Friday, November 4, 2011
Beat back the years while you sleep
We’re always hearing that one of the best beauty tips around is a good night’s sleep - and with the clocks going back yesterday, sleep is something we’ll all want a lot more of as winter sets in.
But if, like me, you woke up this morning feeling sleep-deprived and bemoaning the bags under your eyes, you probably don’t need convincing that how much sleep - and how good that sleep is - does make a difference to how you look.
But, surprisingly, given that dark circles are one of women’s biggest beauty bug- bears, science is still struggling to explain why we look so bad after a sleepless night.
“There’s a lack of evidence-based research into the relationship between sleep and appearance in the short term,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe. “There’s an increasing body of work suggesting that in the long-term, sleep deprivation could prematurely age skin.
“Chronic lack of sleep (consistently getting less than the seven to nine hours most adults need) has been shown, within weeks, to compromise the immune system, making it harder for skin to repair damage inflicted during the day,” he says.
“Other research has discovered a link between lack of sleep and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. At high levels, this can inhibit the formation of collagen, essential for healthy, youthful skin.”
Vogue’s former beauty director Kathy Phillips is so convinced of the importance of sleep that when she founded her aroma-therapy-based beauty company, This Works, she came up with an entire range of products designed to aid sleep, including a lavender bath soak and soothing pillow spray.
“If you don’t sleep well, everything suffers,” she says. “You eat the wrong things because you feel tired, you skip regular exercise and you work less efficiently.
“Some people are genetically programmed to get dark circles; others just feel listless and lacking in energy, have pasty skin and generally feel more fractious.” Let’s say, for argument’s sake, a good night’s sleep is the best beauty secret (no one would ever say too much sleep makes you look bad, would they?), but if you can’t get enough you at least want to make sure you’re using the most effective skincare products available while you are asleep.
The past few years have seen a huge growth in so-called “nocturnal” skincare, but do we really need an entirely separate regime for after dark?
Skincare expert Paula Begoun says no. “Day and night, skin needs the same ingredients to fight wrinkles, ageing, cellular damage and collagen breakdown.
“With the exception of sun protection, which for obvious reasons doesn’t need to be in a night cream, there’s no research showing that skin needs different ingredients or heavier formulations at night.”
But Dr Sian Morris, principal scientist with Olay, which recently launched its Regenerist Night Renewal Elixir, disagrees.
“Day creams have to prep skin for make-up, so most women prefer a light cream that’s quickly absorbed, but our research has found they like their night cream to be slightly richer and creamier.
“Science suggests it makes sense to have a more emollient cream at night. Skin at night is physiologically different from during the day; it needs more moisture and can be more receptive to certain ingredients.”
Her argument is supported by the growth of a field of medicine known as chronopharmacology, which has shown the efficacy of a drug is affected by the time at which it is taken.
This is because all of the biological systems in our bodies - digestion, brain, muscles, metabolism, capacity to sleep - run to certain patterns, known as circadian rhythms.
“Studies show the permeability of the skin’s barrier is lower at night and skin blood flow is higher than during the day.
“Practically, that means greater amounts of the active ingredients within skincare products are likely to penetrate to the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) to help tackle issues such as wrinkles. Use products that include vitamin A derivatives (the most effective anti-aging ingredients) only at night, because they are unstable when exposed to sunlight.”
These vitamin A derivatives also boost the skin’s natural exfoliation process, which studies have shown to be less efficient at night.
Other research suggests that skin is more prone to water loss while we sleep, so if you really want to wake up glowing and fresh-faced, it makes sense to look for products that are rich in ingredients that draw water to the skin (such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin).
To view this article in full visit: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style/beauty/beat-back-the-years-while-you-sleep-1.1171807