How To Clear Skin Overnight: 14 Tricks To Try

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Most of us have been there: You have a big day coming up, so you're making sure to take time to get ready for bed and set yourself up for success the next morning — when you spot an angry pimple or two forming right before going to sleep. What can you do? Treating acne overnight can feel intimidating and nearly impossible, but luckily, there are a few ways to go about doing so that are all not too difficult to achieve.


There are a lot of reasons why we get pimples, and there are just as many ways to treat them. While it might seem like the best course of action you can take is to immediately pop the pimple and be done with it, experts recommend against doing so whenever possible. Instead, try to relax.

Here are 14 ways to clear those blemishes overnight, from getting a good night's sleep to brewing a pot of green tea and much more.

1. Wash your face before you go to sleep

It might seem obvious to some, but one of the best ways to keep your skin clear overnight is by making sure you wash it before getting into bed, especially if you have been wearing make-up or spent a lot of time outside during the day. 


It's not too difficult to find a facial wash that doubles as an acne-fighting agent these days, which can even help lower the steps involved in your nighttime face care routine. Dr. Jerome Garden, who directs Chicago's Physicians Laser and Dermatology Institute, told Self Magazine that when it comes to properly washing our faces, there are two areas people tend to forget about. He explained, "Make sure to wash the T-zone and U-zone (around the jawline), as these are areas people tend to ignore."

Being gentle is the name of the game both before and after cleansing, and after you're finished washing, just make sure to slowly pat your face dry with a clean towel or simply use your clean hands to manually squeegee the water off.


2. Make your own face mask

Another way to combat active skin overnight is by making (and possibly sleeping in) your own face mask. You don't have or need to do this every night, and a lot of face mask recipes don't require you to have outrageous or hard-to-find ingredients on hand.


Making your own face mask is a great alternative for people who either don't have the funds for expensive treatments or who feel hesitant about the ingredients used in a lot of face masks you can find in stores. There are quite a few simple face masks out there (such as one that only requires baking soda and water, as shared by Our Everyday Life).

Your skin will reap different benefits depending on what you're putting into your face mask. As Penn Medicine notes, masks can hydrate, exfoliate, and more — the options are nearly endless, and you can have fun and even relax by coming up with your own acne-treating concoctions at home.

3. Apply aloe vera before going to sleep

At first glance, it might not seem like the same treatment you can use for sunburned skin will also work on your acne, but it turns out it's true. According to Healthline, aloe vera can help with mild to moderate acne by calming the inflammation, much as it soothes your skin if you've been outside without sunscreen for too long. 


The site suggests that the best way to use aloe vera for acne is to first buy pure aloe vera and then rub it all over your skin as you would a facial cleanser. If you're looking for more of a direct spot treatment, aloe vera wins again. It turns out you can apply a little bit to individual acne and leave it on overnight. When you wake up, your skin should be clearer and less inflamed. Ta-da!

Aloe vera also has a few other healing properties as well. You can use it to clean wounds and even treat moderate burns (via Healthline).

4. Retinol can also be an effective overnight treatment

Retinol is another option for acne and is effective as a treatment that is applied before you go to sleep. In fact, Healthline points out that using the treatment at night is ideal, noting that one reason is the topical medication can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun.


Byrdie spoke to dermatologist Renée Rouleau, who explained that in addition to treating acne, retinol can offer a lot of benefits to skin, including treating brown spots, sun damage, and wrinkles. Rouleau also told the outlet how the treatment works, saying, "It can stimulate the metabolism of skin cells and encourage collagen production. Its magic is in its ability to resurface the skin's texture for a smoother, more even-toned look."

Of course, retinol isn't for everyone. As Healthline notes, it can cause plenty of side effects, including dry skin and even peeling skin. It's worth checking in with your dermatologist before beginning treatment with retinol.

5. Make sure you get plenty of sleep

This is another suggestion that might feel obvious, but one of the best things you can do for your skin is to make sure you are getting tons of sleep at night. In fact, Stryx notes that skin deprivation, especially when it is chronic, can cause your face to break out because not sleeping stresses out your body, which in turn can impact your emotions and anxiety and even lead to depression. Each of these factors on its own can be enough to cause a breakout.


