Nighttime is the right time to take years off your face. Hormonal changes boost blood flow to the skin, brightening it overnight. 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.
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.
Rejuvenate with a retinoid
Choose an anti-ager that packs real power. This vitamin A derivative is the key to youthful-looking skin. But because exposure to sunlight can deactivate their potency, it’s best to apply retinoids at night a dermatologist in 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. You can also try Neutrogena Tone Correcting Concentrated Serum Night from Ageless Intensives or La Roche-Posay Biomedic Retinol Cream 15. For more improvement, try Rx Renova, atralin, or Refissa, a newly available retinoid in a moisturizing base.
Erase dark circles
Dot under your eyes with vitamin K cream. In a study by Elson, women who applied an undereye cream containing vitamin K and retinol every night for 12 weeks saw their dark circles improve 33%. Try: NeoStrata Bionic Eye Cream or Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15. Like retinol, vitamin K is sensitive to ultraviolet light and should be used only at night. BONUS: The retinol helps ease crow’s feet.
Apply a mega-moisturizer
Plump and condition your skin to help disguise signs of aging and prevent further damage. Due to nighttime increase in temperature and water loss, extra hydration is a must, says Jenny Kim, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine and dermatology at the UCLA School of Medicine. For best results, look for a cream with the superhydrators hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which attract water to skin. The extra dose of softening also makes wrinkles less noticeable in the morning. Try: Mario Badescu Hydrating Moisturizer with Biocare & Hyaluronic Acid.
Sleep tricks for amazing skin
Revive your complexion with 4 easy tweaks to your nighttime routine: