12 ways to get the best beauty sleep of your life
Let's face it: Breakouts, a dull complexion and looking like an exhausted raccoon is basically the stuff of nightmares.
Ah, December. When every night you go to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in your head...for about five hours. Then it's up early to put the finishing touches on your English paper, followed by a nonstop school day before you rush to basketball practice, grab a quick dinner and settle in for another late-into-the-night cram session.
Oh, and don't forget to find time to shop for piles of presents, bake batches of peanut butter blossoms for your BFF's cookie party and attend a bazillion holiday hangouts with your friends and fam because, you know, 'tis the season. So is it any wonder you're feeling (and probably looking, tbh) totally exhausted?
As much as a lack of sleep saps your energy level, it also takes a toll on your skin, leading to everything from under-eye circles to dullness to brutal breakouts. It's time to finally make sleep an essential part of your beauty routine so you can wake up looking and feeling amazing (and a few skincare must-haves will help, too).
Bring on Beauty Sleep
Saying it again for the people in the back: A full night's sleep (that's eight hours, please) is v. important for your health. And that includes your skin's health.
"When you are asleep, the stress hormone cortisol decreases and the sleep hormone melatonin increases, mitigating the damage done to your skin throughout the day," reveals dermatologist Dr. Lian Mack. "Good sleep allows your body to recover from the stressors."
Because our bodies repair and regrow tissues while we sleep, getting a solid snooze maximizes restoration time, adds Dr. Mack. Staying up too late interrupts that process. And if you're never getting a deep, restful sleep, your complexion is going to take a hit. "This can result in skin looking dull and dry and decrease the functionality of the skin barrier and cellular turnover," Dr. Mack explains.
One of the biggest bad sleep culprits? Blue light. That's the glow that radiates from your phone, tablet and TV screen. It tricks your brain into thinking it's still daytime, so your melatonin (the hormone that makes you feel snoozy) levels don't increase—and cortisol kicks into high gear, stressing out you *and* your skin.
The solution? Turn off all screens about two hours before bed to give your brain time to prepare for some shut-eye. Pick up a book, write in a journal or listen to a podcast. You'll be amazed by how much faster you nod off—and how rested you look and feel in the morning.
Start a Routine
Of course, there's more to keeping your skin healthy than solid sleep (although it's a huge start). Sticking to a nighttime skincare routine will give your skin the tools it needs to repair itself and help you look your best—even when you don't get a great night's sleep.
Try to keep things simple: Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser to remove pollutants, dirt and debris that build up throughout the day. After cleansing, you can use exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to reveal newer, healthier skin cells, says Dr. Mack (just be sure to limit your use to once a week to avoid irritation). Finally, apply a moisturizer with ceramides to soothe your skin, boost hydration levels and improve your skin barrier.
Sleeping Beauty was onto something—getting more zzz's goes a long way toward improving your skin. So let's ditch the screens, grab our next to-die-for exfoliator, curl up with our pups and start getting our glow back. No prince required.
Your Bedtime Lineup
Wind down and prep for the best night's sleep ever with these essentials.
1. A silk pillowcase will protect your skin from losing moisture throughout the night (cotton can dry out skin and hair).
2. An eye mask blocks out all the light, giving your brain the best chance to rest.
3. Use an exfoliator to clarify and refine your pores with salicylic and mandelic acid.
4. Use moisturizer to add hydration with hyaluronic acid, then lock it in by strengthening your skin barrier with ceramides.
5. Wear a hair bonnet to contain your curls and wake up to shiny, bouncy ringlets.
6. A humidifier adds water back into the air to help keep skin hydrated and happy
7. Cleanser helps wash away the day to give your skin a clean slate to do its work while you sleep.
8. Keep a pack of hydrating makeup wipes in your bedside table for those nights when you just can't do one more thing.
9. Wear PJs. When you're comfy, you sleep better. And looking cute doesn't hurt...
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our December/January 2022 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.
Edited for digital by Allie Lijewski.