I have the same dilemma every night. My brain tells me to do my nighttime skincare routine, but my body tells me to crawl into bed. Once I reach a certain point, the thought of spending 10 minutes in front of the mirror just seems like too much. But then I think about how much better I feel (and look) when I wake up after a night spent slathered in serums and I hightail it to the bathroom.
Now there’s an influx of skincare products specifically designed to simplify bedtime skincare and make that dilemma easier to resolve. We’re not talking about run-of-the-mill night creams. These are masks with high-tech timed-delivery technology, rich lotions that fortify your skin barrier, and gentler, more effective retinoids that all aim to take your routine from many steps to just a few, meaning you get to the “sleep” part of beauty sleep that much faster. “Products that work overnight are really the ultimate multitaskers,” says Sarah Brown, executive director of Violet Grey’s Violet Lab. She has noticed Violet Grey customers responding to products like U Beauty the Barrier, a rich emollient cream that uses bioactive ingredients to help rebuild the all-important skin barrier overnight.
There’s a reason these products can be so effective. “We are designed to restore ourselves in our sleep, so that’s when your body is doing cellular repair and cellular detox,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman. “If we are giving our skin ingredients that are either helping the repair to take place or inducing change, they’re going to be better received than during the day.” Put simply, in daylight hours your skin is focused on protecting itself from the outside world. At night it chills out and can really focus on getting to work.
Ingredients like peptides and ceramides work to strengthen and protect skin, says Engelman, while retinoids help cellular turnover and collagen production. Sure, you could apply those ingredients individually, but the most exciting new overnight products have them together in one application. Noble Panacea’s Chronobiology Sleep Mask even uses time-release technology to deliver them to your skin throughout the night, depending on your circadian rhythm and when your skin needs them most.
But the most important thing, and the reason night creams are usually thicker and richer, is “the hydration factor,” according to dermatologist Shereene Idriss. At night your body temperature rises and your skin releases moisture, which is why you sometimes wake up looking like a raisin. Idriss combats this with what she calls “face basting”—slathering skin in an ultrarich cream overnight to “help soothe inflammation while locking in moisture.” The key to optimizing all night products, she says, is to apply them as early as possible, not seconds before going to bed. “You want to give your skin time with the ingredients” to ensure proper absorption. “Otherwise, you’re basically wiping everything off onto your pillowcase.” After all, if you’re putting in even the most minimal effort, you want it to count. Then you can focus on counting sheep.
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