The following content includes referral links and/or PR gifted products. Read my disclosure policy for more info.
I’ve had a complicated relationship with sleep probably for as long as I can remember. The art of actually getting that beauty sleep is something I had to learn and try to master over the years.
Growing up, I suffered from a lot of nighttime aches and pains in my joints- especially during bad weather. I’d call for my mom, as you do, and make her rub countless tubs of Vicks VapoRub on my legs and arms.
Once the Harry Potter book series started coming out, I’d spend most nights hidden under the covers, flashlight in hand, trying to get through “just one more chapter” before finally falling asleep.
College? I’m not entirely sure that I got any actual, good night’s sleep during those years. Like, at all.
The thing is, like most people, I love sleep.
I really, really do.
Despite my deep love for it, I’ve always witnessed this strange phenomenon occur, when the more physically and mentally exhausted I feel, the more difficult I find it to fall and stay asleep.
So yes, to me, sleep has become something into which I had to put a lot of thought and effort. Because you know, once you’re done with the Harry Potter series and college, you also get older and realize just how much certain areas of your lifestyle affect one another.
Things like staying healthy.
Getting enough sleep.
… and keeping your skin glowing and happy. :)
PUTTING THE “BEAUTY” IN BEAUTY SLEEP
During sleep, both our bodies and our skin go into repair mode.
Getting that beauty sleep isn’t just about the amount of sleep you’re getting, though. As the skin repairs itself during the “deep sleep” stages of the sleep cycle, you also have to focus on the quality of the sleep you’re getting. Light and/or interrupted sleep won’t have those same benefits. But more about that later.
One of the things I do to make my beauty sleep better is applying all products about 15-30 minutes before I actually get in my bed. This way I know that everything is absorbed and I won’t get any product on my pillowcase, etc. There are a few “nighttime” products in my unreasonably large collection that I’ve always come back to. Time and time again. Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair serum is one of them. Now that I think of, it’s been about ten years since I’ve purchased the first bottle.
Okay. That kinda makes me feel old, so I’ll try not to think about it too much.
Originally, when I started using it in my early twenties (here it is again) it was to get rid of old acne scars/marks. It works really well for that purpose, while also being gentle on the skin. Right now, it’s still one of my favorite serums to use during a pm skincare routine. Definitely a beauty sleep product, if there ever was one.
This serum is great at helping my skin look more even-toned, bright and hydrated. It’s kind of an all-around good multi-tasker. If I ever feel indecisive about what to use on my skin at night, this is what I reach for. Advanced Night Repair is also one of my favorite serums to use after a face mask.
I use quite a few “overnight” face masks, but none that I love as much as Erno Laszlo’s Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask. It has a very unique gel-like texture that quickly melts and absorbs into the skin. It does contain some fragrance, which isn’t ideal, but I still can’t help but splurge on this whenever I run out. Since the fragrance doesn’t irritate my skin and I love the effects so much, it isn’t a deal-breaker here. This mask is very lightweight and other than hydrating the skin, it also leaves it feeling very soft. After each use, I always wake up to smooth and supple skin.
Another sleep mask that’s loved by many- Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I like both the original mask and the Lip Glowy Balm in Peach. Both have a lightweight non-sticky formula and do a good job at keeping that chronic dry pout happy and feeling comfortable. Other options I like using as an overnight lip treatment are Pro Kiss’r Luscious Lip Balm from Fenty Beauty and the Agave Mask from Bite Beauty.
When both my lips and skin feel extremely dry (which usually happens when I travel or don’t do a good enough job at staying hydrated) I reach for lip gels and a sheet mask. My favorites are, of course, from Patchology. No surprise here. The FlashPatch lip gels are really good at soothing, hydrating lips and getting rid of any dry flakes. These gels usually work better than a lip scrub, especially when your lips are dry to the point of causing pain or discomfort. Like when the dryness is caused by windburn, lips are cracked or bleeding or if you tend to subconsciously pick at your dry lips. Using a scrub, or even a washcloth, on very dry lips can often irritate the delicate area.
The two sheet masks I use most often are Soothe and Hydrate. While you only need 5 minutes for these to work, I like to leave them on for a bit longer. Years ago, I really couldn’t stand sheet masks. They just felt so cold and kind of awkward on my skin. What was I thinking?! These days I actually really look forward to using them and they’re the first thing I reach for when my skin is feeling dry and unhappy.
The last two steps of my nighttime routine on those “my-face-is-so-dry-it-itches!!” nights, is moisturizing and sealing. These last two steps also involve the two most affordable products sitting on my nightstand. Both have been staples in my skincare routine. The good old Cetaphil Cream and Aquaphor Healing Ointment. After removing my sheet mask and applying a serum, I follow with a generous amount of the Cetaphil Cream. Once that absorbs, I take a very small amount of Aquaphor, rub it in my palms and gently press it into my skin. Aquaphor isn’t actually absorbed by the skin, but it acts as a “seal” to help… well, seal your moisturizer, and as an occlusive, it prevents water loss. This duo really does wonders for dry skin. It works much better than any high-end cream or moisturizer I’ve used. A few important things to remember when doing this:
- use a very small amount of Aquaphor
- don’t do it right before going to bed to avoid getting any product on your linens
- do keep in mind that the ointment will not be absorbed by the skin
- use a simple face wash to gently wash all the product off in the morning
BEAUTY SLEEP: THE ACCESSORIES
Changing my pillowcase on pretty much a daily basis is one of the (many) things that helped me keep my acne under control. Since switching from cotton to silk, I don’t have to change them every (or every other) night- and the benefits don’t stop here.
