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What Happens to Your Skin While You Sleep

by Shammara Lawrence

Beauty sleep is real. When we sleep our bodies go into repair mode, fixing any damage from the day, and the same is true for our skin. While off in dreamland, we heal, restore, and eliminate toxins from our skin. So when sleep is compromised, so is our body’s ability to carry out this essential function—which makes getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night all the more important. 

The quality and length of sleep we get every night has a profound impact on our mental and physical health, including our skin. How can we help bolster our skin’s innate renewal and repair system? 

Who better to ask than Mercedes Taylor, Youth To The People’s in-house chemist? After all, there’s a reason she chooses each ingredient. Here’s how to maximize all of the amazing benefits of quality rest. 

Your Collagen is Boosted + Your Skin Repairs Itself 

Sleep: it’s when your body repairs itself. And that includes the epidermis as much as the brain and muscles. While you’re sleeping, your skin produces collagen, which is responsible for our skin’s elasticity and tightness. Additionally, the body repairs damaged DNA caused by external elements like Ultraviolet (UV) rays from excessive sun exposure.

Your Cortisol Levels Decrease 

Cortisol, colloquially referred to as the “stress hormone,” plays a key function in the body: it helps control sugar levels, regulate metabolism, reduces inflammation, and assists with memory formulation. It’s also responsible for our flight or fight response, which protects us against perceived threats. This was especially valuable during the Stone Age… but, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, the hormone can wreak havoc on your body, and may lead to weight gain, thin and fragile skin that’s slow to heal, as well as acne. 

One easy and natural way to regulate your cortisol levels is by getting enough sleep every night. Come bedtime, your cortisol decreases, allowing your body to properly rest and heal itself (since it isn’t working in overdrive) from the damaging elements it was subjected to during the day, like pollution and UV rays from the sun.  

Your Skin Loses Moisture 

Sleep is so good for our skin, but there’s one tricky thing: sleep can dry out our skin. “The skin, just like our brains, has a circadian rhythm for regeneration. While we sleep (while it is dark) our skin cells go into repair mode,” Taylor says. “This takes a lot of water, and while we sleep we really only get new water reserves from our environment,” so keeping on top of our water consumption can help offset this natural process. “If we've hydrated ourselves throughout the day by drinking enough water, this also helps our skin to repair itself and we wake up looking a lot more hydrated.” Taylor says. 

The Right Skincare for Sleep

While our bodies are efficient at repairing themselves, an extra boost doesn’t hurt. To help protect against overnight dehydration, we need a protective layer of hydrators and oils on the skin.

“We hit on four main hydrators in the Dream Mask: glycerin, a great topical humectant for pulling water from the environment towards our skin; betaine, a water reservoir that takes the water from glycerin deeper into the epidermis; hyaluronic acid, part of natural moisturizing factors that help skin to uptake water during the regeneration process; and lastly, squalane, a non-comedogenic emollient that protects our skin from trans-epidermal water loss and locks in all that hydration,” Taylor explains. These ingredients are great for all skin types.

On top of these hydrators, the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask—which was just awarded a 2019 Allure Best of Beauty award, is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, meaning that overnight, it both hydrates and brightens, evening out our complexion. 

“By using the Dream Mask with its high humectant content for intense hydration, we can effectively pull water from the air, giving our skin more hydration and waking up with a glow,” Taylor says.

Written by Shammara Lawrence for Youth To The People