The concept of “night cream” seems so vintage to me. I can just picture a woman from the 1940s sitting in front of her vanity in a bathrobe, her hair up in rollers, smoothing a thick night moisturizer on to her skin before getting sliding into a single bed separate from her husband’s, as was appropriate at the time.
Is there still room for heavy night cream in a modern-day skin regimen? I think the answer is yes, albeit not a resounding one. The best night creams out on the market today boast sophisticated, modern formulas and they contain the same mixture of highly researched and trendy ingredients that you’ll find in other products.
I deal with the usual skepticisms and answer the question whether night cream is really necessary. I explain what the differences are between night creams, sleeping masks, and day moisturizers in order to keep you as informed a consumer as can be. I’ll help you learn to recognize which is the best night cream for each skin type, and finish off with a quick guide on how to use your night cream once you’ve purchased it.
Your Guide to Using Night Cream: Contents
- 21 Best Night Creams for Every Skin Type
- Should You Really Use Night Cream?
- Night Cream vs. Sleeping Mask
- The Difference Between Night Cream and Day Moisturizer
- How to Choose the Best Night Cream for Your Skin Type
- How to Use Night Cream
To start off, we’ve selected the very best night creams available online right now, with exceptional formulas and all of the best skin care ingredients.
1. OleHenriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème
This thick night cream totally renews the skin with a collection of active ingredients. Bakuchiol has been touted as an alternative to retinol, and we’re certainly impressed by its ability to soften fine lines and fight pigmentation. This night cream also contains AHA to exfoliate and promote cell turnover. While it does have a rich, hydrating texture, it is free of comedogenic ingredients so it should work for everyone. Reported results include: more luminous skin, reduction in breakouts, and smoother texture. Buy it from Sephora!
2. Paula’s Choice Defense Nightly Reconditioning Moisturizer
A vast collection of antioxidants, some peptides and barrier-forming ceramides are the secret to the skin-protecting and anti-aging effects of this night moisturizer. It has a light texture between lotion and cream, making it an awesome choice for those with oily or combination skin that would like to treat the early signs of aging without overloading their skin with greasy creams.
It comes in a squeeze tube, which already makes it one of the best night creams for anyone who is over unhygienic jar packaging, which requires a spatula. Those with sensitive skin might find that it’s a little too powerful for them. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
3. Strivectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer
If you’re looking to start using retinol, this might be the best night cream for you to start with. Notably, this night moisturizer seems to work well even for those who are sensitive or acne-prone despite its heavy and creamy texture. The retinol in it, especially when paired with NIA-114 (similar to niacinamide), does wonders for improving skin texture, acne bumps, and fine lines, particularly after sustained use. It comes in a squeeze tube, which we love, and is as moisturizing as possible. Pick it up from Ulta!
4. Ren Clean Skincare Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm
The focus with this natural formula was on making the best night cream for those with sensitive skin. This moisturizer has the texture of a thick balm so those with oily skin may not love it, even though the ingredients themselves are fine for everyone. It utilizes calendula extract and beta-glucan to soothe inflammation and diminish redness in the skin.
This night cream contains plant oil glycerides to soften the skin and prevent moisture loss without causing breakouts or clogging pores. I would recommend using it in conjunction with a hydrating serum or essence for an extra dose of moisture. You can buy it through Net-a-Porter.
5. Lancôme Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Lifting and Firming Night Moisturizer Cream
This wonderful night cream is ideal for those with dry, maturing and sensitive skin, while those with acne-prone skin should probably avoid it. It is meant to lift and firm the skin, although in practice it likely works by simply plumping it up with a dose of hydrators and then keeping them in the skin with the help of apricot oil and silicone. It has a mild rose scent that will put you in a great mood before bed. You can buy it from Nordstrom.
6. Omorovicza Rejuvenating Night Cream
Do expensive products work because they’re better formulated or because of some placebo effect? We’re not sure, but we do know that this night cream has thousands of adoring fans. The formula is an elegant and natural one, filled with super-antioxidant extracts and oils as well as barrier-repairing probiotics. The texture is silky smooth, and the ingredients are mostly non-comedogenic so it should work well for everyone except for the super acne-prone. It is available at Nordstrom.
7. Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream
This is a lighter take on night creams that will surely be cherished by those who don’t like that greasy feeling! It gives thorough hydration without feeling heavy and contains some really lovely plant extracts to nourish and soothe the skin. The formula does contain a bit fragrance, so while it smells beautiful it might not work for everyone. It’s a great choice for dry, normal, and oily skin types! You can get it from Sephora.
8. Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Overnight Cream
This is one of the best night creams for fading pigmentation, as it combines glycolic acid and viniferine, a grapevine sap extract patented by Caudalie that has been shown to fade pigmentation. Despite the heavy-duty ingredients, the formulation itself is quite gentle and soothing to the skin, with lots of hydrators and light oils. It should work for all skin types and will be especially appreciated by those who prefer natural products. It is available at Sephora.
9. Tula Probiotic Skincare Hydrating Day & Night Cream
Making products with probiotic ingredients is one of the more interesting recent skin care trends in recent years. Various fermented extracts are used in cosmetics to load the skin up with good bacteria, which has been shown to hydrate and soothe the skin quite effectively.
Beyond those ferments, however, this light and non-greasy gel-cream also contains retinol’s gentle cousin retinyl palmitate, soothing turmeric extract, and a ton of antioxidants. While it is promoted as a day and night cream, keep in mind that it won’t provide sun protection. This night cream should work for all skin types including the very sensitive or acne-prone, although those prone to fungal skin issues should avoid it. Pick it up at Nordstrom!
10. Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar Overnight Recharging & Refining Moisturizer
Before I jump into the details, let’s make it clear: this is not your grandmother’s night cream. It’s a serious product with some powerful active ingredients, and would be the best night cream for those who are looking for a real resurfacing effect.
The main ingredient here is glycolic acid, at a percentage that exfoliates the skin very effectively. It also contains mandelic acid and vitamin C for some additional renewing, anti-aging and brightening effects.
While it is an incredible anti-aging and brightening night cream, and though it does have a creamy texture, it’s still not the most moisturizing option on this list, so we’d recommend it to those who have normal or combination skin with either texture issues, dead skin build-up or fine lines. Some folks do find that it tingles the first few times they use it, while for others it’s simply too strong so make sure to patch test it first. You can buy it from Sephora.
11. Kate Somerville RetAsphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream
The power of vitamin A is the secret to this night cream’s efficacy. It evens out the skin’s tone and textures and helps fade fine lines and shallow wrinkles. There is also some hyaluronic acid in the mix to hydrate and plump up the skin, and quite a few antioxidant-imbued extracts to protect.
The amount of retinol in this night cream is high enough that some customers note that it made their skin flakey after they’ve used it. If you’re newer to retinols you’ll likely want to use it just a few nights a week rather than every night. We think it should work for all skin types, though you might prefer something richer for other nights if your skin is very dry. It is sold via Sephora.
12. Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream
For many people the best night creams have shorter ingredient lists, as this means they are less likely to irritate or cause breakouts. While this night moisturizer does have a pretty short list of ingredients, the ones in here are impactful: a large amount of antioxidant-rich seaweed extract and lots of hyaluronic acid to keep the skin plump and well-moisturized. It’s one of the few totally oil-free night moisturizers on this list, as well, and it should absolutely work for all skin types – especially the very sensitive. It is available at Nordstrom.
13. Eve Lom Time Retreat Intensive Night Cream
Eve Lom is a brand that generates a lot of buzz, perhaps because of its dreamy white packaging or maybe because the products are just lovely, despite the price tag. This night cream is an anti-aging multi-tasker, containing a bit of retinol, hyaluronic acid, and dipeptide.
The formula is very creamy and hydrating, with a light lavender scent, and it should work nicely for all skin types. It’s a great blend of proven actives and natural extracts that should appeal to a very wide variety of people. You can find it on Net-a-Porter.
14. Herbivore Moon Fruit Superfruit Night Treatment
That gorgeous glass packaging, the lavender color, the all-natural and exotic formula – this is truly a night cream for the Instagram age. The formula is thick and creamy, loaded with ingredients like kokum and shea butter, and it smells sweet and fruity.
