Do you wake up with a parched, flaky face that makes you want to dive back under the covers? Known to doctors as xerosis, dryness occurs when low humidity levels, sun exposure, harsh soaps, acne treatments and other abrasive factors degrade the skin's natural moisture barrier, leading to peeling, irritation and cracks. The condition often worsens in winter, thanks to cold temperatures, bitter gusts of wind and dry indoor air [source: Orenstein].
But you can't just worry about your skin when the sun goes down. Address your dry complexion throughout the day by wearing a moisturizer with SPF, opting for a gentle cleanser and avoiding dehydrating products or cosmetics. When it comes to serious prevention and treatment, they don't call it beauty sleep for nothing. Since cell turnover and water loss happen faster while you snooze, nighttime really is the right time for locking in moisture and banishing flakiness [source: Prevention].
But how can you maximize those precious eight hours (or, let's be honest, seven, or six) of rest and rejuvenation? With appropriate products and a little dedication, you can turn your nightly nap into a full-scale assault on thirsty, scaly skin. Keep reading to find out more.
Choosing the Best Night Cream
To maintain adequate moisture while you sleep, slather on a richer, creamier moisturizer than the one you wear during the day, suggests dermatologist Doris Day. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which plumps the skin cells, and shea butter, a natural emollient, she says. Chances are you'll be out of the sun, so forego your lotion with SPF and invest in a thick, luscious night cream. These products tend to contain higher concentrations of moisture-retaining humectants than their daytime counterparts [source: Huffington Post].
If you'd rather not splurge on a pricey night cream, try one of the oldest balms in the book: Vaseline, otherwise known as petroleum jelly or petrolatum. Many people swear by the multipurpose substance, which keeps the skin hydrated by creating a barrier that prevents water from evaporating. Unlike moisturizing creams, however, it won't add any new moisture to parched skin [source: Stanell]. For another overnight treatment that won't break the bank, natural skin-care experts often recommend cocoa butter or coconut oil, both rich in fatty acids that are natural skin helpers.
Whether you choose night cream, petroleum jelly or a natural emollient, get the most out of your regime by prepping your face for maximum hydration. This means removing all traces of makeup and washing up thoroughly before you hit the hay. No matter how dry it is, your skin can't breathe and regenerate under a day's worth of cosmetics, sunscreen, bacteria, dirt, pollution and oil. Not only will you risk clogged pores, fine lines and dullness, but also any moisturizing products you use overnight won't be able to penetrate through the grime [source: Kitchens].
To avoid stripping away natural oils, wash with lukewarm water and a mild, non-foaming, soap-free cleanser that doesn't contain fragrance, alcohol or antibacterial chemicals such as triclosan [source: Donahue]. Then apply your cream or product while your skin is still damp, trapping any remaining moisture on the skin's surface [source: Schaefer].
Other Ways to Beat Dryness Overnight
Consistently using a night cream or hydrating product is essential, but there's more you can do to fight dry, flaky skin while you sleep. Here are some tips to try:
Use a humidifier. Dry indoor heat dehydrates your skin, so add some water vapor to the air in your bedroom -- especially during the winter. As an added bonus, humidifiers can also help prevent sore throats, itchy eyes and sinus problems [source: Way]. Just be sure to thwart bacteria growth by cleaning the tank and replacing the water every day. And don't let the air get too stuffy (the ideal humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent): too much humidity breeds mold and triggers allergy flare-ups [source: Mayo Clinic].
Try a silk pillowcase. Cotton absorbs moisture, so it can be drying to your skin and hair. There's no solid evidence behind the trend, but some beauty experts recommend sleeping on a silk pillowcase. There's even some speculation that switching to silk can help prevent wrinkles [source: Lavinthal]. At the very least, your bedding will feel soft and luxurious. And if you have coarse hair, you might get the added bonus of fewer frizzies.
Apply a night mask. Formulated to deliver skin-enhancing ingredients while you snooze, overnight masks can be especially effective at maintaining and replenishing moisture. Unlike the masks you wear for a quick 20-minute treatment during the day, these products tend to be relatively lightweight, so they won't stick to your hair or pillow [source: Lamont-Djite].
For more information on treating and preventing dry skin, check out the links on the next page.
More Great Links
- Day, Doris. Personal interview. August 26, 2013.
- Donahue, Kayleigh. "5 Face-Washing Tricks for Glowing Skin." Redbook. (July 26, 2013) http://www.redbookmag.com/beauty-fashion/tips-advice/glowing-skin-tips#slide-1
- Huffington Post. "Overnight Beauty Routines You Shouldn't Skip Out On." July 24, 2012. (September 3, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/22/overnight-beauty-routines-you-shouldnt-skip-out-on_n_1693295.html
- Kitchens, Simone. "Is It Really That Bad to Sleep in Makeup? Dermatologists Tell Us The Truth." The Huffington Post. December 18, 2012. (July 26, 2013) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/18/sleep-in-makeup_n_2289084.html
- Lamont-Djite, Tara. "Sleeping Beauty's Skin Care Secret." Beautylish. May 9, 2013. (September 4, 2013) http://www.beautylish.com/a/vcgwj/sleeping-beautys-skin-care-secret
- Lavinthal, Andrea. "Can a Pillowcase Improve Your Skin and Hair?" August 12, 2009. (September 4, 2013) http://www.cosmopolitan.com/hairstyles-beauty/beauty-blog/silk-pillowcases-skin
- Mayo Clinic. "Humidifiers." (September 4, 2013) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/humidifiers/HQ00076
- Orenstein, Beth. "8 Reasons for Dry, Itchy Skin in Fall and Winter." Everyday Health. September 20, 2010. (September 3, 2013) http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/dry-skin-relief/dry-itchy-skin-in-fall-winter.aspx
- Prevention. "Wake Up to Better Skin." January 2012. (September 3, 2013) http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty/how-get-better-skin-overnight
- Schaefer, Caroline. "Dry Skin? 4 Tips for Applying Moisturizer." Health. October 17, 2012. (September 4, 2013) http://news.health.com/2012/10/17/how-to-apply-moisturizer/
- Stanell, Victoria. "Is Vaseline the Secret to Ageless Skin?" Beautylish. February 28, 2012. (September 3, 2013) http://www.beautylish.com/a/vcyvn/is-vaseline-the-secret-to-ageless-skin
- Way, Gina. "Lunchtime Beauty Q&A: Do Humidifiers Really Hydrate Skin?" New York Magazine. January 18, 2013. (September 4, 2013) http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/01/beauty-qa-do-humidifiers-really-hydrate-skin.html