People often ask me: “Should I occasionally skip the moisturizer in the evening to give my skin a break?‘ My answer is always the same. No, you should never go without moisturizers to give your skin a break or to let your skin “breathe”. In this post, I explain why consistent use of a nighttime moisturizer is crucial for hydrated, healthy-looking skin—regardless of your skin type!
5 reasons why you should never go without your nighttime moisturizer
1. The idea that your skin “breathes” is a myth
Your skin has no respiratory function, so the notion that you can “breathe” is wrong. I realize that the word “breathe” has different meanings for different people, and I use it in a literal sense. When some people talk about skin breathing, they are actually referring to whether or not the skin is closed, which means they don’t want anything clogging their pores. In this case, use a light moisturizer. It’s all about choosing the right moisturizer for your skin type (but more on that in a moment).
2. Skin cells need moisture to live
I always say skin cells are like fish in that they need water to survive. Without water, skin cells become dehydrated and the overall health of the skin is severely compromised. In fact, dehydration can trigger a reaction that leads to irritation, redness, and sensitivity. Consistent use of moisturizers is an efficient way to increase the water content of the skin.
3. Oil production is lowest at night
Oil or sebum is the natural substance that the body produces to keep the skin moisturized. The sebum level fluctuates in 8-hour increments. They are highest in the early afternoon and lowest at night. When your skin lacks sebum, transepidermal water loss increases, disrupting your moisture barrier. When the moisture barrier is disrupted it can lead to all sorts of problems including redness, tightness, itching, flaking and atopic dermatitis. A good nighttime moisturizer can provide much-needed hydration to support the barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss.
4. The best time to use active ingredients is at night
At night, your body goes into repair mode. The use of active ingredients such as retinol, exfoliating acids and antioxidants can support the skin’s natural cellular repair and metabolic processes. Additionally, if you’re getting the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, you’re giving these active ingredients plenty of time to penetrate the skin for maximum effectiveness.
5. Skin permeability is highest at night
Yes, you read it right. Skin permeability changes according to your skin’s circadian rhythm (yes, your skin has a circadian rhythm just like you! Learn more about it in this post). Its permeability is highest in the evening, which means a moisturizer can penetrate deeper into the skin at night than during the day.
How to choose the best nighttime moisturizer
Here are some guidelines to follow when choosing a night moisturizer for your skin.
Choose a moisturizer based on your skin type
Choosing a nighttime moisturizer for the basic skin types — dry, normal, and oily — isn’t going to get you very far, especially if you have additional skin concerns like clogged pores, breakouts, or rosacea. Instead, you need to look at your skin as a whole.
For example, if you have oily skin, severe breakouts, and clogged pores everywhere, you could be a skin type 1. In this case, you can benefit from a light gel moisturizer like the Daily Mattifying Solution. However, if you have dry, sun damaged, and aging skin, you could be a skin type 8. In this case, you may benefit from a thicker moisturizer that contains brightening ingredients, like Glow Enhancing Cream.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your Renée Rouleau skin type. Take the skin type quiz to find out. At the end you will receive personalized product recommendations. I developed it to take the guesswork out of creating an effective skincare routine.
Avoid using a nighttime moisturizer that contains sunscreen
Some people use the same moisturizer morning and night. If you’re one of those people and your moisturizer contains sunscreen, it won’t get you very far in your sleep. Your skin’s needs are different at night than during the day, so you need to use the right ingredients.
Typically, moisturizers with sun protection don’t contain the same active ingredients as other night moisturizers, which means they don’t support your skin’s natural repair processes as much. Also, your skin just doesn’t need SPF at night, so you’re essentially wasting products you could use during the day.
Don’t be afraid of oil in a moisturizer
If you have an oily skin type and see an ingredient with the word “oil” in it, you may be hesitant to use it. It’s important to realize that virtually all creams and lotions use some form of oil or emollient to help the product glide over the skin. Also, not all oils are comedogenic (pore-clogging).
That’s the same reason moisturizers don’t directly cause pimples. Breakouts occur when the cells lining the inner pores are not shed properly, causing the pore to become clogged. This happens regardless of whether you use oil-free products or not. Ultimately, choosing the right products for your skin type will guarantee the best results.
The final result
You should never avoid using a moisturizer at night. It won’t solve any problems. Indeed, there could be problems! After all, your skin also needs moisture and protection at night.
Just make sure to always cleanse your skin before applying any moisturizer. I know it’s the end of the day and you’re tired, but you really have to trust me on this one. Your skin needs care. You have oil, dirt, bacteria and makeup (and who knows what else) on your face all day long. It’s so important to remove everything before you apply your moisturizer.
Next, these 10 nighttime skincare tips will make a world of difference.
Famous beautician and skincare expert
An esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skincare expert has created a real solution – products formulated for nine different skin types to give your face exactly what it needs to look and feel good. Celebrities, editors, bloggers and skincare enthusiasts around the world trust her extensive real-world knowledge and ongoing research. Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”