We spend one-third of our lives asleep, and when put in to perspective it makes sense that we would want to take care of our skin for that large chunk of time, even if we are unconscious.
The benefits of a nighttime skin regime have been very well documented, but there might be other, perhaps tastier, ways you could improve your skin overnight.
Newsweek spoke to Dr. Rishi Chopra, board-certified dermatologist at UnionDerm Hamptons and Central Park, about what to switch out your midnight snack for to get your glow back and reduce wrinkles.
What Are Wrinkles
Firstly, wrinkles are nothing to be ashamed of. Fine lines and creases that cause wrinkles are medically known as rhytids. These are the etched lines that appear on our faces as we lose collagen and therefore elasticity through the aging process.
“Since the beginning of time, humans have been obsessed with the mythical ‘fountain of youth’ and the prevention of aging,” Dr. Chopra told Newsweek.
“Wrinkles are a conspicuous physical manifestation of aging, and unfortunately a significant source of concern. In addition, we are obsessed more than ever with our appearances due to the psychological effects of Facetune/Photoshop apps and Snapchat filters on our self-perception (also known as Snapchat dysmorphia). Moreover, the skyrocketed post-pandemic use of FaceTime and Zoom has forced us to stare and criticize our appearance to a greater extent.”
While most of us don’t exactly feel fondly about the aging process, a shift in societal thought is needed to see the positives in the appearance of wrinkles.
“Wrinkles are a sign of maturity and wisdom,” said Dr. Chopra, “and consequently often command respect. Moreover, the wrinkles that form around our eyes when we smile, otherwise known as ‘smile lines,’ can indicate happiness. In fact, many patients prefer not to treat or blunt these lines with neuromodulators like Botox because these dynamic wrinkles portray joy.”
Don’t Forget Skincare
Many of us think a wet wipe and a blob of moisturizer counts as a nighttime routine. If you’re lucky enough to get away with such a stripped-back regime then good for you, but adding a few more products with active ingredients to get to work on your skin overnight can’t hurt.
“A nighttime skincare routine is extremely important in managing the signs of aging skin,” said Dr Chopra. “Besides using sunscreen daily, a nighttime routine that includes a topical retinoid can greatly help to soften existing wrinkles and prevent their formation or deepening over the long term.”
Dr. Chopra believes that incorporating a retinoid into your nighttime skincare routine is a “no brainer.”
Retinol is a form of vitamin A, a powerful tool in preventing acne and managing wrinkles. It increases cell production and can help unclog pores, as reported by The Cleveland Clinic. “Retinol also exfoliates your skin and increases collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a fresher, plumper appearance. Topical tretinoin and tazarotene can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by slowing the breakdown of collagen and making your skin more elastic,” the Clinic previously said. “It usually takes several months of topical retinol use to notice a difference.”
“Prescription strength tretinoin is more effective but also more irritating compared to the over-the-counter retinols,” added. Dr Chopra. “Retinoids are the most effective hero ingredient to simulate collagen production and prevent wrinkles.”
What To Eat At Night To Slow Down Aging Skin
It might be tempting to have a luxurious dinner after a stressful day at work, or maybe you skip that meal altogether. However, what you eat in the evening is just as important as what you eat throughout the rest of the day when it comes to skin health.
“When it comes to diet, we are playing the long game. Time of day should have little impact on a food’s ability to reduce the actual wrinkle,” said Dr. Chopra. “However it will come as no surprise that if you eat a high intake of fruits like strawberries and oranges, and green vegetables like broccoli and kale that have a high vitamin C content, these ingredients will help build new collagen and improve and prevent wrinkles.”
Natural homemade face masks have become more popular in recent years, but Dr. Chopra warns against putting raw ingredients on your face.
“I generally don’t recommend that food be used as a mask to help wrinkles,” they said. “Antioxidant-rich foods will have greater efficacy if consumed rather than applied topically. However, one can use a honey mask to hydrate the skin, which should reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Honey is a humectant, which attracts water and plumps the skin.”
Everything in moderation is a generally respected rule of thumb for most things in life, and Dr. Chopra recommends avoiding large quantities of refined sugars and processed carbohydrate containing foods “such as donuts, bagels, and cookies which can reduce collagen synthesis when eaten regularly.”
The Secret’s In The Water
“Coffee and alcohol can also dehydrate, and exacerbate the appearance of wrinkles,” said Dr. Chopra.
Hydration is key for almost all organs and processes in the body to function properly. While asleep you are taking on no helpful fluids for up to eight hours, so it’s important to keep hydrated during the day, letting can do what it needs to do while you sleep.
“Hydration status can impact the appearance of wrinkles by dehydrating and withering the skin,” said Dr. Chopra. “Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated before bed can plump your skin and prevent it from appearing dehydrated and wrinkled in the morning.
“Often our skin can appear more ‘wrinkled’ because it’s dry. Besides staying hydrated, I recommend a topical hyaluronic acid and creams/ointments before bed. The hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, and can bind over one thousand times its weight in water to plump the skin. Moreover, creams or ointments serve as occlusive emollients to lock in all the moisture.”
If you struggle to drink enough water during the day, like 47 percent of the U.S. according to a 2023 poll by CivicScience, make sure you gradually build up your water intake— otherwise you might end up damaging your skin.
Dilution shock, also known as water intoxication, can occur when an individual drinks too much water.
The kidneys remove excess water in the form of urine, but when a person drinks more than the kidneys can remove, which varies per person, water intoxication can occur.
“According to figures quoted in a 2013 study, the kidneys can eliminate about 20–28 liters of water a day, but they can remove no more than 0.8 to 1.0 liters every hour,” wrote Medical News Today.
“Sodium helps maintain the balance of fluids inside and outside of cells. When sodium levels drop due to excessive water consumption, fluids travel from the outside to the inside of cells, causing them to swell,” they continue. This can end up giving your skin a dull texture, as important fluids and electrolytes have been lost.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that an adequate daily fluid intake is: about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men or about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
As well as what you put in and on yourself before bed, how you sleep can make a big difference to your skin.
“It would make sense that we want to limit any overnight external tension or forces on our skin that could pull or push our facial skin in a way that would create wrinkles over time,” said Dr. Chopra. “You can accomplish this by sleeping on your back or using a silk pillowcase to reduce friction or pull on the skin.”