It takes a bit of massaging to become fully absorbed, and a small amount of product goes a very long way, but you will be happy to wake up with soft, nourished skin thanks to the aforementioned butters as well as a few other incredible natural ingredients. This night moisturizer should work for all skin types, although the formula doesn’t always play nicely with silicone or gel-based skin care products applied beneath it.
Please note that since this night cream is preserved with natural ingredients you definitely do not want to dispense it with anything other than a clean small spatula – some customers have complained that it will go bad especially if used or kept in unsanitary conditions. You might also want to keep it in the fridge in order to increase its shelf life. Get it at Sephora!
15. NARS Restorative Night Treatment
This night moisturizer is more of a balm that melts into an oil, a product category I would recommend only to those with dry, non-acne-prone skin. This is because balms are comprised primarily of oils, and in the case of this one the main oil is soothing, vitamin E-rich almond oil, which is fabulous for dry skin but won’t really work for other skin types.
Despite it being an oily formula, the texture itself is actually light and sinks into the skin quickly. It does contain some notable anti-aging ingredients like the extract of alaria, a type of seaweed rich in antioxidants. It is best used in combination with a hydrating toner or essence. You can order it from Net-a-Porter.
16. CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
Night creams are often very expensive, so if you’re on a budget this would be the best night cream for you to choose. It might not have the most beautiful packaging, but the formula within it makes it a worthy competitor for any one of the other creams on this list.
It contains some luxurious anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid and a few different peptides, along with some more low-key ones that are extremely effective at improving skin texture and hydration, like niacinamide, ceramides, saccharides, and shea butter. It’s a phenomenal formula for all skin types that moisturizes very thoroughly while helping to prevent premature aging. Buy it from Ulta!
17. SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight Dry
Formulated specifically for dry skin, this night moisturizer is rich, creamy and silky smooth. Silky smooth is also the condition it’ll get your skin in! This might be the most elegant formula on this list, with a range of ingredients meant to restore the skin’s barrier and to hydrate it thoroughly. This gentle night cream should also work for those with sensitive or irritated skin, since it contains a high amount of healing vitamin E. Order it online from Dermstore!
18. Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream
If you’re worried about losing firmness and elasticity in your skin, this is probably the best night cream to try. It is formulated with algae polysaccharides (trademarked by Algenist as alguronic acid) that have been shown to do a fabulous job of hydrating the skin and boosting its firmness.
This night moisturizer contains a few other anti-aging yet non-aggressive powerhouses like vitamin C and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7. This is the best option for those with dry and maturing skin that cannot tolerate resurfacing actives like retinol or AHA. This night cream is available at Sephora.
19. Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon Night Gel-Cream
The unique thing about this night cream is its fragrance, which comes from lavender and patchouli and is meant to create a sense of calm that should ease you into sleep. The texture is creamy but silicone-based so it doesn’t feel greasy at all and it does a great job of locking moisture into the skin.
There are also a lot of natural extracts rich in antioxidants in the blend, to prevent free-radical damage. It’s perfectly fine for all skin types, as well! Oh, and don’t let the squat packaging fool you – this night cream actually comes in a unique squeeze jar that keeps things super hygienic! Find it at Sephora!
20. Glytone Age-Defying Antioxidant Night Cream
I think that having a night cream that doubles as a chemical exfoliant can make life very easy. This night moisturizer is creamy without being heavy and should work for everyone except those are sensitive to glycolic acid, which is the main ingredient here. Overnight, the moisturizer will slough away dead skin and promote cell regeneration to improve skin texture, luminosity, and youthfulness.
It also contains shea butter to smooth and soften the skin, xylitylglucoside and glycerin to hydrate, and peptides to give some more anti-aging power. If your skin is not used to chemical exfoliation, this is the kind of night cream to start using slowly, just two or three times a week. Pick up a jar from Dermstore!
21. Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream
This is touted as one of the best night creams for those with sensitive skin, and there are great examples to prove it. The star ingredient in this cream is centella asiatica, an extract with potent skin-soothing capabilities that can calm irritated skin near instantly.
The formula is creamy and super moisturizing, but light enough to work for oily skin. Those with active breakouts will relish its ability to calm down the redness associated with acne. It is also phenomenal for mitigating the drying or irritating effects of harsh skin treatments. It comes in a squeeze tube that is sold at Sephora.
