Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Get more handsome in your sleep just by tweaking your nighttime skincare routine

Here's your 3-step routine for true beauty sleep

Man sleeping soundly in a white T-shirt
Gpoint Studio / Canva Pro

You’ve likely heard terms like “beauty sleep” and “sleeping beauty.” Putting aside the Disney character for a moment, people usually use these terms to describe the idea that going to bed earlier enhances your appearance. It turns out that this concept may not be an old wives’ tale.

You’ve likely heard about the importance of sleep for reducing risks of poor heart health, obesity, and depression. However, more z’s may have you loving your look when you look at that mirror on the wall. A small 2017 study of adults ages 18 to 65 found that just two nights of sleep restriction could reduce attractiveness. 

In addition to the basic act of hitting the hay at a reasonable hour, there are other ways to get more handsome in your sleep. Here’s how to optimize your nighttime skincare routine so you, too, can become a true sleeping beauty.

a man sleeping on white bedding
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sleep and skin: What the science says

Sleep is mentally and physically restorative, and that includes benefits for the skin. A 2015 study found that poor sleep reduced the skin barrier’s function and was linked to signs of aging, such as dark under-eye circles. Another study showed that people who got less sleep were more likely to have red, swollen eyes, paler skin, and dark undereye circles. 

Why is this? Your skin uses the time you’re asleep to rebuild itself, including regenerating skin cells more quickly than it does during the day. In other words, if better heart health and overall well-being weren’t reasons enough to get the CDC-recommended seven or more hours of sleep every night, consider skincare your excuse to call it a night.

Man looking at skincare products in bed
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What to try to achieve better skin while you sleep

The skincare aisle alone can be overwhelming. Allow us to narrow down your nighttime skincare regimen.

Avoid long, too-hot showers or baths

A warm pre-bed bath between 104 and 108.5 degrees Fahrenheit can benefit your sleep quality, according to a 2019 meta-analysis. However, consider your skin’s health when choosing a temperature. Doctors prefer “lukewarm” showers that don’t exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The good news? That’s in the range recommended for improved sleep quality. Limit showers to five to 15 minutes, particularly if you have psoriasis. Overly long or hot showers can dry out, irritate, and burn the skin, causing further damage.

Use these key skincare ingredients

The best ingredients for your nighttime skincare routine will depend on your unique body and grooming goals. A few commonly recommended ones:

  • Retinol or retinoids. These vitamin A derivatives are proven to reduce signs of acne and aging. Retinols are typically available over the counter, but most retinoids are prescription-strength. Sometimes they can cause added sun sensitivity, something you have to worry less about after a nighttime application. (Always use prescription products at times as directed by a doctor.)
  • Hyaluronic acid. This ingredient is having a moment in 2022 that will likely continue. According to research, hyaluronic acid helps moisturize the skin and reduces wrinkles

Build (and keep!) a nighttime routine for better skin

Your pre-bed skincare regimen doesn’t need to be rocket science. Essentially, it should look similar to your morning routine. 

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser using lukewarm water. Gentle is the keyword here. You shouldn’t feel like you’re stripping your face. Pat your face dry after washing — no rubbing!
  • Apply any retinol treatment. This step goes next if it applies to you. These products tend to cause irritation and dryness, so it’s essential to use them before moisturizing.
  • Moisturize. Use a moisturizer that you love. It should make your skin feel soft, smooth, and not oily. Many moisturizers have SPF, which isn’t necessary at night but won’t hurt. Some moisturizers are specifically marked for nighttime. It’s not necessary to choose one unless you find it works for you — it’s OK to experiment.

As a bonus, having a routine at night can also enhance sleep.

Use a silk pillowcase

Silk pillowcases may feel overly luxe and high-maintenance, but hear us out. Cotton pillowcases can roughen up the face during the night. It can irritate sensitive skin, cause creases, and exacerbate conditions like eczema. A smoother surface goes easier on the skin. Go ahead and treat yourself. You’ll thank us — and yourself in the mirror — in the morning. Whatever fabric you choose, be sure to wash your pillowcases every couple of days — or daily if you have acne or oily skin.

A man applying skincare products in the bathroom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Should you perform a nighttime skincare routine every night?

Performing a nighttime skincare routine every night is generally recommended by dermatologists, but it can depend on your individual needs and lifestyle. Here’s why a nighttime routine each evening is beneficial.


Throughout the day, your skin accumulates dirt, oil, sweat, and makeup (if you wear it). Removing these impurities every night allows your skin to breathe and prevents clogged pores and breakouts.

