The Best Skincare Ingredients to Use at Night

Night cream: a beauty essential or a bit of a marketing con? Let’s find out.

Skincare can be a funny topic for debate. While you might swear by your 20-minute morning routine, your best friend could be just as happy with her one-moisturizer-and-done. And do you know what? That’s OK because here at Glomance, we believe skincare is a very personal thing. After all, what works for one person may not be ideal for another.

But (and it is a big but) some skincare secrets cannot be denied. And that’s the power of beauty sleep – aptly named for a good reason. Skimping on your nightly rest can lead to all manners of physical and mental health problems. And if you want your skin to be healthy, radiant, and youthful-looking, your bed is probably the most important weapon in your skincare arsenal. 

What Happens To Skin As You Sleep

When it comes to effective beauty tricks, a good night’s sleep is right up there with moisturizing and wearing a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to “power the mind, restore the body, and fortify virtually every system in the body.”

What does this mean for your skin? Well, sleep is just as critical for the health of your skin as it is for your overall well-being because of its ability to regulate hormones.

Let’s talk about hormones.

Often called the ‘stress hormone,’ cortisol is a steroid hormone that not only regulates stress, but your immune system, blood pressure, and metabolism as well. According to the Society for Endocrinology, cortisol levels vary throughout the day but are usually at their peak in the morning and then decrease in the evening and drop even further as you sleep. This means that if you don’t get enough shut-eye, you continue to produce cortisol, which is bad news for your body’s natural repair system – and particularly your skin. Increased levels of cortisol in your bloodstream may interfere with healing, encourage inflammation, and accelerate the visible signs of aging. It can even cause flare-ups in skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

And that’s not all. In the evening, as your body and brain start to wind down, two other hormones kick in: HGH (human growth hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone). HGH helps skin regenerate as it rests while melatonin works to repair damage that is caused by environmental aggressors such as UV radiation and pollution.

The good news is that consistent sleep keeps all this hormone activity regulated and in good working order. But deprive yourself of a few hours here and there, and your skin could really suffer.

The science proves that you and your skin need regular and substantial rest. But does it mean your skin needs a specific beauty treatment to maximize its potential to heal, strengthen, and repair itself overnight?

Why Night Creams are Important for your Skin

If all you want from a moisturizer is to hydrate your skin day and night and don’t really care if it’s a lotion or a cream as long as it does a decent job, then one product will do you just fine. There are many moisturizers on the market that concentrate on doing the simple task of hydrating your skin with clinically-proven ingredients like hyaluronic acid. And yes, these can work like a dream if simple hydration is your main goal.

However, day creams can be mattifying (unnecessary while you sleep) and are formulated to be light enough to wear under makeup, whereas night creams are generally thicker with a certain texture that might not work under your foundation. A daily moisturizer might also contain pigment to offer a subtle tint or a bit of coverage for your skin.

The main thing to remember is that during the day, your skin has different needs than from at night. It needs hydration all the time, but throughout the daytime, it also requires antioxidant and UV protection. On the other hand, at night, it benefits more from deeper moisturization and help with treating, healing, or soothing any damage that your skin has experienced throughout the day.

Night-time is when your skin gets a real chance to repair itself. So if you can give it a little nudge in the right direction with some hard-working, skin-loving active ingredients that really wouldn’t cut it in the daytime, why deny it that?

The Best Bedtime Ingredients for Your Skin Concerns

Your most important question when choosing your night-time skincare products is: what are your skincare concerns? For example, if you’re annoyed about waking up with dark circles under your eyes, then you need a targeted eye cream. Concerned about premature aging? Then an overnight retinol treatment could be just what the skin doctor ordered.

Here are some of our favorite overnight skincare ingredients for treating different concerns… 

  1. Dryness or Dehydration

Dry skin can be caused by anything from dry weather conditions to sensitivities. It’s not usually serious but often gets worse as you age because the dermis and subcutaneous layers of your skin begin to thin and lose valuable hyaluronic acid. Sebum production also drops significantly in the skin as you mature, so fighting back with a rich, quenching moisturizer is important.

For the night, look for ointments or creams that contain emollients to help prevent water loss. Emollients can be pretty heavy for daywear but are perfect as you sleep and include ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil, which are highly recommended for dry skin by the American Academy of Dermatology.

  1. Discoloration

Looking to reduce dark spots? Then active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that exfoliate your skin while you sleep should be your focus. Our all-time favorite is lactic acid, which is derived from soured milk and ideal for brightening the skin. Unlike glycolic acid, which is super-effective but a tad potent for some skin types, lactic acid is much better tolerated by the skin.

Our Overnight Star Resurfacing Night Treatment blends lactic acid with hyaluronic acid to slough away dead skin cells, reduce unwanted pigmentation and hydrate your skin as you sleep. It also contains licorice, another awesome ingredient for fading unwanted dark spots.

  1. Fine Lines & Wrinkles 

When it comes to night-time anti-aging treatments, you can’t go wrong with retinol. And retinol is one ingredient you really can’t use in the daytime because sunlight causes it to become inactive.

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and works by encouraging cell turnover, neutralizing free radicals, preventing collagen breakdown and generally doing a darn good job of strengthening your skin. Dermatologists around the world over-prescribe the stronger version of retinol (tretinoin) to patients for aging skin, and retinol is a super-effective over-the-counter alternative. It takes a little longer to show results, but retinol still offers truly fabulous benefits.

P.S. Retinol is also a great overnight treatment for acne and dark spots.

  1. Acne-Prone Skin

To treat oily skin and pimples while you sleep, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid are ideal as they work to exfoliate the top layers of your skin while reducing excess sebum that can clog your pores. Unlike other acne-fighting ingredients, salicylic acid also has a calming, soothing effect, which is great for red, angry flare-ups. 

Another important note for acne skin: don’t forget to keep your skin moisturized. You’ll want to avoid rich, emollient-based creams as they do nothing but clog your pores, but if you dismiss moisturizer altogether, your skin will overcompensate for the lack of hydration by over-producing sebum. And that is a vicious circle. Instead, choose lighter, oil-free lotions that contain hyaluronic acid (Overnight Star Resurfacing Night Treatment has you covered there) or glycerin. 

  1. Dark Circles Under Your Eyes

The skin under your eyes lacks collagen and is extremely thin, which means it is more transparent than the rest of your face and allows blood vessels below the surface to be more visible. Although the reasons are unclear, lack of sleep can cause a congestion of blood and fluid retention under the eyes. It can also make the skin drier, which does nothing but make those dark circles even more prominent.

To help strengthen, hydrate, and depuff the skin under your eyes, look for a targeted overnight eye cream that contains ceramides, caffeine, vitamin C and/or vitamin K. Just remember the skin around your eyes is super-delicate, so never rub in eye cream like your life depended on it. Instead, dab just a small amount around the orbital bone, using your ring fingers to gently press it into the skin.

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