I can’t drift off without going through all the motions of my skin-care routine. It’s partially because I care about waking up, well, without mascara smears running down my cheeks, and it’s partially because working through the steps helps me to mentally prepare to start dozing off. So when I started noticing more and more serums and moisturizers incorporating melatonin—an ingredient I’d only known for its ability to induce z’s—into their formulas, I was quite intrigued. Could these products improve my sleep?
The answer is yes, but not in the way you’re thinking. Studies have shown that topically applied melatonin doesn’t affect cognitive function. (Read: It’s not going to make you feel loopy.) But there’s still good reason to incorporate it into your nighttime rituals. Beauty sleep, it turns out, is a very real thing.
When you add topical melatonin to the melatonin your body produces when you doze off, it stimulates a strong antioxidant effect that repairs your skin against UV damage, which can manifest as wrinkles or hyperpigmentation. “This discovery was so exciting to me,” explains Kendra Butler, founder of natural skin-care brand Alypn Beauty. “And the process is heightened at night, when the skin is already in its natural repair process.”
To gain these full benefits, you’ll want to first make sure you are getting enough shut-eye: Poor sleep has been linked to greater levels of skin aging and a decreased ability to recover from sun exposure (but you already know to wear sunscreen, right?). Get a good night of slumber and you’ll see the results in your complexion overtime. Add a little extra melatonin to the mix—applied to your face and neck—and you’ll reap even greater benefits. These three options will have you resting easy, with the knowledge that you’ll wake up looking (and feeling) fresh-faced.
The Simple Serum
Perfect for a multilayered routine, this serum glides on and absorbs quickly. In addition to melatonin, it also includes hyaluronic acid to give skin an extra boost of moisture.
The Calming Cream
Attention, CBD fans: This moisturizer includes hemp-derived cannabis sativa seed oil, which can combat acne; colloidal oatmeal, which soothes irritation; and, of course, melatonin. In a rich formula that doesn’t pill when layered with other products, that’s a winning combo.
The Mild Mask
When you feel like your skin needs a little extra care but you don’t want to pile on a ton of moisturizers or serums, this mask is a great option. Formulated with melatonin and bakuchiol (a natural alternative to retinol that supports cell turnover), it’s a savior for improving skin texture but oh so gentle to apply.