When we tuck ourselves in for the night, our bodies enter a downtime period, ironing out any aches, sores and memory gaps in time for the next day. The skin, our largest organ, is also busy at work, repairing itself during sleep, so it's no wonder that most of our active skincare is applied before bed.
Night creams are often seen as over-priced moisturisers, instead of the restorative products they are, that shouldn't be relegated to the nightstand. They're richer in texture and formula, infused with anti-ageing and hydrating ingredients to boost nighttime skin repairs. With a compatible night cream, you're guaranteed to wake up with bright, dewy skin every morning.
Not to be confused with our daily moisturisers, night creams require a bit more careful shopping on our part. We asked Dr Harshal Ranglani, a specialist dermatologist with Aster Royal Clinic in Dubai, for expert guidance on how to go about choosing one and application tips where retinol is concerned.
Check out your best options for a night cream below, where we also feature trending products on the internet. Make sure you're subscribed to Prime for free, fast delivery.
1. Best Overall: Eucerin Hyaluron Filler + Elasticity Anti-Aging Face Night Cream
Not everyone can tolerate retinol, which is why a night cream loaded with hyaluronic acid is a safe bet for all skin types. Dr Ranglani recommends Eucerin's anti-ageing line, especially the Hyaluron-Filler night creams. Formulated for mature skin, this Elasticity cream contains both high and low molecular HA to plump up deep wrinkles, an active ingredient arctiin to speed up collagen renewal and silymarin that protects skin from losing its elasticity. This particular line also comes with argan oil for extra hydration, and, don't worry, the cream is still non-comedogenic. Those in their forties and fifties in the reviews say they've been loyal to this product for years, and it never fails to leave a radiant glow on the face.
2. Best for Dry Skin: Shiseido Benefiance Overnight Wrinkle Resisting Night Cream
Another wrinkle-defying product is the Benefiance night cream by Shiseido. It's a luxurious moisturiser that features two skin technologies: one is a complex of hyaluronic acid, rubus leaf extract and yarrow extract to improve the appearance of wrinkles, and the other makes your skin more receptive to the treatment. More key ingredients, such as red, green and brown algae with niacinamide fight signs of ageing and repair the skin barrier. With all its natural components, you're getting a rich cream that absorbs easily, as reviewers attest, so you wake up to hydrated, rested skin.
3. Best for Skin Barrier: La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5
We can disrupt our skin barrier in many ways, like using retinol incorrectly, over-exfoliating or not wearing enough sunscreen. Whenever your skin stings and feels 'raw', slather it with this popular La Roche Posay repairing balm. The Cicaplast Baume B5 can go anywhere - injuries, cracked skin, chapped lips and on babies - it heals everyday skin irritations with a double-action formula. The five per cent panthenol (vitamin B5), calming madecassoside, shea butter and thermal spring water all soothe and protect skin that's been exposed to UV rays in the day as well. Reviewers mainly use it at night to treat inflamed areas and dry patches, especially in winter. It's also a great companion to retinol flaking and irritation.
4. Best Ingredients: Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream
Like Shiseido, the Super Restorative night cream by Clarins is a premium formula that's packed with a retinol-adjacent ingredient. It uses harungana plant extract as an anti-ageing molecule to plump up the skin, along with desert date to lighten dark spots, sorbier extract to boost radiance and shea butter to thoroughly hydrate the skin. You'll also benefit from Clarins' anti-pollution complex made of three organic plant extracts. Night after night, the cream will serve to lift the face and fight any sagging. People mention how they look much younger with this nighttime moisturiser, and other loyal customers return to purchase the jar consistently. The texture is not as thick as Shiseido's cream, so it's perfect for those who want a lighter product.
