What is your skin clock?
I’m sure you’ve all heard of your 24 hour biological clock before. It’s sometimes referred to as your circadian rhythm, and is greatly influenced by the effects of light and dark, helping to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. However, although much is now known about this 24 hour clock, scientists are still trying to grasp the full extent of its influence, giving birth to a new field of biology known as ‘chronobiology.’1
What exactly does this 24 hour clock have to do with your skin? Well, scientists are now starting to realise that your skin cells may also operate to its own internal 24 hour clock, performing different functions at different times of the day to help your skin protect and repair itself from any potential harm. Here, I’m going to take a more in depth look at how this skin clock operates and how you can use this information to help improve your skin hygiene routine and overall skin health!
What does your skin get up to at night?
If you read my blog, ‘Is beauty sleep real?’ then you’ll already be aware that your skin gets a surprising amount of work done while you sleep. During the night cell mitosis, the process by which skin cells rejuvenate and repair your skin through cell vision, accelerates and reaches its peak, usually by midnight.2
You also have to consider that your body naturally produces more collagen, a key protein for your skin, during this time too and that your brain is working to detox your entire body! However, this night time phase isn’t without its drawbacks.
While you sleep, your body won’t be producing as much sebum oil, which can mean your skin loses moisture and becomes drier. This could be why many eczema and psoriasis sufferers seem to find that their symptoms get worse at night. It’s also worth noting too, that your skin can become more prone to inflammation at night as the temperature of your skin rises and your levels of blood cortisol decrease.
How can you support your skin at night?
When it comes to your night-time skin routine, it’s really important that you focus on a moisturiser or cream that’s full of antioxidants and nutrients, especially if you have ageing skin. Water-based creams would be preferable as oil-based creams and oils (even skin-boosting oils like rosehip!) can interrupt your skin’s regenerative processes. Since your skin can be more sensitive to inflammation and prone to dryness, it’s pivotal you opt for a product that’s as natural as possible – for me, a biodynamic product like Dr Hauschka’s Night Serum ticks all the boxes – not only is it 100% natural and oil-free, it contains extracts of apple blossom so it’s incredibly rich in vitamin C!
How can you look after your skin first thing in the morning?
When you wake up first thing in the morning, your skin will probably feel drier as it will have lost a lot of moisture during the night and, as those regenerative processes that were taking place at night slow down, your skin can become more vulnerable to irritants, allergens and UV radiation.
However, many people also notice that their skin looks its best in the morning and a large of part of that is due to all the repair work that has taken place, and the fact that later on in the morning, your body temperature gradually increases.
How can you support your skin first thing in the morning?
Early morning is the time to take protective measures with your skin – establishing a good skin routine here can set you up for the day. Try to cleanse to remove any impurities that may have gathered on your skin during the night and make sure you moisturise to help your skin regain some hydration. If you suffer from a dry skin condition like eczema, our Neem Cream would be a good choice or, if you veer more towards the oily end of the spectrum, you could try our soothing Echinacea Cream. If you’re going out and about in the sun, it’s also vital that you protect your skin using suncream. As I discuss in my blog, ‘How safe is your suncream?’ many high street suncreams contain harsh chemicals that can easily irritate your skin so I’d definitely recommend investing in a natural suncream like Green People’s Facial Suncream SPF30.
Do any other changes take place during the day?
As the day progresses, you may notice some changes occurring with your skin. Your sebaceous glands start to produce more oil from around midday onwards, peaking at around 3pm, which can cause your skin to appear shinier, especially if you have oily or acne-prone skin. As other bodily functions fluctuate, such as your blood pressure and hormones, it can also impact your skin, sometimes making blemishes and wrinkles more visible. Your skin will also still be very susceptible to irritation and UV radiation, so don’t be afraid to reapply that sun cream!
How can you support your skin during the day?
The best thing you can do for your skin during the day is to make sure it’s protected and still has all the nutrients it needs. Environmental factors that you expose yourself too, such as air conditioning or central heating, can take a toll so don’t be afraid to reapply formulas such as suncream or touch up with moisturiser. If you plan on using make-up, around 3pm is generally considered a good time to apply more, especially if you have oily skin. However, it’s important that you don’t go overboard and that you try to choose cosmetic products that won’t harm or upset your skin. Our friends over at Jan de Vries offer an amazing range of natural, organic and cruelty-free make-up products you can peruse, including award-winning brands such as Inika, Pacifica and Dr Hauschka!
What do you do in the early evening?
This particular phase of your skin clock is all about preparing yourself for sleep. As the evening winds on, your skin will become more focused on entering that regenerating phase again so you may experience a boost in your microcirculation or you may even notice that your pain thresholds rises!
Establishing a good skincare routine at night time is just as important as the routines you may have built up in the morning, especially since your skin can become more permeable, meaning that once again allergens and irritants may find it easier to trigger a flare-up.
How can you support your skin in the evening?
When it comes to caring for your skin in the evening, there are a number of steps you can take. It might be a good idea to exfoliate in the early evening as your microcirculation becomes more active – dry skin brushing is one method of exfoliation that may work well here. Of course, choosing the right exfoliating cream can be tricky, especially if you suffer from very dry or very oily skin. I personally recommend Sukin’s Oil Balancing Pore Refining Facial Scrub for those with oily skin that’s prone to breakouts but, if you tend to have drier, more sensitive skin you may wish to try Green People’s Organic Fruit Scrub. It’s also absolutely essential that you cleanse your skin before going to bed – sleeping with your make-up on may make you more prone to outbreaks and spots! And, as we discussed earlier, finish your night time regime by moisturising with an intensive, but water-based night cream.