Do You Really Need a Different Moisturizer during the Day and Night?

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By: Dr. Anjali Butani

While moles and dark spots can look similar, they are very different.

Skin hydration is essential to skin that looks beautiful and ages gracefully.  Not only is moisturization needed to keep our skin looking good, but it’s also necessary for healthy skin -  keeping our skin’s pH, good bacteria and protective acid-mantle layer in check.

A question I get asked often is do I really need a separate daytime and nighttime moisturizer?

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I am a big fan of combining skincare and beauty steps, to make life easier and save time.  No one has time to apply 15 products in the morning, 7 at lunch and 20 steps before going to bed.  

So whenever I hear of a product that does double-duty, I welcome it with open arms.  A serum that can be used for glowing and anti-aging at the same time, a bold lipstick that has amazing color and also nourishes lips or a face wash that also removes makeup….all sound great to me!

But when it comes to your daily skin moisturizer, you should be using a different morning and nighttime skin moisturizer.  

So why is it so important to use a different AM and PM skin hydrator?  Let’s dive into what makes your morning skincare routine unique from your nightly skincare routine.


ANJALI MD Brightening Retinol Night Cream casting a shadow on a blue background


Your skin is your body's largest organ. Like any living tissue, there are some functions that do not change no matter what time of day it is.  Your skin will always serve as a protective layer against the environment and pathogens.  It will always help in regulating your body temperature.  And it will always give your body form, giving your body a constant shape and structure.  But some functions of the skin do change throughout the day.

During the day, your skin is in defensive mode.  It is constantly fighting off environmental damage.  

While the sun is an important cause of damage, invisible attacks are happening constantly from things in our environment.  Things like smog, pollution, allergens and chemicals cause free radical damage.  This damage causes dark spots, aging, wrinkles and skin dullness.  Antioxidants stops these reactions.   

That’s the reason most daytime moisturizers contains a high dose of antioxidants to help your skin fight these constant battles.  Ingredients like Vitamin C, CoQ10, Sandalwood Extract, Gotu Kola (cica Centella Asiatica) and Morninga are high in antioxidant properties.

At night, our skin goes into a state of repair.  There is significantly more rejuvenation that happens at night.  In fact, different receptors come to the surface of our skin cells (keratinocytes), that cause different repair mechanisms to occur.

This is why most night creams have ingredients that work with this nocturnal pattern and help skin repair.  In our XXX we use key ingredients like White Lily, Magnolia, Cipadessa and Sodium DNA and RNA to promote skin healing at night.


ANJALI MD Age Rewind Face Serum casting a shadow on a blue background


Skin biology also is a big reason why the level of hydration in skin creams varies from day to night.

Your skin actually craves more moisture at night.  Key water receptors, called aquaporins, function much more efficiently at night.  Your skin literally wants to soak in more hydration.  So we want to give your skin a higher amount of moisture during this important time.

We don’t see this increase in skin’s need for moisture during the day, so daytime moisturizers can have a lighter texture.

Day products also tend to be more lightweight so you can layer other products, sunscreen or makeup on top.  Some even have specific benefits in the morning, like our Rapid Brightening Serum, which helps to smooth out your makeup and hold it in place.

Most of us don’t layer on several products at night.  We usually use one night cream.  So that night cream has to provide a higher level of skin hydration and generally has a thicker texture.



I know I say this a lot, but ingredients matter. Certain ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, work round-the-clock.  But other ingredients work better at different times of the day and night. 

You certainly need a sunscreen product with SPF ingredients during the day, but that generally won’t be a big concern at night.  

The same goes for active ingredients.  Your skin needs an antioxidant moisturizer during the day to fight off free radical damage.  Retinols, like tretinoin, retinal, retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tazarotene and bakuchiol work better at night.  They are also lose their effectiveness as they are exposed to sunlight, so they tend to be emphasized in night skincare regimens.



Next time you think about using the same moisturizer during the day and night, remember there are several good reasons to use a different daytime and nighttime moisturizer in your daily skincare routine.  Your glowing, healthy, hydrated skin will thank you.

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