I can remember the exact moment I realised I’d started to visibly age.
It was December 2010 (yeah, I really wasn’t joking when I said “the exact moment”), and Terry and I were having a little pre-Christmas break in Tenerife. One morning I woke up with a deep line down one side of my forehead – one of those sleep lines you get from spending too much time with your face awkwardly squished into the pillow as you sleep. Now, this was nothing unusual: I always sleep on my left side (and have a nose-to-mouth line on that side – and only on that side – too: needless to say, it’s not my BEST side…), and I’d occasionally wake up after a particularly deep sleep with one of these lines, which always disappeared by the time I got in the shower.
This one, however? This one didn’t disappear. We had breakfast in the hotel, then headed out to our hire car to go and explore the island: as I got into the car, however, I happened to catch my reflection in the window – and couldn’t help but notice that I now looked a lot like Harry Potter, with a large, jagged “scar” cutting into my forehead. Damn.
It was still there when we got back to the hotel that afternoon, and although it did fade quite a bit over the following few days, the remains of it were still there when I got home two weeks later – by which point I’d realised that the Harry Potter look was probably there to stay, and that, after years of having to show ID to buy a bottle of wine, and being asked by door-to-door salesmen ask me if my mum was at home, the ageing process had finally caught up with me. I had literally aged overnight. And, I mean, I’d always suspected this would be the case for me – that I’d go from looking much younger than my years to looking way, WAY older – but I just wasn’t prepared for it to happen YET. I would NOT go gently into that good night, I decided, so I started to frantically search for solutions to my problem, and, well, there WERE none.
OK, that’s not quite right. The bad news was that the Harry Potter line probably WAS here to stay: your skin loses elasticity as you get older, and I’d obviously reached the stage where my skin wasn’t going to just bounce back from a night spent scrunched into my pillow. The good news, however, was that I could take steps to stop it getting any worse – and to prevent any more of these sleep lines from appearing – and so I started to work my way through the various suggestions I found. Here are some of the things I tried to get rid of sleep lines – or, rather, to prevent them forming in the first place…
Sleep on your back
When you sleep on your back, your face doesn’t get “smooshed” by your pillow and you don’t wake up with sleep lines. Which is all well and good, but I’ve always slept on my side, and I find it absolutely impossible to train myself to sleep any other way, for any length of time. Even if I do manage to drift off on my back, at some point during the night, I’ll move onto my side with a blissful sigh of relief – and wake up the next morning with a jagged scar on my forehead. FAIL.
Frownies, for the uninitiated, are little cardboard-like patches which you stick on your face at night to smooth out the lines, and keep them smooth all night, so you wake up to smooth, unlined skin. These DID prevent my existing line from re-appearing every night – instead, though, I’d wake up with NEW lines: these ones formed by my skin creasing around the edge of the Frownies themselves, as I smooshed my face into the pillow. FAIL.
The Save My Face Pillow. is a croissant-shaped pillow which prevents sleep lines by basically suspending your face between the two edges of the “croissant”. It DOES work – but only if you can managed to keep your face in exactly the right position, all night long. You can guess how that works out, can’t you? And, I mean, it’s actually easier than you’d think: I’ve been using this for a couple of years now, and most of the time it works. Other times, though, I wake up with the pillow under my chin and and a deep line on my forehead- and any time I forget to use it, I have the best night’s sleep ever, so take from that what you will.
This is a genius little product which acts almost like a face mask: you apply a thin layer to your skin, and it tightens and lifts it, smoothing out lines and leaving you looking like either a younger version of yourself. No, seriously, I’m not joking about this: it’s THAT good, and it really smooths out the wrinkles – so much so that when I first bought it, I made every member of my family try it, and we all walked around for a few hours looking like scary clones or something. There’s one drawback, however, and it’s a big ‘un: although the product is awesome at tightening the skin (albeit temporarily – when you wash it off, your face will go back to normal, and you’ll get to see yourself age instantly: pretty freaky, really), it’s really hard to apply – or, at least, it is for me – and has a tendency to leave a white residue on the skin. That’s a bit of a deal-breaker, really, so although it’s designed to be worn during the day, I quickly switched to only using it at night, on my forehead. I find that because it keeps the skin fairly tight, I’m less likely to wake up with sleep lines, although it’s not foolproof. It’s also not cheap, unfortunately, so you might want to ask for a sample first, if you’re thinking of trying it.
Silk pillowcases are supposedly good for skin, because the slippery fabric allows your skin to just “glide” off it, rather than getting all mushed up against it. On silk, unlike on cotton, your face won’t scrunch up, and it won’t crease – or so the theory goes, anyway. What’s more, silk also contains natural proteins which are apparently good for the skin and hair, making them softer, smoother, and, in the case of hair, less likely to tangle and break. I was sent one of Gingerlily’s Beauty Box pillowcases to try last year, and I’ve been using it ever since: it does make a big difference to my skin, and I’m much less likely to wake up with lines than I was using my previous pillowcases. There were still, however, the odd mornings where I’d once again wake up looking like the Boy Wizard, which brings me to my final secret weapon in the fight against sleep lines…
A feather pillow
For years I’d used memory foam or fibre filled pillows, without giving it much of a second thought. After spending Christmas at my parents’ place, however, Terry and I both noticed that the feather pillows on our bed there were much more comfortable than our own, and because my parents would give us the clothes off their backs if we asked for them (Which we try not to do TOO often…), they kindly sent us home with them. And this, it turns out, has been the best solution for sleep lines so far for me. The softness of the pillow, combined with the smooth silk pillowcase has allowed me to get a good night’s sleep for the first time in years, without having to carefully balance my head on a croissant, stick bits of cardboard to my face before bed, or wake up looking like someone drew a line on my forehead during the night. AT LAST.
The SYLA sleep mask
I wrote a detailed review of this product here, but it’s a bit like an eye mask, which you wear around your forehead, rather than over your eyes. The idea is that the mask holds the skin in place and prevents it creasing – and guess what? It really does! This is by far my favourite solution to the sleep lines problem so far: sure, I look a bit silly getting into bed with a mask around my head, but it really does prevent the dreaded lines from appearing, and it doesn’t matter what type of pillow or pillowcase I’m using either. I’m already thinking of buying another one, just in case something happens to the one I already have…