Beauty | 02.27.2022

Improve Your Beauty Sleep: A Better Nighttime Skin Routine

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By Franki Hanke

Is it really considered beauty sleep if your skincare routine isn’t right?

Our nighttime routine prepares us for bed by setting the tone for sleep. In the same way, the best nighttime routine supports our skin’s overnight recovery so tomorrow’s skin is hydrated and glowing. 

Before Your Best Night Time Routine Starts

Our skincare routine is just one part of our skin’s health. Besides the multitudes of things out of our control entirely like environmental and genetic factors, our other behaviors affect the skin, too. 

Skip that Hot Wash

When you take your hot, bedtime shower (which we recommend) avoid getting your face wet with hot water. Hot water is drying and can damage our skin. Your body shower shouldn’t be too hot either, but especially leave your face out of it. 

Set Aside Enough Time

A long, luxurious skincare routine takes time. Between each layer, you should allow time for each thing to sink in and absorb. So, set aside the time it truly takes to nourish your skin. Plus, this time is ideal for winding down before bed. 

Stay Hydrated

Don’t miss out on your water consumption during the day. Our internal hydration affects our skin more than our applied moisturizers. 

Wash Your Face, Properly

Before you can properly clean your skin, remove any makeup with a separate makeup remover. Use something gentle, but effective that focuses on breaking up the makeup product. 

First Cleanse: Remove Makeup

This double-cleanse process uses an oil-based cleanser to break down oil and product before a water-based cleanser cleans out pores. These will melt down mascaras, lipsticks, and face makeup to be wiped off. Using two, gentler products instead of one stronger cleanser protects your skin while ensuring it’s truly clean. 

For a rich, luxurious product that will temporarily transport you to a spa while you clean off your make-up, use the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. While expensive, this product is incredibly gentle, nourishing, and simply enjoyable to use. Choose the Rose edition for added floral scent or stick to the original for a classic, spa scent. 

At a lower price bracket, opt for the Japanese Rohto Hada Labo (“Skin Lab”) Cleansing Oil. Using an olive oil base, this antioxidant-rich cleansing oil breaks down makeup without any stress on your skin. There’s added hydration from Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, which is a variation of Hyaluronic acid, and Jojoba Seed oil. 

Second Cleanse: Clean Skin

Once you’ve removed makeup with your first cleanse, clean the skin beneath with a traditional cleanser. For an all-skin friendly cleanser, use the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. This cleanser uses a variety of plant extracts for a soothing clean. Don’t use if your skin (or nose) disagrees with rose, though. 

Apply Skincare 

Your best night time routine should include overnight skincare.

Once clean, your skin is ready for skincare products. Nighttime is the perfect opportunity for an extra nourishing routine to recover your skin before the next day. Plus, skincare is a moment in your overall nighttime routine that is screen-free. The mindful application can be a part of how you wind down. Consider setting the mood with softer lighting and soothing music. 

Eye Cream

Apply your eye cream first so it’s not forgotten. Use a small amount and apply with gentle pats. Don’t tug on the fragile skin beneath or around the eyes. Your nighttime eye cream can be thicker than one for beneath your makeup. 

If you’re looking to soothe the fine lines that appear around the eyes as we age, retinol products are one of the few ingredients with considerably scientific support for their efficacy. Use RoC Retinol Correxcion Eye Cream for hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic retinol. For a retinol-alternative, if your skin is sensitive to the ingredient, opt for the Eminence Neroli Eye Serum, instead. It uses fruit extracts for brightening and aloe for soothing. 

When you apply your eye cream, take it beneath and around your eyes. 

Toner or Essence

Once you’ve applied eye cream, turn your attention to the rest of your face. Apply a toner or essence as a thin, liquid layer to prep the skin for the rest of your routine. Originally, toners balanced skin pH to counteract soaps. However, modern toners are focused on exfoliating or resurfacing oily skin to turn over discolored, red, or scarred skin. 

In contrast, essences are focused on hydrating normal to dry skin. It’s a thin, extra step to get a bit more from your skincare routine. 

Bonus Tip: If you have two places for your skin products, like cleansers in the bathroom, but moisturizers at a vanity, leave your toner or essence in the bathroom to apply right after cleansing for an immediate drink. 


For an exfoliating toner, use Paula’s Choice Skin Perfect 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. The exfoliating, anti-inflammatory Salicylic Acid limits breakouts and exfoliate dead skin cells from the surface. Since this ingredient is powerful, use it sparingly and monitor your skin. 


