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Nighttime skincare basics

Make the most of your skin’s built-in repair process with a practical and effective nighttime skincare routine.

Woman applying face cream

While you’re sleeping, your skin gets a break from environmental stressors such as pollution, extreme temperatures and sun exposure, along with smoking, drinking and wearing make-up, says dermatologist Dr Amy Derick. Your body has a natural repair process, and sleeping gives this process a chance to catch up.


Drink a small glass of water before bed. (Not too much — you don’t want to worry about getting up in the middle of the night!) Follow with a fresh glass of water upon waking. Your skin flourishes with good hydration. With this nighttime routine, you can be sure you’re getting at least two of the recommended eight glasses of water a day.

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“This may seem oh-so basic, but there are far too many women who fail to wash their face at night,” says Constance Dunn of Practical Daily washings keep your skin healthy and glowing. Opt for mild products and use warm water to cleanse and cool water to rinse. Use a washcloth in gentle circular motions to exfoliate, and consider using high-quality olive oil and cotton swabs to remove the layers of make-up around your eyes, suggests Dunn.

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“Your skin is drier and more vulnerable to irritation at night than it is during the day,” says Dr Derick. “Be sure to take care of your skin at night by applying a moisturizer before bed.” Look for night creams — you don’t need the SPF that day creams contain. If your skin tends to be oily, avoid the T-zone — forehead, nose and chin — when moisturizing, or apply to that area sparingly.

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“Nighttime is your golden opportunity to replenish your skin’s defense-boosting antioxidant reserves,” explains Dr Derick. Topical anti-aging formulations with vitamin A, such as retinoids, must be used only at night since they break down chemically with sun exposure. Talk to your dermatologist about the best age-fighting products for your skin.

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We’ve all looked in the mirror in the morning to see a sleep-wrinkled, creased face gazing back at us. Ditch the rough bedding, and look for vintage and antique pillowcases made of silk or satin, says Dunn. “The surface is so soft and silky that, when sleeping, one’s face will slide free from a scrunched-up pose.” Change your pillowcase every few days to get rid of dead skin cells that accumulate in your bed.

Bonus: Satin pillowcases are great for preventing bedhead, too!


Like the rest of the body, your skin needs rest. Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night gives your skin a chance to repair itself so you can wake up to a fresh slate in the morning.

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More sleep-enhancing tips

Guided meditation for sleep: How to meditate

Find a peaceful spot just before going to bed and listen to this meditation. Allow yourself to relax and unwind. Whatever has happened in your day, let it go.

More nighttime beauty tips

5 Do-it-the-night-before style tips
7 Tips for a better night’s sleep
Skincare tips: What to do every morning and night

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