Beauty Sleep

I have written about this many times and in book format too! If you really want to make the most of your skin and keep it glowing through the years - the answers are all in my most recent book GLOW Your Complete Four Week Plan For Healthy Radiant Skin.

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Circadian Rhythms

Our skin follows its own circadian rhythm as we sleep and it is during these precious hours that the body’s innate healing capacity kicks into full gear as toxic build up is cleared, growth hormone is produced, our immune systems are revitalised, breathing and heart rate slow, cells are repaired and our systems are rebalanced. However, as most of us just don’t get enough sleep time to complete these (and other) tasks, our skin suffers and signs of premature ageing have become the norm.

Research has shown that our skin synchronises with both the sleep-wake cycles and the dark-light rhythms and that essential evening skin healing begins as early as dusk, when the sun goes down and the skin slowly starts to move into repair mode. Prior to the digital age, our bodies were more balanced and in-sync with these natural rhythms, but scientists now believe that we haven’t evolved fast enough to adapt to the alien environment we now call home. So to maximise skin repair, it makes sense to remove the day’s grime and thoroughly cleanse the skin as early as possible in the evening (as in when you return from work or your day out).

One the skin is completely clean, innate fibroblast cells start producing collagen, with output believed to peak around midnight. Overnight cell renewal and collagen production is believed to peak about 2am in the morning, triggered by a growth hormone high and enhanced blood flow to the skin (as the body moves into parasympathetic mode). As the new day dawns, rejuvenated skin switches from repair to protection mode once again and the cycle recommences.

Protective Skin Barrier

As the delicate skin barrier thins overnight, this can lead to increased water evaporation and skin feeling tight and parched on waking. Hence the benefits of a more occlusive night cream or a natural, nourishing face oil that locks moisture into the skin through the night.

Kate’s Non-negotiable nightly skin regime

The following is extracted from GLOW …..

If you want better skin, not just for now, but for always then the following evening routine is NON NEGOTIABLE!

Remember, even small changes like prepping skin for sleep two hours earlier will pay dividends in the long term.

  • Prep skin as early in the evening as possible

  • Thoroughly cleanse or double cleanse - exfoliate with gentle but effective skin exfoliator about twice per week - don’t overdo this as you will damage the delicate skin barrier (as mentioned above).

  • Layer up for active skin repair with a targeted NIGHT serum that speeds up cell turnover deep within - rich in some or all of the following key ingredients - Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides, Niacinamide, Vitamin C

  • As skin grows older use a more occlusive type cream or oil to lock in the goodness and prevent moisture loss through the weakened skin barrier tends.

  • Use nourishing vitamin-rich natural oils targeted to specific skin concerns (more on natural oils here). Either combine with moisturiser or apply directly to skin after moisturiser to enhance absorption.

  • Mask up 1-2 per week (depending on needs) with the advanced generation of deeply nourishing masks formulated to remain in place overnight.

  • The position in which we sleep (eg face pressed up against a pillow can create compression, inhibiting oxygen flow and causing a crumpled effect in the morning). Ensuring skin is well nourished before bed helps counteract this, but pure silk pillow cases are becoming increasingly popular now so worth looking into.

  • FInally, most importantly too, the words ‘beauty sleep’ have a deeper meaning than we think. Our bodies, minds and skin need adequate rest and recovery every night - so prioritise your slumber hours.

[Credit Lead illustration: Eva Byrne]