Sleep not only allows for your body to rest after a long day, but your skin also uses this time to repair itself. Feeding your skin with the best night creams to help rejuvenate the skin is key to a healthy, fresh face. That’s why it’s essential to have a separate day and nighttime skincare routine. According to experts, the best time for skin rejuvenation happens between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. After all, they don’t call it ‘beauty sleep’ for nothing. You might scoff at the idea of purchasing a night cream when you already have a face moisturizer at home that you love, but there’s a significant contrast between the two, and it might just be the extra boost your skin needs to achieve your dream results.
So, what’s the difference between a day moisturizer and a night cream? The short answer is there are ingredients that work better when applied at a specific time of day. For example, retinoids (found in retinols) are best to be applied at night as exposure to the sun during the day can cause irritation. But that’s just one of many ingredients on the list of do’s and don’t when it comes to night cream. Samantha G. Stoler, MD, of Skin Dermatology in Denver, Colorado, tells SELF, “A night cream should not have sunblock or sunscreen ingredients included. That is vital in a day moisturizer for all-day sun protection, but night creams do not need the extra chemical.”
Randie H. Kim, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine further explains the difference, “Night creams tend to be heavier than regular moisturizers to really promote hydration. Regular moisturizers may also contain SPF to protect against UV exposure while night creams contain active compounds that help boost skin repair and restoration.”
How do you find the right night cream for you?
According to Dr. Stoler, the best night creams have ingredients such as “hyaluronic acid or heparin sulfate analog that can help hold the water in the skin for longer, creating longer hydration and healthier looking skin.” Your age also factors into the kind of night cream you should be looking for. Dr. Stoler tells SELF exactly why this is: “The older a person is, the more hydration the moisturizer will need to deliver.” No need to stress though, as your evolving needs can often be simply addressed with “thicker creams that create a better seal or have more ingredients that maintain the moisture inside the skin for longer,” says Dr. Stoler.
There are a few key indicators on how you can tell if your night cream is actually working. According to Dr. Kim, you can tell that your night cream is working when it “feels more hydrated and supple” as well as signs of improved texture such as feeling “smoother, more even skin tone, and reduction of the appearance of wrinkles.” But don’t expect to see any quick results. Dr. Kim tells SELF that you should give your night cream at least eight weeks before you start to see any improvement. This is because it takes time for the old dead skin cells to slough away and for the new skin cells to appear.
Choosing a night cream depends on the specific issue you want to target as well as your needs and skin type. With the various options available, it can feel overwhelming on what product you should try out first. Ultimately, the goal is to find a moisturizing product that makes your skin still feel hydrated and dewy when you wake up. In an effort to aid your skincare journey, we’ve rounded up the best-selling night creams from cult-favorite beauty brands such as Tatcha, Tula, La Mer, and Dr. Barbara Sturm.
CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
This night cream is a favorite among experts for its price point and effectiveness. “Cerave products are formulated with dermatologists and C complex of biomimetic peptides, hyaluronic acid, and 3 essential ceramides that are essential for improving skin barrier,” Dr. Stoler says. Dr. Kim echoes this sentiment, and tells SELF, “I really like the CeraVe product as a baseline moisturizer that I would recommend to anyone. CeraVe has a long history of making products that are gentle for the skin yet really hydrating (It’s in the name! Ceramides).”
Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Night Cream
If your priority is targeting dark spots, dullness, and uneven texture; this one’s for you. This gentle, dark-spot targeting night cream is powered by vine sap-derived Viniferine, papaya extract, and glycolic acid; leaving you with hydrated, visibly smoother, brighter-looking skin in the morning. This vegan skincare item is great for those with normal or dry skin.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream
This First Aid Beauty favorite is formulated with colloidal oatmeal, sodium hyaluronate, and niacinamide, this cream diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while visibly firming the skin. As the name suggests, it is ultra-hydrating while repairing elasticity on dry, distressed skin. It’s recommended for those with normal, dry, and combination skin.
Nature Republic Snail Solution Cream
This night cream is an intensive skincare product that contains snail secretion filtrate extracted from pristine nature. It delivers ultra-hydration, nourishment, and vitality to the skin while the nutrient densely fills into the skin layer to firm and improve elasticity. One reviewer wrote, “…I heard about this brand from a few of my friends, but the word ‘snail’ just wasn’t appealing to me. At last, I decided to try it, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My skin is soft in the morning, and it’s not sticky at all as I thought. It’s affordable and a very good product.”
Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask
This award-winning overnight cream is powered by squalane, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and betaine that plumps skin and seals in moisture, supporting dehydrated skin. It’s also antioxidant-rich with superberries and potent Vitamin C so it targets dullness and uneven skin tone. Best of all, this product is safe to use for all skin types: normal, dry, combination, and oily.
