Pillow talk: Herbar co-founder Catarina Oliveira’s night-time routine

Catarina Oliveira, co-founder and CEO of adaptogenic skincare brand Herbar, has shown that when it comes to beauty, there’s no better remedy than mother nature herself. The brand takes inspiration from traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, with mushrooms providing the basis for many of their quirky, organic and highly effective products. Here, Oliveira invites us into her bedroom to learn about her nighttime routine and why we should all be taking a lot more interest in adaptogenic beauty.

Can you sum up what you do in five words?

Co-founder and CEO of Herbar.

What makes Herbar special to you? 

It’s the best vehicle to share the message about fungi and adaptogenic beauty and that the glow starts within.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love your sleep?  


What time would you ideally like to go to bed, as opposed to what time you really end up in bed?

I’m very militant about my sleep/ultradian cycle. I always make sure I biohack my sleep in a way that optimises the 4 phases of sleep, especially REM and NREM cycles.

What’s your usual reason for going to bed late?

Probably because I had friends over for a traditional Chinese medicine home-cooked meal.

What side of the bed do you sleep on?

Left, Yin side.

What kind of sleeping position do you normally find yourself in? Do you sleep on your back, or are you more of a fetal position kind of person? 

Always sleep on my back with mouth tape on to make sure I breathe solely through the nose.

What is your bed setup? Silk/bamboo sheets or something more simple?  

Infrared lamp on my nightstand, silk pillowcases, and a mattress warming sheet that does wonders for the kidneys, which is where Jing is stored. Jing is one’s spirit and one of the three treasures in TCM.

Light sleeper or heavy sleeper?  

Heavy sleeper if I make sure to drink my sleep potions for a good rest.

Morning bird or night owl?  

Morning bird.

How do you unwind before bed? Can you walk me through your routine?

I always try to gradually get ready for bed. I start off by having a lighter dinner and dimming the lights around the house, warm cosy subtle lights on only. No stimuli, no music, movies or loud conversations. I take this time to read my fav books about TCM, fungi and adaptogens. I do it cosied up on the sofa with a blanket. Once my melatonin is high, I head to bed with no distractions, laptop or phone.

Do you read before bed? If so, what can’t you get enough of at the moment? 

The Spark in The Machine (one of my fav TCM books) and Dao De Jing, which is about Daoism, so I learn that all is well the way it is.

What can’t you go to sleep without doing?

My nighttime skincare routine.

Do you always take off your makeup before sleeping?

Always, especially because I love a tinted SPF and mascara.

What is your favourite way to remove your makeup?

Herbar’s cleanser sample formulation.

What products/items are on your bedside table?

Infrared lamp, mouth tape and Herbar’s Gua-Shrooms for as soon as I wake up.

Do you sleep with your phone next to you?

No, but I used to when I tracked my sleep on my phone. Now I use an aura ring instead.

How does your nighttime routine change on Friday / the weekend?

Always the same. Right now, I’ve been living out of a suitcase since the beginning of summer and even when travelling I stick to my routine.

Can you walk me through your nighttime skincare routine? 

First, I use Herbar’s cleanser sample that removes all makeup without stripping the skin; we are in R&D phase with this one. At the moment, I’m testing Experiment’s new 30% glycerin serum, which is a great humectant that I then trap with Herbar’s Face Oil. Some nights I swap the Experiment’s serum for Topicals brightening serum and retinol, which I always top with our Face Oil.

Favourite products to use before bed?  

Our Gua-Shrooms to melt any hint of stress off my face and jaw.

What do you do if you can’t sleep?

Yoga Nidra meditation to really get my Theta and Delta brain waves going.