Are Night Creams More Effective Than Day Creams?

The difference between day and night products is that daytime formulas typically contain SPF and have a lighter consistency to layer under makeup. But, while both are needed for healthy skin, do heavier night creams contain stronger ingredients and work better than day creams? We've got the scoop.

Nighttime products help maintain healthy skin and reduce signs of aging because skin repairs itself overnight to erase any damage it incurred during the day. “Nighttime is when skin does its heavy lifting,” says Patti Pao, founder/CEO of Restorsea skin care. “Skin does the bulk of its restoring and repairing while we sleep, so night creams are focused on moisture and recovery, which is why they are often richer and heavier than day creams.” They also typically include a larger concentration of ingredients like peptides and stronger actives. A key one is retinol (it boosts cell turnover to get rid of dull skin and fine lines), which is best used at night because it is known to increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

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Some skin care pros say that daytime and nighttime products are equally as effective. “The active ingredients in day creams are different than those in night creams, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant for achieving optimal skin health,” says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. “Some ingredients, like SPF and antioxidants, are better received by skin in the morning versus at night due to the body’s circadian rhythms, so using them at night provides little to no benefit.” And, because your skin is most likely to be under direct UV rays during the day, regular use of SPF (no less than 30) could mean the difference between having a bright, youthful complexion or a discolored, aged one.

The bottom line: Products designed for use at night often contain stronger active ingredients, especially in regard to anti-aging, but that doesn’t mean they’re more effective than daytime types; they just serve a different purpose. Both should be important parts of your daily skin care routine.

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