There are two ways to interpret this question: do you have to use a moisturizer at night? Do you have to use a product marketed as “night cream” at night?
For the first question, the answer is a resounding yes. Sleep is the time when our entire body regenerates, heals and repairs itself, and this includes our largest organ, the skin. This is the perfect time to load up the skin with moisture and barrier-repairing ingredients. There is no bad time to moisturize the skin, but right before bed seems like an especially wonderful time because we don’t have to worry about our skin looking oily or about putting makeup on top of our moisturizer.
About an hour after we fall asleep, blood flow to the skin increases, thereby also increasing its temperature for a couple of hours. This can improve the ability of certain skin care ingredients to penetrate the skin and deliver their benefits – one of these ingredients is retinol, which is one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients and also one of the most ubiquitous active ingredients in night creams.
And now to answer the second question: the product you put on your skin at night doesn’t have to be called “night cream” in order to do a great job of moisturizing your skin at night! It’s better not to use a day cream with an SPF at night, especially if you’re acne-prone, since the sunscreen ingredients might clog your pores and they will certainly take up the space of ingredients that will have greater benefit to your skin at night.
Beyond that, however, whether your moisturizer is labeled as a night cream or not doesn’t really matter. What matters more is that its composition is nourishing to your specific skin type and is appropriate to the environment you live in.
While it does so happen that night creams are usually packed with phenomenal ingredients for night (retinol, we’re looking at you), it is very possible that you’ll find a serum or regular moisturizer that contains these ingredients and that you like better.
What I think is important is that your skin care routine should be optimized as a whole, which often does mean using different products in the morning and at night in order to load the skin up with as many different kinds of beneficial ingredients.
There are also lighter products like sleeping masks, which might be better for some – read the next section to determine whether a night cream or sleeping mask might be better for you.
From description only, it’d be hard to differentiate between night creams and sleeping masks. Both, in essence, are moisturizers for evening use. However, since sleeping masks are part of the K-beauty routine, they are formulated based on a slightly different philosophy towards evening skin care.
• The Formulation
Whereas night creams are usually formulated to be a little richer with lots of occlusive ingredients (i.e. thick ingredients that don’t allow moisture to evaporate from the skin), sleeping masks are lighter because they are formulated with fewer occlusives and more humectants (ingredients that pull moisture into the skin from the atmosphere).
Sleeping masks usually have the texture of a gel or a very light, semi-translucent cream. Night creams and sleeping masks alike contain both humectants and occlusives, so the difference is the ratios of each.
If you have dry skin, you may prefer to use a product that is a little richer, like a night cream, while if your skin is a little oilier you might like something lighter like a sleeping mask. This difference is more cosmetic, however, since at night it’s not a big deal if your skin looks a little greasy, and it’s not as though occlusive oils or silicones are going to cause acne if the product is well formulated.
However, the climate you live in might have the bigger influence! In a country where the humidity is quite high, a sleeping mask will work all night to pull moisture from the air into your skin, allowing you to wake up radiant and glowy.
However, in a drier climate the humectants in a sleeping mask won’t find much moisture in the air. In those circumstances it is better to use a night cream, which will seal your skin against the drying air.
• Active Ingredients Contained
The other big difference is that Western night creams will often also include strong anti-aging actives – especially retinol. However, in K-beauty ampoules and serums are usually the preferred method of active-ingredient delivery, with powerful resurfactives like retinol eschewed in general.
Whereas in a Western routine a night cream would probably be used on its own or after toner, in a K-beauty routine a sleeping mask would be used after essences and serums. Since we can see the globalization of the skin care market, however, people are much likelier to mix and match their routines – nothing is stopping you from using an essence, an ampoule, and a night cream!
Much like with sleeping masks, there is not one big, overarching difference between night creams and day creams, but many small differences that may apply to some products and not to others.
• The SPF Factor
Night creams will never contain SPF (sun protection factor), whereas many day creams do have an SPF. Sun protection is extremely important in the daytime, since exposure to UVA and UVB rays is a major contributor to skin aging not to mention the fact that it increases the risk of skin cancer.
