Aging gracefully is easier said than done. That's because no one enjoys looking in the mirror and seeing more fine lines and wrinkles than they had on their previous birthday. If your skincare routine has the right anti-aging night cream, though, you can help slow the hands of time from affecting your face. A night cream is one of the most intensive anti-aging treatments and can help soften fine lines and wrinkles, lighten age spots, improve skin elasticity, and smooth crepey texture while you sleep. Anti-aging night creams are often hit-or-miss, so you need to know what to look for to find an effective formula.
Our buying guide is full of handy tips to help you choose the best anti-aging night cream for your skincare routine. We've also included some specific night cream recommendations, such as our top choice, the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream, which contains retinol and red algae extract to help reduce lines, improve elasticity, and brighten the skin.
Considerations when choosing anti-aging night creams
Water-based vs. oil-based
Water-based anti-aging night creams usually have a lightweight gel texture, which is ideal for oily and acne-prone skin because it won't clog the pores. They're usually not as hydrating, so they're not the best option for dry skin or cold weather months when your skin is typically dehydrated.
Oil-based anti-aging night creams are the most common option and have a rich luxurious cream-like texture. They're extremely hydrating, which makes them perfect if you have dry or dehydrated skin. Oil-based formulas aren't the best choice for oily or acne-prone skin; however, you can find some noncomedogenic oil-based night creams that won't clog your pores.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that supports cell turnover. It helps soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brighten dull skin. It can also trigger the production of collagen, which helps boost skin elasticity and fade dark spots.
Alpha hydroxy acids
These, like glycolic acid, are extremely effective for exfoliating the top layer of dead cells from the skin. They can help soften, brighten, and smooth the skin.
Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant that can help address free radical damage that results from sun exposure. It's effective for brightening the skin, too.
Peptides are amino acids that comprise collagen. They help boost skin elasticity to plump and firm the skin.
This is a hydrating ingredient that binds moisture to the skin and helps give it a plumper appearance that diminishes the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
The ingredients in effective anti-aging night creams are usually potent, so they can sometimes cause irritation as your skin becomes used to the formula. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a night cream that's hypoallergenic. It might still cause an allergic reaction, but the risk isn't as great.
Many night creams often have a strong perfumed scent to give them a more luxurious feel. If you have sensitive skin, synthetic fragrance can cause skin irritations -- and even cause headaches in people who are triggered by strong fragrances. Some anti-aging night creams are available in fragrance-free formulas, so you don't have to worry about having a reaction.
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, pick an anti-aging night cream that's noncomedogenic. That means it won't clog your pores or contribute to breakouts. Some formulas may even be labeled as nonacnegenic, which means they're not likely to cause acne.
Anti-aging night creams generally cost between $8 and $160. You'll usually pay $8 to $20 for budget-friendly formulas with fewer proven anti-aging ingredients, while creams with more effective ingredients typically go for $20 to $45. If you're looking for a high-end option, luxury anti-aging night creams can cost anywhere from $50 to $160.
Q. How long does it usually take to see results with an anti-aging night cream?
A. It depends on the skin issues you have and the formula that you're using as well as what other skincare products you use. In most cases you should see results within one to two months.
Q. Can I use an anti-aging night cream during the day?
A. Night creams often contain ingredients that make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so they're meant for use at night when you won't face sun exposure. They don't contain any SPF either, so you won't have any sun protection at all.
Anti-aging night creams we recommend
Best of the best: Murad's Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream
Our take: An effective anti-aging formula that stars retinol, one of the most potent topical anti-aging ingredients around, and it helps soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What we like: Features retinol and red algae extract, which is full of peptides that help boost skin elasticity. Sinks into the skin easily. Helps reveal brighter more glowing skin. Can also diminish the look of large pores and dark spots. Effective for all skin types.
What we dislike: Pricey, and the jar doesn't hold much product.
Best bang for your buck: Olay's Regenerist Night Recovery Cream Advanced Anti-Aging
Our take: Not quite as luxurious as high-end brands, but Olay is a trusted name in the skincare game, and the Regenerist line always earns high marks when compared to the competition.
What we like: A lightweight fragrance-free formula that's safe for sensitive skin. Absorbs into the skin easily without leaving behind a greasy residue. Leaves skin feeling smoother. Softens the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Delivers moisture that helps plump the skin.
What we dislike: The cream can dry up in the tub. Some users have an issue with the cream beading up when it's rubbed in.
Choice 3: Perricone MD's Multi-Action Overnight Treatment
Our take: An anti-aging night cream that uses natural ingredients to provide soft luminous skin.
What we like: Features alpha-lipoic acid to smooth skin texture and DMAE to firm the skin. Softens fine lines and helps reduce puffiness under the eyes. Provides plenty of moisture and leaves skin more even, too.
What we dislike: Some users aren't fans of the fragrance.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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