When nighttime rolls around we all have our go-to rituals, whether it be cozying up with a great book, watching TV, or in our case, reaching for our favorite nighttime skin-care products. A thorough evening skin-care routine is essential for many reasons — one of the most important being that as you enjoy your beauty sleep, your skin is working to repair and renew itself. By following a routine and applying the best nighttime skin-care productsto target your key concerns before catching some much-needed Zzz’s you set your skin up for success.

To share with us the best steps to follow and products to use at night, we went straight to a pro — board-certified dermatologist and consultant, Dendy Engelman, MD, to learn all about her evening skin-care routine.


As stated above, it’s during deep sleep that your skin undergoes natural self-repair. In addition to getting the recommended amount of shut-eye, it’s equally important to ensure your skin is thoroughly cleansed while it works on regeneration. Failing to follow a proper bedtime skin-care regimen, especially by sleeping in your makeup, could potentially lead to your complexion looking worse when you wake up.

Step 1: Cleanse — Twice

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the popular K-beauty ritual double-cleansing. This face-washing method is a great practice to incorporate into your nighttime skin-care routine to help ensure that all dirt and pollutants have been effectively removed from the skin’s surface.

“In the evening, it’s all about removing the day’s makeup and dirt from your face,” Dr. Engelman explains. To do so, she follows a double-cleansing ritual every night. “Step one involves removing the day’s cream, makeup, and dirt with a nutrient-rich towelette,” she says. Makeup-removing towelettes are an easy, fuss-free way to remove impurities on the surface of the skin in a pinch.

Step two involves cleansing with a liquid cleanser. “Next, help draw out excess sebum and additional impurities using a gentle oil cleanser and lukewarm water,” Dr. Engelman advises. Why oil, you ask? Most oil cleansers can gently and effectively melt away impurities like makeup without drying out your skin.

Step 2: Exfoliate Regularly

After double cleansing, if her skin is feeling dull, Dr. Engelman reaches for a gentle exfoliator. “The complexion looks radiant when it’s smooth enough to reflect light,” she explains, “But when dead cells pile up, those layers can diffuse that light and thus make the skin appear dull.” Exfoliating regularly can help buff away dead skin cells to promote a glowing, smooth complexion.

Editor’s note: If you have sensitive skin, be sure to reach for an exfoliating formula that is suitable for your skin type. When in doubt, talk to your dermatologist or a skin care specialist.

Step 3: Apply Serum

Next, Dr. Engelman reaches for an anti-aging serum that’s formulated to help prevent and correct the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while improving the texture and tone of the complexion. She follows up with a prescription retinoid. “These vitamin A derivatives are the ultimate multi-taskers,” she explains. If you’re curious about retinoids and want to incorporate one into your nightly routine, be sure to talk to your dermatologist first to ensure you’re a good candidate. When using retinol, start at a lower concentration and slowly increase it to build your skin’s tolerance. Start by using retinol once or twice a week and gradually building up the frequency as needed to every other day, or every night. Just be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning, as retinol can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight.

Step 4: Hydrate Your Skin

After cleansing and applying your favorite serums, it’s time to hydrate your skin. “The skin can lose a lot of water while you sleep,” Dr. Engelman says, “So, I like to use hydrating products that are specifically formulated for overnight use, like an overnight mask.” With so many product formulations out there designed to target specific skin types and concerns at every price point, there’s bound to be a moisturizer-match for you.

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