Why You Need a Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Why You Need a Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

If you fall asleep at night without giving your skin the proper treatment it needs, you will wake up with dull, dry skin…and who wants that? To have youthful-looking skin at any age, you need to have a dedicated nighttime skin care routine for anti-aging. Treating your skin with high quality products at night helps your body restore and repair skin cells throughout the night, so you wake up looking refreshed, glowing, and hydrated.

Great anti-aging skincare can start at any age—and the sooner you start, the better off you look in the future. With the proper steps and right products for your skin type, you will have smooth, supple skin at any age.

Step 1: Remove your makeup

Woman removing makeup before for nighttime skincare

Ladies, this is the first step in your nighttime skin care routine. Each morning, you spend time diligently and artistically contouring, powdering and painting your face, brows, lashes and lips with makeup products. However, despite how good your makeup looked throughout the day, at night, before your head hits the pillow, it is imperative that you remove all makeup and beauty products from your face, to keep your skin healthy and clean. After all, you don’t want to wake up with any blemishes or clogged pores—you want a fresh, smooth canvas for the next day’s artistry!

Beyond that, sleeping with makeup on is the cardinal sin when it comes to skincare and it does not matter how tired you are…you have to do it. Remember, especially with waterproof products, the makeup you used was meant to stay on your face all day, through rain or shine, so you will have to do more than splash a little water on your face to erase all traces of those thick lashes.

Make sure to use a quality makeup remover—such as a gentle foaming facial cleanser— to get rid of any leftover or caked on makeup; you will then have a clean and clear palate to complete the next nighttime skincare steps.

Step 2: Cleanse

Man washing face with cleanser in bathroom sink

Men, you may now enter the chat. The best nighttime skin care routine (after removing your makeup, of course) starts with a cleanser. A facial cleanser cleans your skin while also providing moisture and hydration. Unlike a face wash or microdermabrasion scrub which are foamy, a cleanser is creamy, milky or oily and is usually thicker. A quality face cleanser is formulated with ingredients that nourish the skin, balance your complexion and re-hydrate your moisture levels.

Cleansers are gentle on the skin and don’t take away the natural oils necessary for maintaining healthy skin, so they are the perfect product for most skin types: normal, dry, sensitive and even combination.

Step 3: Use toner

Woman applying toner to face to remove excess oils

Unlike the milky, creamy texture of a cleanser, a toner has the consistency of water. A toner is a great way to remove any excess oil from the skin, especially those prone to blemishes and clogged pores. Using a toner helps balance your skin's natural pH levels post-cleansing, while also helping to nourish clean skin.

A toner removes excess oil, dirt and even bacteria and leftover makeup. This product also helps remove dust, pollution and impurities that can still be lingering after washing your face with a cleanser. By balancing your skin's pH levels, you are paving the way for the next products in your anti-aging skincare regimen to penetrate even deeper into the skin.

Step 4: Spot treat your skin concerns

Woman spot-treating her face for skin concerns

This is the step in your nighttime skincare routine that is customizable, depending on your skin type and concerns. In this step you will want to apply any spot treatments on your skin. For example, perhaps you want to use a brightening serum or hydrating serum to help your skin retain moisture throughout the night.

Look for an anti-aging skincare product that contains hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring compound in your body. When you incorporate hyaluronic acid into your skincare regimen, it helps bind and retain moisture, making your skin cells firmer and plumper.

Step 5: Apply eye cream

Man using eye cream to reduce puffiness

You are almost to the finish line of your anti-aging skincare nighttime routine, so don’t stop now; you are about to tackle the most important steps in your nightly regimen.

Your eyes are the window to the soul, so it is important to keep the area around them bright and beautiful. Because the skin around the eyes is thinner than the rest of your face, this area is prone to showing signs of aging faster than other areas of your face, fine lines being one of them. This area is especially delicate so it is important to give this area special attention and special benefits that regular facial moisturizers might not provide.

Incorporating an eye cream into your nighttime skincare routine can help minimize the appearance of wrinkles as well as address other skin concerns like puffiness, dark circles and pigmentation.

The sooner you start using an eye cream, the better. It is easier to prevent the signs of aging rather than correct them. You can start using this essential cream starting in your early 20s in order to help prevent the signs of aging later in life.

Step 6: Moisturize

Moisturizer that contains ceramides to hydrate skin

Congratulations, you made it to the final step in your nighttime skin care routine. We’ve saved the best (and most important) step for last: moisturizing.

A high-quality moisturizer helps maintain healthy hydration in your skin. It also helps protect sensitive skin and improves overall texture. When looking at a moisturizer, make sure to opt for one that contains ceramides.

Ceramides are your skin’s protection against all the environmental factors that the day can throw your way: dirt, pollution and even the sun’s UV rays. Ceramides act as a barrier to keep these pesky problems away from your skin, while keeping your skin’s natural moisture locked in.

Incorporating products that contain ceramides into your anti-aging day or night skincare routine could help prevent your ceramide levels from depleting—so that your skin stays soft and glowing for years to come.

Bonus round: Try a moisturizing face mask

Woman putting on face mask before nightly skin routine

A face mask can play an important role in your anti-aging skincare routine. Although good for your skin, this step is not necessary every evening…but, if you have a little more time on your hands and are looking to give yourself a DIY spa night, use this as a night cap to your routine after properly cleansing your skin.

Look for an anti-aging mask that uses the power of hyaluronic acid and tea extracts that fight the appearance of aging, while restoring youthful radiance and smoothness to your skin. Apply a face mask that is cream-based so you can control the thickness that goes on your face, and apply the mask to all areas of your face, from the top of your head down to your chin.

Gently blend into your skin and let the nutrients seep in. It is recommended to leave a mask on for 20 minutes and to not to use your facial muscles during this timeframe. That means no eating, drinking, or speaking (feel free to text). This is your time to unwind and relax, so take full advantage.

Once the 20 minutes are over, rinse off the mask with lukewarm water and a soft face cloth. Make sure you remove the entire mask from your face, with no residue left behind. After washing away the face mask, you can go about your regular nightly skincare routine.

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