Night is an essential time to renew your mind—and your skin. Adding a lotion before bed creates softer, more hydrated, and better-looking skin the next day. It also helps seal in moisture and repairs the skin barrier that's compromised by dry air and harsh cleansers.
The Bottom Line
You should never avoid using moisturizer at night. It won't solve any issues. In fact, it could cause issues! After all, your skin needs moisture and protection at night, too.
Many people can get by without using a facial moisturizer at night. If your skin is normal -- it isn't dry or sensitive and you don't have a medical condition -- nighttime creams are superfluous. The most important things you can do to maintain normal, healthy skin is wear sunscreen and wash daily with a mild soap.
If you over-moisturize, the leftover moisturizer just sits on your face. With nowhere to go, this extra moisturizer will eventually fill up the pores on your skin and clog them, resulting in the production of acne, whiteheads, and blackheads.
You should absolutely moisturize your skin even if you have active acne. It's an absolute myth that moisturizing your face will worsen your acne. In fact, moisturizers are necessary to keep acne-prone skin as relaxed as possible.
Not washing your face can lead to premature aging and the development of wrinkles as your skin loses moisture and vibrance over time. Freshen your skin -- and your perspective. Your skin will look smoother as your nightly face wash removes dead skin and leaves you feeling, and thinking, fresher as you head to bed.
Starting your nighttime skincare routine at 7pm or 8pm will make you less likely to skip it. Even if you do not wear makeup every day, you might have touched your face all day long and that makes it the dirtiest part of your body. Cleansing the skin at night will help avoid bacteria from spreading and causing acne.
“Skin cells do their greatest renewal and repair while you sleep at night, so applying hydration and moisturizer [at night] is encouraged to maximize absorption and to enhance the skin barrier,” explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., FAAD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
Ideally, you should have your moisturizer on within 3 minutes of getting out of the shower. Finally, toners, essences, ampoules, and serums should all be applied after showering because they are meant to remain on the skin and do not require a rinse after application.
Both Emer and Zeichner agree that if you're only going to wash your face once a day, nighttime is the best time to do it. "Most dermatologists recommend face-washing twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed," says Zeichner.
Have no fear – we've done our share of research, and the answer is clear: post-shower is definitely the way to go. Sure, washing your face in the shower saves time but it can also do more harm than good – like, clogging pores with other products (gross) or drying out skin with hot water (ouch).
When you go to bed at night, your skin finally gets the chance to repair, rejuvenate, and undo all the daytime damage. Your skin actively produces new skin cells and improves your skin's texture. When your pores are clogged, your skin does not get the chance to breathe and carry out its overnight repair process.
Unlike moisturiser, night cream (as the name suggests) is only to be applied of an evening, ideally before you go to bed. Night creams have been formulated especially to make the most of the skin's 'nighttime rhythm', in which it regenerates and repairs the day's damage.
"Skin's oil production peaks at midday, and there is less oil production at night. Therefore, when you lose that protective layer of natural oils, your skin loses more water, so it's important to replenish the water loss with a moisturizer overnight," says Sobel.
It minimises signs of ageing when you use moisturizers with retinol or retinoid in them. Moisturizers can help skin replenish its moisture levels at night; however, it is always advisable to sleep with bare skin to allow your skin to breathe.
As the back of the bottle says, you should always apply moisturizer to clean skin—and for maximum results, shortly after cleansing, before your skin is totally dry. Moisturizers are most effective if you use them while your skin is still damp because damp skin absorbs the product more readily.
Too much moisturiser or heavy formulations can clog your pores, because of which you end up with blackheads and whiteheads.
"Heavier lotions and creams can worsen congestion of pores and lead to increased oil production that can exacerbate acne breakouts," Dr. Hartman said. "The label should say oil-free or non-comedogenic to be sure."
While forgetting to wash your face for one night is unlikely to cause lasting damage to your skin, one night is all it takes to clog pores and cause a breakout. Makeup left on skin overnight can prevent the skin from “breathing,” and can also inhibit the skin's process of repair and regeneration while you sleep.
“Since cold water tightens your pores, bacteria and debris can get trapped and won't clear out as easily as using warm water,” explains Knapp. She recommends washing your face with lukewarm water first as a way to remove any makeup and pollutants from the day.
All of this wears at your skin cells and your skin's collagen." The answer: You need to cleanse and moisturize properly every morning with products that will protect your skin from these harmful external factors. Then at bedtime, the focus shifts. "At night, your skin repairs and recuperates.