If you’re a seasoned skincare junkie, you’ll already have your day and night skincare routines locked down. But if you’re still building up to them, you could be wondering about the need for a different moisturiser for the day, and another for the night. Will a day cream cause damage if you use it at night? Or will a PM lotion wreak havoc if used in morning? Probably not. Still, since they have different uses and ingredients from each other, using a targeted source of hydration will help to keep wrinkles, sun damage and pollution damage at bay. Last week, we put together a guide to the best night creams, and here, we have the low-down on why you need a specific day cream for your skin type and needs.
Is there really a difference between a day and night cream?
Since facial skin is thinner than the rest of the skin on the body, it can be fragile and more sensitive. And considering it is exposed to external aggressions (like polluted air, grime, changes in temperature, UV rays) every day, protecting it is of utmost importance. Day creams nourish and hydrate the skin while also providing a protective shield against attacks on the hydrophilic layer. A good moisturiser will have ingredients that can reduce and protect against fine lines and wrinkles, so making sure that your chosen cream contains antioxidants, anti-ageing agents and anti-pollution ingredients, will make all the difference.
SPF is usually the biggest differentiator. UVB rays that tan and burn the skin, and UVA rays that penetrate deeper into the layers, have a detrimental effect on the epidermis and deeper dermis layer. It can break elastic fibres and harm cell DNA, as well as cause sun spots and the possibility of skin cancer. While an additional sunscreen layer is important, including SPF in a day cream helps to strengthen it. Most day creams will eschew exfoliating agents like retinols and AHAs as they can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Since they are designed to be worn under makeup, day creams usually have lighter, more non-greasy finishes than their nighttime counterparts—so they don’t pill when layered on. Some multitaskers even work as makeup primers, so they’re oil-free and go on smooth under foundation.
How to pick the right day cream for your skin type
“Picking the right day cream for your skin type and needs is important. Since it is on your skin all day, it should be light and sink into the skin easily without clogging pores. It has to be something you like wearing, because that will help improve the likelihood of you actually wearing it everyday,” says dermatologist Dr Abhijit Desai. If you usually wake up with dry, tight skin, it makes sense to use a day cream that contains humectants like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and sodium PCA. They will draw water from the environment into the skin and maintain moisture levels all day. The Ren V-Cense Youth Vitality Day Cream supports the natural collagen function to brighten and plump the skin. If your skin is dry but dull, a Vitamin C cream like The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser will help you fight signs of skin fatigue. “A stable form of Vitamin C is best used in the morning, as the skin is faced with environmental stressors throughout the day. This includes blue light UV rays from the computer screen as well,” confirms Dr Desai. To further offset dullness, the L’Oréal Rénergie Multi-Glow Cream has a rose tint that brightens the skin while it lifts.
If you have oily skin and large pores, a gel-textured day cream or silky lotion will reduce the risk of clogged pores, especially when you’ve topped your moisturiser with makeup. The Forest Essentials Light Day Lotion soothes and softens the skin and sinks in almost immediately, making it perfect to use under base makeup. “People with oily skin also need to moisturise everyday. Because if skin is too dried out, it can overproduce oil in response. This can cause a greasier, more acne-prone complexion,” warns Dr Desai.
If retinol is your choice of product to fight wrinkles and fine lines in the night, a hyaluronic acid-heavy day cream is ideal to offset the dryness that retinol can create, while also plumping the skin and filling in any cracks in the skin. The Avène Physiolift Day Smoothing Emulsion has a light barely-there texture that promotes lifting, and the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Filler Day Cream has a bouncier, more watery texture.