Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Arpita Singh (Beauty Expert) on 21st Jan 2021

What should your night-time skincare routine look like? 

What should your night-time skincare routine

After a day-long fight with UV rays and a constant hustle through smoke, dust, and fumes, your skin has its lively enthusiasm in shreds. By the time you go back home, your skin barrier lies in a state of disruption (which needs a blast of rejuvenation to come back to its former self).

At home, the skin feels safe as now it is in a much cleaner environment. Yet, the grime that has collected on your face, neck, hair, and other parts of the body remains the same. A proper bath and shampoo can help you get rid of all the sweat and the unbearable odor it produces, makeup on the face, and dust particles on the body, especially your hair. But is that it? Or, you feel a little more obligated to give your skin all the TLC it deserves. 

Why is night-time skincare important?

At night, the skin cells naturally enter a phase of regeneration. That is why it becomes important for us not to miss the opportunity but make the most of it. Moreover, to look all confident again the next day and have your skin exude its glowing beauty, don't you think you must pay attention to the skincare routine you follow the night before? Ring the holy bells, and begin your night skin rituals with a big nod, saying - yes, it is! 

But wait, do pay attention to the order in which you apply your products. 

Here's a breakdown of the basic pattern of your everyday "PM" routine.

Again, the application sequence is the deciding factor of the results your skincare products will bring in. As a dermatologist would say, it is your skin's primary job to let no external element seep into the inside and do harm. However, many skincare ingredients have to enter your skin and reach varying depths (depending on the purpose they serve) for performing their functions.

Even if your products are brilliantly formulated and applied with care, they only penetrate the skin in minimal quantities. If you make a mistake in using it in the correct order, and there, either your skincare product will not be absorbed, or it will be rendered ineffective.

Your night skincare routine should involve some basic steps, this being the only way to obtain full benefits from the products you use.  

So let's understand these steps, one at a time. 

1) Double cleansing can be a life-saver for your skin 

If you aren't familiar already, let's introduce you to the method of double cleansing. Take the "double" here, in the very literal sense of the word. So, the first step is to use cleansing oil to rub off all the makeup and sebum amassed on your face.


Many experts state that makeup wipes can irritate your skin to a great extent. They leave behind a sticky residue that can most possibly cause acne on the skin.

Next, you need to wash away all the makeup and dirt you got loose from the first part of cleansing. Use a face wash, or a mild, creamy cleanser (which also taps down the inflammation in pimple-prone skin), to do so.

This provides a burst of freshness to your face and prepares it to absorb the other ingredients that will follow up later as part of the routine.

If you wish to use a physical exfoliant (such as a facial scrub), remove your makeup with the right product, and you can directly head for a physical exfoliant. 

Have you heard of sheet masks?  

Yes, those face-shaped masks, made out of papers or other fabrics, dipped in a rich nutrition solution called the serum. You can put on your favorite sheet mask right after you have undergone the double-cleansing. You can either pat on the extra amount of serum left behind or rinse your skin with water. Then, you can proceed onto your toners. 

2) It's time to add ample moisture to your skin. 

Toners, and skin boosters (which include - mists, essences, hyaluronic acid serums, etc.), can surely lend a helping hand. Some of these products can come filled with active ingredients, but their real job remains the same. They add water to your skin and provide nourishment to it.

Besides hydrating your skin, a toner mostly bolsters the initial cleansing steps. At the same time, essences can deliver treatments, catering to the specific needs of your skin.

If you suffer from any form of acne, whether inflammatory (pustules, papules, and nodules) or non-inflammatory (whiteheads and blackheads), look for compositions that involve salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) or glycolic acid & lactic acid (alpha-hydroxy acids). 

Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum
Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum

Salicylic Acid 2% Face Serum

₹ 545

When to use: PM

Frequency: Alternate days

View details

Suppose your skin feels withered one night; you can then go along with a hydrating toner. Experts recommend to use either a toner or an essence at one time and not complicate your PM routine much. However, if you treat yourself with more than one skin booster, take the necessary guidance from a dermatologist.  


Keep in mind the most basic rule - apply your products in the order of the lightest consistency to the thickest consistency.

3) Eye creams, too, hold significance in a PM routine. 

Thinner in texture, and hence, they should be applied before oils, moisturizers, and other creams.

Call it a misunderstanding, but some people believe it's important for an eye cream to contain retinol. Now, the skin around the eyes is the most delicate and the reason why it is so prone to irritation and rashes. It will help if you go gentle on it. 

Granactive Retinoid 2% Face Cream
Granactive Retinoid 2% Face Cream
Granactive Retinoid 2% Face Cream
Granactive Retinoid 2% Face Cream

Granactive Retinoid 2% Face Cream

₹ 689

When to use: PM

Frequency: Twice a week

View details

How about using simple hydrating creams or humectants?  

They will protect the under eyes and guard those sensitive areas against the potent skincare ingredients, lessening the irritation. Crow's feet are primarily due to collagen tissue damage, which results in loss of elasticity. Give proper hydration to the concerned parts, and you will see the wrinkles reducing. 

4) It's time for some active treatments! 

Our skin undergoes a process of repair and restoration at night. That is why all the prescribed medicines (for rosacea, acne, psoriasis, etc.) are recommended to be taken during the night. Retinol creams, anti-aging serums (comprising peptides and growth factors), and the exfoliating ingredients (that come in different forms, including peels, masks, pads, and even serums) should always become a part of your PM routine.

