Do You Really Need a Different Night Cream?

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As a natural born skeptic I have to admit— I believed, for quite a good part of my adult life, that "day" and "night" skin-care treatments were arbitrary. A serum is a serum. My skin is skin. Why should it matter what time of day I apply said serum to said skin? This of course is wrong, very wrong. The time of day you exfoliate and apply topical products is extremely important.

"Circadian rhythms have been well studied in dermatology for the past decade," says New York dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD. "There are differences in the skin between daytime and nighttime. The daytime function [of the skin] has to be protective so more sebum is produced between noon and 5pm, when the sun is at its peak. The nighttime is a different story," she says. "Microcirculation increases and the skin throws off a lot of moisture in the process—it’s a time for renewal." 

So what does this mean for your skin-care routine? A lot. When you put products on, you want to apply ones that are going to support what the skin is trying to do at that time—either protecting products or regenerating products. And while most products are labeled for either day or night use due to their function, there are still some rules that might not seem as obvious. For instance, you don't want to exfoliate in the morning time, as your skin needs barrier to protect itself from damage, so retinol and other products that regenerate the skin should only be done at night.

Antioxidant use can be a bit tricky too. While typically we put on vitamins like A and C in the morning to help shield our skin from the sun, they should also be applied at night, says New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD. When only applied in the daytime and exposed to UV light, antioxidants get destroyed therefore you should apply a second dose at bedtime before you go to sleep to help fight any free radical damage and help encourage cell growth.

Hopefully knowing your skin is taken care of all times of the day will have you sleeping better at night. 

Do you use different products during the day and at night?