So what can you do to get more sleep, and especially to get quality sleep? The Mayo Clinic has a whole list of suggestions that can lead to a more blissful slumber. For starters, one of the best things we can all do to make sure we are getting great sleep is to set a schedule for ourselves, which means waking up and going to bed at the same time every day no matter what, even on the weekends. Another tip? Limit nicotine and caffeine intake, especially in the hours before bed.

6. Balance your skin with apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a ton of uses for everything from hair to our digestive systems, and according to Brides, you can also use the wonder potion to clear up acne overnight. As celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas told the wedding planning website, this kitchen go-to is great for exfoliating skin without all the side effects of chemicals.


Vargas explained that when it comes to treating inflamed skin and/or a fresh breakout, you want to use raw apple cider vinegar. "It exfoliates, balances the skin, and it also helps calm breakouts and heals them quickly," she explained (via Brides). Applying the treatment is straightforward, and Vargas suggests simply dabbing a small amount of apple cider vinegar all over your face. It's worth noting that the smell isn't for everyone, and it could prove to be too much for you (especially overnight). If you can tough it out, the results will likely be worth it.

7. Tea tree oil can also solve acne problems overnight

Another topical treatment that is a little off the beaten path: tea tree oil! Tea tree oil has origins in Australia, where Aboriginal Australians have used it to treat a variety of ailments for hundreds of years. Furthermore, recent studies have concluded that tea tree oil contains antimicrobial properties that treat inflammation such as acne (via Healthline). 


Using tea tree oil to treat acne doesn't have to be too complicated. As Healthline notes, the first step is to dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil (which doesn't clog your pores). From there, you simply dab the mixture onto a cotton pad and then dab the cotton pad onto each individual spot, let your skin dry, and go to bed. For some, tea tree oil works wonders and can be exactly the remedy needed to treat acne overnight.

8. Dab a little honey on your spots

As many of us know, sometimes problematic skin strikes when we least expect it — and when we are already home in our pajamas, getting ready to watch our favorite show. Luckily, you can turn to a common kitchen ingredient to treat unexpected acne and skin problems: honey!


Healthline points out that while honey isn't going to cure everything, it has antibacterial qualities and is also known for being able to soothe irritation when applied topically. The one key thing to keep in mind is that not just every bottle of honey will work on your skin. You want to make sure that you choose honey that is labeled raw because it will be the most natural and the most unprocessed honey out there. 

The outlet also points out that when it comes to treating acne, honey is most effective on inflamed, red spots that don't have a head. This is because honey actually pulls moisture out of the acne itself. Applying it is pretty easy: Dab a cotton swab into the honey, place it onto your spot, and repeat as needed. Use a light layer so you can sleep all night without getting honey all over your pillowcase.


9. Brew a pot of green tea to apply before you go to bed

If you're hunting around your kitchen for another easy way to treat acne, you might not have to look further than your tea drawer. It turns out that green tea is also a wonderful treatment for spots and can also be used overnight as needed. 


As Stylecraze notes, green tea offers plenty of soothing properties that make it ideal for treating stubborn spots of acne. A 2017 study in the scientific journal "Antioxidants" backs up these claims, pointing out that green tea contains antioxidant properties that can help heal moderate acne.

Healthline further points out that there are quite a few ways to use green tea for acne. You can put together your own acne mask with leaves from a tea bag, make your own facial spritz with the tea itself, or even drink green tea. The tea is energizing for some, so drinking it before bed might not be ideal for treating acne overnight.

10. Find a night cream that helps clear up acne

Like the rest of our body, our skin spends the time that we're asleep rejuvenating and restoring itself. Many of us put on moisturizer in the morning as part of our regular routine, but you might be surprised to learn that using night cream at night can do wonders for your skin, including treating your acne.


When it comes to picking a night cream, you definitely want to know your skin type. If your skin breaks out frequently, or if you're treating a spot that just showed up out of nowhere, something that is lightweight is ideal. While it's definitely a pricey option, Lancôme's Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Night Cream has review after review claiming it clears up stubborn acne overnight.