Tatcha Indigo Overnight Repair Serum in Cream Treatment
This Tatcha night cream doubles as a serum-in-moisturizer treatment that visibly calms irritation, strengthens skin’s barrier, and balances the microbiome for a healthy, hydrated glow. Ingredients include Japanese indigo extract that visibly soothes and restores irritated skin from redness to dry patches, hyaluronic acid and ceramides, and mondo grass root. This is safe for all skin types and ideal for those who wish to address dryness, redness, and uneven texture. SELF’s previous associate news director picked this as her favorite wellness product and noted that her « skin feels lively and plump without any rosacea bumps every morning. »
Glow Recipe Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask
This cult-favorite nightly sleeping mask is made of watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid, peony root, and AHAs that gently exfoliate and refine the look of pores. Although it’s safe to use for all skin types, this product does wonders for oily skin. If you’d like to target pores, dryness, and oiliness, this night cream will keep you hydrated overnight and give you a beautiful glow in the morning.
It Cosmetics Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Night Cream
Anti-aging is the name when it comes to this IT Cosmetics night cream. It works overnight to visibly improve the five top signs of aging skin: fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, dullness and loss of firmness. This luxurious lavender scented product is suitable for all skin types. Plus, it’s made with ceramides, adenosine, and hyaluronic acid that restores the natural skin barrier.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex Serum
Described as a “super serum” formulated with Chronolux Power Signal Technology, this night treatment visibly minimizes multiple signs of aging by supporting the skin’s natural ability to repair and boost collagen. The high levels of hyaluronic acid locks in moisture for up to 72 hours, and helps optimize the skin’s natural repair process. One reviewer said, “I love noticing smaller pores, plumper skin and less redness in the morning after applying this the night before.”
Origins Night-A-Mins Resurfacing Cream
This high potency night cream is extracted from grapes and sugar beets. The fruit-derived acids gently aid sloughing off dead skin cells to make way for fresh, healthy skin cells. It acts as both an overnight moisturizer and a peel that leaves your visage looking smoothed and renewed. Additionally, this is formulated with vitamins B, C, E, H, calcium and the essential oils of neroli, valerian, and vanilla.
Tula Beauty Sleep Overnight Repair Treatment
This night cream combines probiotic extracts, AHA’s and Vitamin C. It also targets signs of premature aging, smooths the appearance of wrinkles, and improves the look of texture. Good for all skin types, the inclusion of Camellia Sinensis leaf extract helps calm the appearance of the skin. And the blend of watermelon and fruit extracts provide an instant hydration boost.
La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizer
This luxurious and thick cream is best recommended for those with dry or combination skin. It has an intense healing moisture and is said to deliver the appearance of “energized repair.” This elegant product is made with a miracle broth that repairs visible signs of age and lime tea that is a proprietary antioxidant.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich
For those who don’t know, Dr. Sturm is an aesthetic doctor with a background in anti-inflammatory medicine. This rich night cream is formulated with purslane and potent antioxidants that absorb into the skin to soothe, calm, and tighten the skin. Key ingredients include skullcap, Vitamin E, and avocadin. While it’s perfect for those with more mature skin or complexions that need extra hydration, it’s just as fantastic as assisting with the appearance of dark circles.
Chanel Hydra Beauty Camellia Repair Mask
With a combination of White Camellia Wax, hyaluronic acid and glycerin locks in moisture this powerful formula is one to beat. It’s also equipped with panthenol that helps soothe and antioxidant Blue Ginger PFA that provides antioxidant benefits. Many shoppers reported having an “instant plumping effect” while using the product along with nourished, radiant skin. Chanel recommends applying a thin layer to the face and massaging thoroughly.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Intensive Night Cream
This intensive night cream aids skin concerns that include dark spots and pores. It’s formulated with Total Soy Complex for a more radiant complexion and Vitamin B3 that diminishes dullness and blotchiness. Apply all over your face and neck for optimal results. One shopper wrote, “This cream is wonderful. I have a tendency to develop blotchy spots on my face when I get too much sun. This cream is the only one that I’ve ever used that helps them disappear.”
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask with 10.5% Squalane
This hydrating night cream is a fragrance-free mask that locks in moisture overnight and strengthens skin’s moisture barrier. Of the many benefits, it’s said to prevent dryness for up to three days and minimize visible dryness and flaky skin overnight. One reviewer said, “I’m a flight attendant and got this to use after long haul flights. The hydrating effect is visible. I’ve tried other overnight masks and find them to be messy. This absorbed quickly and did not leave residue on my pillowcase. I love it!”
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Cream
Dr. Stoler tells SELF, “La Roche Posay uses thermal spring water that contains a unique combination of minerals, trace elements, and a high concentration of selenium, a natural antioxidant. Its products tend to be good for sensitive skin and also cosmetically very elegant.” Key ingredients include prebiotic thermal water, neurosensine, Vitamin E, and shea butter.