During the day, you know what it takes to keep your skin looking youthful: sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen. (Experts recommend using one with an SPF of at least 15 every day of the year.) But what you may not know is that there are things you can do at night to look younger, to make your skin glow and to actually repair your skin.
Stubborn fine lines, enlarged pores and even puffy, tired eyes can be erased (or reduced) by morning if you take the proper steps at night, says Monique Klein, owner of Monique K. Skin Care Boutique. And if your complexion is already practically perfect, nighttime is the right time to indulge in some preventive care.
- Always thoroughly wash your face before you go to bed. Never hit the pillow without removing the day's grime as well as sunscreen and other products from your skin.
- To look younger, apply a quick-drying mask twice a week. If you want to tighten your pores, Monique recommends using an exfoliator like Aveda's Deep Cleansing Herbal Clay Masque. For dry skin, she suggests Aveda's Intensive Hydrating Masque. Let the mask sit for 10 minutes or until it's dry, and then gently remove it with warm water and a washcloth.
- Liberally moisturize your face and your neck with an overnight cream containing alpha-hydroxyls or retinols. Monique likes Clinique's Repairwear Intensive Night Cream (good for really dry skin) and Intensive Night Lotion (better for oily or acne-prone complexions). You shouldn't use these creams in the daytime, because they increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun's UVA and UVB rays.
- Shore up the vulnerable skin around your eyes by slathering on a collagen-filled cream like Lancôme's Oligo Minérale, a multimineral, multivitamin, fortifying serum that combats the signs of aging caused by stress and pollution.
- Monique's favorite trick to look younger involves how you lie down on the bed — or, more accurately, how not to lie down. She suggests getting several firm pillows (not goose-feather ones, which can get lumpy) and stacking them so that you can recline while keeping your upper torso slightly elevated, as if you were sleeping in the first-class cabin of an airplane. It may sound wacky, but it prevents fluids from gathering around your eyes. You'll wake up without a trace of puffiness — honestly.
- Avoid sleeping on your side. Not only will it cause puffiness, but it will also create creases in your face that, over time, could turn into fine lines and wrinkles. Sleep on your back whenever possible, Monique counsels, and especially the night before you want to look your best.
- In the morning, gently wash your face. Avoid using soaps or harsh astringents that are drying. While your skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer, and make sure this one contains sunscreen. You've got to protect your newly rejuvenated skin from the sun's harmful rays. Gently pat on an under-eye firming cream, and let everything settle in for at least 20 minutes before you put on the rest of your makeup.
- For special occasions, says Monique, give your complexion extra zest by following this special skin-friendly diet for 24 hours: Drink plenty of water (at least 8 ounces at a time), snack on spinach and fresh berries — strawberries, blackberries or blueberries are best — and have a nice healthy piece of salmon for lunch or dinner. The antioxidants and omega-3s in these foods plump up skin cells, and the water restores elasticity.