If you’re wondering what the best night cream is, you’re already way ahead of the curve. We’re still beating the drum to get everyone moisturizing in both the morning and evening, so using the same product is totally fine for starters. But there’s also no real reason not to start using a specialized night cream—it won’t even really cost you anything, since each product lasts twice as long if you’re only using it once a day. And your skin needs very different things while you’re getting your shut-eye.
During the day, you are more prone to sweating, and your skin’s oil production can fluctuate, leading to unwanted shine. You’re seeing people out in the world—you don’t want a layer of visible product on your mug. Most importantly, you’re exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can aggressively age the skin, and, you know, give you cancer. So a daytime moisturizer should be lightweight, invisible, and include SPF to shield your skin from the sun.
At night, that’s all out the window. You aren’t as concerned with your appearance, so heavier products are suddenly in play. (Night creams tend to be dense to protect your skin from overnight dehydration.) Sweating isn’t as much of an issue, so there’s less need to worry about shine. Your skin cells are regenerating rapidly as you sleep and your entire body repairs and restores itself. The best night cream will magnify the benefits of that cellular turnover, with ingredients like ceramides that help firm and plump the skin by boosting collagen and elastin. Many night creams include retinol, a hard-working ingredient that proactively reverses signs of aging—but that isn’t good for daytime use, since it increases the skin’s sensitivity to irritation and sun damage. These products will put in heavy-duty work will you’re conked out—and make sure you wake up looking rested and refreshed.
The best technically advanced night cream
This one’s not even technically a cream! But Aesop’s vitamin C-rich gel, formulated with a mix of antioxidants that lend it a distinct honey-like texture, is too good not to include. Heck, it was so hard to concoct it’s the culty brand’s lead chemist’s favorite product.
The best anti-aging night cream
Retinol is about as close as it gets to a skin care cure-all. (The learning curve is steep, but if you’re looking for long-lasting results, it’s worth studying up.) The good doctor’s night cream puts it to use in tandem with ferulic acid to fight fine lines and wrinkles before you even notice ’em.
The best fast-absorbing night cream
If you hate the idea of weighing down your face with gobs of product you swear you can feel but still pine for a night cream’s moisturizing powers, this fast-absorbing option is for you. Clark’s combines a long list of medicine cabinet staples like retinol, colloidal oatmeal, and vitamin C to even out your skin tone and minimize pore size without disturbing your precious beauty sleep.
The best drugstore night cream
Cerave’s always-in-stock night cream promises all the hydrating powers of its pricier competitors—thanks to an all-star lineup of skin care MVPs like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides—sans the nasty sticker shock.
The best top-shelf night cream
Long beloved by Hollywood’s glowiest (and the skin care gurus that cater to them), Augustinus Bader’s anti-aging option costs a pretty penny, but it’s worth every last cent.
The best collagen-boosting night cream
Elemis combines algae extract with antioxidant-rich avocado and sesame-seed oils to help keep your skin hydrated in the short term—and permanently improve its elasticity down the line.
The best night cream for redness-prone skin
Don’t let the thick consistency fool you: First Aid’s niacinamide-infused night cream lathers on smooth and leaves your skin feeling that way, thanks to a soothing blend of colloidal oatmeal and moisture-locking sodium hyaluronate.
The best night cream for dry skin
If you’ve prone to bouts of dryness, targeting the areas most prone to flaking in the PM (and arming yourself with a trusty SPF during the day) is the right move. SkinCeuticals’ cream is formulated with a potent hydroxy acid mix, along with a soothing cocktail of aloe, chamomile, and primrose extract that works overtime to nourish the areas that need it most.