8 Sleep Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Skin And Hair

May 27, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Beauty never sleeps. Overly dramatic? Maybe. But the truth is, long after we’ve bid the world farewell and have embarked on an eight-hour voyage to la la land, our skin and hair continue to crave TLC. Unbeknownst to many of us, we’re doing things while we sleep that are putting a serious dent in our beauty efforts (and a literal dent in our hair). All of the sunscreens, microdermabrasion sessions, and deep conditioning treatments in the world aren’t going to do you any good if you spend a large chunk of your day thwarting your beauty regimens by sleeping all wrong.

So before you turn in for the evening tonight, here are 8 common sleep mistakes that are really bad for your skin and hair; avoid them like the plague!

1. Not washing your face before bed. You’ve probably heard this since you were a teenager, but mom was right–it’s critical that you remove all makeup, dirt and grime before bed. But now that you’re older, it isn’t enough to haphazardly rub Dove soap on your face and call it a night. Commit a few minutes each evening to using your fingers to work a cleansing product onto your skin in small, circular motions. Follow up with a toner to ensure you’ve removed every trace of your BB cream or foundation. “Not cleansing your face every evening before bed is a big no no,” says Becky Sturm, founder of StormSister Spatique. “Imagine the dirt and bacteria on your pillowcase. Unless you are changing your pillowcase every day, you could be rolling your face around in days and days of bacteria, makeup, and dirt on your pillow if you’re sleeping with makeup on.”

2. Not changing your pillowcases often enough. Speaking of pillowcases, how often do yours see the inside of a washing machine? If your answer is “well, geez, I can’t remember” then it’s time to heed this beauty tip. “Sheets and pillowcases are prone to

accumulating buildup (oil, dirt and bacteria) over time, which are the primary culprit for clogged pores,” says Cecilia Wong, New York City facialist and founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. “I recommend washing or changing your pillowcases once or twice a week, especially if you are acne prone. For an extra boost, spray a sanitizing mist onto pillowcases each morning to kill bacteria.”

3. Using rough pillowcases. While we’re on the topic of pillowcases, let’s take things one step further: we know linen can be found in every discount store sales bin in the country, but for the sake of your skin and hair, you may want to splurge just a bit when it comes to pillowcases. “Long term use of rough pillowcases can cause wrinkles, the breakdown of collagen and breakouts,” Wong says. “I recommend using silk or satin pillowcases, which minimize permanent creases and compression marks on the face.” If you’re using quality overnight skincare products (which we’ll get to in a minute), silk linens like those from Restore Silk help keep your creams where you need them–on your skin! “Silk retains moisture, complementing the effects of facial moisturizers and beautifying crèmes, so they remain on your skin and not your cotton pillowcase,” says Jenelle Augustin, co-founder of Restore Silk. “Cotton also tugs at skin overnight, causing premature stretching that can turn to wrinkles down the line. Plus the high copper content in silk fibers helps reduce the appearance of fine facial lines. It’s a win-win!”

Your rough pillowcases can also have serious consequences for your hair. “Many women don’t know that your normal cotton pillowcase is rough on the hair cuticle and can cause breakage and frizz,” says Susonnah Barklow, editor at “The easiest thing you can do for beautiful hair is buy a satin pillowcase. It prevents breakage that you would get from a normal cotton pillowcase and it feels good! When I started using a satin pillowcase I definitely noticed less hair fall on my pillow. Also, my hair used to be really uneven on one side and I felt like my wavy hair was looser and in general my hair was ‘smashed’ on one side. When I switched over to a satin pillow that problem went away!”

4. Not using the right overnight skincare products. Nighttime is the right time to try an incredibly hydrating cream or mask that would otherwise leave you looking greasy during the day. “Sleep is when our body restores itself, so take advantage of those hours by applying an overnight mask,” Augustin says. “Find one for your skin type and give your face that extra boost of moisture. Plus, many are botanical based so it’s a natural way to retain fresh and soft skin.” Estée Lauder Nutritious Vitality8 Overnight Radiant Créme/Mask is so luxurious I have to hold myself back from applying it before the sun sets.

5. Sleeping on our stomachs or sides. Guilty as charged. No matter how many nights I go to bed on my back, I almost always wake up sleeping on my left side. And it could be to blame for unsightly fine lines. “Sleeping on your side or stomach can cause compression wrinkles: fine lines that form on the skin when there’s too much pressure,” Wong says. “This sleeping position can also cause loose, saggy skin and can encourage bacteria.” Another side effect of sleeping on your tummy or side is that it could be causing you to wake up with puffy eyes because those positions can cause fluid to pool, Augustin explains. “Try sleeping on your back to keep your head elevated and use an eye lift cream to minimize puffiness overnight,” she suggests. If you’re having trouble staying on your back, try using a positioning pillow and placing a pillow beneath your knees.

6. Leaving our hair loose when we sleep. Gone are the days–and good riddance to them–when women went to bed with tight rollers in their hair. But leaving your hair totally loose on your pillow, especially if you didn’t wash it that day, can transfer oil over to your pillowcase and onto your skin. Your best bet is to loosely secure your hair back with a No Crease Hair Tie or set yourself up for some seriously cute next-day Boho waves by braiding your hair before bed.

7. Not getting enough sleep. Having good sleep habits is important for our health and well-being, and also gives us luminous skin. But consistency is key and it isn’t enough to adhere to a strict bedtime schedule during the week, only to go hog wild on the weekend by going to bed late and sleeping past noon the next morning. Strive to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

8. Forming bad bedtime habits. If your motto is “one last glass of red wine and then I’ll hit the sheets,” you sound like a really fun person to hang out with, but your nightly routine isn’t helping your skin. Believe it or not, the same rule applies to drinking water. Yes, water. “Do not drink water an hour before going to bed, as it will cause puffiness in the morning, especially around the eyes,” Wong says. Another one of Wong’s best beauty bedtime tips: just breath. “Lack of oxygen translates to lackluster skin,” she says. “Most women don’t practice any breathing exercises before bedtime. Sleeping is the time for repair and rejuvenation of the body and skin. Deep breathing before sleep improves oxygen delivery to the brain, lungs, and every cell in the body.”

For more beauty tips, check out 6 lipsticks that will make your teeth look whiter and pimples 101: Everything you want to know, but are too grossed out to ask.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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