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Sleeping Beauty: Sleep Your Way to Better Skin and Hair

Imagine that you could wake up with prettier skin and hair. Well, you're not dreaming! A little bit of prep before lights-out will get you glowing by morning.

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J. Ryan Roberts
Vichy Aqualia Antiox Anti-Fatigue Ice Effect Eye Stick
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
Bryan McCay
J. Ryan Roberts
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Sleep's Beauty-Boosting Benefits

Active women, rejoice: Even while you're snoozing, you're getting plenty accomplished. Slumber is nature's most powerful beauty treatment. Not only do the optimal seven to nine hours a night leave you looking luminous, but also many hair, face, and body products are most effective overnight because they penetrate better when you're at rest. Spend more time in bed and wake up to these benefits.

A Radiant Complexion
Skimp on shut-eye and your skin will look dull. "When you're tired, blood doesn't flow efficiently," says Michael Breus, MD, author of Beauty Sleep. As you snooze, your body churns out human growth hormone -- a crucial ingredient for collagen production. All this below-the-surface metabolic activity, however, helps cause skin to lose about 25 percent more water overnight than it does during the day, says Howard Murad, MD, author of The Water Secret. Prevent moisture loss by applying a cream with skin-sealing dimethicone. Try Lancome Genifique Repair Youth Activating Night Cream ($95, lancome-usa.com).

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Wide-Awake Eyes

The reason you're stuck hauling overnight bags on your a.m. commute: When you're horizontal all night, fluid can pool beneath your eyes. To prevent this, skip salty foods after lunch and stick to one glass of wine at dinner; sodium and alcohol encourage swelling, says Neil Sadick, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Before bed, dab on a gel with caffeine, which temporarily tightens skin. We like Vichy Aqualia Antiox Anti-Fatigue Ice Effect Eye Stick ($28, vichyusa.com).

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Smooth Skin

You know recovery is just as key as working out when it comes to keeping your body toned; the same goes for your skin. Overnight, skin cells regenerate and facial muscles that create lines relax, says Rubin Naiman, PhD, a sleep specialist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. To enhance the benefits, dermatologists suggest applying products with anti-aging ingredients like glycolic acid, such as Anew Rejuvenate Glycolic Overnight Facial ($30, avon.com).

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Soft Feet

To banish calluses, brush over them with a natural-bristle brush, says Tammy Fender, an aesthetician in West Palm Beach, Florida. Then use a foot cream that contains lactic acid or urea; both exfoliate dead skin, says Jessica Wu, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles. If your feet are flaky, layer on a shea butter cream, like Manicure/Pedicure by O.P.I. Royal Verbena Mask ($12.95, ulta.com), and put on socks.

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Luscious Lips

Swipe on a rich balm, such as vitamin-packed Sally Hansen Overnight Lip Recovery ($9.95, drugstores), before bed and it'll have hours to sink in; for even softer results, exfoliate your lips first using a wet washcloth. Another insider secret: Dab eye cream on your pout. "These contain hydrating ingredients formulated for delicate skin," says Fiona Stiles, a makeup artist in Los Angeles.

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Shiny Strands

If your hair is dry, detangle your 'do before bed with your fingers and apply a moisturizing serum, such as John Frieda Frizz-Ease Creme Serum Overnight Repair Formula ($9.99, drugstores). Sleep on a silk pillowcase. "Cotton can exacerbate frizz," explains Sarah Potempa, an Aussie stylist in New York City.

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Pretty Hands

Frequent washing can leave skin parched. Undo the damage by using a cream rich in glycerin, like Nivea Smooth Indulgence Hand Cream ($5.99, amazon.com). If you have sun spots, fade them with a product that contains niacinamide, such as Olay Pro-X Discoloration Fighting Concentrate ($42, drugstores).

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Bronzed Legs

Hop out of bed with gorgeous gams by doing a p.m. self-tanning session. Prep rough zones by rubbing in body lotion. Then apply tanner a half hour before you go to sleep. For the most goof-proof application, try a fast-drying aerosol formula, like L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist ($10.49, drugstores).

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What Happens While You Sleep

For the healthiest skin, you need seven to nine hours of zzz's. Here's why.

First Three Hours
You get the deepest sleep of the night. Your body produces the most human growth hormone, which is crucial to skin and hair repair, during this time

Middle Two Hours
Deep sleep shortens and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep begins. Melatonin, a hormone that's also a skin-protecting antioxidant, increases.

Last Three Hours
This is when you get the most REM sleep. Your skin's temperature reaches its lowest point and your muscles relax, giving skin its deepest recovery.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2010.

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