When it comes to choosing a day cream, most of us know to look for something with a healthy dose of SPF and antioxidant protection that hydrates skin and layers well with makeup. When it comes to choosing a night cream, however, the “must-haves” are far more complex. Should you use a retinol or a glycolic acid? Should you use something with hyaluronic acid or peptides? And the questions keep rolling on from there.
Regardless of skin type or concern, however, night creams are meant to work with the body’s natural circadian rhythm to treat damage and replenish skin, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “We know that the skin has its lowest levels of hydration at the end of the day,” he explains. “We also know that the skin undergoes cell division overnight, making it an optimal time to apply products that help strengthen the skin.”
So while your day cream should undoubtedly be protecting skin from environmental aggressors (think: UV rays and pollution), your night cream needs to be packed with reparative ingredients (and even potent collagen boosters and wrinkle fighters). Whether your primary concern is replenishing moisture, treating acne, or diminishing fine lines, there’s an overnight product up for the task. Here, six skin pros from around the country do the hard work for you, sharing their after-hours go-tos.
Keep scrolling for some of these skin pros’ top products to use at night.
Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD, Dallas
Hyaluronic acid is often considered the gold standard of hydration because the naturally occurring molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The Texas-based dermatologist recommends SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, $178, because “it helps to plump the skin’s appearance and increase the body’s natural hyaluronic acid production, which is great for both wrinkles and dullness,” she says.
Anthony Youn, MD, FACS, Troy, MI
Dr. Youn recommends The Spa Dr Daily Essentials Renew Enriched Moisturizer, $60, a natural and organic moisturizer (which happens to be his wife’s favorite!) that’s packed with virgin, cold-pressed oils to “powerfully hydrate the skin”—plus green, black, and white tea to “fight off and reverse aging.”
Annie Chiu, MD, Los Angeles
While some women want their faces to feel slicked in a rich cream, others want a boost of moisture, minus the greasy mess that follows. Dr. Chiu likes Tata Harper Reparative Moisturizer, $105, because it’s “a hydrating, but not overly rich moisturizer” that contains “water-retaining hyaluronic acid and anti-inflammatory botanicals like lavender oil, which make it a nice lightweight moisturizer for those with sensitive skin.”
Joshua Zeichner, MD, NYC
Dr. Zeichner is a fan of Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer, $22. “Retinol is the best-studied over-the-counter ingredient we have in fighting signs of skin aging,” he says. “But not all retinol is created equal, so it’s important to choose a product that has a stable formulation and proven effectiveness.”
Karyn Grossman, MD, Santa Monica and NYC
Dr. Grossman, who cares for famous faces like Molly Sims and Linda Evangelista, developed her skin-care line Karyn G to address “all the signs of aging” (i.e. hyperpigmentation, acne, dryness, and loss of volume) her patients deal with daily. This Karyn G Restructuring Night Cream, $75, “works on hydration, barrier repair, exfoliation, inflammation, and DNA repair [while also being] collagen- and hyaluronic acid-boosting.”
Francesca Fusco, MD, NYC
Dr. Fusco offers a simple nighttime regimen to her patients. First, she recommends applying a cream that “is very rich” and can deliver concentrated amounts of ingredients like retinol, vitamins C and E, or ferulic acid. She likes Patricia Wexler M.D. Intensive Night Reversal and Repair Cream, $70, because it contains “line-smoothing peptides” and a skin-brightening antioxidant complex.