Your morning beauty routine is about two things: protecting your skin from environmental aggressors such as UV rays; and looking good. But the night is when the magic happens.
Skin is freed from the need to protect itself and goes into repair mode. Blood vessels dilate, boosting the flow of oxygen and nutrients. Cell renewal quickens, and skin becomes more receptive to skincare ingredients. That means that now is the time to apply your most effective, hard-working products.
A basic nighttime skincare routine starts with removing makeup and washing your face (click here to read about some fab cleansers). After that, you can exfoliate, treat your main concern using a serum or essence, and moisturize. Here’s exactly how to do it, and some products to try. You can use them together or pick the ones you like the sound of, but go easy with glycolic acid and retinol: use them once a week at first, and only increase the frequency if your skin can stand it.
This is important because it removes dead cells that sit on the surface of skin. These can make your complexion look dull, and prevent your other skincare from being absorbed. It’s good for everyone – it reduces oiliness in acne-prone skin, and kick-starts cell renewal in ageing skin. There are two ways to do it. Chemical exfoliation uses an acidic solution to loosen dead cells. Physical exfoliation uses something rough to scrub them away.
This chemical exfoliant has 10 per cent glycolic acid, pretty much the highest concentration you can get without a prescription, but in a slow-release system that minimises irritation. To use, you swipe it over your face with a cotton pad and leave on for up to 15 minutes, then rinse. I’ve been testing it on the back of my left hand for the past couple of weeks. It’s now noticeably smoother, more even and less dry than my right hand.
Konjac is a plant that grows in Southeast Asia and this ‘sponge’ is actually its root. You add water till it becomes squishy then rub it over your skin. It’s so gentle that you can use it every night, even if you have very sensitive skin, and comes in four varieties: green tea, yam extract, aloe vera and bamboo charcoal. A sponge lasts a couple of months, after which it begins to disintegrate and can be composted.
$9.95, at Saje Natural Wellness stores and online at www.saje.ca
Serums are used to address your main skin concern, whether that’s dehydration or dark spots. These target two of the most common complaints: acne, and general signs of ageing.
This product is getting rave reviews for its ability to tackle oiliness and blemishes while you sleep. A combination of exfoliating, purifying, oil-absorbing, soothing and hydrating ingredients, it promises to reduce over-production of sebum, so you get fewer pimples. Unlike many products for acne, it has hydrating ingredients, so it won’t strip the skin of moisture, but you may need an additional moisturizer over the top.
Dermatologists disagree about what topical skincare ingredients are actually effective for anti-ageing, but they’re unanimous that retinoids work. They prompt production of healthy skin cells, which leads to an all-round improved complexion – smoother, with reduced lines and dark spots, and fewer pimples. In the past, you could only get effective retinoids from the doctor, and they were harsh, causing peeling and redness. There are now tonnes of over-the-counter products that claim to deliver visible benefits, without the side effects. This is one of the latest. It has a time-released form of retinol that’s supposedly gentler, and promises to address deep wrinkles and age spots.
Water loss peaks during the night, which is why some people get itching or feel their skin is tight. That means you need products that moisturize.
This is a facial oil that you apply as your final skincare step, or before cream moisturizer if you have particularly dry skin. It has a mix of botanical oils and essential oils such as sleep-enhancing lavender, rosemary and geranium, smells divine, and gives you fresher and more-rested-looking skin after just one use.
$50 for 30ml, find stockists at www.kiehls.ca
For an extra hydration hit, you can also use a sleeping mask, such as this one from Korean brand Amore Pacific. It has a mixture of hydrating ingredients and antioxidants like green tea and ginseng, all of which are slowly released as you sleep. Apply, let it set (it’ll stay a little sticky) and wake up with better skin.
$72 for 100ml, at Sephora and www.sephora.ca
Feature image: Woman sleeping via Shutterstock