Fitting in any sort of beauty or skincare routine when you’ve got a house to clean, kids to entertain, mouths to feed and work to do is near-on impossible. So often, when to-do lists become overwhelming, the first person to suffer is us as we put our needs at the bottom of the pile.
Here at mamabella, our mission is to save you time as well as money. We know, all too well, that the struggle is real but we’re also huge advocates of making sure we look after ourselves and our skin, for our own mental health more than anything! (You can read more about why this matters so much to us on our About page.)
If you’re in the same boat as us, but you simply don’t have time – or headspace – to factor any sort of skincare routine into your daily life, why not factor it in while you sleep!?
Before we get into the list of our favourite overnight beauty treatments, it’s worth explaining how sleep plays such a vital role in how your hair and skin looks and feels.
Research has shown that even one night of disturbed sleep can have an impact on how you look – from causing hanging eye lids, to red and swollen eyes, pale skin and an increase in wrinkles and fine lines. What’s more, a separate study found that we’re less likely to want to interact with people who look tired or are sleep-deprived.
This is because sleep is when your skin – particularly the epidermis – repairs itself. “During sleep the blood flow to the skin increases, repairing damage from sun and pollution exposure and rebuilds collagen,” Dr Catherine Hood, a sexual and women’s health specialist, told mamabella.
“Sleep also delivers replenishing fluid to all areas of the body that need it including the eyes and lips, while removing excess fluid from other areas like under the eyes (the fluid that causes eye bags),” Dr Hood continued.
Without the chance to replenish properly – which is only really possible by achieving seven to eight hours of regular sleep – your skin ages faster because it doesn’t recover as well from the environmental pollutants of the day.
There’s also a bigger issue. Poor sleep leads to stress and vice versa. Stress then leads to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol which can impact the skin’s quality through increasing inflammation and by destabilising the immune system. This can make skin problems like acne and eczema worse.
Whether it’s tackling dry skin, making your hair look shiny or softening your feet, we’ve handpicked a range of products that are designed to be applied before bed or can be used during both the day and night.
Just lie down and let these overnight hair masks, face masks, creams, serums and foot treatments work their magic. We’ve also listed a product at the end of this article that can help you get to sleep.
As conditioning treatments that can be applied and left to do their magic, hair masks tend to target those with particularly dry or frizzy hair but that doesn’t mean they won’t improve the texture of other hair types. Here is our pick of the best overnight hair masks.
£15.90 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: While it’s not the cheapest hair mask out there, Coco & Eve’s Like A Virgin mask uses argan oil, coconut oil, and shea butter to make your hair super soft, and we love it.
It’s not technically marketed as an overnight product, and leaving it on for just ten minutes will make a difference, but the makers say the longer the better, and recommend using it overnight for people with particularly dry hair.
Just like most hair masks, the longer you leave it in, the greater the effect it will have. The £15.90 price is for a 60ml pot. You can also buy a 120ml pot for £34.90.
FURTHER READING: Best hair masks for all hair types
£3.46 | Buy now from Superdrug
Why we love it: For those looking for a hair mask on a budget, we highly recommend Garnier’s coconut oil treatment. Just like Coco & Eve’s pricier alternative, this mask uses coconut oil, but it also contains macadamia, almond, soybean, sunflower and jojoba oils. It can be used as a regular conditioner, a leave-in conditioner or left overnight as a masque and it does not break the bank, which is why we love it. It’s also vegan.
FURTHER READING: Best conditioner for all hair types
Of course, once you apply a hair mask you then run the risk of sleeping on a soggy pillow, not to mention getting product all over your clean bedding. This is where hair wraps come in. These hair wraps aren’t just for use overnight, they can be used to dry your hair faster and more gently than regular towels, or simply protect it from the elements.
£19.90 | Buy now from Amazon
Why we love it: If you can stretch to spending a little more, you can get the Coco & Eve Like A Virgin hair mask with a brush and the brand’s Microfibre Hair Towel Wrap for £39.90. If you don’t want the mask and brush, but do want a way to protect your hair – and your pillowcase – while you sleep, you can buy the hair wrap for £19.90 on its own. You can then use it with any hair mask you want.
Either when used overnight, or after a shower, the Coco & Eve hair wrap helps to combat frizz and fly-aways. Its microfibre design helps absorb more water from your hair, which means it dries more quickly and gently than with a regular towel.
£50 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: Silke London sells a collection of slip-on silk wraps and turbans, designed to shield your hair throughout the night. The pure silk design conditions and protects your hair strands from the friction that typically takes place with standard cotton bedding as you toss and turn in your sleep. What’s more, as we sleep, our body goes into “recovery mode” and it’s when the majority of our cells regenerate.
FURTHER READING: How to make hair grow faster
For hair, this means that the majority of its anagen, or growing phase, takes place at a time when it’s being rubbed and pushed around on our pillowcase. The Silke wrap protects hair during this vital stage meaning regular wearers will start to see an improvement in length and thickness, as well as an improvement in condition as the silk helps to distribute oils evenly along each hair shaft.
These wraps do not come cheap, but they’re available in a variety of beautiful colours too, we love The Poppy and The Dita, a stunning pink and orange and do as promised.
£11 | Buy now from Amazon
Why we love it: If you don’t want to invest in a hair wrap, how about opting for a silk pillowcase instead? The theory behind silk pillowcases is that they help prevent wrinkles because they have a smoother surface for your face to lie on. They are also said to draw less moisture from your hair because they have less of a porous texture than traditional cotton pillowcases.
