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How to Save Dry Skin Overnight

Woman sleeping after completing her nighttime skincare routine

Just as you’re slipping under the covers at night—preparing yourself for off mode—your skin’s about to clock in for its busiest shift, regenerating new cells and repairing all the damage you’ve incurred during the day. But there’s a downside to this productive phase—it’s also the time when your skin is most vulnerable to dryness, which is why a proper nighttime skincare routine is so critical. 

Why dryness happens at night

Just like your body, “your skin undergoes daily circadian rhythms, in which certain activities occur in the morning and others occur in the evening,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. And research shows that at night, a handful of these natural functions can deplete hydration levels. Take transepidermal water loss (TEWL), for example—this process, in which water passes from the dermis and evaporates out through the epidermis, spikes in the evening. Meanwhile, the recovery of your skin barrier—its outermost layer—dips, making it more susceptible to “microscopic cracks that allow water to evaporate,” says Zeichner. Also: the skin’s temperature and permeability increase. On one hand, that’s a good thing—it makes it easier for skincare ingredients to dive in and fuel that natural repair work mentioned above. But it can also facilitate the evaporation of water from skin’s surface. All of these factors can promote skin that looks and feels rough, tight, and parched in the morning.  

How to safeguard skin for sleep

Wash with warm water

Washing your face with a non-stripping cleanser (oil versions tend to be best for dry types) before bed is a non-negotiable for removing any makeup, dirt, and pollution particles that piled up during the day—if left on overnight, they could stem inflammation. But be vigilant of the water temperature, as higher temps exacerbate dryness: “Keep it lukewarm and pat—don’t rub—the skin dry once you’re done cleansing,” explains Zeichner. Patting is less disruptive, and it also leaves your face more moist and more receptive to the products you apply next. You can amp this up by spritzing a face mist after cleansing too. To seal in moisture, says Zeichner, slather on your skincare within five minutes of cleansing.

Apply multi-talented treatments

In addition to using your most reparative and regenerative treatments (think antioxidants, niacinamide, peptides) at bedtime to sync with skin’s renewal cycle, it’s also key to apply products with a combination of humectant, emollient, and occlusive properties—all of which can be achieved by layering Renew Pure Radiance Face Oil under Moisture Lock Overnight Mask. Emollients like natural oils, says Zeichner, “soften rough skin cells,” while humectants like squalane and hyaluronic acid “act like a sponge to pull hydration into the skin.” Occlusives perform the very important function of forming a seal over skin to prevent water loss—unlike most night creams which rely on pore-clogging waxes or petrochemical-based synthetics to do this, Moisture Lock utilizes mango seed butter instead. 

Invest in a humidifier

Beyond having benefits for your immune system, humidifiers do wonders for your complexion—more water in the air equals more water in your skin. This is especially helpful during winter, when the mix of cold, dry air outside and indoor heating zaps moisture levels. Zeichner advises choosing a cool-mist model, which he says “is safer to use than the hot steam version that can burn your fingers if you get too close.”

Your overnight essentials

A celeb makeup-artist favorite for the thorough job it does removing foundation, mascara, and the like, this cleanser is also ideal for sensitive and dry types because of how gentle it is on the skin barrier. 

SHOP PRE CLEANSE OIL

An antioxidant-packed mist that leaves behind a veil of moisture, enhancing the absorption of your other skincare products. 

SHOP RENEW NUTRIENT MIST

Made with fatty acid-rich plant oils like chia and kiwi that act as emollients and occlusives, this moisture-replenishing treatment leaves skin immediately softer and smoother.

SHOP RENEW PURE RADIANCE FACE OIL

A silky and luxurious blend that drives hydration into skin and keeps it there while you sleep (so you wake up to supple luminosity)—it features two different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid with glycerin, squalane, mango seed butter and other nourishing ingredients. 

SHOP MOISTURE LOCK OVERNIGHT MASK