Not Sleeping Enough? 6 Ways to Help Sleepy Skin Become Dreamy Skin.
If you’re going through life sleep deprived, you’re in ample company. According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1 in 3 adult Americans don’t get the minimum 7 hours for optimal health. And that doesn’t account for the many more who sleep, but not deeply. Every year more research comes out on the many health problems associated with sleep deficit, from obesity, diabetes and heart disease to reduced cognitive ability, depression and car accidents. But what about the effect on skin?
“Beauty sleep” is real.
A good night’s sleep helps us to both look and feel fresh. You need to pass through all five stages of sleep 4-6 times per night to look and feel fully rested.
“Deep sleep” (stages 3 and 4, pre-REM) is when most of the skin-restoration magic happens. Fresh blood nourishes skin and flushes toxins, and pH is reset. A release of human growth hormone helps to repair skin and maintain thickness, while hormone melatonin acts as an antioxidant to protect skin from free-radical damage. Deep sleep also reduces your levels of cortisol, a “stress hormone” that degrades skin-smoothing collagen and, in a vicious cycle, can cause trouble sleeping!
Fortunately, just because you feel tired doesn’t mean your skin has to look it. Besides caring for your general health — staying hydrated, eating right, exercising regularly, and not smoking or overindulging in alcohol — you have options for helping skin look fresh for that big event tomorrow and also into the future.
1. Feed your face
Sleep deficit can deprive your skin of the opportunity to nourish itself, replenish its lipid barrier and fully reset pH to normal. This means less resistance to bacteria, moisture loss (aka, “TEWL”) and free-radical damage, resulting in a dehydrated complexion more prone to redness, irritation and breakouts.
Use high-quality products that help rebalance, nourish and protect your skin. Reset with a gentle cleanser formulated to bring skin back to a healthy 4 – 5.5 pH. Then apply a potent moisturizer to provide protective ceramides, antioxidants and other nutrients to refresh and hydrate irritable skin.
Without enough sleep time for sloughing off dead cells and replacing them with new ones, skin can start to look dingy and grey or sallow. Stimulate your skin and speed up the turnover process by exfoliating.
Try a cleanser or moisturizer with chemical exfoliant like salicylic or glycolic acid. Products with retinols (vitamin A palmitate, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate) are another option to aid in skin-cell turnover. You can also help rid skin of dead cells and look more awake by using a good facial scrub or brush, taking care to be gentle and not cause irritation.
For more penetrating therapy and still no downtime, take an hour or so for a professional peel that uses microdermabrasion or an exfoliant like glycolic acid or TCA. A trained aesthetician will be able to go deeper to remove more dead skin with minimal risk of damage to the epidermis.
3. Don’t puff: prop and chill
Bags should be Chanel, not under your eyes. When you sleep, however, fluid can collect under your eyes causing morning bags. Sleeping on your stomach or side makes dark circles and puff worse.
Try to sleep on your back and use a fluffy pillow, possibly two, to prop up your head. Also avoid overdoing it with salt and alcohol, drink plenty of water, and remember to remove eye makeup before bed. If you’re still baggy in the morning, lie back and press chilled cucumber slices or green-tea bags to your eyes for 3-10 minutes. Some people swear by frozen spoons that have thawed to safe, non-sticking temperature.
You may have heard that hemorrhoid cream helps — don’t do it! It can make matters worse. Try an eye cream with retinol, caffeine and antioxidants instead.
4. Stop and enjoy a facial
Stress and lack of sleep increase your levels of “stress hormone” cortisol. Heightened cortisol levels, in turn, make you feel more tense, make it harder to sleep, and break down the collagen your skin needs to stay firm and smooth! One way to help break the cycle is to carve out some quiet ime for YOU and go for a relaxing, professional facial. It forces you to lie still and be pampered — potentially helping lower those cortisol levels — while also addressing some of the damage that sleep deficit may have wreaked on your skin.
5. Fake it ‘til you make it
When you’re not getting enough sleep, use a concealer and foundation to make your skin look more hydrated, smooth and alive on short notice. Just be sure to choose colors well matched to your skin shade and tone, or risk making yourself look even more fatigued.
Even if you’ve used these products before, look up a tutorial on how to apply them correctly. Many women are surprised to learn, for instance, that they should apply their concealer over foundation or that they should be patting (not rubbing) it into a triangular area under each eye! Tip: To brighten extra dark under-eye circles, apply an additional layer of pink-tint concealer under your foundation.
If foundation and concealer are too much for you during the day, try a tinted BB cream with SPF and antioxidants to protect skin while subtly smoothing out its color and texture.
6. Go for a longer-term solution
Sleepless nights take a toll over time. There may come a point when, no matter how much you sleep and no matter what you do, the person in the mirror doesn’t look well rested. You may want to consider a more intensive treatment than products alone can address such as Thermage or CO2 laser for slack or sagging skin. Dr. Yardy Tse, board certified dermatologist of CSI-Encinitas explained that “If you are chronically sleep deprived, your eyes may be dry and irritated which can then cause you to squint or blink more than usual. The constant activation of these muscles in the squinting or blinking process can then lead to an increase in fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. Botox or Dysport offer safe and immediate improvement of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.”
You could also try a common plastic surgery procedure, blepharoplasty, that is “highly effective in removing undereye bags and the tired look that occurs as one ages.” says Dr. Greg Morganroth, CSI Mountain View. “It is the fastest and longest lasting technique to stop the “you look tired’ comments from co-workers.”
Of course, getting enough ZZZs is always your best bet. You snooze. You win. When you are losing sleep, however, you don’t have to give up on dreamy skin. Consult a provider at California Skin Institute to discuss what could work best for you.