5. Best for Acne: Dr. Althea Resveratrol 345NA Intensive Repair Cream
From Korean skincare comes Dr Althea's 345 Relief Cream, a gel-type moisturiser formulated for acne-prone skin types. This is meant to go on as the last step of your PM routine, so that its long ingredients list can work without interruption. Resveratrol is the key ingredient here, which activates cell turnover to make the skin more elastic; with the amino acid protein adenosine, your cells will regenerate faster and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. This also helps with fading acne scars and pigmentation in combination with Centella asiatica. There's a lot more squeezed into this small tube that reviewers can't stop raving about. From preventing new breakouts to hydrating dry skin and filling out wrinkles, the cream does it all.
6. Best for Mature Skin: Paula's Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream
This has a bit of starter retinol (0.01 per cent) to train your skin and prevent it from drying out too much. Paula's Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream is made for people with very dry skin, and that's why it boasts an ultra-rich texture. Powered by anti-ageing retinol, peptides, jojoba seed oil and antioxidants from vitamin C and green tea, the cream corrects fine lines, excessive dryness and uneven skin tone in your sleep. Make sure to give your neck the same amount of love as the face. Resist is the complete package for mature skin types looking for a multi-action product. People in their thirties and up add this to their regular nighttime regime, and note how the texture is buttery smooth, giving your face a gorgeous glow in the morning.
7. Best for Retinol Beginners: Olay Night Cream Regenerist Retinol 24 Moisturiser
Here's another retinol-supercharged moisturiser for nighttime use. The Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 cream combines two key ingredients, niacinamide and a retinoid complex, to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, lighten dark spots and tighten the skin, all the while promising 24 hours of hydration. A pea-sized amount is sufficient to get you that coveted nourishment and radiance in the morning, say reviews, who note that the cream absorbs well and doesn't transfer to the pillow. Many retinol beginners start with this product, too.
Do I need a separate night cream?
A regular moisturiser will seldom have as much staying power as a rich night cream. Dr Ranglani says that our hydrating creams for the night should be more intense than day products, while in the morning a moisturising sunscreen will often suffice.
"Sleep has a restorative function on the body and the skin - beauty sleep is actually a thing. At night, our skin gets to rest and repair itself at the DNA level from the stressors, pollution and UV rays it's been exposed to during the day," explained Dr Ranglani.
As this process takes place, our night creams enhance the glow that we naturally get from a well-rested shuteye. "When you wake up in the morning, your skin will have a natural luminosity and be well hydrated. Sleep itself will help you achieve this glow, but using a night cream will augment that effect to make the skin look fresh and dewy," she added.
This is also when our anti-ageing, youthful serums and creams will work the best.
Which night cream is the best for me?
Depending on your skin troubles, whether acne, sensitivity, dryness or signs of ageing, brands offer targeted night creams in the market. Two factors will drive your shopping decisions here: age and skin concerns.
Dr Ranglani said: "For instance, younger users in teens and early twenties usually have oily, acne-prone skin, so they'll opt for creams with salicylic acid. Older people in thirties to forties with no major skin issues will focus more on anti-ageing retinol benefits. All skin types can use a night cream, but mature skin will benefit the most from it as they tend to have very dry skin."
Some mainstay ingredients to help with reparative function and skin regeneration are peptides and retinol, respectively, including moisturising components, like ceramide and hyaluronic acid. Dr Ranglani notes that the use of retinol or similar anti-ageing products can cause purging, so a temporary breakout should be expected.
"Initially, for one to three weeks, you may purge but these are not true breakouts. Retinol promotes skin cell turnover, and so, whatever clogged pores you have on the nose and chin areas start emptying. Oil and dead skin rise to the surface and can get infected, which in turn, gives rise to breakouts temporarily," she explained.
With patience and liberal sunscreen application (ideally SPF 50) in the day, retinols can reward you with excellent results. Also, make sure your night cream is non-comedogenic, so that it doesn't cause acne.
Finally, night creams should be the last step in your PM routine. Dr Ranglani lays out the correct order of products: "First comes cleansing, and then any spot application with medicated creams for acne or pigmentation go on next. After half an hour, once everything is dry, apply your serums and wait for 10 to 15 minutes to apply your night cream last, even to the neck."
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