However, there are many products marketed as day creams that do not have an SPF, in which case sunscreen must be applied on top… and if you’re applying sunscreen on top anyway, there is actually no rule that says you can’t use a night cream in the daytime!
• The Texture Difference
The other common difference is texture. Night creams are usually a little richer and thicker in texture, while day creams are probably going to be lighter and thinner. This will vary from brand to brand, so you’ll be able to find dozens of exceptions, but for the most part this is how brands formulate.
This is because most people prefer having lighter products on their skin during the day when they might be moving around or sweating and don’t want to look shiny or to have their makeup move around because their moisturizer is too oily.
At night the cosmetic elegance isn’t as important, and people also feel like having something heavier on their skin will also moisturize it better, which is not necessarily true. I explained this a bit further in the previous section.
• Active Ingredients
Lastly, there is the question of active ingredients. While this is not a strict rule, for the most part you will find that night creams are likelier to contain stronger resurfacing actives like retinol, AHA or vitamin C.
This is because these ingredients make the skin more susceptible to sun damage – however, their sun sensitizing effects happen to the same extent regardless of whether they are used in the day or night. As such, if you use products with significant percentages of these ingredients you should always wear a product with a strong SPF in the daytime, even if you only use them at night.
If you’ve already looked through our list of the best night creams out on the market then you’ve seen that I also mention the skin types and concerns each one is best for – and you’ve seen that a ton of them work for all skin types! I still think it’s important to explain what are the factors that should matter to you when choosing the best night cream, based on your skin type as well as the unique skin concerns you might have.
Before I really get into that, I want to quickly explain the difference between ‘skin type’ and ‘skin concern’, since it might seem like I use the two interchangeably. ‘Skin type’ refers to the amount of oil the skin produces, and includes dry, oily, combination, and normal skin.
‘Skin concern’ refers to any specific issue one might want to address, like redness or sensitivity, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, or acne. While those with certain skin types are likelier to experience certain skin concerns, there are many exceptions.
You cannot change your skin type, but you can definitely improve or totally eradicate various skin concerns either with the help of an appropriate skin care routine or with a visit to a dermatologist if the issue is severe.
Best Night Creams for Dry Skin
Quick reminder: dry skin is skin that does not produce a sufficient amount of oil for optimal skin functioning. Those with dry skin will usually have smaller pores, and if they don’t moisturize their skin will probably look and feel dry, rough and dull.
If you pick up any random night cream at the store, there is already a 90% chance that it is made with your skin type in mind. Those with dry skin are likelier to seek out different moisturizers for different times of day, which is why brands release more night moisturizers for those with dry skin than they do for any other skin type.
When choosing the best night cream for dry skin, think about what kind of results you would like. If all you need is simple moisturization then any good night cream with a mixture of occlusives (waxes, silicones, and oils) and moisture-binding humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, butylene glycol and panthenol) should do the trick.
You might also love the new generation of night creams formulated with probiotic ingredients like saccharomyces or pitera, which help support the skin’s microbiome and act as wonderful moisturizers. If you’re also interested in targeting or preventing signs of aging, mitigating sensitivity, or treating hyperpigmentation, then jump over to my explanation about night creams for maturing skin.
Best Night Creams for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Oily skin refers to skin that produces a lot of sebum (i.e. human oil) throughout the day – more sebum than is cosmetically ideal. Those with oily skin tend to have larger pores and they will usually find that the oils their skin produces make their skin look shiny and maybe a little greasy to the touch.
Those with oily skin are often acne-prone, since sebum is one of the contributing factors to the clogged pores that turn into acne. That being said, the acne formation process is somewhat complex with multiple factors involved, so some people might not experience any breakouts despite having oily skin, while others might experience breakouts despite having dry skin.
The key when you have oily skin and the concerns associated with it is to first of all ensure you choose a night cream that won’t aggravate any issues. Avoiding comedogenic ingredients is key, although it also means knowing which ingredients break you out as an individual.
A lot of oils are actually non-comedogenic (especially oils high in linoleic acid and low in oleic acid like grape seed and sunflower oils), while many people find that fatty alcohols, which are thought to be acne-safe, actually break them out.
The second part is to find night creams with ingredients that will suit your skin!
• Retinol is excellent both for improving skin texture and making pores appear smaller as well as for helping breakouts clear away more quickly.
