Can your bedtime beauty skin care rituals make a difference to your complexion? If so, why? And, if so, what rituals make a big enough difference to be worth your time and energy? Let me give you a dermatologist’s insights into the best bedtime beauty rituals to boost the health, appearance and feel of your skin. These are treatments with high 'return on investment' (ROI) that I do for my own skin at bedtime.
There are 2 main reasons that bedtime gives you a unique opportunity to transform your skin.
- It’s dark, and one of the best anti-aging skin care ingredients needs darkness for maximal effectiveness.
- You can apply products that soak in deeply but may not feel good on your skin or stay on your skin during the day.
This means that bedtime beauty rituals are real. They have been passed down through the ages. Some of the historical ones make sense, others border on the absurd. Modern skin care science and skin care formulation chemistry give us powerful bedtime treatments that are a lot less messy - and a lot more effective - than what people resorted to in the past. But, it's fun to look back at where we've come.
Bedtime beauty skin care rituals from history
Some of the dubious bedtime rituals of the rich and famous rightfully create skepticism in the entire concept. Others have merit.
19th century Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s beautiful complexion was credited to the bedtime meat face mask she wore to bed. Yep, like it sounds, it was a mask lined with raw veal. Helena Rubinstein rekindled the same idea with a raw beef muslin sleeping mask. Marie Antoinette’s bedtime beauty ritual is also credited with maintaining her beautiful complexion. She used a similarly messy bedtime mask of cognac, eggs, powdered milk and lemon. She also applied a thick cream or oil to her hands and covered them with gloves at bedtime to keep her hand skin soft. The hand treatments sound OK to me but I can’t image sleeping with the mess and smell of the meat and eggs.
As a child of the 1960s and 70s, the grownup women in my family had nighttime beauty rituals that I found alluring. It seemed like having a nighttime beauty ritual was part of growing up. I can remember Ponds Cold Cream, Petroleum Jelly, “Vanishing” Creams, and lanolin rich cuticle creams and oils as part of their nighttime beauty rituals. Some of these products and ingredients have merit AND others have been replaced by today's better options.
What are the best bedtime skin care beauty rituals?
Applying a retinoid product including retinol and/or tretinoin night creams at bedtime can transform your complexion.
Bedtime is the best time to use an antiaging powerhouse retinoid because retinoids breakdown on contact with light – sunlight and visible light. This means that it’s best to apply your retinoid right before turning the lights out and going to bed. Retinoids are unsurpassed for stimulating skin collagen renewal to fight fine lines, wrinkles, crepey skin and skin thinning. They also fight age spots, treat acne and create a more youthful and attractive complexion overall. Retinol is tricky to formulate and dispense. My Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is a professional level retinol product made in an FDA regulated laboratory. It's what I use almost every evening as I turn out the light.
Top your bedtime retinol with glycolic acid for even greater results.
Glycolic acid also stimulates collagen renewal, reduces age spots, unblocks clogged pores and creates a more youthful and attractive complexion – but by a different mechanism that the retinoids. Like retinol, not all glycolic acid products are equally effective. My Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream is a professional product that will transform skin. It is formulated to an acid pH of under 4 (a must for glycolic acid products if you want results) and with an acid content of 10% or higher. It is also made in an FDA regulated laboratory. Because this is a professional grade glycolic acid product, it may not be appropriate for you if you have sensitive skin.
You can apply glycolic acid and retinoids at the same time.
Together these age fighting skin care ingredients give you even better results. They are today's ultimately effective "vanishing" creams. But you need to have tolerant skin. That's because, glycolic acid has an acid pH so it’s not easy to use if you have sensitive skin. If your skin is tolerant then using a professional glycolic acid cream on top of a professional retinol cream can provide additive benefits.
Bedtime is the perfect time to apply face oils that will replenish skin lipids and improve skin barrier health.
The look and feel of an oil on your skin may not be something you want during the day. Nighttime is the perfect time to use a rich face oil. You can apply it alone, top your retinol with it, or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer to ‘boost’ the moisturizing and healing benefits. Most nights, I apply my Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream and top it with my Daily Face Cream for Dry to Normal Skin boosted with a few drops of my Omega Enriched Face Booster Oil. My skin loves the treatment.
Bedtime hand treatments help maintain soft hand skin and fight dryness.
Here is where history and Marie Antoinette got it right. A thick cream and/or lanolin rich ointment applied at night and covered by cotton gloves works wonders. Soak your hands in warm water for 5 minutes first then apply Bag Balm (or Dry Skin Hand Cream if you are allergic to lanolin) liberally and cover with cotton gloves. Wake up to soft and soothed hand skin. Get everything your hands need for their bedtime beauty ritual in my Dry Skin Hand Repair Kit.
Treat pesky age spots on the top of the hands with a glycolic acid cream or lotion "vanishing cream" before applying Bag Balm or Dry Skin Hand Cream. This will help to tackle both the "liver spots" and rough hand skin at the same time. Use your Glycolic Acid Face Cream or try my Glycolic Acid Body Lotion, which is also a good option for your feet as I mention below!
Bedtime foot routine to fight thick and rough soles.
Bedtime is the perfect time to liberally apply a glycolic acid cream or lotion to chemically exfoliate rough foot skin and prep it for a pedicure. An easy option is to use my Glycolic Acid Body Lotion after your evening bath. Apply it to your feet and cover them with a pair of sox to keep your glycolic acid in place.
Glycolic acid helps fight rough thick soles because it loosens the ‘glue’ between the dead skin cells that layer too abundantly on thick soles. This makes filing down thick soles easier. Another option is to soften the thick rough skin with the Bag Balm that comes in my Hand Care Kit. You can even alternate Glycolic Acid Lotion one night and Bag Balm the next. The feel of thick cream or ointment on your feet during the day may not be appealing (it isn't to me), making nighttime the perfect time to treat our feet.
Bedtime Beauty and Skin Health Rituals are a Good Idea
The right bedtime beauty ritual can transform you skin. Today's best skin care options for nighttime skin care are the retinoids, glycolic acid, face oils, and lanolin-rich skin softening ointments.