Night Creams: Do They Really Work?

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


The inside story on whether you can sleep your way to fresher-looking skin

Your mother was right: You do need your beauty sleep. But it’s not just the total amount of good quality shut-eye that matters. What mom may not have known is that you can actually maximize the beauty benefits of sleep by using the right cream on your face while you’re snoozing. Slather on a high-quality night cream before slipping under the covers, and over time you may end up with a smoother, clearer, and more radiant complexion.

Night creams can be helpful because your skin naturally repairs itself while you sleep. That’s when the metabolic activity of the skin’s cells is at its peak, so using a night cream with beneficial ingredients can enhance the skin’s natural repair process during the night shift.

The key is to choose products that have the right active ingredients. Some night creams are really just expensive moisturizers that don’t provide much in the way of added benefits. Among the active ingredients that work best at night are:

  • Retinols and Retinoids: These anti-aging gold standards are de-activated by the sun, so it’s ideal to absorb them while you sleep. When regularly dabbed on the skin before turning in for the night, these vitamin-A derivatives can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
  • Peptides: When applied to the skin, these proteins can stimulate the growth of new cellsand facilitate the shedding of dull, dead cells while you sleep. They can also promote the production of collagen—a protein that contributes to the skin’s firmness and suppleness—thus helping to smooth wrinkles.
  • Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps the skin make new collagen. When it’s applied at night, vitamin C can help fight free radical damage and encourage new cell growth—without being broken down by exposure to sunlight.

Apply a night cream after washing your face and before climbing into bed. But don’t expect to see miraculous results overnight. Be patient! With regular use, you may start to see benefits from a night cream in about eight weeks.