How to Avoid Lines and Wrinkles While You Sleep, According to the Pros

How to Avoid Lines and Wrinkles While You Sleep, According to the Pros featured image
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When it comes to aging gracefully, we often focus on diet, exercise and skin-care routines. But there’s another key factor that plays a significant role in how our skin ages—sleep. We spend about a third of our lives asleep and the way we sleep can have a profound impact on our skin’s health and appearance. The pressure we put on our faces during sleep, the materials we choose for our pillows and bedding and even our regimen before bed can all influence the formation of lines and wrinkles.

Featured Experts

  • Edward S. Kwak, MD is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in New York
  • Michael Horn, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Chicago
  • Daniel Schlessinger, MD is a board-certified dermatologist in Omaha, NE
  • Heidi Waldorf, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York
  • Elina Fedotova, MD is a cosmetic chemist and celebrity aesthetician
  • James Beckman, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Chicago

Why Sleep Position Matters

New York facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edward S. Kwak emphasizes the importance of sleep position for skin health. “Over time, when sleeping on one particular side of the face for an average of six to nine hours a night, it can affect skin volume,” he says. “Sleeping on one’s side may lead to changes in fat distribution in the face and can develop deeper wrinkles, especially along the nasolabial folds or cheeks.” 

New York dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf adds that side sleepers might also experience skin folds due to the pressure on their faces from pillows. “Pressure on any area for a prolonged time can reduce circulation. That won’t make a huge difference for most people, but for those with a tendency to retain fluids, it can lead to swelling in downward-facing areas, especially around the eyes.”

Be Consistent with Your Routine

According to cosmetic chemist and celebrity esthetician Elina Fedotova, your nighttime skin-care routine plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. “Make sure you cleanse your skin and never sleep with makeup on,” she advises. “It is essential to cleanse your skin in the morning, but the most critical time is at night. After cleansing, use a treatment product and then a hydrating cream with sunblock. The best results come from sunblock based on zinc oxide.” 

Fedotova highlights that treating different areas of the face with specific products is key. “Most of us have a combination complexion, so make sure you are addressing each area of your face with the correct treatment product,” she says.

Use Sleep Gear to Reduce Friction

To minimize the impact of sleep on your skin, the right sleep gear is essential. Sleep pillows can help avoid wrinkles by providing support and reducing pressure and friction on the face during sleep. The design and materials used in these specialized pillows can mitigate the factors that contribute to wrinkle formation. 

Dr. Waldorf says don’t just invest in a good pillow, also think about the pillowcase. Pillowcases made of rough or abrasive materials, like cotton, can cause friction against the skin. This friction can lead to skin irritation, creases, and eventually wrinkles. Opting for smoother materials like silk or satin can reduce this friction and help prevent wrinkles. 

“For neck and head support without putting pressure on the face, I recommend pillows that cradle the head, like the enVy Copper + Silk Proactive-Aging Pillow ($219),” she suggests. “Look for pillowcases that reduce friction between the face and the cloth. I love my Slip Silk Pillowcase ($89)—it doesn’t feel cold or wet like the old silk cases and doesn’t pill with washing and drying.”

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Avoid Bad Sleep Habits

Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Horn warns against the TikTok trend of using face tape, a practice using tape to “freeze” the face during sleep. “Using tape to keep muscles in place can do more harm than good,” he warns. “It can damage the skin barrier when you take it off, cause redness, irritation and even acne breakouts. Using tape also trains your facial muscles to work harder, potentially accelerating the formation of the fine lines and wrinkles you were hoping to avoid.”

Dr. Horn instead recommends sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher, adjusting your skin-care routine and even neurotoxin injections for those seeking to reduce wrinkles. “Including a retinoid in your daily routine can improve cellular turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines,” he adds.

Avoid Sleeping in Dry Conditions

Sleeping in a dry room or an environment with low humidity can lead to skin dehydration, making it more prone to wrinkles. Dry air can strip your skin of its natural moisture, exacerbating issues like flakiness and itchiness. “As humidity levels drop, our skin has a harder time retaining moisture, leading to increased dryness and discomfort,” explains Omaha, NE dermatologist Daniel Schlessinger, MD. Consider using a humidifier in your bedroom, especially during dry winter months or in regions with low humidity. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to incorporate hydrating products like night creams into repertoire. Dr. Schlessinger suggests using humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which draw moisture from the environment into the skin. “These ingredients work synergistically with occlusive agents, such as phospholipids and fatty acids, which create a protective barrier on the skin to seal in moisture. This can reduce the risk of dehydration-induced wrinkles,” he notes.

Additional Tips for Youthful Skin

Nighttime is a great time to show some TLC to your hands and feet says Chicago plastic surgeon James Beckman, MD.  He recommends using an extreme dry cream for overnight repair. “It might feel greasy at first, but the excess will absorb completely within a few minutes,” he says. For best results, wear thin cotton gloves or socks to lock in moisture while you sleep. With consistent use, “in about four to five days, your skin should be as good as new.” This simple routine can help keep your hands as soft and supple as your skin.

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