It doesn’t take a miracle to clear away signs of aging and stress on your face; you can be rid of dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and acne with a simple evening routine, followed by a full night’s rest.
Adam Hurly 1 / 13
Your daily skincare regimen should actually be a twice-daily regimen; while you cleanse and moisturize each morning (with an SPF-packed moisturizer, we hope), the nighttime routine focuses on healing and regeneration.
This is why a consistent, product-packed bedtime regimen is so important to your complexion: Cellular regeneration speeds up overnight, and can magnify the effect of anything you apply before bed—much more than a morning application.
Don’t compromise your mornings; they’re just as important for cleansing and hydrating the skin, as well as protecting it against the free radicals and grime that accumulate all day. However, cap everything with the following routine to keep complexion clear, and to ward off signs of aging.
Before you use any other products, you need to clear the canvas with a cleanser. Do this every night, either in the shower or at the bathroom sink.
“Pick a cleanser based on your skin type,” says Rogers. “Like a cream cleanser for dry, sensitive skin. For oilier skin, something with salicylic acid or glycolic acid, but still gentle enough to use every day.” (Click to the next slides for specific recommendations.)
You don’t want to scrub your face too hard or too often. Get a gentle exfoliator, otherwise find a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acid, which are chemical exfoliants. Any of these options will buff away or dissolve dead skin cells at the surface of your face, clearing a path for the healthier cells to shine.
“Don’t exfoliate the same night as using a mask,” says Rogers in reference to the next once-weekly step.
“Everyone should use a retinol,” says Rogers. “It is the closest thing we have a miracle anti-aging cream. It promotes the building of collagen and slows its breakdown; it helps smooth fine lines, lightens brown spots, and prevents acne, blocked pores, and ingrown hairs. It also corrects sun damage and slows the development of pre-skin cancers.”
You can get a prescription-grade retinol from your dermatologist, and should first speak with her/him to see what dosage you should use, and how frequently. “Because it stimulates cell turnover, you have to start slow, meaning a small amount (pea size) for your entire face only on Mondays and Thursdays, especially if you have sensitive
skin,” says Rogers. “If that goes well, then slowly build up to as many nights as you can without irritation. Guys with sensitive skin may need to dilute the retinol to make it more tolerable by mixing it with their moisturizer.”
It’s also important to wear SPF and avoid too much sun exposure the day following retinol use.
The biggest difference between moisturizers and night creams is that the latter is denser. It’s packed with nutrients because your skin cells can do more with those overnight (while they regenerate), as opposed to the daytime. Many night creams are chemical exfoliators, too. (Look for AHA, alpha hydroxy acid, as an indicator.)
If you stick with a standard moisturizer before bed (as the final step in your evening routine), don’t use one with SPF; that’s a daytime defense, not a nighttime recovery. Spend a little extra money to get separate morning and evening moisturizers, so that they can both live up to their potential.