Without sleep, we would quite literally, die. Shouldn’t it then be as natural and effortless as going to the toilet after downing 3 cups of tea? Au contraire: according to the 432 million hits on Google for “lack of sleep”, it seems that somewhere along the way we forgot how to do the very thing that keeps us happy, healthy and alert – and it’s a phenomenon that’s leaving researchers all over the world baffled. As time goes on, science continues to make headway – though there are still many questions left unanswered. Is sleep something you can good get at? How many hours should you really be getting a night? Should I ignore that “u up” message at 2am? As your questions came flooding in, we enlisted expert help. Today, we welcome back Melanie Grant, our go-to skin expert and the woman we call on when in the midst of a skin crisis. Her diagnoses are delivered with uncanny precision; her facials transcendent. Her knowledge of what happens to your skin as you sleep, as you will soon see, turned out to be a real eye-opener.

How does the skin repair itself at night? And what can we do to maximise the healing process?

Sleep really is one of the most important things for our skin health. This is when our body goes into heal and repair mode and our skin cells go into mitosis. This means that they divide and multiply, replacing older cells with new ones. The products you apply at night are super important for this reason – they will feed, strengthen and fortify these new cells. Skin concerns that require more of a “corrective approach” are best addressed in the evenings.

It is crucial to cleanse your skin thoroughly to remove any cellular debris, pollution, makeup, grime and bacteria to help facilitate this process, freeing up your skin cells to turn over more easily. Acids and retinoids also encourage the metabolism of older skin cells overnight and in doing so, speed up the process of cell turnover and regeneration, resulting in a clearer, brighter and more refined complexion.

Another important factor to consider is that the levels of inflammation in our bodies are reduced while our bodies sleep. Daily stressors and spikes in cortisol levels can cause redness, sensitivity, breakouts and glycation of the tissues.

Ensuring that we give our skin the best chance at regenerating overnight during this opportunistic time is best supplemented by a good dose of lipids, Hyaluronic Acids and antioxidants in a moisturiser with a non-comedogenic base. This will ensure that any new skin cells are immediately nourished and hydrated resulting in a supple, dewy glow when you wake.


Image, Kate Millington. With special thanks to Melanie Grant.