We want to answer your most pressing questions — or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Below, a question for our UK editor, Claire Brayford...
Q. I have three boys under the age of nine and I pride myself on being able to survive on very little beauty sleep but now I am beginning to look really knackered. Is there anything I can do? Catherine, 44, Cheshire
Beauty sleep? I know, what’s that? It shouldn’t read “beauty” but “some” or “continuous” – both are so infrequent they are a luxury to be earmarked. Sleep deprivation is not just a given for mothers – it’s a badge of honour. We bond over how little we get, but as I have endured – and now begun to tolerate – less and less, I can see the effects, which is why I am making the effort to maximise every second I get. According to neuroscientists, people who sleep less than seven hours a night are causing as much damage to their body as those who smoke regularly and drink to excess. The reason we look so, well, “rough” after a broken night’s sleep is that we miss the optimum nightly peak of the anti-ageing growth hormone. Over time, the effects are akin to chronic stress. It contributes to micro-inflammation and depletion of the collagen in our skin. But it is not just all vanity. A study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that tired-looking people are perceived to be less intelligent than their well-rested peers. I’m telling you this not to make you feel even worse; I know how hard it is to get some peace as we have a five-year-old apparition who floats in during the night and then holds state in the centre of the bed while we teeter on the edge. Rather I want you to prioritise some me-time, to unwind, relax and maximize the sleep you do get. There are some truly amazing products that will, if not replace a full eight hours, work hard over the night shift to offset the visible damage of a disturbed night. As you begin the cycle of looking better, you will feel better and want to take care of yourself more and then in turn hopefully you will sleep better. Here are some products I really recommend:
SHOP: The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane, £5.80
1. The Ordinary Retinol one per cent in Squalane
Over-the-counter retinol for me is like the gold standard of skincare right now. Naturally produced by the body – it is a derivative of Vitamin A – it doesn’t feel like a scary chemical. It was originally used as an effective acne treatment but it works on wrinkles, clogged pores, deep lines, Rosacea and redness (I have all of the above!). It does this by repairing deep DNA damage by increasing skin-cell turnover and stimulating collagen, which researchers believe may preserve collagen for longer. You use it at night as it can make skin very sensitive to UV and it can also cause redness and irritation, then follow up with sun protection the next day. The Ordinary has a range of concentrations to build up your tolerance over time, I am using one per cent. It is less than £10 and is my greatest beauty discovery since finding out that Sudocrem nappy cream works on spots.
SHOP: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, £55
2. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
No advice on sleep skincare would be complete without a mention of Estee Lauder’s little bottle of peach heaven. It has been around since the 80s and is the brand’s number one anti-ageing serum. Beauty editors swear by it. (British beauty editor Alessandra Steinherr credits it as the reason she has never had any work done on her face having started using it in her 20s – to be fair she also doesn’t have children, but still). Lightweight and oil-free, the hydrating, soothing elixir is teaming with antioxidants and works well even if you have oily skin. If you haven’t already, put it on your bedside table now.
SHOP: Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel, £55
3. Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel
This is a lovely discovery that I use twice a week when I really need a pick-me-up. Containing 15 per cent glycolic acid and 0.5 per cent retinol – it is a regenerative powerhouse that you can call on when you are feeling anything but energetic. Working while you sleep, it replicates the benefits of more intense treatments such as dermal fillers and rollers by getting rid of dead skin cells with glycolic acid and fruit enzymes. Over time it will improve scarring, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne and wrinkles. I have noticed that my pores have shrunk and the little red patches disappeared – it makes me feel more rested just knowing I have it in my beauty arsenal.
SHOP: Dr Sebagh Supreme Eye Serum, £95
4. Dr Sebagh Supreme Eye Serum
When it comes to skincare post-children, sometimes you just need to pull in the big guns and spend a bit more. I always feel safe in Dr Sebagh’s hands. His Supreme Night Secret Face and Neck cream was voted the best for mature skin by Harper’s BAZAAR magazine (especially if you add in a little of the Pure Vitamin C Powder Cream). But the real weapon is his Supreme Eye Serum. The super-lightweight formula glides over the skin with a roll-on applicator – no dragging here – and absorbs straight in. It soothes, alleviates puffiness, reduces dark circles and, over time, it promises to reduce the appearance of fine lines and deeper wrinkles. I can’t testify to that yet, but it has brought me and my tired peepers no end of comfort and joy.
SHOP: Immunocologie Night Protection, £200
5. Immunocologie Night Protection
At every facial, my therapist tells me that 50 per cent of the work is done by my skincare at home. So I have spent some time finding a night cream that works like a supercharged overnight facial. Immunocologie’s founder discovered the healing properties of French green clay while she was recovering from cancer. It spurred her on to create this cocooning cream that has become a real favourite. It has the lightest aromatherapy scent, is wonderfully rich but quick to absorb – you gently pat rather than rub it in. It stimulates collagen and boosts elasticity, undoing all the damage I’ve done that day. I found it made my skin feel stronger and more resilient and look more even. It’s a wonderful pot of TLC.
6. Chanel Le Lift Anti-Wrinkle Skin Recovery Sleep Mask
If Chanel did sleep in a bottle…this is the lightweight, satin mask the brand describes as akin to slipping into your favourite silk pyjamas. Super intensive, it contains Chanel’s exclusive ingredient, 3.5-DA, which targets specific ageing factors and restores skin’s firmness. My experience is that it is intensely hydrating – the gel formula means that the nutrients are gradually absorbed overnight – so that my skin feels much more plumped, dense and luminous as my little girl shouts “Mama, get me up!” from her cot. It promises to reverse the impact of central heating, pollution and sub-zero temperatures. I use it two to three times a week. Maybe it’s just that Chanel always makes me feel special, but it is a lovely way to relax and unwind. Image: Helene Sandberg