Skin Care

By Meredith Clinton Bell

Magic serum in a bottle? Sign me up! What a wonderful world we’re aging in – we have the benefits of scientific research to help us fight the natural effects of getting older. Genius. A good night cream is of those that promise to take years off our faces in just 4-8 short weeks. Maybe it’s a little too good to be true…but maybe not.

Choosing the right night cream is an overwhelming decision. Not only are there price ranges to consider, but also…..do you pick anti-aging? Moisturizing? Repairing? Or all three combined? Maybe it’s better to just let your oh-so-delicate face breathe at night. Who knows?

Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Jennifer Linder, helps with a few key facts about night creams, so you’re prepared the next time you walk into the skincare section of your local department store.

For starters, she says the body absorbs more nutrients while we sleep; so nighttime moisturizers generally contain nourishing vitamins and hydrating agents. In fact, she even recommends to all her patients – no matter what their age – use a nighttime hydrator.

“Night creams do not have to be thick – they don’t even have to feel like (you have) any moisturizer on,” said Dr. Linder. “Maintaining adequate water hydration in the skin helps to balance oil production.”

For those looking for anti-aging benefits, beware of any that promise a quick fix. “Instant gratification is short-lived and comes with definite downsides when it comes to things like anti-wrinkle creams and lip plumpers,” warns Linder. Specifically, she says to avoid the ingredient DMAE, which is an anti-wrinkle agent that has been shown to damage the skin’s fibroblasts (cells that give the skin its strength).

Instead she explains that quality wrinkle reducers actually have to stimulate the creation of new collagen, which takes time. She recommends products with retinol, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and peptides to help fuel this process. If you can stand the anticipation, results should start to appear within four weeks. As you’ll see below, some products recommend eight weeks before you give up.

Night creams are an investment…both of finances and time, so it’s important to choose wisely. Here are some extra guidelines to help you narrow down your search (clearly I had trouble narrowing down as well, but I did my best).

Moisturizing

Sulwhasoo’s Overnight Vitalizing Treatment has a soul of its own. It’s part of the Korean skincare line using ancient herbal remedies for balance, inside and out. Whatever you believe, this moisturizer includes ingredients like pomegranate and walnut to smell great, and it doubles as a work of art on your makeup counter to boot.

Available: Bergdorf Goodman and http://www.bergdorfgoodman.com

No colors and no scents mean these next two are pure to the core. Simple Kind to Skin Vital Vitamin Night Cream, despite its mouthful of a name, is pretty basic – which is good, if that’s what you’re looking for. OK for sensitive skin, it uses Pro-Vitamin B5 and Vitamin E to help banish the baddies. Another option for dry, sensitive skin, Desert Essence Gentle Nourishing Night Cream is all natural and cruelty free. Both are kind to your wallet, chiming in at under $20. If you’re a little hesitant how your skin will react to a nighttime lotion, perhaps start here.

Simple available: Exclusively at Duane Reade and http://www.duanereade.com
Desert Essence available: http://www.desertessence.com and Whole Foods

Dare to Repair

All of these night creams take advantage of our body’s natural ability to repair itself as we sleep, but these two focus on more specific symptoms. Especially effective for combating redness caused by rosacia or broken capillaries, emerginC d-red nighttime strengthening balm is a light-weight balm with ingredients such as jojoba, olive, and sunflower oils that disappears into your skin and effectively nourish and hydrate as you sleep. It even comes with a handy dandy scoop for easy application.

Of course we know we can’t all be California girls, but this anti-aging Ommerse Overnight Recovery Crème comes straight from Beverly Hills and the ZO Skin Health line by dermatologist, Dr. Zein Obagi. Featuring a “calming anti-irritant complex,” it lets your facial skin do its business and repair the night away.

emerginC available: Besu Salon & Day Spa and http://www.emerginC.com
Ommerse available: Select Nordstrom stores and http://www.zoskinhealth.com

Mature Audiences Only

The Multi-Active Night line from Clarins will calm your senses with a faint spa-worthy scent and a formula that won’t clog pores. Recommended for those 30 and up (30 is mature, right?), it helps fight early wrinkles and comes in two different textures: youth recovery cream for normal to combination skin and youth recovery comfort cream for normal to dry skin. I tried the latter…superb.

One of the most distinctively targeted creams I tried, Shiseido’s Benefiance NutriPerfect Night Cream works best for skin affected by hormonal changes (think menopause) and other age-specific symptoms such as wrinkles (of course) and discolorations. It features a trade-marked ingredient, Carnosine DP, which helps your skin’s defenses against free radicals.

Clarins available: Neiman Marcus and http://www.clarinsusa.com
Shiseido available: Macy’s and http://www.macys.com

Power Punch

You’ll find everything from plumping agents to retinol microspheres to water lily extract, which helps fade pigmentation, in glamtox night from Rodial. Use for eight straight weeks for best results. Kinerase Pro + Therapy Ultra Rich Night Repair, with its selection of plant-based extracts, is a good option for post-procedural skin. It, too, is power-packed for the ultimate moisturizing, fine-line erasing, and blotch-fading results.

Rodial available: Select Nordstroms and http://www.rodialskincare.com
Kinerase available: http://www.kinerase.com and http://www.sephora.com

Greek Love

Quercetin & Oak Antiageing & Antiwrinkle Night Cream from Korres is 96.3% natural…a promising percentage if you’re super eco (and face)-conscious. Quercetin, the namesake ingredient, is what helps keep your skin cells living long and repairs the damaged ones due to natural aging.

Available: Korres Store and http://www.sephora.com

My Personal Picks

Therapy Systems has created a cleanser and cream that work the night shift together for your personal gain. It’s A-OK for any age and any skin type. Start with the light-weight Retinol Cellular Treatment Cleanser/PM to prep your skin for optimal results before you apply the Retinol Cellular Treatment Cream/PM. Both contain retinol for anti-aging benefits and exfoliate and repair your skin cells on a nightly basis.

I’m a sucker for creative packaging, so maybe it swayed me a bit with CellGenesis Regenerative Skin Treatment from CellCeuticals, but nevertheless, it’s one of my faves. No jar to open, no extra goop to touch, just push down once (maybe twice) and rub the translucent blue balm on your face and neck. It feels light and apparently uses patent pending GFP Cellular Complex to fight the effects of aging.

Therapy Systems available: http://www.therapysystems.com
CellGenesis available: http://www.cellceuticalskincare.com

Phew! Clearly there’s a lot to consider. Before you buy, figure out what you want from your night cream and determine which is best for your skin type. With winter on the horizon, your skin will thank you for even the most basic nighttime moisturizer. And, yes, aging is natural for all of us…but science was a class I didn’t sleep through for a reason. These advances in skincare are out there, why not give them a whirl? Let your night cream do some work while you dream sweetly, then wake up refreshed to attack a new day!

Originally published October 2010
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