Nighttime Skin Care Routine... What Order Should I Apply My Product?

To get the most benefit from your nighttime skin care routine, you must be using the right products and apply them in the right order. This will give you the best results to create the most improvement in your skin while you sleep at night. It’s called “beauty sleep” for a reason.

First, here are some general guidelines for your nighttime skin care routine.

  • After you wash your face, you have a 60-second window to get your toner on before moisture evaporation occurs.
  • Your nighttime skin care routine is all about repairing your skin while your morning routine is mainly about protection from the environment.
  • Are you guilty of getting lazy at night and not tending to your routine? Try to do it earlier in the evening, just after the sun goes down.
  • Never skip using moisturizer at night thinking that your skin needs to “breathe”. Your skin does not have a respiratory system so this is a myth. Plus, omitting moisturizer will result in water loss for your skin cells.
  • Facial oils are not ideal to use in the morning to avoid interfering with the daytime protection you need from your sunscreen. Skin oils in their pure form may dissolve your sunscreen throughout the day, similar to the way that your natural oils can.
  • Use products for your nighttime skin care routine that are made for your unique skin type. 

Did you know that your skin function changes in the evening?

At night when it’s dark outside:

  • The water content in the cells is the lowest due to transepidermal water loss
  • Your skin’s protective barrier function is decreased so there is more permeability (which is why you always want to add a serum to your nighttime skin care routine)
  • Your skin’s detox enzymes are released
  • Cell division is increased
  • Mitochondrial energy is renewed overnight
  • DNA repair and renewal is active

Read what’s happening with your skin during daylight hours here.

In what order should I be applying products during my nighttime skin care routine?

Step 1: Use a cleanser, preferably a cleansing lotion

At night, your skin has special needs because:

  • Your skin has been wearing sunscreen and/or makeup all day.
  • Your skin has secreted sebum (oil).
  • You’ve been unknowingly touching your face all day transferring bacteria to your face. It’s thought that the face is the dirtiest part of your entire body.

To remove face makeup at during your nighttime skin care routine, I always suggest using a cleansing lotion (not a foaming gel) since it does a better job at properly removing makeup.

Step 2: Treat your skin to a mask (optional)

Many people, including myself, like to do a mask as part of their nighttime skin care routine. A mask is very beneficial for resetting the skin especially if you’ve been on an airplane, wearing more makeup than usual, had one too many cocktails, been out in the sun and pollution, or getting blemishes.

After cleansing at night, you’ll apply a facial mask and leave on for 5-20 minutes. Rinse and proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Apply an alcohol free toner

Wipe over the entire face and neck. Leave damp (don’t let it dry!) and immediately proceed to the next step.


Step 4: Use a skin serum for your skin type

If you want to increase the results from your nighttime skin care routine, using a specialized serum at night will go a long way. Since your skin’s permeability is enhanced at night and serums have a small molecule to penetrate through the cell membrane, you really should be using one. One that you get from reputable and ingredient-focused skin care brands should have effective percentages of active ingredients to create positive change in your skin.

It’s best to apply the serum and let it absorb for 60 seconds before applying moisturizer.

Step 5: Put on a moisturizer

I don’t believe there is really such thing as a “night cream” as some companies like to promote. In my opinion, a moisturizer for nighttime use is simply one that doesn’t include sunscreen. They don’t have to be greasy or heavy (it’s a myth that the heavier it is the better it is for wrinkles) but it does need to be for your skin type.

Step 6: Apply eye cream (optional)

I’m a huge believer in using a nourishing eye cream, especially as part of your nighttime skin care routine when you’re not having to deal with sun exposure or wearing makeup. After all, the eye area is the very first place on the face to show the signs of aging in the form of lines and wrinkles.

Step 7: Put on an acne spot treatment (optional)

Use the same way in the morning by wiping away the area you want to treat before applying your favorite blemish treatment. 

Step 8: Pat a facial oil over moisturizer (optional)

For dry skin types and for those in climates with low humidity, a skin oil can be a great way to provide a protective seal over the skin to prevent moisture evaporation. It’s essential that you use a facial oil in this order in your routine and NOT anytime before. 

September 02, 2018 by Jewel Georges

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