The Skin Care Clock
Nighttime is the right time to take years off your face
“Hormonal changes boost blood flow to the skin, brightening it overnight,” says Melvin Elson, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Vanderbilt School of Nursing. Skin temps are higher, too, so age-fighting potions seep deeper for better results. And even though you’re resting, your skin is hard at work. Studies show that cell turnover is 8 times faster at night, softening wrinkles.
On the flip side, as anyone who’s pulled an all-nighter can attest, the consequences—pasty-looking skin and dark circles—aren’t pretty. “Even worse, not getting the recommended 8 hours increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which may slow collagen production, promoting wrinkles,” says Jyotsna Sahni, MD, a sleep medicine doctor at Canyon Ranch in Tucson. To maximize your beauty sleep, follow this routine nightly to wake up with the complexion of your dreams.
Keep it clean
Washing your face plays two important roles: it removes damaging dirt and makes your night cream work harder
Removing makeup, oil, and other impurities helps keep pores tight and skin blemish free. Anti-aging treatments can also penetrate deeper on a clean surface. For dry skin, look for a creamy cleanser; for acne-prone or oily skin, a gel formula. If your skin is sensitive, wait 10 minutes after cleansing before applying anti-agers.
Choose an anti-ager that packs real power
These vitamin-a derivatives are key to youthful-looking skin. “But because exposure to sunlight can deactivate their potency, it’s best to apply retinoids at night,” says Patricia Farris, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. Start by using an OTC retinol-containing cream or lotion every other night until skin becomes acclimated to the side effects. Try: Neutrogena Tone Correcting Concentrated Serum Night from Ageless Intensives ($22; drugstores) or La Roche-Posay Biomedic Retinol Cream 15 ($52; drugstores). For more improvement, try Rx Renova, atralin, or Refissa, a newly available retinoid in a moisturizing base.
Sleep tricks for amazing skin
Revive your complexion with 4 easy tweaks to your nighttime routine
- Convert to sleeping on your back. Lying on your stomach or on the same side every night can etch permanent sleep lines into your skin, says Patricia Farris, MD. If you can’t adjust, switch to a satin pillowcase; the silky texture prevents crinkles.
- Raise your head. Stack a few pillows beneath your head to avoid puffy eyes. “If you keep your head above your heart, fluid won’t accumulate in your face,” says Farris.
- Invest in a humidifier. Dry, hot air sucks moisture from skin. A humidifier puts water in the air, for soft and supple skin.
- Get deeper slumber. Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only—doing so trains your mind to associate your bed with getting zzz’s. Avoid caffeine and exercise for 3 to 5 hours before bedtime, and limit alcohol at night; each can keep you from solid slumber. Make sure your room is dark and cool (the ideal temp for sleep is 65°F). To transition into sleep mode, don’t watch TV or go online for an hour before turning in.