They’re cheaper than hair wraps, too, averaging at around £12. Our go-to is the Jasmine Silk range available from Amazon, however, John Lewis also sells a range of silk pillowcases for around £45. The cheaper, Jasmine Silk range comes in seven colours – white, ivory, blue, pink, burgundy, lavender and taupe – while the John Lewis Ultimate Silk Pillow comes in 12 colours. Both pillowcases will fit standard pillow shapes and sizes.
FURTHER READING: Best anti-ageing cream
There is a wide range of overnight facial treatments – from pillowcases to creams, masks and serums. Some are designed to be worn as you sleep, while others are daytime masks that can be worn overnight.
Why we love it: This overnight moisturising mask’s texture is more like a gel than its creamy appearance would suggest, but once it’s on our skin we love how it feels. It is great for sensitive and dry skin, with vitamin E and wheatgerm oil. Use it overnight once or twice a week for a hydration boost.
FURTHER READING: Best face mask
£38 | Buy now from Tropic
It contains plant ceramides, to plump and rejuvenate skin, improve elasticity and reduce the signs of ageing, bio-retinol, to stimulate the production of collagen, as well as shea nilotica butter blended with pomegranate sterols and jojoba esters to moisturise deep into the skin.
Although it seems highly expensive, especially given how small the pot is, you only need to use a tiny amount each night so this little wonder pot will last a long time. We’ve had ours for a couple of months are have hardly made a dent in it.
FURTHER READING: Why we love Tropic Skincare so much
£26 | Buy now from Pixi
Why we love it: This gel uses glycolic acid to exfoliate but also has cucumber and aloe vera extracts to calm skin, with vitamins A, C & E to nourish. You can read more about why these ingredients are so great for skin in our guide to the acids in your skincare, but as a word of warning, glycolic acid can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Make sure you use SPF products at all times, even when it’s grey and miserable outside, but particularly when glycolic acid is part of your routine. You can learn more about why this is so important in our What is SPF? explainer.
FURTHER READING: The truth about the acids in your skincare
£6.48 | Buy now from Superdrug
Why we love it: We love Superdrug’s B. Skincare range because it caters to all ages and abilities, it’s affordable, vegan and cruelty-free. Like all of the B. Skincare range, its night cream comes in different ‘phases’:
£26.00 | Buy now from The Body Shop
Why we love it: A second entry in this list for The Body Shop, but when it comes to overnight treatments, the brand really knows what it’s talking about. For anyone worried about signs of ageing, this overnight treatment is worth a try. Both a gel and a cream, the mask moulds to your skin to work its magic as you sleep. It contains cells from the edelweiss plant, which is sought after because it grows in harsh environments so has adapted natural protection from UV rays and pollution.
FURTHER READING: What is SPF and why is it so important?
No matter how much we moisturise our feet, we feel like we’re just treading water rather than making any in-roads in curing our cracked heels. The best results we get are from overnight treatments where the moisturisers have time to do their stuff.
£2.75 | Buy now from Avon
Why we love it: At this price, you can’t really go wrong. Avon’s overnight foot treatment is designed to work while you rest to soften the tough skin on your feet, while the lavender scent will help you sleep. You can also pair this with Avon’s moisturising socks, which cost £5 a pair, to increase the benefits. Less than £8 for an in-depth foot treatment is the kind of product we at mamabella live for!
£11 | Buy now from Amazon
Why we love it: Jasmine Silk gets another shout out in this list because we absolutely love the feel of its silk moisturising socks. The socks themselves aren’t moisturising, per se. Instead, they’re designed to turn your usual foot cream into an overnight treatment by locking in moisture as you sleep. You could do similar with a regular pair of socks, but the cotton would soon absorb the cream and negate the effect somewhat.
In addition to these overnight foot treatments, we’re also big fans of Footner socks. They act like a peel for your feet and your dry skin sheds around a week after use. It sounds grim, and isn’t a catch-all solution, but it’s incredibly satisfying and softens the outer layers to help you moisturise the inner. They aren’t suitable for overnight use, but we wanted to flag them up as a complementary treatment.
Of course, if you’ve got young children or are trying to fit everything in around working from home, it’s not quite as simple as “get more sleep.”
The added stress of lockdown, alone, can cause your brain to keep you aware and on high alert.
To improve sleep and beat stress it might be worth trying a quality, seed-to-shelf CBD oil supplement. You can read more about the many benefits of CBD – and the science of how it works – in our What is CBD? guide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised that CBD may have the potential to help with sleep issues and there has been evidence that shows CBD has a calming effect in the central nervous system. Elsewhere, two systematic reviews of scientific literature has suggested a benefit for CBD in anxiety.
Similarly, a case study published in 2019, looking at 103 patients with anxiety and sleeping problems, found after the first month of using CBD oil, 79.2% reported decreased anxiety and 66.7% slept better. It is important to note this is a small study, and the clinical evidence for CBD reducing anxiety or improving sleep is still a little limited.
That said, if you want to give it a go, Dragonfly CBD is one option. It doesn’t contain THC – the compound in cannabis associated with getting you high – and unlike topical CBD oils, DragonflyCBD is available over the counter as a food supplement.
It’s available in orange, mint, anise, and cinnamon and while a small bottle is not cheap – £44! – you only need to use a tiny amount so this should last you a while.
Abigail is a leading science journalist writing about space, sustainability, technology and culture. She is author of The Art of Urban Astronomy, a must-have guide to the night sky that guides you through the seasons and learn about the brightest stars and constellations, the myths and legends of astronomy and how to identify star clusters and galaxies.