Disney princesses don't typically share their get-gorgeous secrets, but here's a reveal: Sleeping Beauty was onto something. Fully rested people are perceived as more attractive, and even healthier, than their sleep-deprived counterparts, found a recent study from Sweden. "When women ask what's the one thing that will make the biggest improvement in their looks, I tell them, 'More sleep,'" says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD.
OK, so there's the quit-skimping-on-sleep sell. And then there's reality: Sometimes stress, seasonal allergies or girls' nights out conspire against our best intentions to rest up. Enter the tactics and new products experts rely on to max out the look-good benefits of your sleep.
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P.M. challenge Extended exposure to dry air from indoor heat or air-conditioning can sap moisture from skin, leaving it dry and papery in the morning. Sleep strategies Apply a few drops of facial oil before bedtime, says Los Angeles and Dallas celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau: "It acts like a bodyguard, so less moisture escapes." Try antioxidant-rich Arya Essentials Face Oil ($92; aryaessentials.com). Dr. Wechsler's go-to: a cool-mist humidifier. The new Crane SmartDrop Cool Mist Humidifier ($45; amazon.com) connects to Wi-Fi, so you can control it right from your smartphone.
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P.M. challenge Smooshing your face into a pillow leads to skin creasing. "I can look at a client and tell how she sleeps!" Rouleau says. "We naturally lose a teaspoon of collagenwhich keeps skin plumpevery year from the time we're 30," adds Montclair, N.J., dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD. That means those morning sleep lines around the eyes, nose and mouth are more likely to become permanently etched. Sleep strategies Your best bet is to sleep faceup, but if that's never going to happen, try this tactic from New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD: "Hang your face off the edge of the pillow to minimize squishing." You can boost skin elasticity by dabbing an overnight cream with water-retaining hyaluronic acid and plumping peptides onto areas that tend to crease. Try youth-boosting Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream ($20; amazon.com).
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Prevent eye puff
P.M. challenge "Swollen eyes happen because you're lying flat and gravity is working against youfluid can't drain," Dr. Wechsler says. The situation gets worse if you ate a salty dinner: Think Sushi Face. Sleep strategies Switch from an eye cream to a lighter geloils in heavier formulas can seep into eyes and create more puff, says Washington D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD. Try Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Eye Gel ($40; macys.com), which contains algae extract to boost circulation. If allergies bring on puff problems, or you ate a high-salt dinner and have a big meeting in the morning, take an oral decongestant like Claritin ($11; harmondiscount.com) at bedtime, Dr. Alster says. It will help reduce swelling and minimize redness by constricting blood vessels.
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P.M. challenge When you're stressed, cortisol levels spike, boosting oil production (and possibly pimples). You're at extra risk for zits if you've skimped on sleep, Dr. Fusco says, because that's typically when the hormone stabilizes. Sleep strategy Apply a lightweight salicylic acid serum after washing your face. It helps keep oil out of pores and speeds up skin's natural exfoliation process. Olay Fresh Effects Spot Zinger 2-in-1 Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment ($8; ulta.com) does the job without dryness or irritation.
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P.M. challenge Since lips lack oil glands, they're very susceptible to dehydration from heat and air-conditioning. Notes Dr. Wechsler, "If you breathe through your mouth at night because your nose is stuffed or for anatomical reasons, your lips are even more likely to be parched." Sleep strategy Every night, bolster moisture with a lip treatment that has ceramidesthe lipids found in skinsuch as Dr. Jart Ceramidin Lipair ($15; sephora.com). Gently run a wet toothbrush over your lips before applying, says Los Angeles celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno: "It will remove flakiness so the balm can really penetrate and soften lips."
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Score fresh roots
P.M. challenge Many of us sweat while we sleep, and there are thousands of sweat glands on the scalpthe reason why you can wake up with oily hair even if you washed it before hitting the sack. Sleep strategy For fresh hair in the morning, press dry shampoo onto your scalp with a makeup sponge before heading to bed. Try Philip B. Russian Amber Imperial Dry Shampoo ($44; nordstrom.com).
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Save the blowout
P.M. challenge No surprise here: Tossing and turning while you snooze leads to tangling and a deflated style. Sleep strategy Wind hair into two Princess Leia-style buns on the sides of your head, then secure them with fabric hair ties to avoid a dent, says Los Angeles celebrity hairstylist Jenny Cho. Come morning, unravel and tousle with your fingers for major bounce.
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P.M. challenge Curly hair is porous, meaning it has an open cuticle that allows moisture to easily escape. Add to that the friction from your pillowcase and the result is f-r-i-z-z. Sleep strategy Once or twice a week at bedtime, work a protein-packed leave-in conditioner, like René Furterer Karité Intense Overnight Leave-In ($33; amazon.com), through dry strands. Then apply a few drops of hair oil to seal in moisture from the mask.