Beauty Sleep

Beauty Sleep

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What is beauty sleep? 


Our skin is our body’s largest organ and our first line of defense against the environment.  It is dynamic and undergoing a constant renewal process while mediating immune reactions, regulating temperature, sensation, and responding to environmental insults.  "Beauty sleep" is a real phenomenon.  This dedicated time is the chance our skin has to restore itself before it tackles the next day.

Skin’s Job Responsibilities

First line of defense against the environment

Mediates immune reactions

Regulates body temperature


Responds to environmental insults

How sleep affects skin health? 


Sleep is a time when our body is at rest without shifting or changing the environment around us.  Although our body may go through its own temperature changes, sweating, or other challenges while sleeping, there is less stress on the skin’s health given the reduction in overall activity.  


Our skin cells have mechanisms for repair and restoration.  These functions occur overnight allowing our skin to improve and maintain its overall function. Overnight is also one of the best times to help your skin as it is a prolonged window of time where applied products can work. Lack of sleep contributes to alterations in your cortisol levels that can also negatively impact skin health.



Read more : Dr ILYAS discusses Beauty Sleep with StyleCraze 

What happens to the skin when we sleep? 


While sleeping, our skin is in restorative mode.  There is an increase in blood flow to the skin which helps bring in nutrients and take away toxins.  

There was an interesting study that looked at the impact of smartphone usage on our skin and sleep.  By decreasing the quality of sleep, the skin displayed more dryness, increased sebum production, and more scaling or flaking. Studies have also demonstrated a decrease in elasticity of the skin with poor sleep (think creepy skin and may contribute to an increase in pore size!). Clearly sleeping, or at least sleeping well, is associated with skin restoration and hydration.

What are the benefits of beauty sleep? 

The circadian rhythm is the complex “behind the scenes” functions at play in our body 24 hours a day.

For our skin, the following have been noted:

  • At night, our skin is its most permeable- this means that it is more susceptible to absorbing applied products.  This is an ideal opportunity to use moisturizers and medications.  The skin penetration for products is at its peak overnight.
  • Blood flow to the skin increases later in the day and in the evening. 
  • Our healthy skin cells have an opportunity to repair and proliferate with their maximal activity in the middle of the night. Interestingly, some studies have shown that cancer cells slow progression overnight.  This is an ideal scenario to help control the spread or growth of cancers.
  • Natural steroid or cortisol levels decrease by the end of the day leading to an increase in the itch sensation at night for inflammatory conditions.
  • Most importantly the repair of skin cells from UV-induced DNA damage is at its peak overnight.

How many hours of sleep is considered beauty sleep? 

Most sources point to 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night or sleep period (for night workers).

How does the lack of sleep affect the skin? 

The primary impacts on the skin from lack of sleep are impaired hydration of the skin, decreased elasticity, and decreased opportunity for DNA repair mechanisms to take place.

Is there anything we should apply to our skin before sleeping? 


Bedtime skincare routines are the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the increased permeability of the skin.  If you are managing any dermatologic conditions, several medicated products function best overnight.   Night-time moisturizers are a chance to help increase hydration to your skin that can last longer.



What are the basics for a nighttime skincare routine?


Ideal nighttime skincare routines include products focused on treating challenges your skin is facing and restoring your skin to help it recover from environmental insults and stresses it faced throughout the day.


Can you break this down by age group?


This is a great exercise to demonstrate how our skin changes throughout our lives!  


 Age Cleanse
Basic Skincare
Products to consider
Treatment based Skincare
Newborn through Prepuberty

A gentle cleanser is all that is needed, if at all. 

Focus on cleansing with soap and water if there is dirt and debris built up on the skin. There is not necessarily a need to set aside a separate time to wash your face as long as the face is washed as a part of a normal bath routine. 

Avoid harsh cleansers, avoid scrubbing.

Think back to high school chemistry and the words hydrophilic and hydrophobic: First cleanse with mild soap and water. This will reduce buildup that is hydrophilic.  If dirt and debris persist, apply Vaseline to a cotton round and gently wipe across the skin.  This will capture the hydrophobic products and easily dislodge them from the skin without leading to more irritation.


Cleanse in the bath gently.


Follow up with a moisturizer.  This is especially important if you tend to have dry, sensitive skin.  Anytime the skin is cleansed, natural oils will also be removed along with dirt and debris.  This should be replaced to avoid excess dryness.






For normal to dry skin

For sensitive or allergy prone skin

For eczema prone, sensitive skin, irritated skin, excessively dry skin

If a diagnosis of a skin condition has been made and prescriptions have been added to your routine, most regimens will ask that you follow the following steps:

1. Gently cleanse the skin

2. Apply prescription topicals first (unless directed otherwise by your physician)

3. Apply moisturizer last (unless directed otherwise by your physician)

PrePuberty to Young Adult
20s to 30s
30s to 50s


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