Why Nighttime Is the Best Time to Treat Your Skin

Whether you’re rotating through three different serums or calling it a night after a double-cleanse, you probably have some form of a nighttime skincare routine. And, if so, you’re already ahead of the game — because there’s a lot going on in your skin when you’re fast asleep, from cellular repair to moisture loss.

First, let’s talk about circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your body’s natural schedule; it dictates everything from your body temperature to when you feel hungry. It also has a say in your skin’s functions, too, even impacting the smaller-seeming details like your skin barrier. In fact, a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that your skin barrier is most permeable overnight, meaning it’s easier for molecules to pass through it. 

On one hand, that’s a really good thing: If your skin barrier is more permeable at night, that suggests that active ingredients may penetrate more easily, allowing them to get deeper into skin to work their magic. The downside? Water can also pass through the skin barrier and leave your skin, leading to a higher rate of trans-epidermal water loss. (Hello, dehydration!)

There’s more to it than that, too. Chances are, you’re also not dealing with pollutants, UV rays, and other environmental aggressors at night, which can potentially break down certain ingredients, such as retinol. And, if any exfoliating ingredients cause redness or irritation, it’ll likely have calmed down by morning. The hours that you’re snoozing act as a buffer, allowing you to be fresh-faced by the time your alarm goes off. 

It’s also easier to layer products at night, since you can take the time to let each fully sink in and don’t have to worry about adding sunscreen and makeup on top of it, which can lead to pilling. Also worth noting: Some ingredients, AHA and retinol, can be tricky for daytime. Not only can sunlight break down retinoids, but both can leave skin a little sensitive to sunlight — not exactly ideal. Fortunately, the flower-derived AHAs in our Watermelon Glow collection are super-gentle and unlikely to cause any issues, while the encapsulated retinol in Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask can be used for daytime as long as you top it with SPF.

Clearly, there are perks to overnight skincare. With that in mind, here’s what you should be using in your nighttime routine to ensure you’re maximizing every single one of these benefits. (That said, we’re all about Taking It Day by Day, Skin by Skin™ — so adjust this depending on how your skin looks and feels at the end of the day.)

Start with a Double Cleanse

Permeable skin barrier or not, it doesn’t really matter if there’s a layer of makeup, grime, pollutants, sebum, and dead skin cells on your skin. Cleansing is always important, but even more so in this regard. That’s why double-cleansing is such a foolproof step in the evening — it basically clears the way for the rest of your products to do their thing.

We’re fans of the One Plus One Method in particular, which entails massaging in an oil-based cleanser for one full minute, and then washing with a foaming or gel cleanser for one full minute. An oil-based cleanser, such as Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm, melts away oil-soluble formulas, such as waterproof mascara and eyeliner; our Cleansing Balm also contains papaya enzymes, which basically dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells together and sloughs them off in the process. Then, a foaming cleanser, like Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, gently sweeps away the usual debris, leaving skin fresh but not stripped of moisture.

Don’t Forget to Moisturize

Since your skin barrier turns into a free-for-all overnight, the water in your skin can more easily evaporate. (If you’ve ever woken up to tight, rough skin, there’s your culprit.) Fortunately, there’s a pretty convenient way to offset that: Use hyaluronic acid. 

Does hyaluronic acid dry out your skin? Is it actually safe? Get the scoop on all things HA.

Hyaluronic acid is so beloved in part because it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. That means it can help your skin retain that essential water while you sleep no matter what the situation is with your skin barrier. First, apply the Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum, which contains five molecular weights of HA that can penetrate into the various layers of skin.

Then, lock that good stuff in with Banana Soufflé Moisturizing Cream. Not only does it serve as an emollient, helping to keep the humectant (hyaluronic acid, in this case) trapped within skin, but it’s also packed with electrolytes. These help maintain the fluid balance in your cells — which will come in especially handy overnight.

Layer Targeted Treatments

Seeking brighter skin by morning? Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops may be a great highlighter to finish your look, but it’s also a powerful serum in its own right, thanks to niacinamide. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is one of those MVP ingredients that can do it all: It helps create key proteins in skin, brightens skin and reduces pigmentation, calms inflammation, minimizes the look of pores, and even fortifies your skin barrier. 

Intrigued by niacinamide? Here’s everything to know about this superstar ingredient.

The best thing about it might be that niacinamide plays well with others. So, you can layer a niacinamide serum, like Dew Drops, with Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum to get the best of both worlds. Then, layer on your moisturizer to keep that trans-epidermal loss to a minimum.

Finish With a Mask

Last but definitely not least: Add your overnight mask. We recommend doing your full nighttime skincare routine before applying your sleeping mask as the very last step — that way, you’re not missing out on any key ingredients. And since your skin barrier is at its most permeable, choose formulas packed with actives. 

So: Want to wake up with renewed, radiant skin? Try Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, which pairs gentle hibiscus AHAs with amino acid-packed watermelon extract, and — bonus — won’t get all over your pillows. (It also smells like a dream. Just saying.)

If you’re after smoothing, firming benefits, you can’t go wrong with Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask. The retinol in this case is encapsulated, so it passes through your skin barrier without causing the usual dryness or redness. The mask also contains avocado oil, an antioxidant-rich oil rich in fatty acids, to help replenish skin while you’re getting your shut-eye.

Clearly, a little strategy goes a long way — not to mention good timing. And if your nightly skincare routine consists of a makeup remover wipe and a prayer, consider this the science-backed cue to take it up a notch.

Want to read more about overnight skincare?

Glow Recipe

Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask

$49

https://www.glowrecipe.com/collections/avocado/products/avocado-melt-retinol-sleeping-mask

Glow Recipe

Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream

$39

https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/banana-souffle-moisture-cream

Glow Recipe

Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser

$34.00

https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/glow-recipe-blueberry-bounce-gentle-cleanser

Glow Recipe

Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask

$45.00

https://www.glowrecipe.com/collections/all/products/glow-recipe-watermelon-glow-sleeping-mask

Glow Recipe

Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

$34

https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/watermelon-glow-niacinamide-dew-drops

Glow Recipe

Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum

$42

https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/plum-plump-hyaluronic-serum

Glow Recipe

Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm

$32

https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/papaya-sorbet-enzyme-cleansing-balm