Perhaps Sleeping Beauty was ahead of her time. All of those extra hours of shut-eye could have been the secret to her flawless beauty.
Could beauty sleep just be the new fountain of youth? Possibly. According to one study published in the British Medical Journal, sleep deprivation shows up on your face. Participants rated photos of sleep-deprived faces as less attractive, less healthy, and more tired.
“When you’re physically and mentally fatigued, then that stress shows itself,” says Susan H. Weinkle, MD, dermatologist in private practice in Bradenton, Fla., and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida. “It definitely shows on your face.”
Sleep and Your Skin
Nighttime is the best time to allow your skin to replenish itself and reap anti-aging benefits. Your body doesn’t have to deal with daytime environmental stressors, like sunlight, pollution, and extreme temperatures. While you sleep, your skin gets a reprieve from the trauma of the day, says Amy Derick, MD, dermatologist in private practice in Barrington, Ill., and clinical instructor of dermatology at Northwestern University.
Many of us aren’t getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that only about a quarter of Americans get eight hours of sleep a night. So it’s time to make bedtime a priority — for your health’s sake. Recent research shows that good sleepers tend to live longer, too.
Nighttime Skin Care
What’s the best way to care for your skin at night? We’ve got tips on making the most of your nighttime hours and getting the beauty sleep you need.
Keep it clean. It’s important to establish a nighttime regimen to remove makeup and build-up from the day. Mascara is the biggest culprit, notes Weinkle. So use a soft cloth or mild cleanser to gently wash your skin. A fresh surface will allow creams and lotions to penetrate better. Be diligent about cleaning your face nightly. “Like brushing your teeth, it has to be habit-forming,” says Weinkle. “It doesn’t have to be a lengthy routine. Just keep it nice and simple.”
Work the night shift. Facial moisturizers should be a girl’s best friend. The more you hydrate, the better, says Weinkle. Pay special attention to the area around your lips (try a lip conditioner) and eyes. A moisturizer with caffeine can help with puffiness around the eyes, she says.
Use retinoids at night. Applying topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, or products with retinol, derived from Vitamin A, at bedtime is recommended because they are light-sensitive and aren’t as effective when exposed to UV rays or fluorescent light. Retinoic acid lightens brown spots, thickens the epidermis, makes the skin look more youthful and stimulates collagen production, Weinkle says. It’s the one product you want for your bedtime kit.
Take your vitamins. Dark circles under the eyes are a common complaint associated with lack of sleep. So what’s a tired woman to do? One study found that women who applied an under-eye cream containing vitamin K and retinol nightly for 12 weeks saw a marked improvement in their dark circles.
Switch your sleep position. Sleeping regularly on your side or stomach can cause noticeable sleep lines to appear across your forehead and around the sides of the nose and chin. Sleep lines result from the pressure of lying on a pillow, Derick says. By sleeping on your back, you may be able to smooth out and avoid those facial wrinkles.
Check your bedroom environment. Consider adding a humidifier to your bedroom, especially during dry wintry months when the heat is on. The extra moisture in the air will help prevent your skin from drying out. Derick recommends wearing cotton pajamas instead of polyester fabric. It keeps your skin more hydrated, she says.
Brew your own home remedy. Joanna Czech, an esthetician in New York City, highly recommends utilizing scrubs with oatmeal and dandelion tea bags to reduce puffy eyes. She creates her own healing mask for bedtime using a combination of oatmeal, flaxseed, and hot water. Soak your feet with Epsom salt at night and sprinkle in sage if you tend to sweat a lot. Add lavender to create a spa environment, she says. Sweet dreams.
And the best part of following these beauty sleep guidelines? You’ll wake up looking as refreshed as you feel.