Dear Marta, What’s the point of a nighttime beauty regimen and should products I use be any different from the ones I use during the day?
When this question landed in my email, I knew that a glib answer wouldn’t suffice. Indeed, for years, I was cynical enough to assume that when beauty companies say “use twice a day, morning and night” it was to encourage me to use their product more quickly. I doggedly avoided a night regimen until I recently became convinced that there are four good reasons to work on getting my “beauty sleep.”
The skin changes at night
The first and best reason is that the skin does go through some changes at night as you sleep. 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.
Some products are more effective at night
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 AQ’s Serum – are recommended for use at night.
There are other products that are best used at night, certainly 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). See below for product suggestions for night owls.
Sleeping gives you wrinkles
I am a side sleeper and without a doubt this causes wrinkles to form on my cheeks, and side of face. Even 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. I have finally taken this issue in hand by making sure I go to bed with a good, moisturizing serum or night cream, such as Skin Nutrition’s night cream. Typically, these would be too heavy for me for daytime, but at night they really help ensure that I wake up crinkle free (don’t even ask why it has taken me more than 50 years to figure this out).
Copley wrote about the benefits of a good night’s shut eye. According to Dr. Perricone, getting a sufficient amount of rest enables your body to produce more human growth hormone, which makes skin more elastic and less likely to wrinkle. Moreover, a shortage of shut-eye can throw off levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and increases fat retention. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a loss of three hours of sleep inhibits healthy weight loss.
Personally, I find that the act of cleansing my face and neck and then “treating myself’ to a nice skincare product (or two) before bedtime makes me feel a tad pampered and ready to take full advantage of my beauty sleep.
Products that come into their own at night:
Skin Nutrition’s Night Moisturizer ($75 in the shop). Rich in shea butter, olive avocado and rosehip oils, this rich night cream is powerhouse of plant extracts. There are no fancy peptides, growth factors or synthetic free radical fighters – just plant power. Amongst the botanical antioxidants are Skin Nutrition’s signature cactus pear, a great source of ascorbic acid and quercetin. Read Cindy’s review.
Prana Reverse A ($48 in the TIA shop). I am often asked to recommend over-the-counter retinol creams and this is the one that I have no hesitation in putting forward. It is the only one that I use – at night, of course. 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 retinal, then this is worth trying out. Use at night as retinyl palmitate is photosensitive. I like this formula because it has a slew of anti-agers and natural ingredients. Read the full review.
Mad Hippie’s Exfoliating Serum ($35 in the TIA shop). This is a relatively gentle glycolic exfoliator that is reinforced by repairing actives and won’t break the bank. On the brightening/lightening front, Mad Hippie has also included Gigawhite, which is a complex of six botanicals that are supposed to help fade age spots. It also has apple stem cells, vitamin C, white tea, ceramide-3 and melatonin. Read the full review.
Snowberry Cellular Regeneration Night Cream ($104). Our reviewer Nancy said: “If you already have good skin, this will keep it that way.” So this could be a good choice for younger skins who want get the night regimen off on a good footing. Its also a good choice for anyone with a preference for natural products based on organic ingredients. Read the full review.
Biao Beauty Rejuvenating Night Crème ($25 in the TIA shop). The core of Rejuvenating Night Crème’s ingredients is a complex called EpiCalmin TMC. The TMC part is an acronym for traditional Chinese medicine and is the inspiration for three plant extracts: honeysuckle flower, xanthium sibiricum fruit and cyperus rotundus root. This is extremely nourishing and an excellent product for the price. Read the full review.
Pure Skin Cellular Night Cream With EGF ($65). I haven’t tried this, but our reviewer Mark recommended it, saying: “I was pleased with the consistency as it was more like a lotion than a cream, and found it to absorb well without leaving the skin feeling greasy like some night creams can. The immediate results I noticed was waking up to moisturized (not greasy), well hydrated skin that remained so throughout the day.” The formula is not for purists but it does include peptides and some botanicals.
La Vie Celeste Extra Rich Face Cream with R-Lipoic Acid, ChroNOline and Apple Stem Cell ($75 in the TIA shop) is not only gorgeous to use (luxurious without being overly unctuous), but it functions well by moisturizing and hydrating without feeling heavy or pore congesting. ChroNOline is an ingredient aimed at preventing sagging skin. Read the full review.
SenZen Infinity Never Ending Moisture ($95). This is a rich and nourishing cream that also has ChroNOline, other peptides and plenty of botanicals. Like all SenZen products, this anti-aging moisturizer uses liposomes to deliver the product’s vitamins and other nutrients. A signature SenZen ingredient is heobroma grandiflorum, commonly called copuacu, a South American tree that contains nine flavenoid antioxidants including quercetin. Read the full review.