How sleep affects your skin

For most of human history, we slept during the night and were active throughout the day, however the industrial and digital revolutions have had a profound impact on our daily routines and sleeping patterns. Shift work, jet lag and increased screen time are among the many factors now negatively impacting sleep quality.

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It comes as no surprise that more and more of us are not getting the recommended 7-9 hours every night: we recently surveyed our customer database and 80% reported a negative impact on sleep over the past year*. Yet sleep remains as important as ever if our mind and bodies are to function well. But how does sleep affect our skin?

* Survey of 264 participants from www.kiehls.co.uk email database, conducted January 2021.

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Why is a good night’s sleep important?

There’s a reason we spend around one-third of our lives asleep – it’s essential for good health. Scientists have found that sleep benefits the body in a number of ways, including improving heart health, allowing cells to repair and grow, supporting healthy brain function, regulating emotions and even controlling the hormones that make us feel hungry – and our skin is no different.

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While our skin works hard during the day to protect us from external aggressors like the sun and pollution, during the night our body clock, internal daily processes known as our circadian rhythm, goes into recovery mode. This cycle coordinates its recovery processes to address signs of aging which become more noticeable during the day. This process also promotes regeneration of skin cells and is crucial for the recovery from oxidative and barrier stress. Our hectic, always-on lifestyles, featuring countless cups of coffee, hours of screen time per day (normally lasting well into the evening) and a lack time spent outdoors, can disrupt our circadian rhythm and the quality of deep sleep we’re getting. Without the right recovery time, we can be left with visibly dull, uneven and dry skin by morning.

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What happens to our skin overnight?

68% of our customers notice a change in their skin following a bad night’s sleep**. Taking a closer look at our skin’s circadian rhythm reveals why this may be the case. Sleep plays a pivotal role in ensuring a healthy skin barrier function. Sleep is important for maintaining the skin’s protective surface lipid layer, which is responsible for night-time repair. The vital lipid layer ensures optimal barrier function & hydration for efficient recovery from damage accumulated during the day.

The vast majority of water loss through skin barrier (TEWL – trans epidermal water loss) occurs at night-time, leaving skin’s barrier unstable and vulnerable overnight. When sleep is disrupted, skin sebum levels at night are depleted and the barrier becomes compromised, creating sub-optimal skin repair (increased TEWL) and recovery conditions. As a result, skin is incompletely repaired by morning, and daily damage accumulates. This leaves skin dry, dull, roughly textured, with visible fine lines in the morning. Over time, these effects can evolve into early skin ageing signs.

** Survey of 97 participants from www.kiehls.co.uk email database, conducted January 2021.

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What Kiehl’s skincare experts recommend

While we can’t help with daily exercise, your caffeine intake or your sleep hygiene, let us make your skin concerns one less thing to worry about. Dr. Meghan O’Brien, Kiehl’s Global Consulting Dermatologist, says: “I tell my patients to create a sleep schedule they can stick to – consistency is key! Engage in good ‘sleep hygiene’ and create a relaxing night-time routine that includes your skincare regimen.”

Take your evening skincare routine to the next level with our replenishing night-time facial oil; Midnight Recovery Concentrate. In new clinical testing, our cult classic facial oil is now proven to help visibly correct the appearance of skin damage caused by 30 days of poor sleep***. For the first time, Kiehl’s chemists have uncovered the biological impact of lack of sleep on skin through an innovative sleep study to assess the acute effects of sleep deprivation on skin. The study demonstrated measurable improvements with the nightly use of MRC improving all sleep-related signs of ageing, including an improvement in the look of radiance and texture and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines.

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Clinical Test Results 3:
- Radiance Boosted Up to +13%
- Texture Improved Up To +27%
- Fine Lines Reduced by Up To -14%

It is no wonder that it’s the UK’s #1 Luxury Anti-Ageing Facial Oil****.

***Results based on expert grading in a four-week clinical study on 52 sleep deprived panellists
****Source: The NPD Group Inc.® UK, Prestige Skincare, Anti-aging Facial Oil Franchises, 52 w/e 26/12/2020, value sales. Email: customer-care-uk@loreal.com to verify.

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