nighttime skin routine

Taking care of our skin should be an equal opportunity as far as timing is concerned. Although we’d like to say we give as much love to our body’s biggest organ in the evening as we do in the morning, we might be lying. Sorry for being really busy and really tired, alright?

But seriously, things can get in the way of a consistent nighttime skincare regime and that’s why we’re here to help you hack your way to a brighter tomorrow with a few moves anyone can master. No matter how lazy you are how little time you think you have at night. Some of these expert-approved tips don’t even require applying products to wake up with a fresh AF glow – imagine that.

Try ‘em out and be sure to set your alarm…flawless skin is always worth waking up for.

1. A Less-Harsh Cure For Breakouts

Dealing with a blemish or two? Instead of reaching for a super-drying lotion that will leave your skin roughed-up in the morning, heed the advice of Olivia Culpo’s derm and Calabasas, California-based beauty expert, Dr. Anna Guanche. “Mix Visine [eye drops] with a moisturizer (three drops to a teaspoon) and spot treat with a Q-tip directly onto pimples,” she says. “You’ll see less redness, inflammation, and swelling when you wake up and can repeat the steps if necessary in the morning.”

2. The Correct Way to Layer Skincare at Night

Can never remember which order to apply the goods? Hi, same. To make things easy on yourself and get back to your Bravo marathon, follow Dr. Guanche’s simple formula. “Apply serums and creams that work for your skin conditions from wettest to richest, so: serums–> lotions–> creams–> emollient creams. The last creams help to seal in the rest of the ingredients to ensure they really penetrate your skin.” Check out our guide to skincare layering here.

3. Slather On Thicker Moisturizers

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You can never be too well dowsed in skin-replenishing moisturizers when it’s time to hit the sack, according to premiere plastic surgeon and director of Manhattan’s Youth Corridor Clinic, Dr. Gerald Imber. But if you’re using any ol’ lightweight nonsense you have laying around, it’s time for a product switch-up. “Transition to a thicker moisturizer at bedtime, like the kind you use in the winter,” he suggests. “Our Youth Corridor Ultimate Nourishing Creme, $250, is a bit of a splurge because it has naturally-moisturizing squalene, but a little goes a long way.” This coupled with a hyaluronic serum like The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $8, will yield better results, since you’re asleep for (hopefully) 7-8 hours and thinner products can evaporate faster. Another skincare tip he swears by is #protecttheneck. “Always do to the neck what you do to the face,” he adds. AKA moisturize it.

4. Get Onboard With Retinoids

Even if you’re a pro about taking alllll the vitamins in the morning, there’s one you should be getting in bed with at night: vitamin A (retinol). “Retinol is the gold-standard in topical anti-aging and acne treatment with decades of research backing its efficacy,” says Dr. Howard Sobel, NYC-based dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin. “It helps stimulate skin cell regeneration, address hyperpigmentation issues, enhance collagen production, reduce acne scars, and improve fine lines and wrinkles.”

Seems like a no brainer to us, but if you’re nervous to start, Sobel recommends beginning with a low-dose concentration – typically 1%. This will keep the next-day flakes at bay. “Only use a pea-sized amount and find one that’s blended with ingredients like vitamin B3 and C, as well as calming botanicals to counteract any flareups.” His top picks: RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, $18, to gently reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and dark circles, or Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, $11, which was previously only available via prescription, but is now an over-the-counter solution for acne scarring and uneven skin tone. 

5. Make Overnight Masking Your New Thing

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“With so many affordable and hydrating peels and masks on the market that are non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores, incorporating them into your nightly routine is paramount,” says Sobel. “They provide an extra boost of moisture and since they tend to be heavier, it’s best to use them 1-2 times per week. Savor Beauty Manuka Honey Mask, $64, draws impurities from the skin with its anti-bacterial and detoxifying properties, while papaya and apricot enzymes gently shed dull skin cells to brighter skin underneath.”

