We were told that the secret to waking up with effortlessly beautiful skin was a good night’s sleep. I guess they left out the part about sleep wrinkles. Because my sleep wrinkles are the first thing I see in the mirror when I wake up. And the amount of effort I put into smoothing them out drains all that energy I got from that sleep. So back to square 1, I guess! The good news is even though prevention is a lot easier than treatment, there are still ways to get rid of sleep wrinkles.
Before diving in though, there’s something I’d like you to keep in mind throughout this article. Don’t freak out about sleep wrinkles you get every now and then. They’re normal.
A healthier attitude is learning about what makes them permanent and avoiding them. And that’s what this article is about.
Using your common sense, you can see that when we take a closer look at things that age us, there’s an obvious pattern. And that is repetition.
Repetition is the sneaky element. Think about going out without sunscreen for a day as opposed to not using sunscreen for 10 years.
Think about eating junk food every now and then as opposed to doing that as a habit. It’s the same thing with sleep wrinkles; sleeping on your side a couple of times as opposed to sleeping on your side for years and years.
Repetition is the common denominator for the things that age our skin. So keep reading to find out about sleep wrinkles, what causes them so you can avoid them, and how to get rid of them if you already have them.
What Are Sleep Wrinkles?
Sleep wrinkles form when you sleep on your side or on your stomach, which results in pressure against your face showing in the form of creases and folds (1).
Also called pillow wrinkles or sleep lines, these wrinkles are visible right when you wake up and they disappear after a while on the same day. Sleep wrinkles are reinforced every time you sleep on your face and they can become permanent.
How Do You Get Sleep Wrinkles?
As we age, our skin becomes more prone to sleep wrinkles. And there’s a legit reason behind that. As we age, our skin loses elasticity. The definition of elasticity is “the skin’s ability to stretch and snap back to its original shape” (2).
Think of chewing gum. When you expand it, it snaps back into place and pulls together. But when you stretch it and thin it out, it doesn’t bounce back properly and it even breaks off sometimes.
That’s what happens on young skin versus aging skin. And that’s why sleep wrinkles disappear easily after waking up on young skin but they linger on aging skin.
Similarly, the skin tends to get thin as you age, which worsens the look of all types of wrinkles as well as sleep wrinkles.
What’s the Difference Between Sleep Wrinkles and Expression Wrinkles?
There are 3 major differences between sleep wrinkles and expression wrinkles; cause, location, and shape.
First of all, the cause of expression wrinkles is excessive muscle contraction whereas the cause of sleep wrinkles is pressure against the sleep surface. So one is internal whereas the other one is external.
Secondly, the location of expression wrinkles is on the forehead, around the eyes, and around the mouth, whereas sleep wrinkles are at the end of each of these facial muscles; perpendicular to expression lines.
And lastly, the shape of expression wrinkles is usually horizontal whereas the shape of sleep wrinkles is usually vertical.
An easy way to locate the area of sleep wrinkles is by putting your hand on the side of your face to mimic your sleeping position. Gently apply pressure against the side of your face and see the vertical lines that appear.
Below is a brief illustration of the location of expression wrinkles versus sleep wrinkles.
How to Get Rid of SleepWrinkles?
Below are 5 ways to get rid of sleep wrinkles.
1. Sleep for no wrinkles.
Let’s get this out of the way. It’s in your control to sleep for no wrinkles. And it’s by paying attention to your sleeping position (3). The ideal sleeping position to avoid sleep wrinkles is sleeping on your back.
Don’t sleep on your side or on your stomach. Don’t sleep on your hand either. Sleeping on your back is the absolute best way to treat and prevent sleep wrinkles.
2. Change your pillow.
If you can’t sleep on your back, which may be uncomfortable when you’re not used to it, then change your pillow.
Remember that we keep changing positions during sleep. So even if you sleep on your back, there’s a good chance you’ll end up sleeping on your face without knowing it.
There are anti-aging pillows or specialty pillows that are shaped to avoid pressuring your face during your sleep even if you sleep on your side.
3. Change your sleeping gear.
Similarly, you can try silk pillowcases or silk sleeping masks that are way gentler on the face. They don’t rub against your face or cause creasing. They help a lot with preventing sleep lines on the cheeks, around the forehead, and eyes.
Sleep wrinkles are all about pressure against your face and anything that reduces the compression will also help with pillow lines.
4. Put on a silicone patch.
Silicone patches on their own are great for plumping the skin and smoothing out wrinkles. Unlike other eye masks, they’re usually leave-on products that can stay on your skin overnight. Even though most of them are for expression wrinkles, they’re big in size and can cover sleep wrinkles as well.
Silicone patches are a great way to prevent sleep wrinkles and reduce their appearance. Plus, when you have them on, you’re going to want to sleep on your back to prevent them from slipping or falling off.
5. Focus on anti-aging skincare.
Even though sleep wrinkles are different than other wrinkles, you can modify your skincare routine to reduce their appearance. Once you stop sleeping on your face, you can start focusing on improving your skin’s health.
We mentioned that the skin is more prone to sleep wrinkles because of the lack of elasticity. So you can try getting that back. When anti-aging is concerned, retinol is one of the most effective ingredients.
By using a retinol serum or cream, you can regulate your cell turnover rate, increase collagen production, and improve your skin texture.
Retinol will help with your overall skin texture and tone. After that, focus on maintaining that. Use SPF regularly, cleanse, and moisturize.
Does Botox Work on Sleep Wrinkles?
No, Botox or other wrinkle relaxers do not work on sleep wrinkles. Because Botox works on expression lines, which are the result of excessive muscle contraction.
There are different types of wrinkles and sleep wrinkles have nothing to do with muscle movement but everything to do with external pressure on your face during sleep.
If you have permanent sleep wrinkles and you’re considering non-surgical treatments to get rid of them, dermal fillers are your best bet. However, my opinion from my personal experience with the two procedures is that fillers need more caution.
Think about it. These are multiple lines all over the face. Compared to Botox, fillers are much more topical. Filling in these individual lines is going to be expensive. Plus, fillers have more potential side effects than Botox injections (4).
And statistically speaking, more areas of injection equal more potential for dissatisfaction. You’re likely to end up not liking some of the lines that are filled in.
Before considering fillers, make sure you check all the boxes, meaning that you stop sleeping on your face and establish a proper skincare routine.
Instead of focusing on local wrinkles, consider other in-office treatments like lasers and chemical peels, which will improve your overall appearance as well as the look of sleep wrinkles.
- Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, Michael A.C. Kane, MD, Val Lambros, MD, FACS, Sleep Wrinkles: Facial Aging and Facial Distortion During Sleep, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 36, Issue 8, September 2016, Pages 931–940, https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjw074
- Whelan, C. (2019, August 29). Skin Elasticity: 13 Ways to Improve It. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/skin-elasticity
- Poljsak, B., Godic, A., Lampe, T., & Dahmane, R. (2012). The influence of the sleeping on the formation of facial wrinkles. Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology, 14(3), 133–138. https://doi.org/10.3109/14764172.2012.685563
- Cherney, K. (2018, June 16). What’s the Difference Between Botox and Dermal Fillers? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/botox-vs-fillers#side-effects
Read Next: Does Argireline Really Work Like Botox?