I’ve written about all things beauty since 2014. From hair to nails to makeup to skincare, I’ve tested hundreds of products, interviewed countless beauty experts, and spent more hours researching beauty than I could possibly count. I point all of this out because it’s very rare a beauty fact comes across my desk and surprises me.
So when Bryan Barron, Director of Skincare Research at Paula’s Choice (their Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant is one of my holy grail products) informed me that the very widespread advice that your skincare products work better at night when you’re asleep was not true at all, I almost didn’t believe him. To get the facts straight I asked Bryan to break down why you should be giving your morning skincare routine a bit more love and care and why your sleeping hours aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
JD: A common piece of skincare advice is that nighttime is the best time to focus on your routine as your skin heals better when you’re asleep, but you’ve found studies that state our skin heals better during the day. Can you explain why this is?
BB: Surprising fact—although skin is in (or attempting to be in) repair mode day and night, it’s repair cycle is more active during the day. This is because most people are more active and mobile during daylight hours, boosting our circulation which in turn boosts skin’s repair processes. At night, skin does do some amount of repair from daily damage, but the rate and speed slow down when we’re at rest. But this ongoing cycle of repair is why we advise the use of ingredients such as antioxidants during your morning and evening skin care routines.
JD: There are certain products that are safer to use at night because they cause sun sensitivity (acids, retinol, etc.). How can you make the most of your daytime routine without causing sensitivity?
BB: The easy solution is to always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day. When you make this the final step of your morning routine, you can apply exfoliating acids, retinol, vitamin C, and other bio-active ingredients beneath without worry of them not working or making skin more sensitive.
Some people prefer retinol and leave-on exfoliant usage at night to reduce the number of skin care products one applied during the day, or they prefer to use vitamin C or niacinamide-rich products in the AM due to this antioxidant’s documented benefits in reducing the impact of UV light damage on skin. But, there’s no hard-and-fast rule here so I encourage you to experiment and see which combination works best for you—just remember during the day to top it off with a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater.
JD: How should your daytime routine vary from your nighttime routine, while focusing on taking advantage of the healing benefits we experience during the daytime?
BB: Skin needs a range of beneficial ingredients all day long, so your daytime and evening routines should supply those in abundance from gentle toners, serums, dark spot treatments, moisturizers, eye creams, and leave-on exfoliants.
The only difference is that your daytime routine needs sunscreen. Skin doesn’t need sun protection at night, when it’s dark. So in place of your broad spectrum sunscreen as the last step during the day, your last skin care step at night can be a facial moisturizer formulated for your skin type and concerns. If desired, you can finish with an eye cream.
For maximizing skin-healing benefits during the day, make sure all of your leave-on skin care products contain a mix of antioxidants, restoring ingredients such as niacinamide and peptides, and repairing ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and fatty acids and/or non-fragrant plant oils.
JD: What’s your holy grail skincare product for day time?
BB: I suspect you won’t be surprised, but sunscreen. I prefer a mineral-based formula (meaning the actives are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide) for super-gentle, broad spectrum protection and I layer this with a foundation that kicks in additional sunscreen. Protecting your skin year-round from UV light exposure is the single best way to keep it looking younger and healthier for as long as possible. The insidious manner in which cumulative exposure to UV light damages every part of skin is truly sobering, so protection is key.
JD: Are there any other ways we can help boost our skin healing during the day?
BB: Staying active is great, and this can go beyond an exercise routine or gym workout to include such things as parking further from your destination so you’ll walk more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and engaging in household chores indoors and out. The trick is to keep moving and avoid long stretches of being sedentary during the day. And what you eat matters, too—research is clear that routinely consuming healthful, nutrition-dense foods (which means lots of antioxidants from fruits, veggies, and grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats) helps your entire body maintain itself and, to the extent possible, repair daily damage.
To help you spruce up your daytime skincare routine, we’re sharing some of our favorite skincare products below!