With cotton, all the oils and dirt from skin and hair, along with sweat, get absorbed. Silk has hypoallergenic properties, it’s much less absorbent than cotton and it can help keep your hair healthier as well. Because of the soft and smooth surface, your hair will glide easily as you move during sleep- reducing any pulling and friction. Another big plus, at least in my book, is how soft and cool silk stays throughout the night. No need to flip to that other, cooler side of the pillow.
I am a life-long side-sleeper…
…occasionally I’ll also sleep on my stomach. Most nights, even when I’m getting some of that really good I-can-totally-sleep-in-today-cuz-it’s-Saturday sleep, I can’t help but toss and turn while I fall asleep and wake up. I’ve tried sleeping on my back and I just can’t. It feels very unnatural and uncomfortable. Point is, as a side sleeper, another thing I can appreciate since switching to silk pillowcases, is no longer having to worry about waking up with those pillow creases on my face (or, “sleep wrinkles,” as Mark has so lovingly dubbed them).
While I can’t provide any definitive scientific data that prove silk pillowcases are better for your skin, I can tell you that as someone with very acne-prone, stubborn and picky skin, I have noticed a visible improvement. I rotate between the Slip silk pillowcase (also love their Silk Sleepmasks) and these and these I found on Amazon. The Slip pillowcase does seem to be more wrinkle-resistant after handwashing than the other two. What I do like better about both Alaska Bear and OleSilk though, is that they actually have a zipper. As much as I love Slip, at nearly ninety bucks a pillowcase, I do expect it to have a zipper… I don’t think it’s asking for too much, is it?
My late fall/winter beauty sleep must-have accessory is a humidifier. Nothing too big or expensive, just good enough to get the job done. Cold, dry air sucks the moisture out of your skin which can cause dullness, sensitivity, and/or dryness. Running a humidifier in your bedroom will help put moisture back into the air. This will not only make your skin look better, but it will also help you get better sleep and will ease sinus congestion.
Finally, the most important aspect of your beauty sleep is… well, actually getting some good-quality rest. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans is sleep deprived. This means that there’s more at risk than having a less-than-a-glowing-complexion and fighting off dark circles or puffy eyes. Lack of sleep or poor sleep patterns can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and increased stress levels. So, one of the first things to consider when working on stepping up your beauty sleep game is focusing on the actual sleep you’re getting. Not just the number of hours but also the quality.
BETTER [BEAUTY] SLEEP
I’ve struggled with nighttime anxiety since my late teens. I worked hard to train myself to be very mindful of my bedtime routine and habits. Otherwise, I can easily spend an entire night fighting off racing thoughts. Even when feeling physically exhausted. At one point, I did reach for help and took a sleep aid prescribed by my doctor. It was right after my accident and I couldn’t afford to not get any rest at night as my body was recovering. Yes, the meds helped me fall and stay asleep. BUT, they made it very difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning. They also had a tendency to make me sleep longer than I like, which most of the time leaves me with a sore back.
Most natural remedies I’ve tried over the years almost never helped. When they did, it was only for a short period of time. A few months ago started taking Lights Out by Love Wellness and it ended up working much better than any other natural supplements I’ve used in the past. It doesn’t necessarily knock me out right away, but instead, it helps me relax and stay asleep throughout the night. Most importantly, it doesn’t make me feel groggy and tired in the morning, which means that I can actually function. Key ingredients include magnesium, valerian root, and melatonin- all of which I tried in the past, which is curious. I’m guessing that there’s something unique about this specific formula that helps me feel calm and relaxed. Whatever it is, I’m here for it.
Meditation and breathing exercises are other good options to explore. Both can help you better manage stress levels over time, in addition to improving your sleep/bedtime routine. I love using Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson. I mean, I only talk about his guided meditation/hypnotherapy apps like all the time.
Another natural supplement that I really like is the Calm Magnesium Powder. I usually just mix it with water or other warm beverage. Magnesium oil is a nice nighttime treat if your muscles often feel sore and tense at the end of the day.
My nighttime unwinding routine wouldn’t be complete with the scent of lavender. The trio that lets my mind and body gently know that it’s time for bed is:
- Aveeno Stress Relief Body Wash with Lavender, Chamomile, and Ylang-Ylang
- Aveeno body lotion from the same range
- Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from ThisWorks
Aveeno products are always very gentle on the skin and I love the delicate scent of lavender from the Stress Relief range. The Deep Sleep Pillow Mist is a blend of lavender, vetiver, and chamomile and I lightly mist it on my duvet before getting into bed. I find that sometimes lavender-scented products can be a bit much for me, but these three are very delicate and just lovely.
Of course, if all else does fail, there is no shame in seeking help from your doctor, if getting enough sleep is (or becomes) an issue. Sleep plays a vital role in our health and well-being. Both physically and mentally. With us getting less and less good-quality sleep while facing more stress and overstimulation during the day, it’s never been more important.
The art of sleep, beauty or otherwise, is a simple thing for some, and a more complicated one for others. I know people who have no problem sneaking in a power nap during the day, regardless of time and place. Mark usually falls asleep the minute his head touches the pillow, while I need a 15-step routine that lets my body know it’s time for bed. Only then can I fall asleep without issues. Despite my numerous lectures and nagging, I also have a few friends who don’t always remove all traces of their makeup before going to bed- yet none of them had a single breakout in years. Meanwhile, I know I risk welcoming an entire colony when looking in the mirror in the morning if I don’t change my pillowcases often enough.
No one ever said life was fair though, amirite?