Skin Intel is a new series in which we break down the science behind skincare issues in an approachable way to help you tune in, better understand your own needs and concerns, and treat them accordingly.
We all know that sleep benefits the skin-it's one of those broad health directives, like "drink more water!" and "eat a plant-based diet!" which sounds easy until life (or Bolognese) happens. But when it comes to beauty sleep (and the waking hours on either side of it), if you sync your skincare to the natural circadian rhythms of your skin, you might be able to hack the system to achieve your best complexion, yet.
Your master biological clock oscillates over a 24-hour period and regulates your sleep, temperature, and blood pressure, among other essential functions (1) in order to optimize cellular function and meet environmental challenges. Similarly, your skin has its own circadian rhythms which regulate functions like detoxification, DNA repair and cellular regeneration. Have you ever noticed that your skin looks better-brighter, plumper, healthier-in the morning? Then, come evening, as you gaze at your reflection while preparing for bed, it's like…what happened? This ego-bruising phenomenon is thanks in part to the fact that when skin cells proliferate, they do so at a much higher rate-30 times more rapidly-at night than during the day. The process of proliferation makes cells far more vulnerable to UV damage, so, by design, much of it is reserved for the dark hours to protect us from the harmful effects of sun exposure. Therefore, we wake up fresh-faced-quite literally.
This is why many heavy-hitting products like acids and deep hydrators are recommended for nighttime use. But this might also be the right time to treat conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, which tend to worsen at night, likely due to a more permeable skin barrier, as well as a heightened instance of blood flow in the late evening (2). Thus, a bedtime application could potentially enhance the effectiveness of treatment.
Another interesting study showed that DNA repair processes, essential to skin health, occur during the late afternoon and evening. This means that DNA damage incurred in the morning might be harder for your body to repair in a timely manner (3) and could lead to serious problems down the road. (Shout out to surfers, runners, cyclists-actually, pretty much everyone: do not forget sunscreen during those early hours.
Begin with splashes of warm and cold water to wake your skin up—there’s no need to cleanse, especially if you do the 4-2-4 at night—and then think about how you will arm your skin for the day. Calendula oil adds an antioxidant-rich layer of protection against the elements with high doses of beta carotene. Transparence works with the skin’s unique rhythmicity, while calming and deeply hydrating. Soleil Fleur is an essential layer—it was developed to assist in protecting your skin against the sun during the day. Fleur Vibrante acts as a final protective occlusive layer, locking in moisture and nutrients. Source D’Eclat contains polysaccharides to hydrate, plump and energize the skin around the eyes. And, importantly, complete your layering process with sunscreen.
A spritz of Vitale does wonders to perk up the skin and impart a fresh glow. Its active, aloe-rich formulation is also high in minerals, and the body’s mineral content tends to plummet in the afternoon, contributing to that slump that often results in a matcha latte. (Try a green juice, instead!)
Since much of your skin’s repair processes occurs at night, it’s a good time to harness the power of your products. Beginning with the 4-2-4 Method ensures that skin is deeply cleansed and prepped to receive the full benefits of whatever you apply next. You can see our guide to layering for a comprehensive overview of product and process.