Generally, your morning and evening skin-care routines serve two distinct purposes. In the a.m., protection is the name of the game, which is why antioxidants are a must. "During the day, your skin is busy on defense mode, fighting off damaging aggressors such as sun, pollution, and even stress," says Rocio Rivera, PhD, L’Oréal Paris VP of Scientific Communications. "This is when antioxidants, when used under your SPF, protect the skin from damage during daytime."
But at night, it's all about repair. "At night, however, the skin shifts to repair mode and millions of cells start to renew and reverse the damage from the day," she says. "Those same antioxidants are used in a completely different way." When you're sleeping, your body's circadian rhythm cues your skin that it's time for cellular regeneration.
"We traditionally think of antioxidants as protective treatments to be used in the morning along with sunscreen to prevent free radical damage," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "However, they also act like a clean-up crew for our skin and can help neutralize free radical damage for hours after initial exposure to the sun." He explains that by reducing inflammation, antioxidants can also encourage healthy skin cell turnover and collagen production, which helps to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles.
If you're familiar with the way retinol—the most highly recommended p.m. repair ingredient—works, this cell turnover stimulation might sound familiar. But according to Dr. Rocio, the way antioxidants get the job done is slightly different. "Antioxidants use a different mechanism of action than retinol [which also helps to stimulate cell turnover], although they both have an effect in repairing the skin from the damage that external and internal aggressors have created," she says. "But one does not substitute another, and the sum is far greater than each of them alone."
The Midnight Serum formula combines two skin-care staples that are typically used during the day—hyaluronic acid and antioxidants—in a way that helps stimulate cell renewal while you sleep. Hyaluronic acid is known for drawing water into your skin, and the bitter-orange-derived antioxidant recovery complex contains vitamin E, which helps to strengthen your skin's moisture barrier and keep that hydration locked in. "The formula is gentle and moisturizing using hyaluronic acid, it can be used across all skin types, and it can be layered along with your regular night cream," says Dr. Zeichner.
At $33 a bottle, this super-smart serum rivals some of the best anti-aging treatments on the market. According to the brand, it actually outperformed the #1 best-selling luxury night serum in the United States (which retails for $75) in its ability to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. Looks like antioxidants have earned their place as a twice-a-day ingredient, after all.
To see which products a dermatologist uses in her own evening routine, check out the video below.
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