Building Your Perfect Nighttime Skincare Routine

8 minutes
July 18, 2022

Scientists know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that skin behaves differently once the sun sets and we’re in Dreamland (or supposed to be). The skin marches to the beat of its own drummer (or in this case, its own circadian rhythm), and nighttime is when the entire body goes into renewal and repair mode, working to fix whatever assaults it has endured during the day. While skin’s moisture levels go down (blame transepidermal water loss or TEWL), its metabolic rate goes through the roof, meaning cells are regenerating at a furious pace. With the right skincare ingredients, you can enhance the processes naturally taking place in your body and wake up with even better-looking skin than you had before. Here’s how:

Choosing the right products for your skin

The ideal nighttime skincare routine for you begins with the products that are best suited for your particular skin type and needs. Some ingredients are universally recommended for pre-bed application because of their synergistic effects on the skin during sleep when cellular rejuvenation is at its peak. Retinol is one example. Not only does it make skin more photosensitive (one reason to apply in the evening), but the ingredient also degrades when exposed to UV light (reason #2 not to put retinol on your face, then head out into the morning sunshine). Retinol can trigger irritation in even the hardiest of complexions, however, so for that reason, it’s often wise to look for a form of retinol that’s combined with its botanical cousin, bakuchiol, as well as known skin soothers, such as ferulic acid (we love the Advanced Retinol + Ferulic products). Start by applying your retinol only every two to three nights, moving up to every other night, and finally nightly as the skin gets acclimated to the new ingredient (which it will). 

You’ll also need to factor in your complexion’s basic needs. For example, is it often dry or does it tend to skew oily? This could be a reason for you to opt for a wipe-off cleanser (instead of a foaming, rinse-off version) or to select a thicker cream formulation for your facial moisturizer, as opposed to the lotion variety.

It’s also a good time to evaluate what other benefits you’re hoping to get from your skincare regimen. Do you want to minimize the appearance of fine lines or is rough texture top of mind? Are you worried about undereye sagging or is puffiness? What has you most distressed? Once you decide on the priorities to tackle, it’s simple to outline a game plan.

The order of skincare products in your nighttime routine

You wouldn’t smooth on your blowout balm, then jump in the shower to wash your hair. The order in which you apply your skincare products is just as important to ensure you get optimal results from your regimen. Let’s take it from the top:

Makeup remover and cleanser

Even if you spent your day bare-faced in a laboratory clean room, you’d still need to wash your face at the end of the day. Oil and dead cells are just two of the things that build up during a normal 9 to 5. You need to remove them (plus your makeup and the day’s pollution) before you hit the sack so that your skin can regenerate to max effect while you’re asleep. A gentle, all-purpose cleansing gel-like Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta AHA/BHA Daily Cleansing Gel will leave your face feeling refreshed and ready for your next skincare step. If you need to remove waterproof makeup or your skin is on the drier side, consider a balm-like cleanser, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Meltaway Cleanser, which dissolves dirt, oil, and makeup without the need for water. 


Once you’ve removed the surface grime, your next step is to get rid of the dead cells that are slightly more tenacious and committed to hanging on with exfoliation. These are the ones that can end up clogging your pores (leading to a breakout), giving your complexion a dull appearance, and preventing the subsequent skincare ingredients you apply from absorbing as well as they could. A quick at-home chemical peel is the simple solution. It will sweep away cellular buildup and prime skin for what follows. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel is a bestselling, fan-favorite for a reason: It delivers incredible results! But if you’re especially focused on improving the texture of your complexion, reach for retinol in the form of Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Texture Renewal Peel


Serums are one of skincare enthusiasts’ go-to items because they typically deliver the most concentrated dose of active ingredients (as compared to product types, like creams, cleansers, or toners). Now that you’ve exfoliated your face, you can be sure that all that serum-y goodness will sink deep into your skin. You can stick to a single serum or layer them in combination, depending on the issues you want to address. Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment uses the proven power of retinol to stimulate collagen formation. Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster is like a tall drink of water for your complexion, instantly smoothing and softening its surface.


As previously noted, skin’s moisture levels drop during the night, making a layer of moisturizer a non-negotiable. If you want to build on the benefits of your retinol serum, follow it with a retinol-rich cream, like Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream. Even breakout-prone complexions need hydration (really!), but they should opt for oil-free formulas, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Moisturizer, instead.

Eye cream

After a day spent staring at your phone or squinting at your computer screen, you can’t forget to treat your eye area! The retinol in Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Triple Correction Eye Serum will help plump up fine lines and firm skin over time. If you need immediate impact, reach for Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Dew It Right Eye Gel, which depuffs almost on contact.

What ingredients should you include in your nighttime routine?

  • Retinol & bakuchiol
  • Alpha & beta hydroxy acids
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Squalene 
  • Ceramides  


Discover Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for All Your Skincare Needs

For more skincare tips from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross, check out our blog’s newest content today. Shop the collection of Dr. Dennis Gross bestselling skincare backed by dermatologists.

Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

Read More from Kayla Kernel

Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

Read More from Kayla Kernel

Stay up to date on the latest advice from our team of skincare experts.

Sign up to receive a monthly digest of skincare, wellness, and lifestyle tips.