Most of us would classify ourselves as upstanding, rule-following citizens. So, if you present us with day and night cream options, we will follow them. But... what if we didn't really need to? Obviously, we wouldn't use straight-up sunscreen at night (unless we wanted our pillowcases to get some extra sun protection).
Find out below whether there are really benefits to using a separate day and night cream — or whether skin is better off with a more streamlined approach.
Do You Really Need Separate Creams?
The short answer is: It depends. Depending on the type of cream and ingredients, you don't necessarily have to have a separate day and night cream. But, there are certain ingredients like sunscreen, for example, that you don't need at night. More factors to consider are the other products in your skin care routine as well as your skin's needs.
Consistency and Ingredients
In general, day creams tend to have a light consistency so they can be layered under makeup and they might include a SPF to protect against UV rays. For the record, if you've been following me for a while, you know SPF in a moisturiser is not enough! You should be using a topical SPF on top of your moisturiser.
Back to it... night creams, on the other hand, have no sunscreen and might be thicker and more emollient or moisturising.
Consistency and viscosity changes are solely for aesthetic reasons. For instance, a lighter day cream won't interfere with applying makeup or feel heavy on your skin.
Consider the Ingredients
As previously mentioned, products intended for day use are generally lighter and might offer sun protection, whereas night creams and moisturisers can be heavier and contain actives, such as retinol.
Strong actives, like retinoids, can be too strong and drying to be used both day and night, or even during the day. These products twice daily could increase potential side effects without necessarily increasing benefits. Therefore, it would be better in these cases to have separate day and night creams. Retinol is strictly a night use product only!
Focus on Your Skin's Needs
As always, it's best to 'listen' to your own skin, and use day or night creams as much or as little as your skin seems to need them.
Got dry skin? A richer cream could work in the p.m. I often recommend a heavier night cream for patients with extremely dry skin or a compromised skin barrier, but it might be too greasy or thick for daytime, especially under makeup.
Oh, and for aging skin? As we get older the creams we use should contain peptides, growth factors and collagen stimulating acids to keep the skin looking and feeling plump and youthful.
A Case for Separate Products
There's no cut-and-dried answer about whether you really need separate day and night creams, since there are so many factors involved. But... it does make things easier, especially when it comes to ingredient lists.
Take actives, for example: Any retinoid or vitamin A cream, should only be used at night, since they are rendered inactive by sunlight. And as previously mentioned, a double dose of retinol would be too strong for most skin types.
Another case for separate creams is when using different anti-aging actives. If you are using anti-aging creams then I do recommend using two different ones (one for a.m. and one for p.m.). This is so you can benefit from different active ingredients in the two formulations.
Honestly, you might be looking for different things, morning and night. A morning skin care routine can be about healing, nourishing and protecting skin. This can be different from at night, where actives get to work without interruption while the body is resting and healing.
Searching for a Versatile Moisturiser
Hoping for a moisturiser that will do double duty for day and night? It's possible. You can most certainly use the same cream for day and night, especially if it is simply to hydrate and moisturise. Products containing skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin. Your moisturising cream should be non-irritating and noncomedogenic, so it doesn't clog pores, and should contain ceramides or omega fatty acids from cold-pressed seed oils for ultimate nourishment!
Still unsure what your skin needs? Book yourself in for a leave it to us facial!