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If waking up beautiful sounds like an oxymoron, it needn’t be. With the right nighttime products, you can start the day with your morning cup of joe and skin that looks smooth and refreshed. In fact, during the night, your skin is doing its best work, and so it deserves as much help as you can give it.
The most important reason for investing in a good night cream is that the skin does go through some changes at night as you sleep. Ironically, it isn’t snoozing at all — quite the opposite. Its metabolic rate increases, and “cells show increased production and a reduced breakdown of proteins,” which is all good news for those who desire beautiful, healthy skin. Also, blood flow seems to be higher at night, and when blood flow is increased to the skin, the area of absorption (of whatever serum you put on at night) increases, too.
In our post on whether night creams really work, we noted that there is evidence that skin cells follow a circadian rhythm; the cells divide consistently in order to make up for dead ones. This could be why serums with actives that signal to cells — such as peptides and growth factors — are often recommended for use at night.
There are other products that are best used at night, including those that contain retinol. This is because the skin is more prone to burning when layered with retinoids and exposed to sunlight. The same is true of products that contain AHAs, such as glycolic and lactic acid (read more on how AHAs work).
As any side sleeper knows, sleeping can also give you wrinkles. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that sleep wrinkles can become etched into the surface of the skin after years of sleeping in the same position. The solution is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with a cream that might normally be too heavy for day use.
Eslor Active Night Cream ($95 in the shop) is a good example of a rich cream that is too much for my slightly oily skin during the day, but at night, it comes into its own and prevents the dreaded pillow creases with mango and almond butters, glycerin and aloe vera gel. Matrixyl 3000 signals to those cells to produce more collagen, and two types of vitamin C and lecithin help to improve skin tone.
My Prime Transformative Night Cream ($92) gives brighter and more youthful skin, and it seems to behave well even with problematic, combination skin. Retinol makes it nighttime only, and it also contains collagen and hyaluronic acid. What I like are some of its uncommon botanicals, including moringa (which protects from pollution), white lupin (strengthens skin by stimulating the synthesis of epidermal lipids), and My Prime’s signature pili (a source of beta carotene).
Arcona Overnight Cellular Repair Complex ($58) hydrates, stimulates collagen production and repairs past damage while you sleep. Once the cream has been absorbed, the skin instantly feels soft and smooth and continues to look fresh in the morning. This is a good one for those prone to redness and broken veins as it boasts rutin, an extract of a plant known as kangaroo’s paws. Additionally, a ton of fruit and flower extracts bring anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Skin Nutrition Night Cream ($75) is a rich cream that does its part to fade wrinkles. Reviewers have had great results, as have I. In the words of one reviewer, “This works.” It’s packed with vitamins, amino acids and plant extracts, including Skin Nutrition’s signature monk’s pepper berry and cactus pear.
Lumavera Glycolic Night Cream ($80) is for those who prefer a more lightweight nighttime treatment and/or those who want exfoliation. With 10% glycolic, this is the real deal. Plus, there are peptides, plant stem cells and Lumavera’s veggie blend.
Amarte Hydrolift Cream ($70) smooths fine lines and wrinkles with retinol at 0.6%, adenosine, caviar extract and acacia collagen. Our tester’s before and after pictures show much brighter skin tone. Argan oil and glycerin offset the retinol’s exfoliation for softer skin.
BRAD Biophotonic Ultra Elastin Sculpting Firming Cream Complex ($196 in the shop) helps brighten skin and leaves it feeling firmer and hydrated. Glycolic acid is the third ingredient, and the formula also consists of a very solid list of vitamins, natural oils, herbs, extracts, butters, antioxidants and multi-peptide bioferment, the BRAD secret sauce.
Prana Reverse A ($48 in the shop). Personally, I am not a retinol user. But night would be the time to use it since retinols increase photosensitivity, and if I were asked to recommend one, this would be it. It isn’t too harsh, but it is not namby-pamby either. If you have stubborn areas of aging skin or hyperpigmentation and want a relatively effective over-the-counter retinol, then this is worth trying out. I like this formula because it has a slew of anti-agers and natural ingredients.
Truth Renew LED and Ultrasound Anti-aging System ($109 in the shop) is one of our secret weapons. A 15-minute session of LED light and ultrasound will help cell turnover, promote collagen production and leave you rosy and rejuvenated. Long-term use will firm sagging skin like nothing else. Oh, and red LED light is both relaxing and mood enhancing — what better way to end the day?