Anti-Aging Moisturizers for Day vs. Night: What’s the Difference?
When it comes to caring for our skin, especially as we get older, using the right moisturizers is crucial. But with so many options out there, it can get confusing trying to figure out whether you need separate day and night anti-aging moisturizers, or if one moisturizer will do the trick.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the key differences between day and night moisturizers, the ingredients you need for each, and provide product recommendations to help you build the perfect anti-aging skincare routine.
Day moisturizers are formulated specifically for use during the morning and afternoon hours. There are two key factors that make day moisturizers different:
One of the main jobs of your day moisturizer is to protect your skin from sun damage. That’s why most day moisturizers contain SPF – ideally at least SPF 30. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are one of the biggest contributors to skin aging, causing wrinkles, dark spots, and loss of elasticity over time. An effective sunscreen is your best defense.
Some moisturizers contain only minimal SPF, like SPF 15, which doesn’t provide adequate protection. Make sure to check the label and opt for SPF 30 or higher in your day moisturizer. You can also layer a separate sunscreen underneath or over your day moisturizer to amp up the sun protection.
Day moisturizers are designed to be lightweight, fast-absorbing, and smooth. Thicker, richer creams can feel greasy and heavy during the day and cause makeup to slip and slide off your face. Look for day moisturizers labeled “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” if you have oily/acne-prone skin.
Gel or water-based moisturizers are ideal for daytime since they provide hydration without heaviness. Some of our top picks for lightweight day moisturizers include:
- CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30 – oil-free, non-comedogenic, contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides for hydration
- Tatcha The Water Cream – oil-free gel cream with Japanese botanicals
- Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel – oil-free hydrating gel
Night moisturizers are richer and more potent since they can absorb into your skin while you sleep without having to worry about sun protection. Here’s what makes night creams different:
Since you don’t have to worry about heaviness or greasiness at night, night moisturizers can contain thicker, more emollient ingredients like shea butter, petrolatum, and oils. These richer ingredients coat the skin and help seal in moisture while you sleep.
Look for keywords like “overnight”, “PM”, or “night” on the label to identify moisturizers formulated for nighttime. Some top-rated heavy night creams include:
- Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil – botanical oils hydrate and reduce signs of aging
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide
- IT Cosmetics Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Night Cream – anti-aging peptides, collagen, and hyaluronic acid
Higher Concentrations of Actives
Since night moisturizers don’t need sun protection, they can contain higher percentages of active anti-aging ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C. These powerful ingredients help increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen while you sleep but can make skin more sensitive to sunlight if used during the day.
Look for these key ingredients when shopping for an anti-aging night moisturizer:
- Retinol – the gold standard for anti-aging, retinol boosts collagen production and reduces lines/wrinkles
- Peptides – help stimulate collagen and repair skin damage
- Ceramides – essential for maintaining the skin barrier and locking in moisture
- Hyaluronic acid – binds moisture to the skin and plumps fine lines
- Vitamin C – brightens skin and protects against environmental damage
Some of our favorite anti-aging night creams include:
- Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil – trans-retinoic acid for anti-aging
- Tatcha The Renewal Cream – Okinawan algae, peptides, and hyaluronic acid
- Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum – hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and botanical oils
Do You Need Separate Day and Night Moisturizers?
Now that you know the key differences between day and night moisturizers, do you really need to use both? The short answer is: it depends on your skin’s needs.
If your day moisturizer contains at least SPF 30 and you tolerate the texture well under makeup, you may be able to use it morning and night. Just make sure it also contains some anti-aging ingredients like peptides or antioxidants.
However, if you have specific skin concerns like wrinkles, dark spots, or loss of firmness, you’ll benefit more from using separate moisturizers formulated for day and night. The targeted ingredients in night creams can enhance their efficacy.
Those with very dry skin may also want to double up on rich night creams layered over their lighter day moisturizer for extra nourishment at bedtime. As always, choose products suited for your unique skin type.
The Bottom Line
While it’s possible to find moisturizers designed to multitask both day and night, most skin care experts recommend using separate formulas morning and evening to get the most anti-aging benefits.
Day moisturizers focus on hydration and sun protection with lightweight textures, while night moisturizers pack a more potent anti-aging punch of ingredients to nourish and repair skin while you sleep.
Pay attention to your own skin’s needs and concerns to decide if you require targeted day and/or night moisturizers as part of your anti-aging skincare routine. With the right products, your skin will look youthful and radiant around the clock!