"Eye Care Miracle" Steam Eye Mask: Will You Use It?
With the increasing prevalence of modern lifestyles and entertainment, including work, binge-watching, studying, and staying up late, statistics show that most individuals spend an average of over 5 hours daily staring at screens of smartphones and computers. Over time, this puts excessive strain on our eyes, leaving them fatigued. Consequently, this strain often results in dark circles, puffy eye bags, and fine lines around the eyes.
In response to this situation, some people opt for heat therapy as a means of relief, leading to the popularity of steam eye masks. These masks, known as "eye care miracles," provide a convenient and comfortable way to apply heat therapy. They're even attributed with the ability to diminish dark circles, eye bags, and wrinkles. But are these "eye care miracles" truly that miraculous?
Principle of Steam Eye Masks
The heating principle of steam eye masks is fundamentally simple, rooted in the chemistry knowledge we acquire in middle school. Steam eye masks contain a self-heating element comprising iron powder, activated charcoal, and other components. Upon contact with oxygen in the air, a chemical reaction occurs, generating heat. This heat is then utilized to facilitate controlled evaporation of the moisture within the mask's materials. The resulting water vapor raises the temperature around the eyes, accelerating blood circulation and relaxing eye muscles, thereby alleviating eye fatigue.
Can Steam Eye Masks Eliminate Dark Circles?
Dark circles come in various forms, including vascular dark circles caused by poor blood circulation around the eyes. The essential function of steam eye masks is to provide heat therapy around the eyes, improving blood circulation and relieving eye fatigue to some extent. This contributes to preventing the exacerbation of vascular dark circles, but it's ineffective against structural dark circles resulting from aging or pigmentation-induced discoloration. It also does not have effects on reducing eye bags or wrinkles.
Proper Use of Steam Eye Masks
News reports have highlighted cases of conjunctivitis, keratitis, and skin burns caused by incorrect use of steam eye masks. So, what's the right way to use them?
1. Avoid excessively high temperatures:
The optimal temperature for using heat therapy to relieve eye fatigue is between 40°C to 42°C. Temperatures too low won't be effective, while those too high might burn the eyelids or cornea. Most steam eye masks specify their temperature range on the product information. If the purchased product lacks temperature guidelines, testing the heated mask on the back of your hand can determine if it's too hot for use. Eyelid skin is more sensitive to temperature than the back of the hand.
2. Limit usage duration:
It's not advisable to wear a steam eye mask for more than 15 minutes in a single session. Sleeping with the mask on overnight is highly discouraged, as prolonged use might cause eye area redness, congestion, or even low-temperature burns.
3. Avoid using with contact lenses or makeup:
Wearing a steam eye mask with makeup or contact lenses might lead to eye infections like conjunctivitis. The temperature of the steam eye mask, around 40°C, can accelerate moisture evaporation from contact lenses, causing damage to the eyes.
Before wearing a steam eye mask, ensure makeup is removed, contact lenses are taken out, and the eyes are thoroughly cleaned.
4. Consider inflammation and allergies:
Individuals with eye inflammations or infected eye-area skin should avoid using steam eye masks, as it might aggravate local inflammation. Similarly, those with sensitive skin or prone to allergies should be cautious to prevent eyelid skin reactions. For sensitive skin or those allergic to fragrances, choosing fragrance-free products can minimize skin irritation.
Furthermore, it's crucial to note that steam eye masks are for one-time use only and should not be reused. They should not be used simultaneously with eye patches, eye drops, or other eye care products. Damaged or swollen eye masks should not be used as well.