The bedtime regimen

7 steps to scoring true beauty sleep

While you sleep, your skin and hair cells regenerate far faster than they do during the day. For this reason, it’s imperative to have a bedtime beauty or grooming regimen in place. In doing so, you can multiply the effectiveness of each product, and you’ll wake with a clearer complexion, stronger hair, and maybe even a younger-looking reflection.

Step one: Cleanse your skin

You should never apply any products to your face unless it has been cleansed. “During the day, our skin is exposed to a ton of environmental pollutants and debris that compromise the integrity of our epidermis, which is the superficial layer of the skin,” says NYC-based dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali. “It’s important to remove these substances from the skin surface, plus cleansing helps the absorption of other products like serums and creams.”

Step two: Rinse (or wash) your hair

Bhanusali recommends shampooing nightly if you have oily hair. If you don't have oily hair, you can risk overdrying it by shampooing every day which can lead to dandruff. However, regardless of scalp type, rinse your hair nightly to flush away any products and excess grease; this will help keep your pillow clear of anything that could ultimately end up on your face, which could cause breakouts.

Step three: Do a weekly face mask

Face masks work like vacuums to suck excess oil and environmental buildup from the pores. They’re a proactive defense against acne, but shouldn’t be done more than once a week since they can dry out the skin. For that same reason, rinse the mask away after 10-15 minutes with cold water and pat dry.

Step 4: Apply a retinoid cream

Ask any dermatologist for the single best overnight cream, and you’ll most likely be prescribed a retinoid: Vitamin A-based topical creams. No other treatment can cover as many bases: “Retinoids—or retinols, which are over-the-counter—help with acne, pigmentation issues, scarring, reduce pore size, and improve wrinkles,” says Bhanusali. Be warned: Your skin may be sensitive to retinoids at first, but it should adjust after a few days. (Still, be sure to cleanse in the morning and use a moisturizer with SPF, as the skin becomes extra sensitive to sunlight and UV rays.)

Step 5: Use a leave-in conditioner

Your skin isn’t the only thing that gets a boost overnight: This is also the prime time to magnify any repair to your hair. Apply a leave-in conditioner to damp or towel-dried hair once or twice each week; it works like a mask to revitalize each strand and to restore volume.

Step 6: Invest in an under-eye treatment

The skin around your eyes is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of your face, so it’s smart to target it with antioxidant-rich creams, says Bhanusali. Doing so will have you looking fresher when you wake up, and can decrease dark circles, wrinkles, puffiness, and other signs of aging.

Step 7: Turn on a humidifier

If you often wake up with dry skin or find that you break out more in colder months, then you might consider buying a humidifier for your bedroom. It will replace any lost moisture in the air, which in turn will preserve your skin’s moisture. “Humidifiers help prevent new outbreaks, especially for people with eczema,” Bhanusali adds.