How To Get Better Skin As You Sleep

When we're washing our faces at night, there's a certain satisfaction that comes with knowing we're getting rid of everything it's come in contact with that day. Makeup, dirt, grime, our train neighbor's shoulder when we fell asleep — you get it. So, why would we want to compromise that squeaky-clean feeling by piling on heavy night creams or dotting our faces with dark-spot correctors? Well, according to board-certified dermatologists Dr. Ariel Ostad and Dr. Sejal K. Shah, nighttime is prime time for skin-care products.

From why using antioxidants at night is even more important than using them during the day to why you need a multitasking mask like Olay Regenerist Overnight Mask, here's proof that beauty sleep is a real thing.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
Your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, tells your body when it's time to sleep and wake up. According to a recent study, it does the same thing for your skin.

During the a.m., skin is primarily busy protecting itself from damaging UV rays and activates a natural shield against them. (Yes, you still need to use sunscreen daily.) At night, your skin isn't in protection mode, so it can chill out and repair itself. According to Shah, this means that any products you slather on, like creams and dark-spot correctors, can be more effective and better soak up the active ingredients.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
Just because you're lounging around your apartment doesn't mean there aren't any harmful pollutants and free radicals (particles that break down collagen) hanging out in the air. Hate to break it to you, but they're there no matter what time of day it is.

In addition to fighting the good fight to protect your skin's integrity with antioxidants like vitamins C and E and niacinamide during the day, using them at night is just as important, says Ostad. Not only is your skin repairing itself, but the antioxidants can penetrate deeper and work more efficiently.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
Your skin creates new cells as it repairs itself at night, but it can get a little boost with the help of compounds like retinoids (a form of vitamin A) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs, like lactic and glycolic). These two types of active ingredients can help your skin create new cells and shed old ones faster, produce more collagen, and fade dark spots more quickly. It's like your skin's natural renewal process but on speed.

The only catch? Because of the increased cell turnover rate, your skin will become more sensitive to sunlight, according to both docs. Hence, why you shouldn't apply retinoids in the a.m. — even if you are layering sunscreen on top.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
Whether you're sleeping for four or eight hours, you're basically lying around doing nothing. Why not take this time to increase your skin's productivity level with targeted treatments?

Nighttime is the best time to hone in on stubborn zits, annoying dark circles, or what have you. It's fine to use these products during the day, but doubling up and using them at night can give you faster results, says Ostad.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
Your skin needs to be constantly hydrated. A layer of moisturizer is key in the morning, but that's not going to last you into the night — even if you wash your face with the world's gentlest cleanser.

To keep up the hydration level at a time when skin cells are regenerating, we suggest a mask that provides immediate and long-lasting moisture, such as Olay Regenerist Overnight Mask. It's formulated with vitamin B3 to help boost elasticity and ward off free radicals, as well as mulberry extract to help brighten. The real kicker here is in the formula, though. Unlike traditional nighttime masks that can be thick and lay on top of your skin, this one's lightweight and absorbent, so you can sleep without messing up your pillows.
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
No one likes mornings. We're constantly running late — putting on makeup and trying to slip into our shoes at the same time — it's rough. Understandably, an extensive skin-care routine is out of the question for many women. Nighttime, though, is where it's at, says Ostad.

Since you have more time at night to tend to your skin, he says, you should do just that. No need to take the 15-product Korean skin-care route, but at the very least, you should wash your face and use antioxidants, retinoids, and a night cream. But, hey, why not throw in a serum, toner, or spot treatment since you've got the time?
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Illustrated by Alex Marino and Mary Galloway.
You already know this one — washing your face at night is serious stuff. Not only can all the makeup you use really clog your pores, but there are tons of pollutants in the air that can break down your skin's collagen if you don't wash everything off, says Shah.

We like the double-cleansing method of using an oil-based cleanser before a foaming one to get a deep clean, but really, any cleansing routine you've got works. And, since you're not wearing any makeup as you sleep (right??), you can get away with not washing your face in the morning. A splash of water will do just fine.
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