All those bits of beauty advice your mom gave you growing up were true — wash your face, use moisturizer, get your beauty sleep — but sometimes it’s so easy to bypass a nightly routine instead of jumping in bed a few minutes early. Although, let’s be honest: you’re probably scanning your phone for part of that time. We get it. In any case, looking your best takes a lot of work, but with a few of our simple tricks, you’ll be enjoying better skin in no time.
1. Wash your face before bed
Imagine all the germs and dirt your face collects during the day. Now imagine going to sleep and rubbing all those germs and ick into your pores. Not a pretty picture. Washing your face is the simplest way to improve your skin overnight. Use a natural face wash or, if you’re feeling crafty, step into your kitchen to grab a food-based alternative.
Unsweetened, plain yogurt, for instance, will pull any dirt and makeup from your skin. Simply massage a small amount into your face using your fingertips. Leave it on for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
2. Gently exfoliate
Use a homemade sugar scrub or a konjac sponge to exfoliate your skin two or three times a week. Konjac sponges are made from a tuber plant and are available in most beauty and health stores, or you can indulge in a homemade scrub using oatmeal and bananas.
Whatever method you choose to exfoliate, make sure you use gentle pressure to avoid micro-cutting your skin. Scrubs that contain walnut shells are not appropriate for your face and can damage the sensitive skin there. Avoid anything with microbeads, too. They end up in our waterways and hurt sea life.
3. Use a natural face mask
A natural face mask can bring moisture to your skin and decrease inflammation. One of my favorites is a homemade oatmeal mask. Simply combine 1/2 cup of hot, not boiling, water with 1/3 cup of oatmeal. Let the two settle for three minutes or so before mixing in two tablespoons plain yogurt, two tablespoons honey and one egg white. Apply a thin layer to your face and let it sit for up to 15 minutes. Then rinse with warm water and pat your face dry with a clean towel.
4. Avoid picking or popping pimples
It isn’t easy, but avoid picking at your pimples if at all possible. When you pop a pimple, it can actually make it worse, cause an infection or result in a scar. Your skin tears when you push on a pimple hard enough to make it pop. You’re also introducing bacteria into the tear if your hands or face aren’t properly clean. In short, popping a zit may make a mountain out of the little molehill on your chin.
5. Apply tea tree oil to pimples before bed
If you have a particularly pesky pimple, use a dab of tea tree oil on it. Don’t use the oil for your whole face, as it can cause a negative reaction, but this strong oil is perfect for penetrating through the oil in a zit and can help dry it up overnight. Plus, you avoid any of the chemicals in over-the-counter spot treatments.
6. Hydrate your skin
As the largest organ of the body, our skin can dehydrate easily. It’s especially important to make sure you hydrate and moisturize properly before going to bed. Keeping your skin hydrated can keep oil production in check and reduce the number of breakouts. Natural oils like jojoba oil, pumpkin seed oil and hemp seed oil are your best bet for nourishing hydration that won’t clog your pores.
7. Get plenty of water in during the day
Make sure you’re drinking enough during the day, too! If you get the recommended eight hours of sleep, that’s a long time to go without a drink. We release moisture overnight naturally, so staying hydrated can help your skin recover a bit better from a night’s sleep.
8. Use aloe vera
Not only is aloe vera a fantastic, non-greasy moisturizer, but it can also treat acne. If you have oily skin, it may be the best natural solution to improving your complexion. Aloe contains the hormones auxin and gibberellin. Together, they promote wound healing and reduce inflammation. Gibberellin also acts as a growth hormone and stimulates the growth of new skin cells.
9. Bring a humidifier into the bedroom
While we’re talking about hydration, consider using a humidifier in your bedroom. The continual moisture can help keep your face and skin looking dewy. A water-based essential oil diffuser can also help keep you hydrated. A few drops of lavender oil may even help you sleep better.
10. Change your pillowcase regularly
Your pillowcase collects hair products, fragrances, dirt and oils from your hair and skin. Changing it out at least once a week can help prevent pimples. If you’re particularly prone to breakouts, some dermatologists even recommend changing your pillowcase daily.
11. Use vitamin A creams or serums to fight wrinkles
If you want to fight the signs of aging overnight, use a lotion or night cream that includes vitamin A or vitamin A derivatives, retinoids. Retinoids reduce wrinkles, fight dark spots and increase skin smoothness. “There are more than 700 published studies on retinoids — they’re tried-and-true ingredients,” says Dr. Doris Day, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. “Anyone who wants younger-looking skin should use one.”
12. Use coconut oil on your lips
Although you might want to avoid using coconut oil as a moisturizer — it can cause breakouts for some people — use a bit of this miracle oil on your lips before bed. Over just a few days, you’ll likely notice a difference in their condition, especially if you struggle with cracked or chapped lips.
13. Sleep on your back to reduce puffiness
As we sleep, fluids move around in the body. If you sleep on your side or front, you may wake up puffy. If you can manage it, sleep on your back with a couple of fluffy pillows supporting your head and neck. You’ll wake up with reduced puffiness in your face which will help you age gracefully over time.
14. Get plenty of sleep
Skin produces collagen when we sleep, something that many people take internally or apply topically to try and fight wrinkles. This collagen production is “part of the repair process,” says Dr. Patricia Wexler, a New York dermatologist. As it turns out, getting only five hours of sleep at night leads to twice as many fine lines as seven hours of sleep. You really do need your beauty sleep!
Following these natural beauty tips can lead to fresher, clearer skin while you sleep. Do you have a favorite skincare routine for nighttime? Tell us about it in the comments!
— Megan Winkler