The great comedienne and American actress Betty White once said: ‘Get at least 8 hours of beauty sleep. 9 if you’re ugly.’ The sentiment is harsh, but the meaning behind it is very true, for ‘beauty sleep’ is more than just a flippant phrase. There is truth behind the notion that while we sleep, great things are happening to our skin so that when we wake in the morning it looks better than before. But what is actually going on in our skin while we slumber away?
Firstly, our skin cells go into over-drive to repair the damage that’s been done in the day when they’ve desperately been trying to defend and protect the skin from everything it’s been exposed to such as UV rays, pollution and poor diet. “As the body settles into the deepest stage of rest, growth hormones peak and stimulate cell and tissue repair,” explains LA based Dr Harold Lancer (lancerskincare.com). “Without enough deep sleep, the repair process of your skin will be slowed, resulting in ageing.”
Next there’s the simple fact that at night, when we’re tucked up in our cosy beds, our skin doesn’t have to focus on anything else than repairing and strengthening our skin. It’s not being exposed to the elements and it’s not being bombarded with dirt and grime. When these things happen during the day our body naturally creates adrenaline and cortisone (the stress hormone) as a natural stand up and fight reaction, but at night levels of these drop allowing our body to produce a growth hormone instead and that’s when the skin starts repairing and rehydrating itself.
However, these things are all reliant on getting a good night’s sleep. If you’re not a great sleeper then your hormone levels can’t reduce down and the levels of cortisol and adrenalin remain high, meaning that the growth factor can’t kick in, get to work and your skin reaps no benefit. It also has a knock-on effect with your blood flow. During a good night’s sleep your body’s nervous system switches into what is known as a parasympathetic state, it’s also sometimes known as the rest and digest system. When your body is in this mode, it slows the heart rate down, and increases your body’s ability to flush out toxins, excess water and anything that causes the skin to get puffed up and not look that great. It also increases blood flow and oxygen to the skin. This is important. “When your body is in this state, your skin’s receptors spring to life, the blood vessels grab amino acids molecules to help build more collagen and can deliver them more efficiently around the body and at the same time fluid and toxins are drained away,” explains Dr Ellen Marmur, a New York based dermatologist. If your body can’t get itself into a parasympathetic state then none of these things happen. How would you know if a parasympathetic state has eluded you? Well, not only will you feel tired in the morning but a key marker is that you have puffy eyes, as the body hasn’t been able to flush away the excess fluid build-up.
So, how can beauty products help? There is a two-pronged approach you can take. Firstly, you need to ensure you are using products containing sleep-inducing ingredients to give yourself the best chance possible of getting a good night’s sleep. Secondly, there are the products that will arm your skin with the best skin-boosting repair kit possible so it can work even harder while you catch up on your zzzz’s.
Read on to find out everything you need to get you well and truly initiated into the land of nod and the skin wonders you’ll need when you get there.
BATHE WITH: Elemental Herbology Water Soothe Bath & Body Oil, Dh202
Studies have shown taking a warm bath at least 90 minutes before bedtime can help with a better night’s sleep. “Body temperature plays an important part in regulating circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to fall asleep and when to stay alert. During the day, body temperature naturally rises, when it starts to cool its a sign that we’re supposed to go to sleep,” says Dr Dianne Augelli, a New York based sleep expert. By taking a bath and getting warm before bed, your internal temperature then has to fall, and a good night’s sleep will be yours. To help even more, fill your bath with four pumps of this elixir. Filled with lavender, ylang ylang, which helps clear your mind, and rose which boosts your happiness levels and reduces stress, it can also be used in the shower if you’re not a bath person.
SLATHER IN: This Works Sleep Plus Dream Body, Dh125
This gorgeous, rich body cream is packed with This Works’ award-winning, sleep-inducing formula. You’ll find lavender, camphor and camomile – all of which help calm you down, but the absolute winner is vetivert, which is what really helps send you off into a deep sleep. Apply all over but pay particular attention to your chest, backs of wrists, arms and anywhere else that is in close proximity to your nose whilst you sleep so the vapour can rise up and work its magic.
RELAX WITH: Jo Malone London Lavender & Lovage Home Candle, Dh300
Whilst we don’t recommend going to sleep with a burning candle going, whilst you’re relaxing in the bath or reading in bed, light a candle packed with lavender so that the scent infuses your bedroom. Not only will the essential oils – this contains lavender alongside rosemary and thyme – help calm and relax you but there’s nothing more soothing and de-stressing than candlelight.
Sleeping Skin Saviours
Dior Hydra Life Jelly Sleeping Mask, Dh405
If you find your skin suffocates under the richness of most night creams, then this is for you. Dior has taken inspiration from Korean science to create a light, melts-away, jelly cream that dissolves into water upon contact with the skin. It contains everything your skin needs – hyaluronic acid to keep it hydrated, a mallow extract that plumps it up and that clever Eastern science? That keeps the ingredients infusing into your skin for 8 hours.
GlamGow Dream Duo, Dh320
This skin duo contain everything your skin needs to look plump, awake and alert the next day – ideal for those that burn the candle at both ends and an absolute dream to take travelling with you to pep up jet-lagged skin. Start by applying the pearlised coloured serum that’s filled with antioxidants such as green coffee and green tea leaf – they will take care of repairing the cell damage from the day. Let that sink in for 30 seconds and then apply a layer of the grey-coloured seal, a hyaluronic filled gel-cream that then hydrates and plumps.
Guerlain Abeille Orchidée Impériale The Eye and Lip Cream, Dh895
It’s best to use a separate eye cream to night cream, as they tend to have a lighter consistency and therefore are absorbed more easily by the very thin and delicate skin under the eyes. Anything too heavy will leave your eyes looking puffy, which is not what you want after all this dedication to looking a million dollars after a night’s sleep. You can’t go wrong with this exquisite eye cream. Containing Guerlain’s unique gold orchid technology – an amazing ingredient that harnesses the orchid’s ability to constantly renew itself and mimics that in the skin’s cells. It has also been clinically tested to firm the skin and boost luminosity making it worth every dirham.
Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream, Dh380
When you know that this cream contains Californian poppy extract – a flower that closes up at night to regenerate itself so that it looks just as wondrous the next day – you get an idea of what this cream can do to your complexion. Perhaps more of a traditional night cream in that it has a slightly richer texture and consistency (that’s thanks to the shea butter), this cream gets drunk up by skin but doesn’t leave it feeling sticky and greasy and comes with the most gorgeous scent of jasmine and freesia.
BEAUTY SLEEP TIPS
UPGRADE YOUR PJ’S - It’s time for a shopping spree and switch your regular sleepwear for something silky - and the higher quality silk you can get your hands on, the better. This is because silk is thermoregulatory; keeping your warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm.
ADJUST YOUR AC - According to experts at the Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org) a cool room is best for a great night sleep, around 65 degrees so adjust your AC accordingly.
TABLET FREE ZONE - It’s not rocket science that having your phone by your bed is only going to play havoc with getting your 8 hours sleep. Leave your phone in a different room so you’re not tempted to scroll through Insta or check the latest social goss when you should be switching off.