But bear in mind that no matter how driven you are to give your skin good health and texture, you will never go overboard. Don't pour every skincare product you find in your cabinet the very same night. You will get tomorrow and a day after that to counter all your skin issues. 

• Minimalist's Advice

Listen to your skin and how it is feeling that very night. Sometimes, it may just need a simple cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Other times, it can feel excessively dry or irritated with acne.

However, too many products will only spike your irritation and even decrease the chances of getting a positive result. Following up are some essential tips that can help you use the nutrient-packed and concentrated serums more effectively. 

  • If you have got acne out of the blue, and it is suddenly getting on her nerves, try benzoyl peroxide (BPO). But apply it only on the affected parts, and not the entire face. You can start by using it once every two days, and as you adjust more to the treatment, you can increase its frequency as it suits you.

    Yet, if you have sensitive skin, it is advised to use BPO every alternate day until your skin becomes accustomed. Moreover, you can mix BPO and HA in equal parts (1/2 a dropper from each of the two) and use it directly on the zits.

    In case you have dry skin, tap in a layer of hyaluronic acid (HA) right after the application of BPO. 
  • If you have acne-prone skin, and you particularly suffer from the non-inflammatory form of acne and enlarged pores, then salicylic acid (SA) will come to your rescue. Pat on a thin layer of SA over the entire face. Again, if you are new to the ingredient, then initially, go with it once every two days.

    But for sensitive skin, you need to pursue your applications every alternate day until your skin becomes familiar with the ingredient. Also, take SA and HA in equal amounts (1/2 a dropper from each of the two), and apply it all over your face.

    In case you have dry skin, as mentioned earlier, pour in a layer of HA to soothe the irritation a little.  
  • Hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and blemishes deal a blow to the texture and charm of your face. How about chemical peels?

    Minimalist's duo 30% AHA (glycolic acid) and 2% BHA (salicylic acid) can be used once a week for normal skin. Leave it on your face for not more than 10 minutes, and after which, rinse it with lukewarm water. 

A gentle reminder: chemical peels work by increasing the cell turnover, and in the process, it makes your skin sensitive to the harsh sun. Therefore, dab in sunscreen sufficiently, having an SPF of 30 or more.

If this potent duo is not for you, you can quickly shift to a 10% lactic acid solution, the acid being a water-soluble AHA. It will be quite suitable for you even if you have dry or sensitive skin. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, go with a 2% salicylic acid serum, the acid being an oil-soluble BHA).

  • If you want to check on the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on your face, retinol can make a dream come true for you.

    Minimalist gifts you "Granactive Retinoid," a stable version of retinol, and helps you slow down the aging process. A plus point, it causes less irritation. 

Now, it depends on you whether you wish to apply retinol before a moisturizer or after one. Observe as we discuss the two scenarios.

Firstly, retinol should never be applied on damp skin. As there is a major risk, it can be absorbed by the skin in quantity more than what's required, leading to irritation.

Secondly, the experts urge them to use the retinol cream after moisturizing people with sensitive skin. This cools down the potency of retinol; again, offering the least irritation. Just make sure you give the moisturizer a good 20 minutes to set in, and then only - the retinol gets to play its part. 

Liquid error (sections/pf-866434f6 line 119): product form must be given a product


Don't go for retinol or acne-resistant products (prescription-based or OTC) on the same night as you exfoliate (especially if you use chemical peels). Give each of the three a separate night to shine and prove their worth. Having it all one single night, you will be welcoming a truckload of irritation to your skin. So, you get to decide. Act wisely!

Also, a few experts have come up with this skincare hack. After you are done spot-treating the acne, black spots, or scars, pat on a thin coat of moisturizer on the spots firstly. This will prevent the cream or serum from getting wiped away and ensure proper delivery into the skin. 

5) Seal all the love for your skin with moisturizers and face oils. 

Night moisturizers usually have the "thick in form and heavy in texture feel." They are designed to remain on the skin for an extended period (i.e., an entire night) and get absorbed slowly. Doing so will prevent evaporation from the skin's surface and help you maintain stable water content in your skin. Even face oils do something exactly similar.

Look for moisturizers with HA, lipids, proteins in them, or compounds that your skin naturally produces. Your skin barrier should be healthy and functioning well. It's a tried and tested fact that hydration imparts strength to the barrier. Moisturizers trap all the ingredients underneath their applied layer and ensure that they perform effectively. Face oils do the same thing, and both can be termed as occlusives (which are known to fill the gaps in the skin's outer layer, repair its elasticity, and help it turn soft and supple).

Some night creams so thick that they should be applied at the very end of your PM routine. Compare your products, and whatever you feel is lighter, apply that first. For example, squalene is quite light and goes before a moisturizer. On the contrary, the other face oils, such as jojoba, sesame, marula, aloe oils, and rosehip, can get thick.

Also, it is not a compulsion to use a face oil after or before a moisturizer. If your skin seems excessively dry one night, you can involve both in your routine. 

The Last Word 

Along with applying the order of application, the time you provide to each ingredient penetrate your skin also matters. A skincare routine takes anywhere between five to thirty minutes for a specific product to get absorbed properly.

But you are always in a hurry, and especially at night, you are eager enough to rest your limbs. The solution is, don't add tens of steps into your PM routine. Make it easy, flexible, and fun. In between steps, pause for a minute or two. Give more time to the active treatments, though.

And lastly, it is only you who knows your skin the best. Don't fall for any hokum tricks or lengthy routines. Do what suits you the most, and be as gentle as possible to your skin.