Nighttime Skincare Routine: What you Actually Need to Know

Your nighttime skincare routine may seem a bit overwhelming at first, or more than a little annoying if you’ve been at it a while, but it doesn’t have to be. You know what I mean, you look at your products and just think, “I can’t.” and then deep-seated regret sets in when you awaken to  eye lashes clumped together like a venus fly trap.  

Why is it so blasted hard to commit to a regimen?

I absolutely loathe standing over the sink to wash my face.  I always imagine washing my face like Rebecca Gayheart in those iconic 90’s Noxzema commercials, but it more closely resembles when I was a kid and my sister would unkink the hose right before I took a drink.  Seriously, water everywhere.  It may be because I’m short and no matter how hunched over I am, water runs down my elbows toward me, but it could just be that I’m a hot mess.  I refuse to get a step stool for my bathroom (they go in the kitchen, laundry room, master closet and the garage).  Needless to say, I didn’t last long-standing at the sink.

I tried applying face wash to my dry face and using a hot towel to rinse it off.  This option was definitely a good one.  I love the way the hot wet towel opens up my pores and it only takes a few rinses of the towel before my face feels squeaky clean, without drenching my pj’s.  Still, it’s a lot of effort on those days when I just can’t.

I tried washing with makeup removing towelettes, but they leave a bit of a residue.  I’ve read that they aren’t the most hygienic way to wash before bed and that may be why I seem to get more breakouts with these.  Not exactly the results I was looking for.

Thus began my search for the perfect routine.

What makes for a nighttime skincare routine you can stick to?

  • Doesn’t break the bank for you.
  • So refreshing that you actually want to stay consistent.
  • Yields results.  What better incentive could you have?
  • Convenience.
  • Fun. (ok that one might be reaching).

If this nighttime skincare routine seems like the magical unicorn of skincare, I hear you, but I’m not bullshitting you.  I have tried countless products and methods to get to unicorn status.  It’s so easy that even my husband does it with me, usually without groaning or complaining.  I find it so amusing when I hand him the bottles out of order and he corrects me.  Ladies, this has its advantages, I have made the deal with him that I would stay out later than I wanted to, if he washed my makeup off and did my routine for me before bed.  We really are that annoying “team couple.”

The Easy Nighttime Skincare Routine:

At the point in the evening that I’m ready to start washing my face and getting ready for the next day, I’m usually so beat that I want to just climb into bed.  Aren’t we all?  The middle ground I found was washing my face in bed with all the right products.  Yes, you heard me, I climb into my fluffy cloud of a bed, wash my face and layer all the products while watching tv.  Honestly, the few minutes I spend handing product back and forth to my husband as we unwind from our day has genuinely become something I look forward to.

I have not read anything to says that your nighttime skincare routine needs to take longer than a few minutes.  There’s no evidence that shows you need to allow each product time to dry.  Actually, to the contrary, most dermatologists will tell you that skin is pretty absorbent and there isn’t really any good reason to allow it to dry between products.  Your skin will absorb the same amount of product anyway.  So let’s get into what products you need to use.

Makeup Remover:

I used to think that as long as I took my eye makeup off, it didn’t really matter what product I used.  They’re all pretty much the same.  Rookie mistake.  Recently I found, Tatcha Pure One Step Cleansing Oil and this stuff really is magical.  I can’t say enough about the ease with which this stuff removes my eye makeup and waterproof brows makeup.  It’s so good, my husband was super impressed, remember he has tried to remove my makeup before and I’m sure you can guess he was subject to shouting, “Don’t rub my eyelashes off!”  I gently massage Tatcha Pure One Step Cleansing Oil onto my eyes and the makeup just melts off.  I remove the excess oil with the ultra soft and gentle Shiseido Cotton squares.  See my full review here.

I’m so excited about this one that I’m giving it away. Enter here. enter here. I have not found any better options that are budget friendly, so comment below if you have one. I’d love to give it a try, but for now, this splurge is worth it to me.

Micellar Water:

After the makeup is removed, I need to get the excess oil from the makeup remover off.  Micellar water is a great “in bed” option for this.  It’s thin, effective and doesn’t add residue.  I add a bit of micellar water to a soft wash cloth and go to town on my face.  My face feels like a fresh, clean canvas for the rest of the products.

