mask is that it’s compatible with both hot and cold temperatures, which means it can be used to reduce puffiness and relieve sinus-related stress and tension, both of which I am cursed with quite often.
The back of the mask, which rests against your face after you strap it on, is made from a ridiculously soft and gentle fabric. Another plus. And while there are a wide selection of gel masks on the market — including ones with eye holes that allow you to go about your daily activities while looking pretty embarrassing — I like the fact that the full sleep mask-like design forces me to stop what I’m doing and close my eyes.
Sure, the mask resembles plush VR googles, but when was the last time you paused your day for the sole purpose of relaxing with your eyes closed for a solid ten minutes?
It might not sound like much, but the first time I put on my eye mask I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace that I realized just how terrible at relaxing and unplugging I am. Buying a gel mask taught me that I physically need to have my eyes covered by a magical gel bead-filled contraption in order to take a moment for myself. And sure, that’s mildly pathetic and concerning, but it works!
The wonderful world of gel masks
Gel masks are seriously therapeutic, and they’re also Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye-approved, so you know they must be good.
In Season 1, Episode 1 of the Netflix reboot, Jonathan gives a frozen gel mask to the episode’s subject Tom Jackson, who experiences facial redness and skin flare-ups as a result of lupus. “Cold stuff removes puffiness, it invigorates the skin, and it really takes inflammation down,” Van Ness explained. And he’s right!
Princess Ogbogu, an allergist and an assistant professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, told Everyday Health that cold compresses can do wonders for eyes that are itchy or swollen.
So on Saturdays and Sundays, when I’m recuperating from a tiring week and feel the need for some pampering, I’ll pull my mask from the freezer and let the ice cold beads rejuvenate my eyes. I also opt for the frozen mask whenever I get a migraine, as the cold reportedly helps alleviate symptoms.
And in the summer months, donning a gel mask fresh from the freezer is a great hack for anyone looking to cool down in hot temperatures.
Me and my gel eye mask fresh from the freezer: 70 degrees who?
— lauren lacks (@llacks) July 22, 2018
Warm compresses, on the other hand, serve different purposes, like soothing and relieving strain and even helping with dry eye. So whenever I get a tension or sinus headache, I pop the mask in the microwave for 10-second intervals until it’s toasty (yes, it’s microwave-safe,) strap it on, and lie down on the couch to unwind.
Choosing your eye mask alter ego
Just as you would choose a mask temperature that best suits your personal needs, selecting the right mask style is key to the whole experience.
If a full gel bead eye mask like mine isn’t your style, there are other design options out there for you. Beyond gel bead masks with eye holes, there are also masks without beads if you’re looking for a smooth gel solution, full-face masks for a serious at home spa day, masks with gel eye pads, and even gel masks filled with GLITTER. The possibilities are truly impressive.
The choice is yours, though you might consider getting a few different styles, considering many masks available at stores like Ulta, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Target cost less than $10.00. A steal! And if you want more advanced or expensive gel masks, Amazon’s got you covered.
Consider this the super inexpensive way to look (and low-key feel) like a very relaxed superhero.