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August 14, 2020

Wake Up to More Flawless Skin: Everything You Need to Know About Night Time Skin Rejuvenation

Ah, sleep. If you’re a workaholic, you probably shortchange yourself by getting the fewest winks possible. Some people think of time spent sleeping as being unproductive, but your body actually needs sleep to function efficiently. And, there’s a reason we refer to shut-eye time as “beauty sleep.”


Have you heard of the term “40 winks?” Many people think of that as a good night’s sleep, but it actually means napping. Your body requires much more than a quick catnap to recover from life’s stressors. According to guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Of course, everyone is different, but if you’re feeling and looking less than your best, you may want to change your habits … soon.


African american woman waking up in bed
According to guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night.


What Really Happens When You’re Sleeping?


A lot goes on in your body once you turn in for the night. Your pulse, breathing, body temperature, and blood pressure all fluctuate depending on whether you’re dreaming away in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage or are just settling down in the early moments of non-REM sleep. The more settled your body, the better. According to the Mayo Clinic, “It’s thought that sleep helps your blood regulate stress hormones and helps your nervous system remain healthy. Over time, a lack of sleep could hurt your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones.”  


Doctor Ablon headshot
Glynis Ablon, M.D., F.A.A.D., director at Ablon Skin Institute & Research Center as well as Associate Clinical Professor at UCLA


As you sleep, your entire being repairs itself, including your skin. When asked if sleep has a biological impact on the skin, Dr. Glynis Ablon, M.D. explained, “It is absolutely true that skin renews overnight more than during the day.” Specifically, collagen production speeds up when your pituitary gland puts out more human growth hormone (HGH), as does “melatonin, which repairs UV-induced damage.”

Board Certified Dermatologist, Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SkinFive and AvaMD Clinics and co-host of The Gist


Board Certified Dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D. explains that while we sleep, our “metabolism slows down, and free radicals are eliminated.  Our skin is in defense mode most of the day,” she says, “fighting off photoaging, pollution, environmental waste, smoking, pathogens, ultraviolet rays, stress, caffeine,” and more. When the body’s at rest, “Cellular renewal doubles.” 


Here’s Why Your Skin Is Drier After Sleeping


Ever notice that your skin doesn’t feel nearly as moist and hydrated upon waking? Your pillowcase may absorb some of your skin’s moisture, but it’s not the only culprit. Body temperatures rise and fall during REM and non-REM sleep. Crazy dreams and frightful nightmares trigger the body’s natural “fight or flight” response, so instead of being completely at rest, your systems accelerate. The resulting rise in blood pressure and temperature can cause additional water loss and leave your skin extra dry in the morning.


Why Anti-Aging Treatments Are Best Used At Night


Ever wonder why you shouldn’t use rejuvenating products in your morning routine? “Sun reactivity is usually the reason,” Shamban explains. And, some products that need to be reapplied frequently, like sunblock, can inhibit the way ingredients “get to work in the epidermis and dermis.” Makeup may also inhibit the effectiveness of targeted treatments.


Exfoliants, whether chemical or physical, as well as retinoids are also best applied at night. Vitamin C is one of Ablon’s favorite antioxidants for undoing the damage caused by free radicals and stress. She also believes we are what we eat and that the best way to hydrate the body is done orally via “fluids, vitamin E, and hydrogen pills,” which research has shown reduce oxidative stress on the body.


Get Better Sheet Mask Results With This Genius Tip


If you already love sheet masks, you’re about to get one of the greatest tips ever. Before you apply your sheet mask, Shamban suggests applying your favorite rejuvenating serum. “Used at night after serums, but before or even in lieu of moisturizer, sheet masks ensure the most direct and unobstructed absorption opportunity.” Since most sheet masks make contact with the skin for at least 10 to 30 minutes, “the skin can literally drink in the actives without them dissipating.”


Sheet masks aren’t the only way to increase hydration before heading off to dreamland. Sleeping packs or sleeping masks are staples in Korean beauty routines. They can be used as standalone moisturizers or layered over your nighttime cream to lock in hydration while you’re sleeping.


If you’ve never tried a sleeping mask, you can’t go wrong with the COSRX cult-favorite Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask. It hydrates and soothes irritation as well as redness and contains anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, propolis extract.


And if you’re looking for a true hanbang experience, the Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask is beyond compare at a relatively affordable price for a premium Korean brand.


Need some tips for creating healthy sleep habits? Learn more here.

Tracy Ann Teel is a full-time freelance writer and the owner of Finesse Writing and Editing LLC. She’s a tutorial writer for San Francisco Globe’s beauty platform,, covering everything from skin and hair care to makeup and nail art. She writes for skincare companies, dermatologists, and cosmetic surgeons, and proudly taught at her MFA alma mater, the University of California Irvine, as a member of their adjunct faculty in English. She’s been a textbook reviewer for Prentice Hall, been recognized three consecutive years in the Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and has written professionally for 30+ years. Her poetry chapbook Such Dust was published by Finishing Line Press, and her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Pearl, Kaleidoscope, and Lake Arrowhead Life.



You're body is an amazing being! You can repair yourself from all the days troubles and exposures. I believe in taking the time before bed, to prepare for sleep. I do have a specific routine before bed that includes washing my face, applying treatments and oils, and prepping my lips with a night time lip mask! I also try not to eat to late at night and keep water on my night stand. EVERY NIGHT! What a difference it makes for me in the morning.

I'm so glad you have a nighttime ritual, Jody. Dedicating time to your skin (and to winding down) makes a huge difference. I, too, have a carafe of water beside the bed ... and it's always empty by morning. Sneaky little water thieves. 😆

Wow! Loved this article! Personally I think I need about 9 to 10 hours of sleep but once I get it I feel like a brand new woman! I really am excited to layer up with my serums and sheet masks!

“Cellular renewal doubles at night,” amazing!

Love the idea of a pre-mask serum! Double the hydration

It's also a great way to finish off sticky serums that you don't necessarily like but want to use up. 😁

Great read. Thank you for this article! :)

I can attest to the COSRX mask. I love it, so creamy and my skin just drinks it right up. I've stepped up my night routine and i wake in the morning with glowy smooth skin.

The COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask 60ml and the COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask 60ml are both great. I'm hoping the Beautytap Team will bring the Sulwhasoo Radiance Energy Mask onto the platform. That one is also amazing!


Just another reason we should value rest more than we do. As a person who struggles with insomnia, I go out of my way to make my PM skincare routine as extensive as possible. Also, I LOVE that COSRX overnight mask you mentioned!

Fellow insomniac here, especially when I'm stressed out. If you haven't tried the COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask 60ml, I recommend that one, too. This brand is so reasonable and makes great stuff!

Thank you for the sheet mask tip. ;)

You're welcome, Sarah. Most Asian beauty (AB) fans know about this trick, but it was so validating to hear from Dr. Ava that it really has value. It works especially well with serums that you don't generally like because of their stickiness. Problem solved!

Great tip

If you have any serums that are especially sticky (or others that you shy away from using) try them under your sheet masks. It's a great way to use up an otherwise problematic product and to reap better benefits from it at the same time.


So informative! I loved that sheet mask tip specifically and I'm curious to give it a try sometime soon.

Me, too, Julian! Many long-term K-beauty fans have been doing this exact same thing (myself included) ... but it was especially satisfying to learn from a professional that our instincts were right. Theory is one thing but professional recommendations are worth their weight in gold.