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The Night Shift: Nighttime Skin Care Expands Beyond Antiaging

As consumers embrace a multifaceted approach to wellness and beauty, sales of sleep-oriented products are soaring.

Beauty marketers are waking up to the potential of helping people get some shut-eye.

While a restful night has always been a prescription for looking good, a slew of new products promising everything from healthier skin overnight to help in falling asleep are waking up skin-care sales.

No wonder. Sleep is the new hot commodity, according to Deborah Weinswig, managing director of Fung Global Retail & Technology, who cited BCC Research forecasting the global market for sleep aid products will hit $77 billion in 2019. The Centers for Disease Control said 35 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep, which has a clear impact on their appearance, experts said. Research reveals if you regularly sleep less than six hours a night, you might not live as long.

“As recently as 10 years ago, not sleeping eight hours per night was considered a status symbol associated with power players and overachievers in business and life,” said Dr. Anna Persaud, chief executive officer of This Works, which bills itself as 24-hour skin care with a lineup ranging from overnight detox clay masks to pillow sprays to encourage slumber. “But with technology keeping us always plugged in, more and more people are suffering from burn-out and recognizing that sleep is not only the new luxury, but a physiological necessity.”

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Persaud said the brand’s sleep items are its bestsellers: “Simply put, better sleep equals better skin,” she said.

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Of course, nighttime products are not new. Thirty-six years ago, Estée Lauder ushered in the concept of circadian rhythm and overnight beauty with its Night Repair Cellular Complex. While that’s still a stalwart of the industry, the new breed of products working the night shift includes masks (both sheet and creams), serums, oils and sprays, with benefits ranging from radiance to relaxation. At Influenster, the product reviewer platform, Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil is the third most “buzzed-about” face oil, a segment that comprises 70 percent of all conversation generated by the night cream category.

As is true in so many beauty categories, Millennials are driving the interest in new formats. “Night creams are their mothers’ and grandmothers’ products, while sleeping masks are the time-saving, practical and customizable modern replacement,” said Ingrid Jackel, ceo of Yes To Inc. “They are the new bedtime ritual, a new skin-care must-have.” Yes To has four sleeping masks and will roll out a new Superblueberries Recharging Greek Yogurt & Probiotics Sleeping Mask in a full-size tube, with a built-in brush applicator, early this year.

Penny Coy, vice president of merchandising at Ulta Beauty, said the retailer is also tracking the category. “We’ve seen that Millennials are expert multitaskers, so it comes as no surprise that this generation of beauty enthusiasts approach their nighttime beauty regime with a multitasking mind-set,” she said, singling out significant growth in sleep masks including Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask, Algenist Splash Replenishing Sleep Pack, Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker Overnight and Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream.

Nordstrom will make sleep solutions part of its Well Beauty outposts in 38 stores, with a brand lineup that includes Slip and Aromatherapy Associates.

Statistics from The NPD Group bear out the growing interest in snooze solutions. According to beauty analyst Larisa Jensen, while the total skin-care category is growing at about 7 percent year-to-date, overnight products are up 11 percent and represent about $200 million [in prestige sales].

Although that figure is a small slice of the $3.8 billion skin-care market, marketers believe there is great potential. Restful sleep is a component of the overall macro trend of wellness, which is having a significant impact on beauty. “Beauty enthusiasts are increasingly recognizing the importance of treating our bodies to maintain a balanced well-being — including diet and sleep,” said Coy.

Looking to rewrite the rules of nighttime regimens with modern and well-priced options, Stephanie Kim created Moonlit Skincare, whose lineup includes its hero product, Midnight Shift Overnight Facial Oil, along with silk pillowcases and eye masks. A sleep spray and overnight spot treatment are in the pipeline.

“It’s called beauty sleep for a reason,” quipped Kim, who said stages three and four of deep sleep are when human growth hormone is released. “This is vital in repairing and rebuilding body tissues, collagen and cells. Studies show up to 70 percent of all HgH is released during sleep,” she continued. “Without these essential hormones, acne, sagging skin, wrinkles, dark circles, dryness and tiredness are all more pronounced.” Kim added that technology is enabling people to better track their sleep. “Now, with a quick download, we are able to view how many REM cycles we’ve had last night by glancing at our wrists.”

​The beauty-while-you-sleep concept stretches beyond skin care. Supplement marketers are launching ingestibles that claim to boost sleep. Direct-to-consumer marketer As Seen on TV hit a chord with consumers looking to save time by styling their tresses while they snooze with a product called Sleep Styler. Dana Kreutzer, analyst for Kline & Co., noted an uptick in bloggers promoting do-it-yourself overnight coconut masks for hair.

According to Jensen at NPD, home fragrances such as diffusers and pillow sprays are growing at double digits. That’s supported by popularity of This Works’ pillow spray success and projects like Joya’s lavender-scented Naptime candle, created in conjunction with Brooklyn artist Camilla Engstrom. There is even an oral-care contender claiming it helps send users to the land of nod called Supersmile Professional Teeth Whitening Toothpaste with Jasmine Green. At Ulta Beauty, Coy said the success of overnight skin treatments is driving innovation in the hair-care, body and tanning categories as well.

Do all claims of products that work overnight hold up to science? “Some of it is rubbish,” said Dr. Mark Gray, a New Zealand-based clinical dermatologist who is using experience in his 21 skin clinics to launch a line called Ao Skincare into the U.S. But he’s quick to acknowledge there “is logic” and valid reasons to use particular products at night. That’s one reason he includes a Repair Night Moisturizer in his lineup.

Stress is frequently mentioned as a driver for the extra benefits of using night products. “People are under stress given the state of the world, the fast-moving tech business and more,” said Juice Beauty founder Karen Behnke. “Our skin is stressed and it needs help at night while our body is rejuvenating and getting the necessary recharge it needs to have healthy hormone levels.”

A great deal of tension can be traced back to the usage of mobile phones and devices and the impact of blue light. Persaud at This Works reported that 68 percent of Americans own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011, and that 95 percent of us use an electronic device within an hour of bedtime. “That has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns,” she said, noting This Works presented research showing its pillow spray helped users get better sleep. For example, the company said 90 percent of those studied felt the product aided and improved the quality of their sleep.

The lure of multitasking — getting a beauty boost while sleeping — is also driving demand. “Customers are very receptive to the ease of simply applying a sleep treatment before bed and waking up to results, versus waiting 10 to 20 minutes to wash or peel off a typical mask,” said Christine Chang, cofounder of Glow Recipe, whose Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask is a bestseller on its site.

Proof of potential is exhibited by big mass brands joining the sleep brigade. Unilever is serving up sleep in a jar with a launch of a Sleeping Cream as part of its new Water Boost range, while Johnson & Johnson has a Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Jelly Eye Sheet Mask.

While not commenting on whether you can slather on a cream and wake up dewy, Dr. Elaine K. Hicks, a New York-based psychotherapist, lends a medical expert’s approval of aromatherapy to facilitate a good night’s sleep. “With all of the stress today, using lavender and other fragrances can help get the rest a body needs,” she said. “And that’s a beautiful thing.”