It’s one thing to have a dedicated moisturizer—which is one of the essential skincare products, up there with a cleanser and exfoliator. But it’s another thing entirely to have a dedicated night cream, and to use it in place of your daytime one.
The reasoning is simple: You may not need the same defenses at night time as you would during the day (against UV rays and pollution), but moreover, your slumber is the best time to charge your skin and treat it with targeted ingredients. That’s because your body regenerates itself while you sleep, and your skin cells turn over quickly. This means that if you apply the right products for your specific needs, you’ll maximize and expedite their benefits, especially if you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated and healthy.
Night creams tend to be denser than their daytime counterparts, both physically and in terms of ingredient concentration. That’s also because you don’t need to worry about excessive sweating so much, since you aren’t exerting any energy.
But no two night creams are the same, since they typically target specific needs like dryness, acne, signs of aging, and more. Browse our favorites below, which should include something particular to your own goals or skin type.
For Oily Skin:
1. Neutrogena Gel Moisturizer
It’s still important for oilier skin types to use an overnight cream, since they deliver a proactive, skin-penetrating, corrective punch—and since oily skin can become dehydrated, too (especially in colder/drier months and climates, or after a night of drinking). While this gel hydrator from Neutrogena is touted toward people with dry skin, its oil-free recipe makes it terrific for guys with greasier conditions. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, which significantly boosts your skin’s moisture retention, and wears lightly on the skin, so that your oil-happy pores don’t feel suffocated or become clogged underneath.
For Dry Skin:
2. Clinique Turnaround Overnight Moisturizer
Dry skin is especially prone to rough patches, discoloration, dullness, and flaking. This moisturizer from Clinique is made with stearic acid to prevent moisture loss, as well as squalane to significantly boost those hydration levels. Salicylic acid keeps pores clear and dissolves dead/flaking surface cells, while a host of extracts from fruits, seeds, and herbs work to nourish and restore your skin.
For Acne-Prone Skin:
3. Origins Resurfacing Cream with AHAs
If your skin likes to sabotage you in the form of frequent pimples and lingering dark spots, then choose an overnight cream with gentle exfoliating hydroxy acids (alpha or beta, AHA/BHA). This Origins cream specializes in ‘resurfacing,’ which is to say that it helps lift dead, problematic skin cells away from the skin, so that they clear a path for your pores and healthier cells. The result is more frequent, healthy turnover (so, pesky dark spots disappear faster), and better yet, fewer pimples to begin with.
For Sensitive Skin:
4. Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Mask
If your skin is finicky against active ingredients, then Dr. Jart+’s lightweight overnight mask is a gentle, soothing solution. It calls on cica/tiger grass to calm and hydrate the skin, while niacinamide carefully mitigates inflammation and improves surface texture. An “overnight mask” is not all that different from a night cream; sometimes you can feel them a bit more prominently atop the skin, and you may have to cleanse them away come morning (but you’d do that anyway). More than anything, these masks give an even bigger assist to your cells’ regenerative cycle.
For All-Over Firmness:
5. Vichy LiftActiv Night Cream
Plant-sourced rhamnose sugars are the hero ingredient in this skin-firming, collagen-boosting night cream from Vichy. It also utilizes Vitamin C to help brighten your complexion overall (bringing it from dull or hyper-pigmented to a more even-toned, sunny finish). It’s even great for a little neck tautness, if you feel any sagging there.
For Zoom-Ready Close Ups:
6. Adipeau Active Face Cream
This is one of my favorite products lately. I wear it round the clock during winter, but see the biggest boosts overnight—though Adipeau will be the first to remind you that your long-term skincare goals cannot be achieved in one sleep. Still, I wake up with a genuine radiance on my face, while consistently seeing progress on my overall tone, texture, brightness, and everything in line with my goals. As for its fueling factors, Adipeau primarily utilizes oils of safflower and sunflower seed (which are ultra nourishing, counter inflammation, and are rich in antioxidants), as well as collagen-stimulating black ginger extract.
For the Long-Term Correction:
7. Clark’s Botanicals Retinol Overnight Cream
Retinol is the go-to ingredient for anyone who wants a proactive, long-term, anti-aging or anti-acne regimen. The Vitamin-A derivative resoundingly minimizes and prevents fine lines, breakouts, the appearance of enlarged pores, discoloration, and more. Now, you’ll want to consult a board-certified dermatologist for a prescription-grade retinol if you want to go full-court press with it. But you can find smaller doses in certain night creams and serums, like this terrific one from Clark’s Botanicals. It pairs retinol with skin-brightening Vitamin C, soothing colloidal oatmeal and jasmine, as well as collagen-defending algae extract.
For One-Off Rebounds:
8. Aesop Replenishing Night Masque
Here’s a stellar high-performance product to deploy whenever you experience dehydration. It’s so good that it’s best saved for those ‘special’ occasions, wherein you really need to wake up looking alert, restored, and rested. (It’s best paired with actual adequate rest, though.) Chock full of skin-restoring vitamins and oils, it summons the resurfacing powers of citric acid to gently remove dead surface cells, to keep pores clear and complexion clear, radiant, and balanced.
For Eye Wrinkles and Fine Lines:
9. Paula’s Choice Anti-Aging Eye Cream
It’s not a bad idea to target the eyes with a specific night cream of their own (and ditto for the daytime). That’s because the skin around your eyes is the most delicate and thin on your face. It wrinkles faster and quickly shows signs of dehydration, tiredness, stress, and the likes. Thus, eye creams tend to have even higher concentrations of nourishing ingredients, as is the case with this shea butter-based eye cream from Paual’s Choice. It plumps and firms the area with peptides (which stimulate collagen production), while Vitamin C promotes a brighter, even skin tone.