• Niacinamide is also fabulous because it is reported to have a natural and long-term mattifying effect on the skin when applied topically.
• Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich extracts are fabulous for any skin type, particularly for age prevention, but those with acne-prone skin will find that they help calm down any redness and speed up healing of active breakouts.
• The other ingredients I normally recommend for those with oily and acne-prone skin, like salicylic acid, azelaic acid, witch hazel, tea tree oil, willow bark extract, and benzoyl peroxide are likelier to show up in toners and acne spot treatments than in night creams, but you can absolutely use all three types of products in a single skin care routine!
Many folks with oily skin find that they don’t enjoy using most night creams since the texture is too heavy or greasy for them. While there is nothing actually wrong about putting creamy products on your skin even if it’s oily, I understand if you just don’t like how they feel.
Your skin probably doesn’t require as many occlusive ingredients as those with dry skin, so it’s not like you need it. I do mention a few excellent night creams on the list that are lighter in texture and quicker to sink in, although if you opt for a gel lotion or sleeping mask that’s okay too.
Best Night Creams for Normal and Combination Skin
If your skin is neither too oily nor too dry, then you likely have normal skin, while if you find that some parts of your skin get oily, while others get dry than you have combination skin. For both of these skin types there are a ton of night creams to choose from, as you can pick night creams marketed for dry skin as well as night creams recommended for oily skin.
If you don’t have any additional skin concerns beyond simply keeping your skin moisturized and healthy, then any good night cream should work, as long as you like the texture and how it feels on the skin.
However, many people with normal and combination skin can have a variety of concerns, including dealing with signs of aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity and more. Read the other sections based on your specific concerns in order to figure out what specific ingredients to look for.
Often the recommendation is to use one type of product on one part of the face and another product on another part of the face, particularly for those with combination skin. Since night creams tend to be on the heavier, more nourishing side of things, you could definitely use a lighter moisturizer or essence all over the face, and then only apply the night cream on the parts of your face that get very dry.
Best Night Creams for Dehydrated Skin
Dehydration refers to lack of water in the skin, and it is a skin concern rather than a skin type. Those with dry skin are very prone to dehydration, since their skin doesn’t produce enough sebum, which naturally locks moisture into the skin, but all skin types can experience dehydration, especially if they use harsh facial cleansers or live in a dry climate.
Dehydrated skin can get flakey or rough, and it is usually missing a certain level of luminosity and plumpness. You can recognize dehydration by very gently squeezing at the apple of your cheek with two fingers, to press the skin together. If your skin gets squeezed into a bunch of tiny folds then you are likely dehydrated, while if it simply juts out a bit without folding then your skin is sufficiently moisturized.
Most night creams are made with water and a blend of both humectants (i.e. hydrators like glycerin, butylene glycol, etc.) and occlusives (silicones, oils, etc.) in order to saturate the skin with moisture as well as prevent its evaporation. If your skin is severely dehydrated, then you can use a night cream on top of a hydrating essence in order to give your skin a double dose of hydration that sinks into the skin more deeply.
There are some night creams that have more of a balm texture. These night moisturizes usually contain very little water, they have more occlusive ingredients than humectants – if you do pick up a night cream like that it is very important to use it in addition to another product that is rich in humectants, otherwise you will deprive your skin of the water that it needs.
Best Night Creams for Fine Lines and Pigmentation
You’ll be hard pressed to find a night cream that doesn’t taut some anti-aging benefits! This is because, no matter the age, using products with anti-aging ingredients can be beneficial. Even those in their teens and ‘20s can benefit from the fortifying and preventative effects of antioxidants!
Quick refreshes: antioxidants neutralize the damage caused by the free radicals that attack the skin due to sun or pollution exposure. They do so by donating electrons to the free radicals, which are basically incomplete molecules with an unpaired electron. There are a ton of phenomenal antioxidants that make their way into night creams, from vitamin E as the most basic to the natural extracts of exotic plants.
The next class of great anti-aging ingredients includes the powerful actives that resurface the skin to increase cell turnover and improve collagen production. Some of these ingredients also act as chemical exfoliants to slough off dead skin cells.
