Can sleeping on your back help prevent wrinkles? Joan Collins reveals beauty tip that works while she sleeps

Joan Collins, wearing a silver dress and sequinned cape, with large dangling diamond earrings and holding a pair of sunglasses in one hand, arrives at the V&A 2023 Summer Party at The V&A
Joan Collins has revealed some of her beauty secrets, one of which keeps her looking young while she sleeps. (Getty Images_

Dame Joan Collins’ youthful glow earns her much praise, and the 90-year-old star has now revealed a particular beauty secret that keeps ageing at bay - without involving Botox.

Fans will be delighted to discover that one of her most important beauty rituals takes place while she sleeps. The Golden Globe winner told The Telegraph on Sunday that she “always, always [sleeps] on [her] back”.

“I’ve trained myself to, because I used to sleep on my side, scrunched up into the pillow, and then i was told not to because it gives you ‘scrunchy face’,” she said, adding: “Which is absolutely true.”

Collins’ determination not to sleep on her side has certainly paid off, along with her ritual of using Nivea’s £5.50 cleanser to take off her make-up at night, followed by a heavy night cream by Charlotte Tilbury.

Aestheticians and cosmetic experts have long warned against sleeping with your face pressed against the pillow, as this can lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

What happens to your face when you sleep on your side?

Dr Brendan Khong, an aesthetic doctor at Dr David Jack Clinic on Harley Street, London, explains: “Studies have shown that the mechanical forces of lying on your face can cause facial deformities and wrinkles during sleep - in particular, crow’s feet [wrinkles on the sides of your eyes], nasolabial lines (lines on either side of the mouth that extend from the edge of the nose to the outer corners of the mouth), and melolabial folds (lines that extend from the outer corners of the mouth towards the chin).

A blonde woman sleeps soundly on her side, with her face pressed into the pillow
Sleeping with your face pressed into the pillow can lead to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, particularly on the side of the face that is leaned on the most. (Getty Images)

“Any time you have repetitive stress on the skin, that side of the face is compressed and when this is repeated every night over a number of years, you will see changes in that area of the face.”

He adds that he can “instantly” tell whether a patient is a side or back sleeper just by looking at their face, neck, decolletage and chest when they come in for a consultation.

“Lying on one side of the face puts the entire weight of your head onto that side of the face which will pleat the dermis and over time, cause wrinkles,” he says. “The same can be applied to the chest area, where some people have vertical lines in the middle of the chest, which can be difficult to treat.”

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Should you ‘train’ yourself to sleep on your back to avoid wrinkles?

Dr Andrew Kane, cosmetic doctor and clinic owner, says that Collins’ approach is good for people who wish to slow the formation of wrinkles while they sleep.

“As Joan said, training yourself to sleep on your back can be challenging but over a long period of time may actually help to reduce the wrinkles as the face is pressed against the pillow for less time,” he says. “It’s important to remember a consistent skin routine is also extremely important to painting fresh skin and to help combat lines and wrinkles.”

A black woman lays in bed and smiles towards the window, where sunlight is pouring in and illuminating her room
Aestheticians recommend sleeping on your back to prevent wrinkles and fine lines on your face. (Getty Images)

His advice is echoed by Dr Khong, who adds that people who find it difficult to break the habit of sleeping on their sides can still take some action to prevent further ageing on their face.

“There are specialised pillows designed for side sleepers to reduce the pressure off the side of the face so that there is less pressure on the central and lateral parts of the face. Some people wear specific silicone pads in the middle of their chest to prevent the pleating of the cleavage skin, which is available online,” he recommends.

“Other ways you can counteract any potential fine lines and wrinkles is to use products or get treatments to boost collagen, and use a high factor SPF every single day, rain, shine or snow.”

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What other skin problems can pillows cause?

Pillows tend to accumulate a lot of dirt, made up from sebum from our faces and hair, facial products and other debris. These can lead to blocked pores and break-outs.

Dr Khong advises people to change their pillowcases “at least twice a week and once every two days during the hotter months”. He adds: “I will always advise anyone to never sleep in their makeup or touch your pillow with dirty hands or without showering first. Never bring the streets to the sheets!”

A hand feels a pink silk pillowcase, among other silk linens
Silk pillowcases can help reduce friction and stress on the skin for side sleepers. (Getty Images)

Dr Kane also points out that pillows that have not been washed regularly can carry “a high amount of allergens, such as dust mites, which over time can cause skin irritations”. He also recommends washing your pillowcases and changing them every few days, which could particularly benefit people with acne-prone skin.

Both Dr Khong and Dr Kane also say that using silk or satin pillowcases can help reduce stress on the skin caused by sleeping on it, which can help reduce the potential for wrinkles.

“I like to sleep on a silk pillowcase and place a pillow on each side of my neck to avoid my face from squishing on either side, which can occur when you inevitably toss and turn during the night,” Dr Khong says. “Silk pillowcases also tend to minimise friction so that your skin does not tug or pull on the skin when sleeping.”

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