When you pass out on your pillow each night, there’s much more going on than just dreaming about Benedict Cumberbatch proposing to you while picnicking on the British countryside. While you rest, your body goes to work, repairing the damage it sustained throughout the day, such as by increasing human growth hormone production, which plays a key role in healing cells and tissues throughout your body, including your skin.
“During the day, your skin is constantly assaulted—pollution, UV rays, stress levels—and it devotes its energy and resources to protecting itself,” Karyn Grossman, M.D. of Grossman Dermatology in Santa Monica and New York City, told YouBeauty. “When you sleep, you get a chance to relax and your skin gets a chance to repair itself. I like to say that morning is about protection and evening is about correction.”
But most of us aren’t getting enough shut-eye each night, which means your skin’s ability to correct that daily damage is diminished. Research shows that lack of quality sleep is directly linked to skin aging. A 2013 study found that women who are sleep-deprived show more signs of skin aging, including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, saggy skin, and reduced elasticity than women who get quality sleep. The study also found that poor sleepers had a harder time bouncing back from stressors to the skin, such as sunburns.
Along with making a good night’s sleep a priority, there are several anti-aging skincare products that are designed to give your skin a helping hand while you slumber. The top ingredient that should be part of your nighttime routine: retinoids, such as prescription Retin-A, or over-the-counter retinols, such as Exuviance Super Retinol Concentrate ($78), which contains 1% retinol that is time-released to prevent skin irritation, such as redness.
“Retinoids and retinols improve cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles,” said Grossman. “Almost every single one of my patients is on a retinoid in the evening.”
Some people have trouble using retinoids or retinols every night because of skin irritation, such as dryness and redness, but applying these powerful ingredients only once a week won’t really get you the full anti-aging benefits, noted Grossman. To prevent skin irritation while using a retinoid or retinol, she recommends following this nighttime strategy: First, layer on SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel ($62), which has anti-inflammatory properties and prevents redness, followed by a pea-size amount of retinoid (or retinol), and then apply a basic moisturizer on top. “Start doing this every three days and try that for a month,” said Grossman. “Then see if you can tolerate it every other day, and if that goes well, do every day. If your skin gets dry, wait a few days and drop down to every other day.”
Another great anti-aging ingredient: peptides, which help fight fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. Try Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift ($75), which contains peptides, as well as alpha and poly hydroxy acids and antioxidants.
To lighten brown spots while you sleep, Grossman recommends applying a retinoid or retinol to correct hyperpigmentation. Other effective spot-reducing ingredients include licorice extract, which naturally brightens the skin, as well as vitamin C, which is found in Exuviance Intensive Eye Treatment Pads ($45), designed target brown spots around the eye area.
Grossman also recommends expanding your nighttime — and daytime — anti-aging skincare routine to your eyes, neck, chest, and hands, which receive incidental damaging sun exposure on a daily basis. Above all, get a good night’s sleep to let slumber work its reparative magic. Sweet dreams.
This post is sponsored by Exuviance.