Turns out that the whole idea of beauty sleep isn’t a fairy tale. Recently, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, in Cleveland, teamed up with cosmetic company Estée Lauder to do a study on the effects of sleep quality on skin. One of the most interesting findings: People who slept poorly showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and sagging as a result of reduced elasticity.
These results came as no surprise to Elma Baron, M.D., the research dermatologist who led the study for UHCMC. “Just like other organ systems in the body that are negatively affected by lack of sleep, your skin also suffers,” she says. But clocking nine hours a night? Yeah, right. The second best thing: using effective products at bedtime, when your body goes into repair mode. Follow this advice and things will be less alarming in the a.m.
Even if it’s the only thing you do, cleansing is a crucial step before bedtime to remove makeup and impurities that can cause clogged pores, which in turn can trigger acne and ultimately lead to an irregular complexion, says Leyda Bowes, M.D., a dermatologist in Miami, Florida. We like Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Deep Cleaning Face Wash ($6), which gets the job done fast and has a calming fragrance. But if you’re too tired to even step up to the sink, leave a product such as Huggies One and Done Clutch ’n’ Clean wipes ($7) on your nightstand to quickly erase the day from your face.
Dr. Bowes recommends sleeping with your head slightly elevated to reduce the natural pooling of excess fluids that lead to a tired, puffy look. And consider a product such as Yes To Coconut Hydrate & Restore Ultra Hydrating Overnight Eye Balm ($16), which promises to keep the delicate skin there nourished throughout the night.
Your skin loses 20 percent more water at night than in the daytime because of how hard it’s working to repair itself, says Dr. Bowes. One way to ensure that the telltale signs of dehydration don’t show up on your face: Apply an antioxidantrich cream such as Lancôme Énergie de Vie Nuit The Overnight Recovery Sleeping Mask ($65) every night after cleansing. And don't forget to give the places prone to flaking and cracking—lips, elbows, heels, and cuticles—a little TLC. We’re fans of Lather Quiet Night Relaxing Balm ($9), which provides aromatherapy benefits to boot.
This ingredient is proven to stimulate collagen production and cell turnover, resulting in fewer lines and a more even skin tone. Nuance Salma Hayek Overnight Time-Release Retinol Capsules ($19) gives you a premeasured amount of the potent stuff and can be mixed with your favorite night cream.
You can’t solve chronic dry skin overnight, but new OTC lotions are promising a rapid improvement when applied daily. Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer ($8) is supposed to be applied immediately after stepping out of the shower or tub, prior to toweling off. Use it as an excuse to draw yourself a warm, relaxing bath before crawling into bed.