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A dermatologist approved guide to your best beauty sleep ever.

If I don’t wash my face tonight, it won’t kill me is something every woman has thought as she collapses into bed after a particularly long, taxing day. While it definitely won’t kill you, regularly neglecting a proper nighttime ritual will eventually catch up to you. The sooner you develop a steadfast routine, the better your skin will look and feel. Not only will it keep your complexion youthful, but it will also become a way to help you relax and unwind before slipping between the sheets. We talked with dermatologist, Dr. Allison Arthur, about the proper skincare steps you should take before hitting the hay.

Step One: Remove Makeup

Since you were old enough to wear makeup, your mama has always told you to never go to bed with a full face on. She’s right: It’s key to preventing eye irritation. “If you consistently go to sleep without washing your face, you're letting the makeup, sweat, excess oil, and environmental pollutants that have accumulated throughout the day sit on your skin for many hours. This can lead to irritation and clogging of the pores, which can cause acne,” explains Dr. Arthur. Keep a pack of makeup removing wipes like Simple’s Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes on your end table for those nights you accidentally doze off before taking off your mascara.

Step Two: Cleanse

Washing your face is crucial to removing the grime that’s built up on your face over the day. Simply choose a cleanser based on your skin’s needs, massage it in with lukewarm water and rinse. Also don’t forget to exfoliate twice a week: It’s important because it removes dead skin cells, keeping skin smooth. You can do this by applying your favorite face wash to a cleansing brush, like a Clarisonic, or by washing with a gentle scrub. Make a point to avoid any formulas with walnut particles or microbeads since they can damage the skin’s surface.

Step Three: Treat

After cleansing, apply a collagen-boosting treatment like SkinMedica’s TNS Recovery Complex that helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture. “Our skin naturally has growth factors (proteins that help with collagen production), but these levels decline with time,” explains Dr. Arthur. “This is why I like to apply a topical treatment with topical growth factors that trick my skin into thinking it’s still twenty-five.” Another way to protect against aging is by applying a pea-sized amount of retinol all over skin two to three times a week. “It’s a vitamin-A derived product that effects cell turnover, helps prevent pores from clogging, and stimulates collagen,” says Dr. Arthur. For first time retinol users, Dr. Arthur suggests easing it into your routine since it can make skin dry, flaky and pink. With time your skin gets used to it and these side effects diminish, leaving behind a smooth, glowing complexion.

Step Four: Moisturize

Lock everything in place with hydrating moisturizer. A formula with hyaluronic acid is always a great bet since it draws water into the skin, keeping it plump and nourished.

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Step Five: Remember Your Eyes

The eyes are more sensitive than the rest of the skin on your face, so it’s important to apply a cream specially targeting this area. “I like using an eye cream that has hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin (and make fine lines less noticeable), and caffeine to help alleviate puffiness,” says Dr. Arthur. Use your ring finger to gently apply it underneath your eyes. This is also the time to apply an eyelash serum. As you age, your lashes tend to decline in thickness and length, so Dr. Arthur suggests talking to your dermatologist about Latisse to fill out your fringe.

Step Six: Apply The Finishing Touches

Once your face is ready to hit the pillow, use a bit of Vaseline and Aquaphor on lips and cuticles for added nourishment. Then after setting your alarm and turning off the lights, apply a hand cream as the final step of your overnight glam routine (this prevents you from getting sticky fingerprints everywhere) and get ready to channel your inner Sleeping Beauty.