While you are off in dreamland someplace, your skin is working overtime. Beauty sleep is not a myth and sleep does lessen the severity of wrinkles in the face and neck, at least temporarily. "Inflammation is down and stress hormones reach their lowest levels by the middle of the night," says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. This relaxed state can improve breakouts, fine lines, dark circles — the works. Here's how to boost your looks while your body catches some Zzz's.
Take years off your face: "Nothing works better at night to prevent and correct wrinkles than a topical retinoid," says Doris J. Day, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center. With regular use, this potent antiaging ingredient helps speed cell turnover and collagen production, so you awake with smoother, more radiant skin. If a prescription retinoid is too harsh for your skin, try retinol, a gentler, over-the-counter cousin. Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is one to try, but Neutrogena and Olay also have excellent products.
Slough off the rough spots: Slather on a body cream laced with glycolic acid before bed to loosen dead skin. You'll be amazed after one week how much smoother your skin feels. Try Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Triple Smoothing Body Lotion. Apply a second layer to extra-dry areas like feet, elbows, and hands. In the morning, use an exfoliating body wash to send those loosened cells down the drain. At least 2x's a week be sure to exfoliate your face too. Products by Neutrogena and Olay both have great exfoliating masks, cleansers and cloths which help expedite fading stubborn dark spots.
Reduce puffiness: "Lying flat for hours causes fluid to accumulate in your face, especially around your eyes," says Dr. Wechsler. Minimize puffiness by skipping salty foods for dinner which makes you retain fluid and keeping your head elevated on at least two pillows... Best tip, sleep on your back.
Get softer, shinier hair: Deep conditioning can rescue hair that lacks shine or softness. Look for hair masks meant for nighttime use. Try John Frieda Frizz-Ease Crème Serum Overnight Repair Formula, which is formulated to go on dry hair, so you won't have to sleep with a wet head. Its lightweight enough to not leave residue on your pillow.
"Work" on your tan: Applying self-tanner before bed lets you wake up looking sun kissed. Most self-tanners contain DHA, which gives off the odor of uric acid for hours as the color develops. But if you apply it before bed, the smell will be gone by morning. Just be sure the product no longer feels sticky when you hit the sheets. An alternative: Try lavender-infused Olay Touch of Sun Overnight or the pricier Sun by Ulta another overnight tanner that works great.