When to start your nighttime skincare routine

[This is not a sponsored post. The products photographed are gifted press samples.]

Having a strong daytime and nighttime skincare routine is a must, but the time you start it can also have an impact on how effective it is. Think about it – your morning routine is pretty standard. You get up, shower, and moisturise (and all that other good stuff). Then, your skin has the entire day ahead to reap the benefits of the product you use.

Nighttime, however, is a different story, and many people fall short by washing their face and applying a night cream straight before bed. Right? Wrong. In fact, your nighttime skincare routine should start way earlier than that.

Lots of people think that nighttime is the best time for skincare products to work because you’re home, settled, and not exposed to the elements outside. However, resting your head on your pillow – and, particularly, pillowcase – can present its own problems, which can and will impact the effect your product is having.

Aside from the obvious friction, products rubbing off onto bed linen will leave a residue, which attracts dirt and bacteria and can have an adverse effect on your skin. Obviously, the ideal answer would be to use fresh pillowcases every day – but that’s not practical. But one way to give your skin a kickstart at night is to start your nighttime routine as early as possible.

How early?

Well, I typically do my nighttime routine when I return home for the evening – whether that’s 4pm, 7pm, or 10pm. I do that for two reasons. 1) Like I said before, it allows the products to really get working before they’re disturbed, and 2) Because I want to wash the dirt and pollution off my face as soon as possible. Especially if you live in the city, that’s so important, and one of the main things that’ll make your skin bad.

So my routine when I get home literally starts with washing my face. Well actually, I greet the dog, wash my face, (pour a wine), then apply whatever product I’m using on that particular day. It may sound insignificant, but that headstart is so valuable.

Another benefit of starting your routine earlier is it gives the products more time to work. Night products tend to be more active, as opposed to day creams which are about hydrating and protecting skin, so it’s important to switch them up and curate a routine that gives your skin everything it needs.

The ingredients you should be using?

Let’s start off by saying I’m not a huge fan of ‘night creams’. Honestly – and I’m speaking generally here – I think they’re overrated. Yes, I get sent them often to try, and they are good, but I always find myself going back to products based on their ingredients, rather than whether they’re labelled for ‘day’ or ‘night’. That being said, if you are a skincare novice and are unsure of where to start, a night cream is infinitely better than nothing

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When it comes to nighttime skincare, you really want to be focussing on deep cleansing, exfoliating and anti-ageing, and there are 3 ingredients I go back to every week as part of my evening routine – post-cleanse and pre-moisturiser – to keep my skin fresh and clear:

Alpha Hydroxyl Acids (AHAs) –  These chemical exfoliants work on the surface of the skin, where they dissolve bonds between dead cells. Once cleansed away, fresh skin is revealed. The best part? They don’t affect healthy skin; they’re only strong enough to work on cells that are on their way out. 

Beta Hydroxyl Acids (BHAs) – Another chemical exfoliant, these work deep inside pores, helping to relieve congestion and freshen things up at a deeper level. They also have natural calming properties, so they’re usually preferred for more sensitive skin types, and are a great way to exfoliate if your skin’s going through a problematic patch.

Vitamin A (Retinol) – This is one of the only products that can be advertised as anti-ageing in the US. It increases the appearance of firmness, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, significantly improves uneven skin tone, and smooths the surface of the skin.

Alternate AHA – Retinol – BHA – Retinol etc. every other night for a routine that will keep skin clear, fresh and healthy.

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