If that is a little out of your budget, Healthline recommends trying night creams that contain retinol. The ingredient is known for its ability to encourage the skin to regenerate rapidly, making it a great overnight treatment option for acne.

11. Try steaming your face at night

While there are both pros and cons of face steaming, it may be just what your skin needs to clear up. Though Caroline Robertson, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology in Chicago, tells Self, "There is a misconception that steaming the face opens your pores and unclogs them .... Our pores are fixed structures that do not open and close in response to changes in temperature," steaming can still be beneficial to your cleansing routine. Aesthetician Stephanie Diliberto tells Cleveland Clinic that steaming your face "can help soften the skin and loosen oil and buildup in your pores," making it easier for your cleanser to get out any dirt that may be hiding in your skin (even though your pores aren't necessarily more "open"). Steam your face prior to cleansing to help get the maximum efficiency out of your cleansing products. 


Facial steamers are easy enough to DIY with some hot water, a bowl, and a towel. Boil some water and pour it into a (non-plastic) bowl, then place a damp towel over your head and hold your face over the bowl. You'll want to steam for about eight to 10 minutes. If you don't have sensitive skin, you can steam up to three times per week.

12. Ice your face at the end of your skincare routine

After you've cleansed your face, we bet you want to lock in all the nourishing ingredients you're about to apply so they can work their magic overnight. To do this, give your skin a onceover with an ice roller after cleansing your face and before applying your serums before you climb in bed for some beauty rest. 


Ice rolling has numerous benefits for your face, and helping lock in the ingredients of your skincare routine is only one of them. Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta dished on some of the benefits to Healthshots, noting that while ice rolling does help lock in those skincare ingredients, it can also soothe irritation and sunburns, help with puffiness, and even promote that coveted skin glow.

If you want to start ice rolling your face in the evening (or even in the morning as a little extra wake-up call), you could buy an ice roller, but if you already have a jade or quartz face roller or gua sha tool, chill it in the fridge to achieve a similar effect.

13. A hydrating sleeping mask can work wonders

Sometimes a quick wash and rinse isn't enough to clear your skin of blemishes. Your skin may need more contact time with nourishing ingredients, in which case, a sleeping mask could work wonders for you. And no, we're not talking about the mask you pull over your eyes to block out excess light. A sleeping mask is a skincare product that will be applied to your skin before bed and slept in overnight, to let your skin fully absorb all its nourishing ingredients. 


An overnight sleeping mask may particularly work if your skin tends to be dehydrated and is overproducing oil to compensate for its dehydration. Overproduction of oil, as well as the common tight, collapsed pores that come with dehydrated skin, can lead to unsightly blemishes, which is where sleeping masks come in. A hydrating sleeping mask can help reduce your breakouts by giving your skin the hydration it's been begging for and providing a barrier between your skin and the air, letting all that moisture stay locked in. You can buy one from the store or make one with ingredients you already have. If you're going the DIY sleeping mask route, Healthline recommends a simple blended concoction of cucumber and aloe vera, which can soothe and hydrate your skin as you sleep. 


14. Don't forget to change your pillowcases

If you've tried all of the above and none of it seems to be clearing up your skin overnight, there may be a culprit hiding in plain sight — your pillowcase. When was the last time you swapped out your pillowcase for a fresh one? If your answer is a vague "I don't know," we have a news flash for you: you should probably be changing your pillowcase more often than you think. 


It makes sense when you think about it. Your face is on a pillowcase all night, as is everything on (and in) your face — skincare products, oils, and dirt, not to mention anything your long, luscious locks might have accumulated throughout the day. Dermatologist Lian Mack, MD, told InStyle that these can all build up on your pillowcase over time, putting you at a higher risk for blemishes, breakouts, and irritation. While you don't need to change your pillowcase nightly, you should grab a clean one at least weekly to keep skin issues from arising. If your skin is particularly oily and you frequently wake up to a greasy pillow, it's worth looking into the skincare benefits of a terrycloth pillowcase.