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Exploring Eye Masks: Ancient Origins to Modern Types

Exploring Eye Masks: Ancient Origins to Modern Types

Origin of Eye Masks

The origin of eye masks can be traced back to ancient times, and their purpose and forms have varied across different cultures and historical periods.
Here are some historical and cultural backgrounds regarding the possible origins of eye masks:

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, people used a substance known as “Eye Paint,” similar to modern-day eyeshadow, to protect their eyes from intense sunlight. While not a direct precursor to modern eye masks, this practice reflects an ancient awareness of the need to shield the eyes.


In Japan, there is a traditional eye mask called “Manten,” typically made of silk or other soft materials. This type of eye mask serves both as a light-blocking device and is believed to contribute to maintaining the beauty of the eyes.

Medieval Europe

During medieval times in Europe, some nobles and wealthy individuals used eye masks adorned with feathers or other decorations. These masks served practical purposes while also reflecting social status.

19th Century

With the development of industrialization, the pace of life accelerated, and nighttime lighting became brighter. Consequently, some people started using simple eye masks to block light, aiding them in falling asleep in well-lit environments.
Modern eye masks typically utilize lightweight and soft materials, designed to conform to ergonomic principles, providing a comfortable wearing experience. Whether used to enhance sleep environments or for other purposes, eye masks have become common items in the daily lives of many people.

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Eye Mask Classification

Eye masks come in various classifications, primarily based on their design, purpose, and functionality. Here are some common categories of eye masks:

Sleep Eye Masks

This is the most common type of eye mask, specifically designed to provide a better sleeping environment. They typically use soft, light-blocking materials such as silk, cotton, or light-proof fabrics to obstruct light and help users fall asleep more easily.

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Medical Eye Masks

Medical eye masks are typically used to protect injured or post-surgery eyes. They are often made from medical-grade materials, can be secured around the head to prevent patients from touching the injured eye, and promote healing.

Beauty Eye Masks

These masks are designed for cosmetic purposes and can help reduce issues such as eye puffiness and dark circles. Some beauty eye masks may contain special ingredients like collagen, herbal extracts, etc., providing additional skincare benefits.

Air Travel Eye Masks

People often use these masks during long flights to block cabin light, enhance comfort, and aid in falling asleep. Some air travel eye masks may also have additional features such as noise reduction or neck support.

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Therapeutic Eye Masks

These masks are typically used for therapeutic purposes, such as light therapy eye masks used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other related conditions.

Hot/Cold Compress Eye Masks

Designed to provide hot or cold therapy, these masks help alleviate eye discomfort, eye bags, or eye fatigue.
Customized Eye Masks: Some eye masks can be customized based on individual preferences, including shape, size, and material, ensuring the best possible wearing experience.
These classifications are not absolute, as some eye masks may serve multiple functions depending on their design and manufacturing purposes. When choosing an eye mask, it’s advisable to consider personal needs and preferences to ensure the selection of the most suitable type.

What is a Steam Eye Mask? Advantages

A steam eye mask is a device infused with hot steam and soothing aromas, designed to provide users with a relaxing and comfortable eye experience. Typically containing a heating element, such as iron powder, which reacts with oxygen in the air to produce hot steam, the mask offers a warm sensation.
Here are some advantages of steam eye masks:

Relaxation of Eye Muscles

The hot steam helps soothe eye muscles, alleviating eye fatigue and tension. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who spend extended periods using electronic devices, strain their eyes, or experience high levels of stress.

Promotion of Blood Circulation

The warm sensation aids in dilating blood vessels, promoting better blood circulation. Improved blood circulation can help reduce issues like eye bags and dark circles.

Aromatherapy Benefits

Steam eye masks often incorporate soothing aromas such as lavender or tea tree, providing an additional relaxation effect. Aromatherapy is believed to help alleviate stress and anxiety.


Steam eye masks are usually disposable and easy to carry. Their design makes them convenient for use during travel, in the office, or whenever a brief relaxation period is needed.

Light Blocking Effect

Most steam eye masks have a certain level of light-blocking capability, shielding the eyes from external light and creating a better environment for rest and sleep.

No Need for Power

Unlike some electrically heated eye masks, steam eye masks only require opening the packaging to generate hot steam, eliminating the need for external power sources and adding to their convenience.
It’s important to note that steam eye masks may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with eye conditions or allergies. Consulting a doctor before use is recommended. Additionally, specific product effects and ingredients may vary by brand and model, so carefully reading product instructions is advisable when making a purchase.
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