5 Skin-Care Mistakes You May Be Making at Night Avoid these common beauty missteps and you’ll be on your way to maximizing the benefits of beauty sleep. By Jessica Migala Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD How you treat your skin at night affects how you look and feel when you wake up in the morning.Anna Efetova/Getty Images After all the assaults your skin takes during the day — from the sun, pollution, and makeup — the opportunity for your complexion to restore and renew while you sleep is important for maintaining youthful skin as the years go by. It pays off: Sleeping well has been associated with less premature skin aging, and according to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, those who lacked shut-eye were more likely to have a compromised skin barrier, and they were less satisfied with their appearance. All that to say, beauty sleep is a real phenomenon, and you can help make the most of it by practicing good skin-care habits at night. “Your skin is in repair mode every night. Unlike during the day, you’re not sweating off what’s on your skin, so products can be nicely absorbed,” says Deirdre Hooper, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology in New Orleans and an associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at Louisiana State University and Tulane University. But don’t get in your own way by skipping smart skin-care ingredients, slathering on products meant for the daytime, or increasing your risk of irritation. Here are the nighttime mistakes experts say could be contributing to skin problems: 1. You’re Not Washing Your Face Before You Hit the Sheets It’s been a long day, you’re dog-tired, and all you want to do is face-plant into your pillow. But don’t forget to wash your face first. “I don’t think you need to wash your face in the morning, especially if your skin is sensitive or dry, but it’s an absolute must at night,” says Dr. Hooper. Washing removes the dirt and pollution that’s accumulated on skin throughout the day, something that can contribute to acne and accelerate the skin aging process, Hooper says. If washing at the sink is too big of an ask, then — at the bare minimum — keep micellar facial wipes on your bedside table and do a quick wipe down in bed. 2. You Ditched Your Retinoid Regimen If you go to the dermatologist in hopes of starting a routine to delay signs of aging, the doctor will most likely advise using a retinoid or retinol product. The vitamin A derivative revs collagen production to fight fine lines and wrinkles, according to Harvard Health Publishing. A systematic review analyzed the results of seven randomized controlled trials on topical tretinoin, which is a retinoid, and found that all of the studies concluded that regularly using the cream improved the appearance of wrinkles, helped even out tone, and diminished dark spots. That said, retinoids also boost skin cell turnover, and they can leave you with irritation. The review found that while tretinoin was found to be “safe and well tolerated,” it also brought side effects, such as dryness, burning, redness, and peeling. That irritation may convince you that your complexion can’t tolerate it, causing you to stop completely. Not so fast! If you’re seeing minor peeling or redness, or if your face stings when you wash it, simply back off for a night or two, advises Charisse Dolitsky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Long Island, New York. Once your complexion calms, resume use. Always apply a small, pea-sized amount. While prescription retinoids are more powerful than over-the-counter ones, Dr. Dolitsky usually steers patients toward over-the-counter formulas, which have less of a chance of irritation. Follow up with a moisturizer on top to improve hydration. 3. You’re Skipping a Moisturizer at Night As the day winds down, you may notice that your skin feels more parched. “It has been shown that skin hydration levels tend to decline in the afternoon and into the evening, making a moisturizer before bed an important part of your skin-care routine,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. A moisturizer won’t just help rehydrate the skin — it can also ease potential dryness and irritation that comes with using a retinoid, making it easier to stick to regular use. Dr. Zeichner recommends moisturizers that contain skin-protecting ingredients, such as ceramides, dimethicone, glycerin, or hyaluronic acid, all of which work in different ways to keep skin soft and supple throughout the night. 4. You’re Relying on the Wrong Antioxidant at Night Some antioxidants are best saved for the morning, most notably vitamin C, Hooper says. “These neutralize free radicals that assault skin all day,” she says. Free radicals are substances that attack and damage healthy cells, contributing to disease throughout the body, according to research. A good vitamin C serum can be pricey, so don’t waste your money by using it at night, when your skin won’t get the most out of it. But if you’re going for a nighttime antioxidant, apply a serum containing resveratrol. (One to try: SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E, available at Derm Store) Glo - Oh on Redeem And Renew Resveratrol is inactivated by the sun and doesn’t do well in the morning, Hooper says. “If you have time [and the budget], applying multiple antioxidants is a good idea, as a variety offers more well-rounded protection. It’s like eating a variety of vegetables for a diverse array of nutrients,” she says. 5. You’re Scrubbing Your Skin Too Hard and Too Often You don’t want to be too hands-off with your nighttime habits, but you don’t want to get too enthusiastic either. Resist the urge to scrub or exfoliate routinely, especially if you’re already using a retinoid, says Dolitsky. For one thing, it’s redundant — a retinoid is already doing the work of stimulating cell turnover. Combining a retinoid and scrub also increases the risk of an irritation flare-up. Once a week is likely safe for your skin, she says; any more often is overdoing it. Now all that’s left to do is wake up more beautiful tomorrow morning.
Jessica Migala Contributing Health Writer at https://www.everydayhealth.com/
Jessica Migala is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and beauty. She has written for O, The Oprah Magazine; Real Simple; Woman’s Day; Women’s Health; Health; Family Circle; and more. Jessica lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two young boys, rescue beagle, and 15 fish.
Expertise Nutrition, fitness, health, medical, beauty, general lifestyle Education
Bachelor's in French and Magazine Journalism, Syracuse University
Personal Website http://www.jessicamigala.com/
Best Health Tip Walk everywhere! I walk to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, the farmers market,
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Until Next time
Medically Reviewed by Ross Radusky, MD
Reviewed: May 15, 2020
Do you need to add a serum to your skin-care routine? Getty Images; iStock (2)
You’re ready to establish a good skin-care routine — one that works with your skin type and addresses your skin goals. And in the midst of choosing a cleanser, a retinol, and maybe a mask, you’re also trying to settle on a serum, because you’ve heard about them and think you should be using one. If you're looking to target a specific skin woe, that may be a smart choice.
What Is a Serum and When Do You Use Them?
A serum is almost self-explanatory. “A serum really is just a slippery liquid. It’s in between a true liquid and a cream,” says Angela Lamb, MD, an associate professor in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Within your skin-care routine, they are designed to go after your cleanser and before your moisturizer, says Dr. Lamb. These often contain an active ingredient that aims to address a single goal, such as brightening skin tone or fighting wrinkles. And often, they may be able to deliver better results compared with a similar moisturizer. “Serums have a higher concentration of active ingredients than a traditional moisturizer. They are formulated to penetrate the skin versus sit on the surface of skin and lock moisture in, which is the role of a [traditional] moisturizer,” says Deanne Robinson, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Westport, Connecticut.