By Dawn WilderYou know it's important to get eight hours of sleep a night, but sometimes it feels like all that time could better be spent doing, well, something. Fortunately, experts say you can multitask—you can get your rest and sneak in some beauty treatments at the same time.
All it takes is a few minutes before bed, and you'll have healthier hair, hydrated skin, and whiter teeth by morning. After all, they don't call it beauty sleep for nothing.
Read on for easy, low-cost cures to common beauty problems:
Smooth rough feet and dry hands
If your feet are dry, cracked, or calloused, there's a simple trick that will fix them fast: wear cotton socks to bed. Manicurist Jin Soon Choi suggests slathering on thick moisturizer or Vaseline before pulling on an old pair of cotton socks and hitting the hay. The socks hold the moisturizer against your skin, helping it penetrate. You'll have softer feet by morning.For dry hands, Choi says to apply a rich moisturizer and then wear cotton gloves to bed. It may take some getting used to, but the results will be worth it.
Brighten stained teeth
Want a whiter smile? Reach for baking soda before bed. After you brush your teeth, simply dip your toothbrush in baking soda and brush your teeth again. "The particles polish the surface of the teeth, and, when mixed with water, baking soda helps remove stains," says New York City dentist Jonathan Levine. You can do this treatment any time during the day, but you want to wait at least an hour before eating or drinking anything, so it's ideal to whiten while you sleep. Just be sure to only do it once a week or you could damage your teeth.
You may already slather on a rich night cream and anti-wrinkle serum, but now you can take it one step further. "Sleeping masks" are the latest overnight skin care trend to come out of Asia—and we're not talking about the satin eye-pillow kind. These are skincare products you apply over your regular moisturizer right before you go to bed. Dr. Jart Water Fuse Water-Max Sleeping Mask, $52,
for example, is packed with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and elasticity-building cranberry extract. It helps keep your skin hydrated all night long, so you wake up with a face that feels just as supple as the night before.
Prevent unruly hair
If your hair is any longer than a bob, odds are that you're damaging it while you sleep. Turning over during the night causes friction, which leads to breakage and frizz. London-based hairstylist Michael Van Clark recommends switching to satin pillowcases. "The slippery surface allows your hair to glide, which minimizes damage," he explains. And if you wake up with knots, he recommends sleeping in a loose braid. "In the morning, you'll have pretty waves," he says.
Moisturize chronic all-over dry skin
To treat chronically dry skin (and help ease wrinkles), dermatologists suggest sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom. It's important in the winter when the air is generally drier, but you may need it in the summer, as well—especially if you're running the air-conditioning. "Humidifying the air can reverse the process of skin dehydration and is particularly helpful for patients with dermatitis (an itchy inflammation of the skin)," says Saint Louis dermatologist Michelle Tarbux. Just be sure to replace the water daily, and change the filter as directed—you don't want your humidifier growing mold.
Plump less-than-lush lashes
While there are plenty of pricey eyelash growth serums on the market, many experts still recommend DIY treatments you can find in your pantry. Aesthetician Gwen McGuire suggests applying castor oil to your eyelashes at night to help them grow longer and thicker. Use a clean Q-tip and dab the oil along your top lash line. You should see results in 8-12 weeks.
Repair split ends
Whether your hair feels a little crunchy from too much heat styling, or you're just overdue for a trim, you don't have to wait for your next haircut to get rid of split ends. Hairstylist Dana Boyer recommends applying Pantene Pro-V Overnight Miracle Repair Serum, $5.99,
before bed. It's a leave-in treatment that's formulated to strengthen your hair at its weakest points, and it works best when left undisturbed for a long period of time—hence the overnight use. Plus, the serum sinks in fast and isn't sticky so it won't transfer to your pillowcase.
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