A Beautiful Sleep: Scroll through the shopping pages of any skincare website and you’ll invariably find a handful of night creams and night repair serums. These rich creams & serums are packed with active botanicals and often contain the highest percentage of anti-aging ingredients. But having appeared on Cityline for more than a decade, I can tell you many women and men aren’t quite sure what these products do. Or why they need them. Here’s an overview.
What are night creams? Studies show that sleep is not only restorative to our bodies and minds, but also to our skin. Researchers have proven that skin actually has natural repair mechanisms that kick into high gear while we sleep. Essentially, while we are asleep, our skin is most receptive to rejuvenating treatments. Cell turnover is eight times faster during the evening hours. Researchers believe that since our bodies aren’t fighting environmental aggressors during the night, more energy can be directed to repairing cellular damage. To capitalize on the renewing power of sleep, night creams contain a host of ingredients that stimulate and support this nighttime cellular turnover process.
What are night repair serums? These lightweight serums such as Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery contain the highest percentage of active ingredients. You apply them immediately after cleansing your skin and before you apply a night cream. They are very lightweight and designed to penetrate into the skin quickly.
What do they do? Night creams and serums strengthen the skin’s natural renewal functions. Aside from supporting the skin’s natural collagen production, night creams boost cellular renewal and repair damage caused during the day (pollution, free radicals, sun). Many formulas are time-released, meaning that beneficial ingredients are released throughout the night, improving skin texture and tone, counteracting dullness and rejuvenating the complexion. And what few people realize is that the benefits of night creams are cumulative. That means that if you use them nightly consistently, you’ll see better and better results over time. Remember, it takes 28 days on average for skin cells to turn over so you need to wait that long to see optimal results.
Sun damage. One of the biggest factors in the effectiveness of night creams is that the skin isn’t fending off daytime UV damage while trying to repair itself. This allows the body to focus solely on repairing any damage throughout the skin’s layers. This is why you’ll see a higher percentage of active ingredients in night cream products.
How do they differ from day creams? The skin has different requirements during the day and night. During the daytime, skin cells enter what skincare biologists have dubbed “defensive” mode, to protect against environmental aggressors, while at night, the skin enters a “repair” mode, in essence, improving its ability to absorb active ingredients. Our skin is actually more receptive to active ingredients at night because active ingredients are less effective when exposed to sunlight during the day. (Retinol and its many variations is particularly sensitive to sun and should only be used during nighttime hours.)
During Fashion Week, models often get less than five hours a night of sleep. They walk the catwalk during the day and have fittings all night.
Warmer body temperatures. Because our body temperature rises at night and because the skin’s natural protective barrier is more permeable as a result, serums, creams and masks are able to penetrate into deeper layers of our skin than during the day. Therefore, night creams are generally richer than day creams.
And, while many day creams are formulated with SPF to fight off free radicals and protect against UV damage, night creams are SPF-free and contain more soothing ingredients meant to drive moisture into the cells and encourage optimal cell turnover. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to use a night cream during the day. You need broad spectrum UV protection.
New delivery systems. Improved delivery systems allow scientists to better target ingredients within the skin. This remains a focus of Research and Development teams. The most effective ingredients in the world are useless if they can’t penetrate deep enough into the skin. The second big discovery is that the combination of ingredients can be more powerful than one single power ingredient. It’s this synergy of active ingredients that can be much more effective that the single molecules on their own.
Get better results from your night cream:
Thoroughly cleanse your skin removing makeup and other pollutants built up during the day before applying a night cream.
Apply an almond-sized amount of night cream to the tips of your fingers, then rub fingers together to evenly disburse cream before gently smoothing cream across forehead, cheeks, nose and chin.
Take another almond-size amount of cream and apply with fingertips using upward strokes to neck and décolleté.
Effective Night Repair Formulas:
Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream
Guerlain Abeille Royale Night Cream Wrinkle Correction Firming
Lancome Genifique Repair Youth Activating Night Cream
Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkleresist24 Night Cream
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Night
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Philosophy hope in a jar night
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II