8 Night Steps To Never Skip To Prevent Skin Damage

Talk of beauty sleep may bring to mind an image of Sleeping Beauty’s Princess Aurora, but trust me; it’s no fairy tale. Beauty sleep and a night routine to prevent early aging and skin damage are very real factors in the fight for healthy skin. To find out how to protect skin while you sleep and keep it fortified against unnecessary skin damage that prematurely ages it, I spoke with Dr. Kaleroy Papantoniou, a cosmetic dermatologist, about the steps you can take to prepare and protect skin before bed.

“During sleep we heal, restore, and eliminate toxins from the skin,” she said. “If sleep is compromised, so is the body’s ability to carry out these essential skin functions. During the first three hours of sleep your body will start producing the human growth hormone from the pituitary gland. As we age, this hormone is necessary for the maintenance of youthful and radiant skin. Without this hormone release, skin is not repaired from daily damage and thus induces the aging process.”

And though there is absolutely nothing wrong with aging, there’s also nothing wrong with giving your skin some pre-bed TLC. She recommends using products with ingredients such as retinol, and antioxidant serums that contain vitamin C, to replenish your skin when it’s its most receptive. Read on to find out how to build yourself a new night routine of skin steps to prevent premature aging and damage.

1. You're Not Using Oil-Based Makeup Removers To Break Up Your Products' Waxes & Polymers

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 6.7 Fluid Ounce, $28, Amazon

Dr. Papantoniou says, “To really remove all traces of your makeup, take a cue from Korean skin care and wash your face twice using a method called 'double cleansing.' First, use an oil-based cleanser such as DHC cleansing oil made with olive oil and vitamin E. It is gentle, hydrating, and leaves skin soft and removes makeup easily." This cleansing oil works by breaking down the waxes and polymers in your makeup way more effectively than soap and water. Otherwise, a build up of makeup can get caught in your pores, effectively banishing your natural healthy glow from reaching the surface.

2. You're Not Using A Renewing Exfoliating Cleanser (After The Oil)

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser, 8 Ounce, $10, Amazon

Harsh, soapy cleansers can do more harm than good, so Dr. Papantoniou says to "use a gentle non-soap cleanser, such as CeraVe Renewing SA cleanser, to rid your skin of any leftover residue plus restore skin while you sleep.” This particular cleanser is a favorite among skin experts because it was actually developed by dermatologists — it won't clog your pores, and its salicylic acid gently clarifies skin and keeps it free from breakouts. Exfoliating that dead skin is crucial, as it makes it much easier for skin to go through its natural rejuvenation process at night.

3. You're Not Using Hyaluronic Acid To Keep Skin Hydrated

Angel Skin Care Hyaluronic Acid Cream Moisturizer, $25, Amazon

Dehydration causes the dry skin that can lead to flakes, but it can also lead to premature fine lines and wrinkles. If your skin is dehydrated, Dr. Papantoniou recommends using a hyaluronic acid cream. Why? Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in the body and is responsible for retaining lots of moisture, so it's found in places where lots of hydration and fluids are needed (like your eyes and your joints). Using a topical formula (like this top rated hyaluronic acid cream moisturizer) could help your skin cells really seal in the moisture they need to keep premature fine lines at bay.

4. You're Not Treating Breakouts Before Bed

Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel, 3.4 Ounce, $29, Amazon

During the day, you put your skin through a lot, from constant touching to dealing with free radicals. If you have acne, nighttime treatment is ideal. Dr. Papantoniou said to treat any spot flare-ups at night with this AHA/BHA acne clearing gel because it "contains sulfur and glycolic acid and goes on clear." Those ingredients are important because they ensure you're gently exfoliating away dead skin cells that could lead to clogged pores and unnecessary skin damage later.

5. You're Not Using A Rich Antioxidant Night Cream

Somme Institute Skin Reset, 1.7 oz., $85, Amazon

If you want to plump skin and prevent premature wrinkles, Dr. Papantoniou said to use Somme Night Reset. "It has a luxurious rich feel to it, and just enough retinol that it is not irritating, and is packed with antioxidants in a patented molecule called MDT5." The molecule is said to tone and hydrate tired skin, and though a little pricier, reviewers are saying it's worth it. One user said, "This cream has an amazing texture unlike any I've ever used before. Feels great on the skin and seems to tighten without drying, almost instantly."

6. You're Not Taking Advantage of Retinoids

Majestic Pure Retinol Cream, $19, Amazon

Retinoids are vitamin-A derivatives that are key to healthy-looking skin. "But because exposure to sunlight can deactivate their potency, it's best to apply retinoids at night,” Dr. Papantoniou said. Start by using an OTC retinol-containing cream or lotion, such as Majestic Pure's retinol moisturizer, every other night — until skin becomes acclimated to the side effects. This moisturizer also has soothing jojoba oils and green teas, which will calm and replenish skin's moisture levels while you sleep.

7. You're Not Taking Care Of Your Delicate Eye Area

RoC Multi Correxion 5-in-1 Eye Cream, .5 oz, $17, Amazon

Your under-eye area is especially delicate, which means taking steps every night to ensure the area is hydrated and properly nourished is crucial. If you are having problems with eye bags and puffiness after you wake up, applying eye cream before sleeping will solve this, Dr. Papantoniou advised. She recommends Roc Multi Correction 5-in-1 Eye Cream because it "addresses puffiness, fine lines and dark circles as you sleep." Gently apply the cream around your eyes (especially under them) to replenish the fragile area.

8. You're Not Pulling Your Hair Away From Your Face When You Sleep

For acne prone skin, Dr. Papantoniou suggests putting hair back into a loose ponytail or wrap it in a scarf before going to bed. She said this will prevent the hair’s natural oils from rubbing off on your skin, which is especially important if your hair is unwashed. That excess oil can contribute to breakouts, which when left unchecked (or worse, picked!), can lead to acne scars and more unnecessary skin damage.

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