Is night cream necessary? Can you use night cream as day cream? Heck, just tell me - what's the differene between day cream and night cream?

What’s the Difference Between an Anti-Ageing Day Cream & Night Cream?

In Anti-Ageing & Protective Skincare by Cheryl Woodman MChemLeave a Comment

What is the difference between day cream and night cream? This is such an important question my friend… and I’m about to share a tit-bit of science that will have you going WOW really!?

Yes, everyone knows night creams tend to be thicker than day creams – BUT – I bet you don’t know about this.

It’s going to help you understand if night cream really is necessary 😀

Is night cream necessary? Can you use night cream as day cream? Heck, just tell me - what's the differene between day cream and night cream?

What is The Difference Between Day Cream and Night Cream?

I vividly remember the first ‘proper’ skincare routine I bought. I started my first graduate job… my very first paycheck hits my bank account and I’m thinking, heck yes, I get to take great care of my skin now. Get me to that beauty counter 😂

I remember feeling overwhelmed.

I remember being told if I didn’t use toner my pores would never stop growing [not true by the way ;)].

I remember being shown a blue pot of cream that was only for nighttime only and that I absolutely needed it if I’m serious about anti-ageing skincare.

I take a tester of each, I take them home, I indulge in my first grown up skincare routine and I love it. I march straight back with my friend Serena and spend the most on skincare I’d ever spent in my whole entire life [well… till that date 😂].

Back in 2010 I had no clue what this blue pot of night cream was supposed to do. It sounded like IT knew what it was doing with all its fancy science words 😅.

Now I know the why my friend and today you’re going to know it too.

See there are 2 main differences between day cream and night cream.

The first difference is this – day cream often contains extra actives to help protect your skin against UV light.

Psst – UV light’s one of the biggest causes of skin ageing under your control. You can grab your free copy of my free 5 Best Ant-Ageing Actives cheatsheet here to find out which anti-ageing actives you should absolutely be using with it 😀

Can You Use Day Cream as Night Cream?

Which is a big reason why some day creams are not for using at night. Even if the day cream isn’t telling you with SPF 15 or SPF 30 on the label – some day creams still contain UV-protecting actives.

UV-protecting actives sit in the top layers of your skin. Imagine what happens if they get deeper eh – your top layers of skin aren’t protected. Boo.

Think of UV actives as being too big to fall through your skin net 🙂

It’s not a great idea to have UV-protecting actives on your skin as you’re rubbing your face against bedding. And let’s face it, moon-bathing isn’t as fun as sunbathing 😂

Bottom line: a heck load of day creams contain SPF. Don’t use a day cream containing SPF as a night cream.

What’s The Difference Between Night Cream and Day Cream?

Here’s the exciting – WOWEE – science bit my friend. The reason why night creams can be anti-ageing powerhouses for your skin.

Us scientists have known this since the 1970s and because a landmark science paper published in the British Journal of Dermatology found out this…

We have shown that the sebum excretion rate in men and women with and without acne exhibits a circadian rhythm… in the majority of subjects the peak is reached in the late morning.Br J Dermatol. 1970 May;82(5):497-501

Did you see that?

Don’t worry if it sounds all sciency. You’ve got me to de-science-gook for you 😉

This 1970 study’s telling us (and yes, it’s been proven time and time again since) that;

  • Your skin makes sebum at different speeds depending on the time of day
  • You wake up and go to sleep naturally with day and night, and so does your skin – psst – this is called a circadian rhythm
  • Your skin makes the most sebum in the mid-morning and generally reaches its peak sebum-making rate at midday (ever experienced your skin looking super oily just a few hours after putting makeup on? This is why)
  • Your skin’s lowest sebum-making rate hits in the evening as lights go out

So imagine this – you put on a thick day cream and then hours later your skin’s pumping out as much sebum as it has potential to make.

It’s like trying to put moisturiser on a tap turned on at full power eh.

What’s the Difference Between Day and Night Cream?

There’s also this fact, not only is your skin not pumping out sebum at full flow in the evening, as scientists we also know (maybe as a consequence of lower sebum rates) that your skin is most permeable at nighttime.

Imagine your skin like a shield. In the daytime its battery pack is full, and at nighttime, it’s almost all used up – your skin shield battery’s flashing ‘low, help ME!’.

Psst – peek at this science quote;

TEWL is significantly higher in the afternoon and evening compared to the morning, suggesting that epidermal barrier function is less optimal late in the day and in the evening.Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(6), 801

Don’t worry, I’m ready with my de-gooking wand 🙂

This 2016 study’s telling us;

  • Your skin loses more water in the afternoon and evening (psst – TEWL = trans epidermal water loss)
  • This means your skin shield isn’t as effective in the afternoon and evening
  • Meaning = your skin’s in the perfect condition to absorb a thicker night cream packed with well-proven anti-ageing actives (psst – grab my free 5 Best Anti-Ageing Actives cheatsheet to find out how to choose your very best night cream :))

Nighttime’s also when your skin repairs and re-grows at super speed;


Your skin cells grow and rebirth themselves at a 30X higher rate during your nighttime than in the day. You’re asleep but your skin, well it’s raving 😅

Is Night Cream Necessary?

Hand on my heart I can’t answer you a simple yes or no to this question because whether you need a day cream and a night cream depends on your skin type, your top skin concerns and the products you’re using.

Ultimately – yes – night cream can support your skin health in a way many day creams can’t. Night creams are aimed at repairing your skin barrier, supplying nutrients for skin repair and the best ones, well they’re also packed with effective anti-ageing actives.

Fact is your skin’s better at absorbing during the nighttime. Not only this but nighttime’s when your skin needs most support.
You also shouldn’t be usng a day creams that contain SPF at nighttime.

Bottom line: night creams are powerful steps in your anti-ageing skincare routine because nighttime’s when your skin barrier’s at it’s lowest and therefore is most primed to absorb.

Psst – use that big green sharing button below to pass this night cream expose on to a friend you love and care about? 🥰🙏