The proof’s in that poor sleep ages skin faster – thankfully a bumped up version of Estée Lauder’s trusty nighttime serum softens the blow, says Emma Hill

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One or two bad nights, let alone weeks of sleeplessness, render the skin a pale, wan, grey version of its peachy perky self. Such is life. But until now, sleep quality and its effect on how fast skin ages hasn’t, it would appear, been clinically proven.  A case of rubbing salt into an old wound?

Not if you are Estée Lauder, which today launches a souped up version of its iconic night serum with Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II.  The company teamed up with the UH Case Medical Centre in Cleveland, Ohio, a world class clinical and research centre to find out just how far lack of sleep affects how the skin both functions and looks.

The idea was to see if lack of sleep made the skin less able to recover from ageing environmental stress like UV exposure and sunburn.  The skin’s inbuilt repair processes set themselves in motion at night. So the question was, did lack of a good night’s sleep get in the way? They also wanted to find out whether those who lacked sleep were more dissatisfied with how their skin looked – in other words, did skin look worse enough to bother them? The answer might seem obvious, however a good friend of mine suffers from recurring bouts of insomnia and has peachier, smoother skin than many of my well rested pals.

To cut the five-week story short: of the 60 women aged between 30 and 49 selected for the trial, half had to have slept poorly (for less than five hours of poor quality sleep a night) for a month before the study began, and half well (more than seven hours of sound sleep a night). Then over the course of a week their skin was evaluated for responses to UV light exposure (controlled sunburn), and water loss (they used a technique called tape stripping to gently disrupt the skin’s barrier, to then see how quickly it got back to normal).

The clinicians found that skin recovered more slowly from sunburn and had a 30% greater rate of water loss 72 hours after barrier disruption (skin needs a healthy level of moisture to function effectively) in those that had had poor levels of sleep.  They also found that uneven pigmentation, lines and loss of elasticity appeared twice as great for those who slept badly, than for those who slept well. Good timing for the arrival of Advanced Night Repair mark II, you might say.

Advanced Night Repair (or ANR for those in the know) was developed to help skin to repair at night and became a runaway beauty hit. Estee Lauder sold the equivalent of nine a minute last year and you’re more than likely to find a bottle of this trusty little skin pep in most beauty editors’ beauty cabinet – and it’ll be running on empty.

Lauder scientists found that the skin’s repair processes are synchronised or timetabled by genes, but more specifically clock genes, and with age, these clock genes become out of sync, or more erratic with their time keeping. As a result, skin repair is compromised, and there’s the ripple effect which leads to older looking skin. They have now found that skin detoxification peaks at night, also vital for skin repair.

So, like its first incarnation, ANR II helps get the skin’s night repair mechanism back in sync. The big difference to the new version is that it now also helps the skin detoxify – to rid skin of impurities and aid with renewal. Does it work? 83% of women felt their skin looked fresher and more rested. It may not be the poor sleeper’s path to slumbering riches, but for the skin, it’s a darned good start and we say a very good reason to go to bed early.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, £48 for 30ml goes on counter nationwide today and is also available at

Words: Emma Hill