Close your eyes and wake up with refreshed skin - it's the new beauty promise. It's also sound old wives' advice, given that a decent night's sleep invariably perks up our appearance, but taking the idea of rest and recovery a step further is a new wave of skin products.
We're not talking just rich moisture-boosting night creams here, the likes of which have been around for a century, or even more recent anti-ageing serums promising regenerative wonders, but rather products said to tap into a growing pool of knowledge of when skin is most receptive to repair.
These products may well be intensely hydrating or packed with antioxidants, but what sets them apart is they are designed taking into account new research on the timing of how skin functions. During the day the focus of skincare is on protection, by night it turns to rejuvenation.
The launch last year of the latest version of Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair was backgrounded with a wealth of information about "clock genes". These recently identified genes within skin cells help maximise cellular DNA repair based on the body's natural circadian cycle. Over time and with exposure to environmental stresses, they get out of synchronisation, which further slows skin repair and protection processes.
Skincare scientists working for cosmetic companies are increasingly focusing on how to harness this knowledge with timely support, the idea being that the more in sync our cells are the better our natural repair processes will work.
They are looking at the likes of using specific enzymes to bolster skin cells in their fight against external aggressors and the best ways and times to deliver these. And, yes, sleep itself does matter, because a regular pattern and eight hours' worth optimises repair opportunities.
On a simpler level, more products are also being developed specifically appropriate to the time of their application. This ranges from overnight masks for those needing added hydration, to lighter lotions with a mild exfoliating action for those whose skin needs a different form of refreshment.
What this skincare has in common is the belief that night time really is the right time to get your beauty sleep.
La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask $440
This silky treatment is formulated to combine the concentration of a mask with the restorative benefits of a night cream. Brush on before bedtime once or more a week and the melting cream will go to work while your skin is in its receptive resting state. Uses caviar extract said to firm and lift along with sunflower seed oil to replenish skin's moisture levels and papaya extract for a gentle exfoliating enzymatic action.
Lancome Absolue Nuit Precious Cells $373
Lush but not heavy cream that supports skin restoration overnight using knowledge gained from skin stem cell research. Tackles the usual signs of ageing for a more radiant and rested looking complexion. Contains Pro-Xylane, a Lancome developed ingredient based on sugar protein that is now in wider use, but not usually in such gold-plated style. It is said to support the cushioning and moisture retention of the extra-cellular matrix and replenishing molecules.
Le Weekend de Chanel $178
Chanel takes the concept of timed skincare a step further with its Le Weekend renewing complex, part of the Essentials resynchronisation trio which also includes reactivating Le Jour and recharging Le Nuit serum-style formulas. With disrupted sleep patterns common, the range has been designed to help put skin back into its ideal cycle and achieve a more even and luminous look.
It can be used routinely, with the change of seasons, or whenever you need a pep up. Le Weekend is a rosewater light leave-on mask with glycolics to provide slow-release exfoliation and hydration. Apply to cleansed skin as a weekly purification at a time when skin can be kept bare.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye $110
Following on from the new generation version of ANR for the face comes this eye gel serum, with the same synchronised recovery complex, but with added ingredients to target signs of ageing around the eye area, including a repair enzyme known to combat so-called Alkylation damage caused by toxins such as smoke and pollution.
This enzyme occurs naturally in the skin, but gets used up, so supplementing it offers the chance to prevent damage becoming irreversible. An anti-irritant blend of antioxidants and hyaluronic acid are also in the mix support the delicate eye area.
Stockists: Selected department stores, plus selected pharmacies. La Prairie exclusive to Smith & Caughey's in Auckland.