Repair and rejuvenation

As mentioned earlier, while you sleep, your skin undergoes a natural repair process. A nighttime routine that  you do regularly provides essential ingredients to support this process, promoting cell turnover and collagen production.


Nighttime air can be drier, so using a moisturizer every night helps prevent dryness and maintain a healthy skin barrier.

Targeted treatments

Many skincare products, like serums and retinols, are more effective when used at night as they can be more sensitive to sunlight.

Putting on skincare product
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Final thoughts

Beauty sleep is not just a cutesy term. Research shows that your overall appearance, particularly the skin, can improve with more sleep. The skin replenishes and rebuilds during the nighttime hours, giving you one more reason to follow CDC guidelines and get at least seven hours of sleep. Taking lukewarm showers or baths in water no hotter than 105 degrees Fahrenheit can prevent dryness and damage. Keep showers to 15 minutes or less for the same reasons.

Your nighttime skincare routine will look similar to your daytime one, but you don’t need SPF. A gentle cleanser, retinol as applicable, and a moisturizer will do. It’s not necessary to get a specific night cream, but you may find you like it. Finally, when you’re ready to hit the hay, aim for a silk pillowcase. They don’t just feel luxurious — they can prevent irritation and creases as you rest.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
At-home spa: Make your own exfoliating face mask with ingredients from your kitchen
Recipes to create your own skincare products from an expert
Man wearing a clay mask

Ever leaf through a women’s magazine and see shots of an otherwise gorgeous model with her hair wrapped in a towel, some creamy goo obscuring her otherwise magnificent features, and cucumbers concealing those $100,000 eyes? Often, the article is about creating skin treatments at home, especially face masks, using everything from avocados to turmeric and vinegar.

Although these straight-from-the-pantry fixes have always been in a woman’s toolbox, they haven’t gotten quite as much attention from men’s sources. What? Like guys don’t have kitchens? (I know I left mine around here somewhere.) In these days of DIY madness, being able to whip up a quick fix for your face can not only make you feel better, but it’s also downright neighborly: That’s one less package that an essential delivery person has to bring from a warehouse to your front door.

Read more
Keep your lips moist and smooth with the 11 best lip balms for men
No more cracked and dry lips with these products
A man putting on lip balm

Whether it's scorching hot or freezing cold outside, it's essential not to neglect a necessary step of your grooming routine: Your chapped lips. It's quite normal that direct exposure to the sun causes our skin -- especially our kissers -- to become dry. That's why we put together the best lip balms for men packed with oils, acids, SPF, and all the crucial ingredients your lips need to thrive this season and beyond.

Try these top products
Below are our favorite lip balms to get ultra-hydrating lips. These choices are the best lip balms for dry lips and for chapped lips and to keep them moist.

Read more
A dermatologist explains the best winter skincare routine
How to keep skin moisturized during cold weather
Man applying face cream.

As winter approaches, scarves, hats, warm coats, and gloves get pulled out of storage, and piles of winter boots start lining the front door instead of flip-flops and running shoes. Knowing how to keep skin moisturized is important in any season, but especially during the winter months. Getting out the door in the morning clad to face the elements becomes a laborious process of bundling up and protecting every inch of exposed skin from chilling winter winds and frigid air.
However, sometimes, no matter how meticulous you are at covering your skin from the cold, dry, winter air, you can still find your skin feeling itchy, dry, and chapped in the winter. As much as your clothing has to change with the seasons, your skincare routine may need an overhaul in the winter to keep it as supple, soft, smooth, and hydrated as it is in milder seasons.
Many men deal with excessively dry skin in the wintertime, but this doesn’t have to be a given. With a good moisturizing routine and the right skincare products, you can get through even the chilliest and driest winter months with healthy, nourished, soft skin. To help make this the winter your skin doesn’t flake and has an enviable, hydrated glow, we spoke with Dr. Rebecca Bialas, MD, MPH, the Co-Founder of CLARA Dermatology. She filled us in on all the best winter skin care tips for men to help keep your skin moisturized during cold weather.

Why does skin get dry in the winter?
Dry skin in the winter doesn’t just refer to the skin on your face, body, and hands. Bialas said that many men also deal with chapped and dry lips and flaky scalps (seborrheic dermatitis) in the winter. “In winter, the colder air and indoor heating both reduce the amount of moisture in the air, so our skin tends to dry out more quickly,” she said.

Read more