Whether you keep things quick and simple or you commit to a more elaborate multi-step ritual, many people have a nighttime skin care routine of some sort. But, do you know how important this routine is to the overall health of your skin—and why?

The products that you apply before bed, and the active ingredients within them, actually help to maximize the skin's natural regeneration and repairing functions that occur while you sleep. When you drift off to sleep, the skin gets busy: its restorative function turns on and collagen starts to rebuild, blood flow increases, and skin cells are repaired from the damage caused by free radicals in your environment (such as ultraviolet light and pollution that contribute to premature skin aging). Skin cell turnover also accelerates, which helps the skin look fresh and healthy, topping up with skin-plumping moisture. Your nighttime routine, therefore, is extremely important in helping the skin perform these functions adequately.

Steps for Better Nighttime Skin Care

In order to attain and maintain healthy skin, there are a few key tips and insights to consider. Let's take a look at the following steps to shape your routine.

1. Remove Makeup and Debris With a Cleanser

Cleansing the skin before bed is one of the most important steps in a nighttime skin care routine as it removes impurities, makeup, and debris. Leaving the pores clear also helps the skin's natural functions to take place, such as natural cell turnover, while creating a more receptive environment for the products that follow.

A high-quality deep pore facial cleanser is a great option for nighttime. The best products are pH balanced and free from oil and soaps, designed to cleanse the skin deeply while binding moisture to the keratin in the skin cells. This makes them ultra-effective at removing heavy makeup and excess oil without over-drying the skin and leaving it feeling tight.

2. Refresh the Skin With a Toner

Once your skin is cleansed and patted dry, add a few drops of toner to a cotton pad and sweep gently over your face. This will remove any remaining makeup or dirt from the skin while leaving it feeling super fresh—and ready for the products that follow. Many toners also have active ingredients, such as fruit acids, within their formulas to help with specific skin concerns, including dullness and congestion.

EltaMD Skin Recovery Toner, for example, helps to repair a damaged skin barrier with proprietary AAComplex Technology, alongside antioxidants that help to defend the skin against free radical damage. The skin is left calmer, and its natural ability to absorb and maintain moisture is improved.

3. Target Concerns With a Serum

The next step in your skin care routine should be a serum that addresses your specific concerns—such as aging, discoloration, congestion, or redness—with active ingredients. Serums are lightweight yet packed with active ingredients that absorb quickly and deeply into the skin due to their low molecular weight. Think of a serum as the medicine that actively gets to improve specific concerns over time, whereas moisturizers provide more instant surface-level comfort, much like a blanket does when you don't feel well.

EltaMD Skin Recovery Serum is a great option if your complexion has been compromised and feels irritated as a result. It's enriched with skin-boosting antioxidants and contains twice the concentration of EltaMD's proprietary AAComplex Technology that repairs the skin barrier.

4. Hydrate With a Moisturizer

Every nighttime skin care routine should include a hydrating moisturizer. Moisturizing the skin is vital, no matter your skin type, as the skin loses more water at night. Hydrating the skin also helps strengthen the protective barrier and keep its pH level balanced. This barrier keeps hidden bacteria out while locking water and lipids in.

The Mayo Clinic explains that moisturizers help to hold water in the outer layer of the skin with humectants, such as glycerin, urea, and lactic acid, and emollients, such as jojoba oil and lanolin. Hydrating the skin in this way is especially important if you have skin concerns like eczema and dermatitis, which leave the skin barrier compromised and more prone to losing water.

5. Strengthen the Skin Barrier With a Night Mask

Did you know that the skin renews itself three times faster at night? While you take a well-earned rest, your skin gets busy repairing and renewing itself. This makes it an opportune time to reap the benefits of more intensive treatments and products, like EltaMD's Skin Recovery Night Mask.

Designed to aid the overnight renewal process, the Skin Recovery Night Mask uses patented AAComplex Technology containing a proprietary blend of three amino acids, in addition to new Chronobiology Technology that harnesses the power of the Lespedeza Capitata Leaf.

Together, these ingredients help to visibly reduce redness while increasing hydration and strengthening the barrier function. Antioxidants within the mask can also help the skin to defend itself against any free radical damage while supporting your skin's natural circadian rhythm, which is commonly impacted by external aggressors. Simply apply a generous amount to tired skin and marvel at refreshed, revitalized, and more even skin in the morning.

The Importance of Maintaining a Routine

Once you've decided on the right products for your nighttime routine, make sure you're getting approximately eight hours of sleep each night so that your skin has adequate time to regenerate and repair itself. Then, it's simply a matter of creating a habit. The more often you follow your routine, the easier it'll be. You can fall asleep knowing you're doing the most for your skin and wake up to a healthy, glowing look.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.