These ingredients are excellent as preventatives, but they can also somewhat help to fade surface damage like fine lines, uneven skin texture, and hyperpigmentation. These are ingredients like retinol (a.k.a. vitamin A), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and alpha-hydroxy acid (glycolic or lactic acid). That being said, there is only so much that topical ingredients can do when the skin damage is happening below the epidermis.
There are many other ingredients reported to have similar effects to vitamin A and its friends: licorice root is known as a skin brightener, bakuchiol is becoming popular as a gentle alternative to retinol, and peptides are said to promote collagen and elastic production in the skin.
These ingredients are much less likely to cause irritation to the skin and they can be used on a more regular basis than the more aggressive ingredients. However, their effects have not been as rigorously tested yet, so while they are certainly promising, they are not in the realm of “magic ingredients” quite yet.
Now, even if you find the most amazing anti-aging night cream, please make sure that your skin is protected from the sun’s rays during the day! Even the very best night cream won’t be of much help if your face is being subjected to the aging effects of UVA and UVB rays throughout the daytime.
Best Night Creams for Sensitive Skin
Those with sensitive skin that is either always a little red or can become irritated and flushed at the slightest provocation, do have to be a little more careful when choosing their night creams.
People with sensitive skin will find that the triggers are very individualized, so getting samples and patch testing products for at least a few days is very important. While generally people with sensitive skin are likelier to have bad reactions to strong actives, certain surfactants and fragrances, what might irritate one person will be the exact ingredient that totally clears up another person’s skin.
However, here are some tips that will help you find a night cream that will likely work for you. It is best to go for night creams with shorter ingredients lists, as this means fewer things that will likely trigger or irritate your skin. Common moisturizer ingredients including most humectants, emollients, and silicones are for the most part unlikely to cause irritation to the skin, and will in fact help to fortify your skin and increase its barrier capabilities.
Denatured alcohol, fragrances, and strong actives like retinol and AHA are potential irritators, on the other hand – you don’t have to avoid them altogether, since reactions are so individualized, but do be cautious.
Beyond that, look for anti-inflammatory ingredients that will help keep your skin soothed. The extracts of calendula, green tea, centella asiatica extract, beta-glucan, and willow bark are a few well known natural anti-inflammatories you can look for.
● Cleanse your skin in whichever way you like to remove all traces of makeup, grime, sweat, and sunscreen from your skin. Unless you’ve used a DIY oil cleanser, ensure that all traces of cleanser have been removed from your skin. You can do so by wiping your skin with a damp face cloth or cotton pad after you’ve rinsed off the bulk of the cleanser.
● While you may use night cream all on its own, if you have a more thorough skin care routine you might want to apply a few other skin care products first, in order of the thinnest to the thickest. This order would usually be toner, followed by essences, then serums, then ampoules, and finally lotions.
● When you’re ready to apply your night cream, start by dispensing a small amount of it – about a pea size. You might want to use a little bit more if your skin is very dry or if the night cream is the only step in your evening skin care routine.
● If your night cream comes in a jar then use a tiny spatula (usually comes included) to scoop up a bit of product. You don’t want to use your fingers, as even if they are clean they will still introduce bacteria into the jar.
● Rub the night cream between both hands to lightly warm it up.
● Begin smoothing it on your skin. I like to take the opportunity to give my skin a very gentle massage, starting around the jaw line and working my way upwards, using the length of my fingers to rub the product into the skin in upward and outward circular motions. This helps the night cream to get under the peach fuzz and truly penetrate, and it also feels very luxurious and invigorating.
● Once you’re done, if your skin has absorbed all of the night cream, you might want to do a second layer, but chances are one application will be enough. If the product hasn’t fully absorbed into your skin, then use a smaller amount of product next time.
● If you’re not worried about your night cream getting on your pillow then it’s okay to go with excess product on the skin – it will continue to penetrate and moisturize throughout the night.
● If you don’t want any excess product sitting on your skin, you may use a damp cotton pad to wipe off the excess product.
Photos via @elle_ferguson, @janicejoostemaa, @theskinting, @vivaluxuryblog, @ymorbeauty, @worldofcolorx, @hermajestyspleasure, @samanthaljeffery, @roses_cloud, @cheraleelyle, @alyssajuliannebeauty