Woman&Home beauty editor Fiona McKim sets out an easy to follow night skin care routine that will leave your skin glowy, refreshed and youthful, whether you get two hours sleep or ten.
But if you’re still looking for guidance and clarity about what constitutes a great night skin care routine then look no further.
We explain how to cover the tell tale signs of tiredness with a simple routine that easy to personalise for you. The first step? Understanding the link between sleep and skin…
The role sleep plays in your night skin care routine
What happens to skin while you sleep?
When you doze off your whole body kicks into repair mode, skin included. New cells are created and old ones shed, excess fluid is drained and toxins broken down. Naturally, the more time there is to do this the better.
Your circadian rhythm – aka body clock – is wired to work through the night so poor sleep means incomplete tasks; fluid sticks around as puffiness, toxins as dark circles and natural moisture is lost though an unrestored skin barrier.
Hormones play a part too with protein-building human growth hormone produced during a good night’s sleep and stress hormone cortisol released after a bad one.
“Not getting enough sleep can trigger a response from your adrenal gland that leads to the overproduction of sebum, clogging pores and causing blemishes,” confirms dermatologist and Murad Skincare founder Dr Murad.
How do our sleep habits change with age?
Over 50? According to The Sleep Council our patterns shift at this age, so you can expect more brief awakenings in the night, less of a drop in body temperature during sleep and a growing preference for earlier bed and wakening times.
This may all sound a bit bleak as sleep loss is hardly a choice, but with knowledge you gain power to make the most of your beauty sleep, no matter how much you’re getting.
Our recommended night skin care routine
A good night skin care routine needs to be simple to follow.
Ours is broken into two essential steps, with some four optional extras added so you can customise it to be perfect for you.
We recommend additional steps in our night skin routine for dry or tight skin, for spots or excess oil production, for tired or dull skin and just for general pampering indulgence.
Essential step #1: Cleanse
Make the most of natural repair by wearing your most active skincare to bed, starting with a really good cleanse so everything absorbs properly.
Kate Somerville Exfolikate Daily Foaming Cleanser, £16 is a fresh creamy wash that exfoliates dead skin as it dissolves makeup and grime.
If you’re sensitive try Curèl Foaming Facial Wash, £13.99, a marshmallow-soft mousse with ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier.
Essential step #2: Retinol
Every expert’s favourite all-rounder retinol works best at night as it’s destabilised by UV light. “Retinol is a fantastic active, increasing skin cell turnover and stimulating new skin growth whilst the body is in its resting state,” agrees cosmetic surgeon Dr Jonquille Chantrey.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream, £70 combines slow-release retinol with brightening niacinamide and picolinamide, which helps deliver retinol into the skin.
Optional step #3: Salicylic acid – great for spots and excess oil production
“For spots, the ingredient to look out for is salicylic acid, which helps control sebum,” says Skin Lounge Clinic director Rachel Huskinson.
Try The Ordinary 2% salicylic solution, £4.20 (see our other The Ordinary product recommendations here).
Optional step #4: Glycolic Acid – great for tired dull skin
Tired and looking dull? L’Oreal Laser Glycolic Acid Ampoules, £24.99, is a potent seven day treatment that’ll shift dead cells your natural turnover can’t.
Optional step #5: occlusive creams – great for dry or tight skin
If you tend to wake up with dry or tight skin, look for occlusive creams that lock in skincare in and prevent water loss.
New It Cosmetics Confidence In Your Beauty Sleep, £43 is brilliantly formulated, combining occlusive jojoba oil, pore clearing salicylic and exfoliating lactic acid in a glossy lavender-scented cream.
Optional step #6: face masks – great for pampering and flare-ups
Face masks are a great way to treat a skin flare up, or to just indulge yourself.
Which overnight masks can I add into my night skin care routine?
Sleep loss can lead to skin inflammation. Slather this on thickly after a late night and let the cannabis sativa seed oil and aloe soothe and quench.
Naya’s overnight hydration mask packs in four types of hyaluronic acid to hold moisture in your skin plus nourishing cacay oil and phytic acid, a mild exfoliant that’s also high in antioxidants.
What else can help your night skin care routine?
All of the above products will maximise your skin’s overnight renewal no matter how far away from the full eight hours you fall, and if all else fails a great concealer goes a very long way. Read our round-up of the best under eye concealers for dark circles here.
Of course the best beauty treatment of all is a solid night’s sleep. Discover our health Editor’s 25 simple tips to help you get a good night’s sleep here.