You may be sceptical and we’re certainly not promising how to get clear skin overnight and reverse time travel while you dream, but science is increasingly showing us why products for use during our hours of sleep should be different to those we use during the day.
By Vivienne Parry
Why have a different skincare routine at night?
1. Professionals recommend it
"The skin barrier is more permeable at night which means products are absorbed better", says dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. "And the skin is being treated in the absence of external stressors" adds Professor Birch-Machin at a point when it is in "peak repair mode".
2. Different products can be used at night
Some products, like retinol, cannot be used in high concentrations during the day because they react with light and may cause irritation. For example, SkinCeuticals’ range of retinol products range from 0.3% - 1% and should only be used as part of an evening skincare routine. Overnight skin treatment products can be formulated differently, with a wider range of actives and concentrations possible once sunscreens can be excluded (sunscreens often restrict what else can be used).
3. Think of the practicalities
- No competition from make up
- It doesn’t matter what you look like, no-one’s going to see
- You’re less likely to rub anything off
Your night time routine
For better tone and glow
"The first essential for everyone is to cleanse" says Dr Mahto. "During the day your skin accumulates a layer of dirt and microbes on top of your make up which will clog pores if not removed". She recommends double cleansing, first with a micellar water and then with a mild foaming cleanser. "If this irritates, stop". A cleanser containing a mild exfoliant is also an option here. "Exfoliants should be used at this step once a week if you have dryer skin or twice with normal skin".
Step One: Double cleanse
Step Two: Apply Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight
"Using glycolic acid boosts collagen and cell turnover and is ideally applied at night" says Anjali Mahto. Glycolic acid strength should be in the 4–10% range with the higher percentages more appropriate for night time use. You might need to start applying glycolic acid night cream slowly and always wear an SPF during the day.
Step Three: Apply moisturiser only if necessary
"Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight comes in a cream, so I would suggest that moisturiser isn’t necessary afterwards unless the skin feels red, sore, tight or scaly" says Dr Mahto. She also recommends waiting 20 minutes before application.
Step Four: Apply your favourite eye cream
For younger-looking skin
Step One: Double cleanse, as before
Step Two: Correct with Retinol 0.3
Dry the skin and apply Retinol 0.3. Again, start once a week and build up. Dr Mahto says "I would suggest in older skin in the initial phases, whilst tolerance is being built up to retinol, to use the retinol and the night antioxidant Resveratrol B E on alternate nights. However, when retinol is tolerated on a daily basis then it is possible to moisturise 20 minutes later (or use the Resveratrol B E at this stage instead if preferred)." You must always wear sun protection during the day whilst using retinol products.
Step Three: Moisturise
It might seem counterintuitive but your skin loses water faster at night than during the day. "With trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) highest at night, it makes sense to moisturise as part of your routine, particularly if your skin is prone to dryness" says Dr Mahto.
Step Four: Finish with your favourite eye cream
A.G.E. Eye Complex is a favourite for mature skin.
Now turn off the light and go to sleep!
Want to find out more about the different types of ageing and which products can help?
Discover expert anti-ageing advice here:
This article is intended as general information only. You should seek advice from a professional before starting any new regimen or course of conduct.