You might think that your daily skin-care regimen is over by the time you hit the sheets, but there’s actually plenty that you can do to improve your skin even while you sleep. From avoiding certain evening indulgences to using the right kind of pillowcase, here are a few tips that will have you glowing by morning.
First of all, wash your face.
There are nights when taking the time to splash some water on your face feels like an impossibly big task. But you have to do it — even if you didn’t wear makeup that day, and even if you didn’t make it to the gym.
Your precious dermis is actually picking up pollutants, dirt, and skin oils from your hair and fingers throughout the day. During the night, your skin cells regenerate and the dead ones rub off. However, this process doesn’t go as smoothly if your skin isn’t clean.
Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine told Prevention, “when you have a buildup of grime or makeup or other pollutants, it makes it hard for your skin to get rid of those dead skin cells.”
Washing your face at night, even if just with plain water, makes a real difference to what you see in the mirror the next day.
Skip the cheese.
Joy McCarthy, author of “Joyous Detox,” holistic nutritionist and Genuine Health Ambassador also suggests giving cheese and other dairy products a pass if you’re looking to cultivate a flawless visage while you sleep.
“Research has proven that dairy promotes acne, but particularly pasteurized dairy,” she said to Best Health magazine. The theory is that dairy ramps up inflammation, which in turn can trigger breakouts.
If you’re craving a snack before bed, opt for something that will give your skin a boost like antioxidant-packed blueberries or strawberries.
Eat the right kind of dinner.
What you put in your belly in the evening can have a big impact on how your skin looks in the morning. When it comes to dinner, stick to food that will help you look your best.
“There’s a growing body of research showing that diet really does affect your complexion,” dermatologist Jessica Wu told Prevention.
She recommends treats like olive oil, tomatoes, oatmeal, dark chocolate, and green tea for optimal skin happiness.
Try steaming your skin.
If you’re not into showering nightly or just feel like your skin could use a bit of extra love, try a DIY facial steam. Simply boil some water, pour it into a bowl, lean your face over the rising steam and cover your head and shoulders with a towel.
“Facial steaming is a great option for patients with acne-prone skin or with stubborn blackheads,” said dermatologist Arash Akhavan to Marie Clare. The moisture and heat from the steam will help to open up your pores and loosen any contaminants clogging them.
However, if you suffer from rosacea or any condition that might be aggravated by high temperatures, you might want to skip the steam.
Apply retinoids or bleaching creams in the evening.
If you’re working to fade scars or dark spots, the time to apply retinoids like tretinoin or bleaching creams like hydroquinone is right before bed.
Why? As a doctor of advanced dermatology Sonoa Au explains in an interview withReader’s Digest, “at night, there’s no UV damage, no environmental stresses, pollutions, no cigarette smoke, no big changes in temperature, and you’re not wearing makeup.” Sunlight and environmental pollutants can actually degrade the active ingredients in lightening products and counteract their effects, she added.
For best results in getting rid of dark spots, slather lightening products on just before you turn off the lights.
Spot treat blemishes before bed.
If you spot a pimple during the day, the time to tackle it is while you snooze. Many acne spot treatments work best on clean skin, so using them under thick makeup could be a waste of time. Additionally, some heavy-duty products can actually react badly to sunlight.
Looking to give a natural treatment and shot? Try a touch of tea tree oil, the strong-smelling product of the Australian plant Melaleauca alternifolia. Tea tree oil should always be diluted before being applied to the skin, but it can have some pretty glamorous effects.
“Tea tree oil is also something I would recommend to relieve any pimples, as it helps inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria due to its astringency and also increases cell turnover to help pimples heal faster,” dermatologist David Bank told Glamour.
Drink plenty of water in the evening.
Skin care tips don’t get easier, cheaper, and healthier than this. Holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy recommends drinking at least a liter of water overnight for glowing skin in the morning.
“Keep it beside your bed, and if you wake up thirsty, take a couple sips. And whatever you don’t drink overnight, drink first thing in the morning before you get out of bed,” McCarthy told Best Health.
While this tip might have you running to the bathroom in the wee hours, your skin will appreciate it.
Use an extra pillow to prevent eye puffiness.
If you always seem to wake up with swollen eyes and a puffy face, this tip could help.
“If dark, puffy [bags under your eyes] seem to be the morning problem, consider sleeping on your back with an extra pillow so that fluid doesn’t pool overnight,” dermatologist Rebecca Tung told Allure.
Elevating your head will keep that “fluid” where it should be and away from your delicate under-eye area.
But don’t use a cheap pillowcase.
If you really want to get regal with your beauty rest, opt for a silk pillowcase rather than one made of cotton. The rationale here is that cotton actually pulls moisture and sebum (aka oil) from your skin, causing it to dry out overnight.
“The moisture pulled into the pillow can also draw in allergens and bacteria, causing damage and reactions to your hair and skin,” dermatologist Laura Dyer told Verily.
Plus, some dermatologists believe that sleeping on silk helps prevent wrinkles by providing your skin with a smoother surface to rub against during the night.
Don’t sleep on your side.
Side-sleepers could be damaging their skin without realizing it. It turns out that certain sleeping positions are actually better for your skin than others.
Dr. Gohara told Reader’s Digest that “sleep position is important” when it comes to preventing wrinkles. That’s because sleeping on your side could cause your skin to be tugged and creased throughout the night, eventually causing wrinkles. She recommends sleeping on your back to avoid this scenario.
Get to bed before midnight.
It’s not always possible or fun, but hitting the sheets before midnight can do wonders for your skin.
According to a 2014 study, our circadian rhythms affect skin repair and function. Translation: your skin actually knows what time it is.
Researchers have also found that mitosis — the process by which cells divide and repair – occurs roughly between 11 p.m. and midnight, whether you’re asleep or awake. However, catching some Zs while mitosis is at its peak means that your skin will reap more of the benefits.