Shop My Favorite Micellar Water Cleansers:


Toner is probably one of the most over-looked and underrated products.  Toner is an important part of any morning and nighttime skincare routine because it rebalances the pH of skin after washing it.  Skin needs natural oil to help keep the pH regular.  After washing and removing natural oils, the pH is stripped.  Toner is necessary to balance the pH and restore your skin to a more natural state prior to the application of morning makeup or nighttime skincare products.  Fortunately, toner doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

Shop My Favorite Toners:

Besides the four amazing toners above, I also really like Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera, $8.70, from Amazon. The convenience of ordering with one click is everything and it works well too!  Witch Hazel is good for oily skin prone to breakouts, but this one also seems a little more gentle, which my skin definitely needs.

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nighttime skincare routine decoded for the best results.

Acne Products:

Between toner and serum is where I place acne products whether I’m at a point with my skincare that I need a daily additive or just spot coverage. My favorite products contain benzoyl peroxide.  I tend to get cystic acne from stress and hormones, and these products knock it right out.  Kate Somerville makes my favorite lifesaving acne products.  The Anti Bac Clearing Lotion works well on breakouts and under makeup, while Eradikate is a paste I’ve used on bigger pimples before bed and it knocks them down to a size I can cover, if not completely resolving them.  In the past, I’ve used prescription strength retinol and tried countless other products, but these two products are all I have needed for a few years now.  With these babies, I don’t need prescriptions.  Read my full post on adult acne.


Serums penetrate deeper into the skin for better hydration and many of them leave skin feeling supple and firmer than regular moisturizers.  They also dry quickly, given that they soak in deeper.  I’ve been using Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair off and on for years.  It’s a great product that has been around forever and it’s really good for a lot of skin types.  I made the switch a few bottles ago to belif Peat Miracle Revival Serum Concentrate because my skin lacks tensile strength and it makes it feel more supple.  My latest serum find came in my Play! by Sephora box, a monthly sample subscription service.  I’ve never used anything by Korres before the Golden Krocus Elixer, but glow my gawd this stuff is great.  At $98, I haven’t purchased the full bottle yet, but every day my sample size grows more empty and I’m filled with regret for not yet making the purchase.  Not only has my skin felt stronger and more supple, but it also looks radiant.  It may be responsible for what most have been mistaking as a pregnancy glow.  My skin has been dull and dry with the pregnancy, but not since the Golden Krocus Elixer entered my life.  Kiels offers a reliable lower cost serum option.  All four serums below are worth trying and definitely yield results.

Shop My Favorite Serums:


Following your serum with moisturizer is the double whammy your skin needs to soak it all in over night and look fresh in the morning.  Customizing your moisturizer to your skin type is very important.  If you have dry skin, you’re going to want to work in a heavier moisturizer, whereas oily skin would call for something lighter.

Shop My Favorite Moisturizers:

My fourth moisturizer pick is so new that the sites I use to make these fancy shopping widgets for you aren’t even carrying it. Secret Sauce Clinically Advanced Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer by It Cosmetics has lots of claims of grandeur, such as 207% of women experienced better hydration and other exciting clinical results. The impressive pearlescent, halographic packaging satisfies the unicorn lover in me while the diamond powder listed in the ingredients makes me chuckle a bit because my husband always says, “better be made of diamonds,” when something is ridiculously expensive. At $68, it is the splurge of the group, but the bottom line is, it works.  Thank you Play! box for introducing me to the best products to feed my worst addiction. My skin has had fewer fine lines, less redness and uneven color since I started using it and I’m only just about done with the sample size Sephora sent me.   It’s no wonder people keep telling me I have a pregnancy glow, a glow that just recently showed up 7 months into my pregnancy.

Eye Cream:

Lastly, eye cream tops of the nighttime skincare routine.  The specific needs tend to change over time, but eye cream remains a nighttime skincare staple.

Shop My Favorite Eye Creams:

Do you love washing your face at night? Comment below.

Kate Thakkar

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