Beauty sleep is important, but what you do before you conk out makes a difference in your complexion too. These quick pre-bedtime tips will leave your skin smoother and more radiant by the time your alarm starts buzzing.
1. Cleanse Twice. Have you ever washed your makeup off before bed, yet mysteriously woken up with liner smudged under your eyes? Turns out that's normal, especially if you used long-lasting makeup, which really does live up to its claim. Here's why: Twelve- to 24-hour foundations, mascaras, eyeliners, and eye shadows are all made with polymers that don't easily dissolve with soap and water, or water-based makeup remover.
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 to remove your makeup (the oil breaks down the waxes and polymers way more effectively than soap and water). Then, use a gentle non-soap cleanser to rid your skin of any leftover residue.
2. Get Steamy
You probably don't have time for a regular facial every four to six weeks, but here's how you can look like you do. To de-gunk your pores at home, try this tried-and-true technique once a week: Step into a hot, steamy shower for a minute or two before you wash your face. Don't put your skin directly in contact with the water or else you could scald your skin. Simply expose your face to the steam long enough to allow it to open your pores.
You can also give yourself a mini-facial by soaking a hand towel with water and sticking it in the microwave it for 20 seconds. Then, gently pat the towel against your face. This too will open up your pores, helping to loosen any oil, dirt, sweat, and bacteria for a seriously deep cleanse.
3. Slough Away Dead Skin
If your skin looks dull and lackluster, chances are dead skin cells are to blame. Skin cells shed naturally every 28 days, but sometimes they can stick around, building up on your skin and causing an uneven texture. To keep these dead cells moving, use an alpha-hydroxy acid-based cleanser at least twice a week, which will leave you with glowing, smooth skin, since the acids in cleansers reach deeper into your skin's layers than physical scrubs, breaking the bonds between dead cells and loosening them. (If you're double cleansing, make this your second step.) Tend to break out easily? Use a cleanser with salicylic acid, which also fights acne by clearing away excess oil.
4. Give Your Skin a Shot of Moisture
Hydrators plump up skin, softening the appearance of fine lines and creating a smoother appearance. Plus, they soothe your skin after you exfoliate. At bedtime, apply a hydrating overnight mask. It's a lightweight gel — the first ingredient is water, so it's not heavy or greasy — that contains hydrating glycerin, an ingredient that helps your skin hang on to water and even pulls moisture from the air, plumping up your skin even more. Pro tip: Keep it in the fridge in between uses; if your moisturizer or hydrating mask is cold upon application, it'll cut down on any redness in your skin by constricting blood vessels and will also help tighten your pores. Win-win.
5. Sleep on Your Back
If you fall asleep on your stomach or side, pillows and sheets can leave not-so-pretty indentations on your cheeks when you wake up in the a.m. Even worse, research shows that over time, applying pressure on your face can lead to wrinkles. (For example, if you always sleep on your right side, the right side of your face can potentially develop more wrinkles.) Sleeping on your back (and using a silk pillowcase) not only keeps your face free of fine lines, it also props your head up just so to keep fluids from pooling under your eyes and creating unsightly bags. For backup help preventing under-eye puffiness, dot on a caffeine-laced eye cream around your eyes before hitting the sack. And there you have it — beauty sleep done right.