For a gentle, hydrating essence, use the Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence. With hyaluronic acid and glycerin, it’s moisturizing and simple. There are no perfumes or added extras that will bother sensitive skin. If your skincare routine already has some stronger treatments, use this simple essence to keep things gentle. 

You can apply these with a cotton pad. For a sustainable swap, use the Muerosa Bamboo pads. This 14 piece set includes a holder for storing them in the bathroom before use. Otherwise, simply use your fingers to gently spread the product. 


Your serum is where the bulk of your skincare investments should live. These products are formulated for specific concerns with a thin formulation that penetrates the skin deeper. 

While we often use Vitamin C serum’s during our morning routine, for brightening the skin, nighttime serums should support skin recovery. 

For an all-around, supportive serum that supports your skin’s overnight recovery with anti-aging effects by minimizing lines, use the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. Using their exclusive Chronolux technology, this has been a long-standing icon in skincare for a reason. It has amassed thousands of positive reviews across retailers because of its hydration and skin-smoothing effects. 

Dedicated Retinol

While you may not apply retinoids every night, it’s a powerful ingredient that shouldn’t be missed, if your skin can handle it. For some, retinol causes irritation. Start with infrequent application and increase the weekly frequency as your skin adjusts. 

Depending on your routine, you may apply a retinol-containing moisturizer as a single step. If you have the time, apply a retinol-containing moisturizer early on and the closer to bed continue with additional steps. 

For a retinol-containing moisturizer, use the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24. This moisturizing contains a Vitamin B3 and Retinol blend to soften the irritation for retinol. This product, despite being available at drugstore price levels, includes several big-ticket ingredients including niacinamide and peptides. It will balance skin tone and increase cell turnover for glowing skin the next morning. 


Alongside proper cleaning, moisturizer is the star of your skincare routine. Moisturizers protect the skin barrier for smooth, healthy skin. Scientific research supports that daily application can support our skin. 

Externally applied lipids intercalate into the intercellular spaces of the stratum corneum and restore epidermal lipids. As a result, moisturizers help heal a damaged epidermal barrier and make the skin feel smoother, a property known as emollient.”

Your night cream is an opportunity to use a thicker cream since you don’t need to layer it beneath makeup. For an all-around, hydrating moisturizer, use the Clinique Moisture Surge Hydrator. This hyaluronic acid moisturizer is packed with superstar humectants that hydrate skin. 

At a lower price bracket, use the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. This water-based moisturizer uses glycerin as a humectant to suck moisture into the skin. 

In the winter or on special evenings, swap your moisturizer with an extra-thick, sleeping mask. These specially formulated face masks are formulated to stay on overnight rather than being wiped away. The COSRX Rice Overnight Spa Mask is gentle enough for anyone and rich in niacinamide, amino acids, and glycerin. 

Your best night time routine should be relaxing before bed.

Face Oil

Lastly, though some advice says to apply facial oils before or with moisturizers, use face oil. While moisturizers hydrate the skin, a facial oil locks that moisture in. Use them sparingly as a final step. 

For a super simple, gentle oil use the Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil. This lightweight oil includes only one ingredient: squalane. This emollient contains the same stuff as our skin’s natural sebum, so it’s non-greasy and skin-friendly. 

If you’re interested in addressing your specific skin type and concerns, consider consulting with a dermatologist. Prepare for any visit by documenting the products you’re currently using for an informed opinion on what’s best for your skin, specifically. 

Don’t Forget your Body

Don’t end your skincare routine at your neck. Nourish your entire body. Apply a rich lotion to your hands, feet, and any specific spots with dryness like your elbows and knees, if nothing else. If you have time, apply a moisturizer to your entire body. 

If you can spare the time, give these applications time to sink into the skin before changing into your pajamas or climbing into bed. The fabric from your pajamas or bedsheets will wipe away some of the product. Extend the chore into an act of self-care by employing some self-massage or meditation while everything absorbs.

Sleep Well

Sleep is essential for your skin, and a good skincare routine won’t rescue your skin if you’re lacking enough sleep. Alongside this routine, make sure your entire routine is preparing you for a good night’s sleep. 

If you’re not getting enough zzz’s, read our Sleep Guide to improve your sleep for better skin and all-around wellness.

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