Improve Your Skin While You Sleep
Be a Sleeping BeautyJust because you're out cold doesn't mean your skin is off the clock. In fact, the hours you're sleeping may be the best time to help your skin look its best. "When asleep, your metabolic rate is lower, so you're not producing as many skin-damaging free radicals. Plus, you're not exposed to environmental pollutants or UV light that can harm the skin," explains Mary Lupo, M.D., a New Orleans–based dermatologist. "Because your body doesn't have to work at skin protection overnight, it can instead focus on repairing the damage done throughout the day," she says. So any products you use will be that much more effective at hydrating, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and brightening. Take advantage of the epidermal downtime with these easy tips to make you a sleeping beauty.
Just Add Water (and Soap)Sounds like a no-brainer, but many women don't bother washing their face at night, especially if they don't wear makeup. Any dirt, debris, and oil that has collected on your skin will clog your pores while you sleep — and lead to inflammation and acne.
If you don't wash first, any product you apply won't be as effective if there are layers of grime in the way. So, at night, be sure to wash your face with a gentle daily cleanser. You'll want to take off any eye makeup as well — pigments from liners and shadows can get into your eyes and create irritation, and left-on mascara may cause your lashes to break. So, at night, be sure to wash your face with a gentle daily cleanser. Dermatologists are fans of Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash, $6.49
Ditch Dull SkinTo get the look of fresh, youthful skin, you first need to slough off the dead surface cells, but the process can leave your skin a little vulnerable. Exfoliating away the dull surface layers can make you sensitive to the sun and other elements, so it's best to shed that skin at night.
Depending on your skin type and sensitivity, use a granular scrub or a chemical exfoliant containing glycolic or salicylic acid a couple of nights a week. Try Philosophy Microdelivery Mini Peel Pads, $35, that moisturize while exfoliating with gentle lactic acid. For dull skin, wrinkles, or pigmentation, experts recommend using a prescribed retinoid cream, which encourages new skin-cell growth, boosts collagen production, and also unclogs pores.
Stay HydratedWhile you sleep, your body temperature goes up, causing you to sweat and release moisture, which dries out the skin. This is especially true in the winter months, when you have cold, dry air outside and the heat on inside.
"To keep your skin hydrated, apply a thin layer of moisturizer that contains humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which bind water to the skin, as well as ceramides that will restore the lipid barrier," says Diane Berson, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. Clinique Moisture Surge, $34, packs potent hydrators into a non-greasy formula that'll help you stay supple while you sleep. You may also want to try a humidifier at night to replenish the moisture in the air.
Battle Bags and PuffinessTo reduce fine lines and dark circles, your best bet is to use an eye cream that contains peptides, a chain of amino acids that signal your skin to create more collagen. Try Olay ProX Eye Restoration Complex, $41.25.
"Apply it about an hour before bedtime, to reduce the risk of the product migrating into your eyes, which will result in puffiness or irritation," says Francesco Fusco, M.D., a Manhattan dermatologist. "Use the lightest possible tapping motion with the pads of your ring fingers. Do not rub, and do not apply to your lower lid lash line.
Smooth Your LipsWhile it takes more than an OTC product to help achieve full, luscious lips, you can give them a plumper appearance with a little bedtime TLC. Before bed, dip a baby toothbrush in a little bit of baking soda and water and brush lightly over your lips to gently exfoliate the dead skin. Then, Fusco recommends applying a rich emollient like Aquaphor Lip Repair, $4.29, which contains glycerin, ceresin, and panthenol to help soothe and smooth lips.
Assume the Sleep PositionYour most comfortable sleeping state may not be the best for your beauty. "The single biggest reason for accelerated aging of the skin is sleeping on your face," warns Lupo. "The skin is compressed and doesn't get enough circulation, so it breaks down and creases, forming wrinkles."
And if you sleep face down, fluid pools and causes puffiness. Experts recommend sleeping on your back, with two pillows under your head to keep the blood flow moving. If it's too tough to change your sleep position, consider a silk or satin pillow that won't pull at the skin.