Your body has a clock. It knows when it’s time to eat, sleep and even ovulate. Well, it turns out, not only is your body keeping time, but your skin is too. New findings in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have found that your skin is on a pretty tight time schedule that’s responsible for how it repairs itself.
Your skin is an active and passive barrier against the outside world, says scientists from the study. And through their research they have found that skin adapts to time-dependent conditions such as sunlight, frost, heat and moisture. Analysis of numerous genes in cell samples from test participants showed that important factors for the regeneration and repair of skin cells are controlled by your biological clock. And the job of that biological clock is to regulate the skin functions like cell division, cell differentiation and DNA repair.
So when is the skin most susceptible to repair? At night. It’s when you are sleeping that the skin is hard at work reversing the damage inflicted on it during the day (like from the sun and pollutants). “The circadian rhythm of skin has been studied, and sleep is essential for skin renewal and proper skin function, says Great Neck, NY, dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD.
“Our body and its organs rejuvenate most rapidly between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. That’s why your nighttime skincare regime is so important, as this is when your skin best absorbs all of the good stuff while it is resting,” adds aesthetician Nerida Joy.
In fact, some skin-care ingredients should only be used at night. “Retinol is the most abundant form of vitamin A and should only be used at night since it is unstable in sunlight,” says Dr. Graf.
Antioxidants, which protect against oxidative damage by seeking out and absorbing free radicals, should also be used in the nighttime. “It’s best to use a cocktail of antioxidants at night (and during the day) since they all perform different functions,” says El Segundo, CA, dermatologist Howard Murad, MD.
But remember, just because you can fight the skin’s aging process at night, doesn’t mean you get to neglect it during the day-applying SPF and antioxidants during the day is important too.
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