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What Happens To Your Skin When You’re Asleep?

What Happens To Your Skin When You’re Asleep?

It's easy to forget about your skin before bed – after all, you’re just going to sleep, right? Nothing to see here!
Wrong. So very wrong.

We like to think that taking good care your skin as part of your morning routine is a done deal. Cleansing, moisturizing, using a treatment serum, applying a dab of eye cream here and a good slathering of sunscreen there? All standard practice. But when it comes to sticking to a regular nighttime skincare routine, things often go a little awry.

Of course, we’ve all encountered the odd occasion when we’ve been too tired/lazy/tipsy to fully cleanse, tone and moisturize before bed. And that's just about OK when it doesn’t happen too often. But neglecting a nighttime skincare routine on the reg can have serious repercussions on the health of your skin.

Read on to find out exactly what goes on with your skin while you’re sleeping

1. Cell Regeneration Hits Its Busiest Time

Day and night, your skin is constantly turning over as part of a natural shedding process called desquamation. During this process, skin cells are created at the base of your epidermis where they mature, get pushed up to the surface and finally slough away. This system allows your skin to remain strong and healthy, and works pretty efficiently.

Until it doesn’t.

Many things upset the rate at which your skin turns over. For one thing, it naturally slows down as you age (surprise, surprise) and there’s nothing you can do about that. However, there are SO many other things you can control to help cell regeneration go about its business in the most efficient way possible.

Sleep is one of the biggest factors. During this important time of rest skin turnover speeds up – potentially working up to three times faster than during the day. This is, in part due to a hormone called the human growth hormone (HGH) which is stimulated by sleep. As its name cunningly reveals, HGH stimulates growth in both the tissues and organs in your body. And when it comes to your skin, it helps accelerate cell regeneration, thus promoting repair and increasing turnover.

How To Aid Cell Regeneration

The obvious way to boost cell turnover? Get more quality sleep! On top of that, give it an extra helping hand by applying a gentle exfoliating formulation to clean skin before you hit the sack. Try AHA, BHA + PHA Liquid Exfoliant.

2. Collagen Production Accelerates

Various studies show that if you consistently skimp on beauty sleep, your collagen will suffer as a result. This is because your skin is constantly producing fresh collagen (although this process seriously slows down as you age), but it really amps up when you’re in the land of nods.

When you don’t get enough sleep, however, the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol kicks in, which puts unwanted stress on your skin, playing havoc with collagen production and wrecking its ability to heal and regenerate. This often results in weaker, thinner, less springy skin that highlights fine lines, accelerates the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin, and starts to look generally a bit ‘meh.’

Too much cortisol in your system can also cause flare-ups in chronic skin conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. So there’s that.

How To Enhance Collagen Production

You’ll soon get bored of this… but go to bed earlier! Also, apply an overnight treatment that contains retinol. Retinol has been proven time and again to accelerate collagen synthesis and help you achieve the heady heights of stronger, healthier skin. We love Retinol Facial Serum or you could switch it up with Rejuvenating Longevity Serum which contains bakuchiol – nature’s gentle alternative to retinol.

3. Water Loss Becomes A Thing

Skin becomes warmer and more permeable when you’re asleep as blood flow increases to the surface. This is great news for your skincare routine because it allows your products to go about their business super efficiently and way more effectively.

But it’s not so good for your skin’s hydration levels. A more permeable barrier function, you see, loses water at a quicker rate than normal, leaving it feeling dryer and more dehydrated than you’d like.

How To Reduce Overnight Water Loss

Do NOT stay awake longer, thinking this will keep your skin hydrated. Big mistake. Instead, treat your skin to plenty of moisture before bedtime. Cleanse gently to remove debris, then apply a hydrating serum followed by a nourishing moisturizer. We’re currently all over Smoothing Collagen Serum and Vitamin C Deep Hydration Night Cream.

4. Your Body’s Defense System Kicks In

Free radicals are constantly trying to attack your skin’s valuable proteins throughout the day thanks to things like pollution, UV radiation, smoking and stress. So, what happens to all these free radicals at night, when you’re asleep? Well, let’s talk about melatonin for a minute.

Not just a sleeping aid you might take before a long-haul flight, melatonin is a hormone produced by your body on a daily (well, evening!) basis. Your body makes melatonin when it’s dark to make you feel sleepy and ready to turn in for the night. It's also vital in helping to counteract environmental skin damage. It’s kind of like your body’s own natural antioxidant system, boosting repair, nixing all those pesky free rads and rebooting your skin ready for the next day of inevitable pollution and the like…  

How To Boost Free Radical Protection  

Two words: topical antioxidants. Our favorite antioxidant is vitamin C which is one of the hardest-working and clinically proven antioxidants in skincare. It figures, therefore that a vitamin C boost before bedtime is just what the beauty doctor ordered. Try Vitamin C Super Serum + which also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and collagen-boosting retinol.

More About This Article

Georgia Gould

Georgia Gould

Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.