Humble as chicken soup and as bland as the saltwater gargle, the cool compress might seem like a quaint home remedy. But don’t be fooled by its modest reputation: The cool compress is an underrated luxury. At the end of a hot New York summer day, when it’s still 90 degrees by 7 p.m., there is no better cure for a sweaty brow. Usually, a cloth dampened with water does the trick, but occasionally you need something more — something cooler. I’ve found just the thing: the cool-gel eye mask.
I came across the cool-gel eye mask, the proper name is Plemo Sleep Mask, two years ago in the beauty section of Marshalls. Essentially a flexible ice pack with eyeholes and a Velcro strap to keep it in place on your head, the mask looked like a parody of an at-home spa treatment — the next step after sliced cucumbers for your eyes — and it was inexpensive enough to buy on a whim. Plus, it was Fourth of July weekend, and I was feeling indulgent. The Plemo Sleep Mask would be the perfect complement to the terry-cloth bathrobe I’d been wearing for three days.
The mask lived up to its DIY-spa promise — it diminishes puffy eyes immediately. I keep the eye mask in the freezer, and take it out just before I want to use it. (My secret is to wear it over a sheet mask at the same time, usually after a long night. I like the Innisfree Berry hydro-gel mask, the Sephora rose mask, or the Tonymoly lemon mask.) But it’s also proven far more useful than I ever imagined. The flexible form lends itself to anything from icing an oncoming zit to soothing a migraine. Recently, I used it to ice a swollen ankle — eyeholes aside, it was exactly the right shape for icing a limb, and the Velcro strap allowed it to be wrapped around and secured in place. If escaping to a cooler locale this summer isn’t an option, at least you can have the small luxury of the Plemo Sleep Mask.
Maureen O’Connor calls this mask a bra for the eyes: “It was like being inside a sealed cave. The molded-foam material is so lightweight that you barely feel like you’re wearing anything on your face. You are free to blink in total darkness. This liberation of masked eyelids is, I assume, why the mask has become a best seller for the Seattle-based brand. I’ve worn it on economy-class transatlantic flights. I’ve worn it on trips upstate with friends who insist on waking up with the sun. I’ve become an evangelist, sending masks to every sleepless person I know — and, over time, to the vain as well.”
Chris Pratt’s groomer uses these Klorane patches under the actor’s eyes because they’re “soothing and cooling and relieve all inflammation from flying or a long day’s work.”
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