There’s nothing better than waking up to find calm, clear skin looking back at you from the mirror.
For many of us this doesn’t happen often, but with a little extra attention to your skin before bed, waking up with an improved complexion doesn’t have to be a rare occurrence.
As much as I enjoy my skincare routine, I’ll sometimes rush through it in a sleepy fog – or I’ll skip it altogether and go to bed without washing my face. But when I want to wake up with that radiant, beauty-rested skin, taking the few extra minutes to properly and gently care for my skin makes all the difference.
Step 1: REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP
Start your night with this step if you wear makeup, sunscreen or any other heavy product on your skin. Many cleansers aren’t up to the job of removing tacky sunscreens and waterproof eye makeup, so I like to do this step with a cleansing oil and a cotton round.
I start by rubbing a few pumps of the cleansing oil all over my face, working it around in gentle, circular motions. My favorite part of this step is the “gritty” feeling of comedones coming loose from the skin. After a minute of massaging the skin, I move to the eye area. After this, I remove most of the oil residue with a clean cotton round.
This step leaves my skin hydrated and ready for the next step - cleansing.
Step 2: CLEANSE
Cleansing doesn’t take long, and it benefits the skin so much, especially after an oil cleanser has done most of the heavy lifting. The second, water-based cleanser’s job is to cleanse the skin now that the heavy
sunscreen and makeup are out of the way. This should ideally be a plain, pH-balanced cleanser that is non-irritating and non-drying. All it needs to do is clean the skin, nothing fancy.
Step 3: (OPTIONAL) MASKING
If you’re going to do a mask, now is the time in your routine to do it.
Once a week or so, the night before a big event or just because, I like to use a good face mask. Each day varies in what mask I reach for, but I’m partial to clay and apple cider vinegar masks, as well as masks that offer a lot of moisturizing and repairing properties.
Depending on the products you choose for the rest of your routine, this would also be a good time for a wash-off exfoliating mask. Every so often a nice chemical or physical exfoliation will help your products to penetrate better, revealing clearer, softer skin in the morning.
Step 4: TREATMENT
Once your face is dry, the next step in the routine is your treated product. Depending on your skin’s needs this may be a prescription, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tea tree oil or any other number of other “active” products (retinoids, AHAs). All of these have benefits for acne, so which one you use is up to you.
Use a very small amount and let your treated product dry completely on your skin before moving on to the next step (treated products may react with subsequent products, so give them time to neutralize).
Step 5: SERUM
Once dry, I recommend following your treated product up with a light serum, ideally something soothing, repairing or regenerating (which is what your skin needs most at night). Use just a few drops and smooth over your entire face. When done right, layering your products results in the most benefits.
Step 6: MOISTURIZE
I recommend following your serum up with a thin layer of moisturizer. Depending on your serum, it may offer enough hydration on its own.
Step 7: OIL
I always top my moisturizer off with a little oil, which nicely seals it all in, paying special attention to the dry areas, like around my eyes. This keeps my skin nice and hydrated but doesn’t overwhelm the acne-prone areas.
Step 8: SPOT TREATMENT
If you used a treated product earlier, you probably won’t need to spot treat. However, if you have any big spots you want to get rid of, dampen one end of a cotton swab and wipe it over the pimples you want to treat. Then use the other end to apply your spot treatment directly to the pimple. This ensures that the spot treatment can work directly on your skin without the other products getting in the way - meaning you will wake up with less redness and irritation!
Remember, what you do outside of your skin care routine affects how your skin looks when you wake up, too. All the skin care products in the world won’t save you from a lousy night's sleep on a dirty pillowcase.
On top of getting a restful sleep, using a clean pillowcase every night can also help in your quest to wake up with clear skin.
While everyone will need a slightly modified routine, waking up to a clearer, calmer complexion is no impossible feat. Carefully choosing products and layering them appropriately will enable you to keep your acne away while also taking proper care of the rest of your skin.