Wake up to healthier hair and skin with these expert tips and products that work while you sleep.
While there are plenty of “overnight” conditioners that claim to deep-condition hair through the night, our experts say they’re unnecessary. “Conditioners have the best results when the hair is warm and the cuticle is open,” according to William George, founder of the James Joseph Salon in Boston. George says that any product applied to dry, room-temperature hair will mainly work on the surface with minimal penetration.
If you have dry, damaged hair, you’re better off applying a light detangler (like EO Products French Lavender Detangler Spray, $9.99, www.eoproducts.com) before bed, then sleeping on a silk or high-thread-count cotton pillow case. “Sleeping on a smooth surface keeps the hair cuticle from getting roughed up,” says George. The less damage you can cause the cuticle, the healthier and shinier hair will look.
For hair that’s oily, try applying a dry shampoo before hitting the hay. “Using a dry shampoo before bed will absorb surface oil and give additional volume the next day,” according to George, who adds that it’s important to use this type of product sparingly. Removing too much oil can actually stimulate oil production by making the body think the hair is dry. A dry shampoo to try: Tresemmé FreshStart Dry Shampoo for Oily/Straight to Normal ($5.99, www.drugstore.com).
Your body doesn’t simply shut down while you sleep—all of its parts, including the skin, work to repair the day’s damage. Creating a proper pre-bedtime skincare routine can give this repair process a boost, as products applied at night typically work better than those used during the day, according to Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Ronald Moy. “Skincare products applied at night may penetrate better because they stay on the skin longer,” says Moy. Plus, your skin isn’t exposed to UV rays during the night, so active ingredients, like peptides, retinol and DNA repair enzymes, are more likely to stay active.
The best nighttime skincare products are going to be goopy. “People find these cosmetically unappealing during the day, but heavy ointments and serums are very moisturizing and perfectly acceptable at night,” says Dr. Anne M. Chapas, director of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. Chapas also says to look for creams with retinol or retin A, the gold standard ingredient for wrinkle prevention, which should be applied at night as it is inactivated by sun light.
It’s also a good idea to exfoliate at night instead. “The benefit is that exuberant exfoliating can make skin slightly red and irritated and this usually resolves by morning,” according to Chapas. And don’t forget to treat eyes with a cream that contains hyaluronic acid (try Estee Lauder Time Zone Anti-Line/Wrinkle Eye Creme, $43.50, www.esteelauder.com), which plumps skin cells so the eye area looks firm by morning.