Best Night Cream—And What Happens To Skin When You Use It Overnight

You probably have a pretty good idea of what skin goes through during the course of a day. You can feel the sun’s warm rays hit your face. You can see—and smell—the exhaust from a nearby bus (ick). Yup, your skin has to protect itself from these and other aggressors all day long. Add in climate factors like heat, humidity, or bitter cold temps, and your skin is on the serious defensive. But what happens to your skin overnight while you sleep, and how can you find the best night cream?

While your skin is no longer on guard, it doesn’t exactly get to clock out after a long day; it has a night shift. “Your skin repairs itself at night,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets of a Top New York City Dermatologist. In fact, studies have shown that skin has its own circadian rhythm—a 24-hour cycle, during which different processes are affected by sunlight and darkness. At night, your skin gets the cue to undo the damage you may have incurred during the day and to make fresh, healthy cells, and that’s why finding the best night cream is so important.

Here’s exactly what goes on while you’re catching some shut-eye.

While you’re sleeping, your skin is:

…pumping out healthy new cells.

After 11 p.m., human growth hormone (HGH) kicks into high gear. “It’s responsible for speeding up skin’s repair and cell regeneration,” says Jaliman. Skin cells turn over faster and the production of new, healthy cells speeds up. During this time, your skin also produces cells that help boost collagen, the protein that gives skin its plump, firm, and smooth appearance.

…getting more blood flow.

All this activity causes a boost in skin’s microcirculation, which is why you wake up with a noticeable glow when you’ve had a great night sleep.

…ready to receive topical treatments.

“Skin is most able to absorb topical treatments and other creams at night while we sleep,” says Jaliman. Skin’s barrier, or outermost layer, is more permeable, so potent anti-aging ingredients can penetrate better. You want to take advantage of this time by finding, and using, the best night cream with heavy-hitting hydrators and wrinkle-fighting ingredients (more on that below).

…losing moisture.

Here’s one downfall of beauty sleep. At night, your skin doesn’t produce as much sebum. It also loses moisture by way of transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a process when water from the outer layer of skin evaporates into the environment around you. TEWL increases at night, so you can wake up with a dry complexion if you don’t take the right steps at night to prevent it.

So, How Do You Find the Best Night Cream?

All night creams are not created equal. If you want to stack the deck and maximize your skin’s repair time, dermatologists say to look for these key ingredients. Fortunately, they can all be found in Pour Moi’s Climate-Smart Night Cream. This vegan formulation, was made in France and formulated to repair and restore skin as you sleep—in any climate.

*Humectants: These are ingredients that draw moisture from the air around you and get it into your skin. Jaliman suggests hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

*Lipids: Ingredients rich in fatty acids are not only deeply hydrating, but also form a barrier on skin, sealing moisture in, preventing TEWL. The Night Cream contains Squalane Oil and Shea Butter.

*Reparative ingredients: Jaliman says you want to support cell turnover and collagen production with retinoids and/or peptides. The Night Cream contains vitamin A, a retinoid. It also includes Seaweed Extract to boost microcirculation and brighten dark spots, and Myrtle Extract to promote skin rejuvenation.

Krista Bennett DeMaio
About the Author: The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women's Health, Redbook, Shape, bhg.com, makeup.com, and prevention.com.