Make the most of your sleeping hours (no matter how few they may be) with these genius nighttime beauty products that work while you sleep.

By Lindsay Unterberger
October 02, 2018
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mom in sleep mask
Credit: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

When finding time to take a shower is considered a win, we know how much time busy moms have for a beauty routines. Read: None. That's why we think you're going to love these overnight beauty hacks that help you wake up looking great, no extra time in front of the mirror needed.

Best Overnight Skincare Hacks

Ward Off Wrinkles

Retinol, the gold-standard ingredient of any antiaging routine, increases cell turnover and collagen production like nothing else, ensuring that your skin stays smooth. But it should only be used at night because sunlight degrades it, says Papri Sarkar, M.D., a dermatologist in Boston. (Be sure to avoid it altogether if you’re pregnant.) After cleansing, apply a moisturizer with retinol, like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer ($22).

Sleep Through a Facial

Before bed, apply a peel or mask that contains lactic acid, the most hydrating alpha hydroxy acid. We like BeautyCounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel ($58). Then don’t wash it off; allow it to lift away your dead skin while you sleep. “You’ll wake up to an awesome glow,” says celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, who also recommends her own Exfoliating Mask ($75).

Patch Up Pimples

The latest acne treatment is a sticker that’s laced with salicylic acid and charcoal, like C & C by Clean & Clear Over Zit Spot Patches ($16). It works best applied immediately on a (very gently!) popped pimple, says Dr. Sarkar. Do this right before bed, “then ice the area when you wake up to decrease redness,” Dr. Sarkar says.

Or make your own spot treatment. Mix a salicylic acid–based acne cream (like Honest Beauty Younger + Clearer Spot-On Remedy, $14) with an over-thecounter hydrocortisone gel, then leave it on your pimple overnight. “This brings down redness and, in my opinion, flattens out the bump,” says makeup artist Daniel Martin.

Belif Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask
BareMinerals Skinlongevity Vital Power Sleeping Gel Cream
Left: Credit: Jeffrey Westbrook
Center: Credit: Jeffrey Westbrook
Right: Credit: Jeffrey Westbrook

Hydrate with a Mask

New formulas called sleeping creams or overnight masks are as hydrating as traditional masks but won’t rub off on your pillow. They contain hydrating ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid that replenish the moisture your skin loses when you sleep, says Shari Marchbein, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and mom of 4-year-old twin boys. Try Belif Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask ($34; left), Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask ($45; center), or BareMinerals Skinlongevity Vital Power Sleeping Gel Cream ($40; right), three times per week.

Prep Pre-Bed

“As you apply your nighttime products, spend two minutes massaging your face upward and outward toward the ears,” suggests Vargas. “This will stimulate the lymphatic system and help keep you de-puffed when you wake up.”

Sniff Lavender

“The smell is calming, so I keep a lavender sachet on my night table and also apply a few drops of lavender oil behind my ears and on my wrists before bed,” says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a dermatologist, mom, and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin. We like Love Beauty & Planet Soothe & Serene Body Dry Oil ($19). “Sleep is such a restorative time for the skin, so anything that helps me enter a deep, restful sleep more readily is a priority for me.”


Don't Forget Your Feet

Bedtime is the best time to treat dry or cracked heels. Look for a thick cream, says Dr. Marchbein, who likes Vaseline Clinical Care Cracked Heel Rescue Foot Cream ($3.50; drugstores). “Or if your heels are rough and peeling, use a pumice stone in the shower, then apply Vaseline Jelly (from $2; drugstores) and sleep with cotton socks on to help keep the hydration in your skin.”

Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair
Credit: Jeffrey Westbrook

Best Overnight Haircare Hacks

Condition All Night Long

Spritz hair with a leave-in conditioner and tie it back into a low side braid to keep it in place while you sleep, says celeb hairstylist Sarah Potempa. Then rinse in the A.M.

Do An Overnight Scalp Detox

Use your fingers to work a hair oil all over your scalp. “Make sure you massage it in,” says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons. “This increases circulation, which promotes hair growth, and also feels great.” If you’re worried about getting oil on your pillowcase, wrap your hair in a scarf. In the morning, wash with a purifying shampoo to remove residue. “It’s worth the effort because your scalp will feel so clean and hydrated and your strands will look super glossy,” Fitzsimons says.

Preventing Tangles

“Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helps maintain your hair’s moisture and prevents tangles while you sleep,” Potempa says. One to try: The Hollywood Silk Solution pillowcase ($45).

Dry Curls with a Tee

Shower at night, and spray your hair with a curl enhancer, like Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair ($24). Then tie it up in a cotton T-shirt, says Joseph Maine, stylist and brand ambassador for Color Wow. “When your curls dry close to your head, they fall into their natural curl pattern and don’t frizz.”

Wake Up with Waves

While hair is dry: Spritz with Batiste Dry Shampoo ($9; drugstores), secure it in a bun on the top of your head, and blast it with a blow-dryer. The heat will set your hair’s body, and the dry shampoo will soak up oil while you sleep, says Stephanie Brown, a colorist in New York City. If your hair is wet: Towel-dry and part it where you plan to wear it the next day, says Fitzsimons. Divide hair into four sections, spray them with a light oil mist (he likes Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Smoothing Dry Oil Mist, $34), twirl each section, and pin up on top of your head. Come morning, unwrap for a cool beachy vibe.

Life Limp Strands

If you want to add volume to fine, straight hair, let your hair get halfway dry, then spritz roots with a texturizing spray, like SEVEN Haircare Cubica Swept texture spray ($29). Loosely secure all your hair on top of your head with a hair tie, says Cash Lawless, a celebrity stylist and father of four. When the alarm goes off (aka your toddler yelling), release your hair and run a styling cream like Nunzio Saviano The Cream ($32) through the ends to give them sexy definition.