6. Do a Shot

NO, not that kind – you’re trying to wake up with dewy skin, not look haggard and hungover, k? A shot of liquid chlorophyll that is. “When the body can’t digest something properly, the next step is to try and push it out through the skin, hence breakouts after a sugary dessert,” says facialist to the stars Joanna Vargas. “If you have something at a party that you will pay for later, use my quick fix: I keep liquid chlorophyll in the fridge and do a shot of it before bed if I had dessert. The greens in it will help my body digest better and my skin looks clean and clear in the morning!”

7. Consider Humidifier Therapy 

If you’re not currently sleeping next to a humidifier, it’s time to buy one STAT. According to Sobel, one of the best things you can do for your skin (at night) is keep a humidifier in your room since it adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness. “You’ll hydrate your face and body continuously while you snooze,” he says. And you’ll probably avoid getting a cold, too. Double bonus.

8. Perform Your Own Lymphatic Drainage Massage

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When applying her nighttime skincare routine, Vargas likes to do a mini-lymph drainage massage around the eyes. “Pat on your eye cream, then do tiny half-moon circles in an outward motion towards the temples to de-puff the eyes,” she instructs. “You’ll look bright-eyed and less swollen in the face the next day.”

9. Never Underestimate the Importance of Exfoliation

One of the #1 skincare steps most of us are guilty of skipping is exfoliating on the reg. Kate Somerville, LA-based celebrity esthetician and founder of Kate Somerville Skincare, is here to warn you against missing the crucial desloughing part, however. “Exfoliation is my #1 go-to for glowing skin. Not only does it remove dull, dry skin cells and reveal a more radiant complexion underneath, but it allows any products you use after exfoliating to go deeper into the dermis and work more effectively,” she explains. “For daily exfoliation, try my gentle ExfoliKate Cleanser, $38, morning and night, and for more powerful exfoliation (twice a week), rotate in ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, $75. You will literally see glowing skin in two minutes.”

10. Cuticle Beds Need Love Too

If your goal is better skin overall when your alarm clock goes off, don’t neglect your hands – or the rest of your body – for that matter. Chillhouse nail tech Gabrielle Meit can’t stress hydrating these areas enough. “So many clients have an issue with dry skin around their nails, as well as dry nails, where layers of the nail peel and chip off,” she says. “These qualms are easily solved with a little bit of cuticle oil rubbed into the nail bed before you go to bed.” A do-it-all oil to try is CND’s SolarOil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner, $11. By doing this one simple step, you’ll see a huge improvement in your skin and overall nail health.

11. Breathe Your Way to Healthier Skin

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“Most people don’t realize that meditation or deep breathing can actually benefit our skin since it triggers what’s called the ‘relaxation response,’ a term popularized by Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School,” explains NYC dermatologist and skin rejuvenation expert Dr. Whitney Bowe. “During the response, your body releases chemicals and brain signals that relieve tension in your muscles, slow down your organs, and increase blood flow to your brain. This response can also reduce the pain, discomfort, and anxiety that often manifest themselves in skin conditions, like: acne, eczema, and even premature aging.” BRB, just taking five to get into namaste pose. “Our gut, brain and skin are connected through the gut-brain-skin axis, so healing our mind helps heal our skin, as I explain in my book Dirty Looks,” she adds. Well, if you weren’t a meditation junkie before, now’s definitely the time to start. Find out more about meditating for better skin here.

12. Pay Attention to Your Lower Legs

Just as our hands need p.m. TLC, so do our legs. Dr. Bowe says the reason our lower legs get dry and ashy naturally is because we don’t have many oil glands in that area. “During the summer this dryness becomes even more pronounced (due to excessive heat and chlorine), so you need to use a deeply hydrating shaving cream to lock moisture into your skin. One of my favorites is the Eos Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream, $3, with soothing shea butter, along with vitamins C and E.” Shave in the evening with this, then apply a mix of body oil and moisturizer to keep your stems nice and silky until morning.

What do you guys do at night before you sleep? Let us know your tips and hacks below.