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The 6 Best Night Serums

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Reason number one billion to get to sleep at a reasonable hour: Your skin care products will work better. That’s true of anything you put on your face, but nighttime is an especially conducive work environment for serums. Because serums are special. They’re highly concentrated formulas containing active ingredients and nutrients that target specific skin care concerns, like dehydration, discoloration, and inflammation, to name a few. So using one of the best night serums — or, more specifically, using a serum containing the ingredients your skin really needs, but at night — maximizes its potency even more.

“Nighttime is when your skin has a chance to recover and regenerate, so this is a crucial time for your skin,” Marius Morariu, co-founder of clean skin care brand Tracie Martyn, tells Bustle. “Around 11 p.m. is when your cell regeneration is really amping up, so this is when you’re going to get the most out of your serums. Your skin is also most able to absorb active ingredients at night.”

When choosing a night serum, Morariu suggests looking for “restorative ingredients that help strengthen your skin and boost its natural repair processes,” like hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane, antioxidants, and formulas that encourage cellular turnover and collagen production. Morariu points out that serums containing certain ingredients, like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, are fine to use during the day; they’ll just behave differently a.m. versus p.m. “They’ll do more protecting during the day, and more repairing at night,” he explains. That said, certain ingredients are best used solely at night. In particular, Morariu recommends reserving retinol and AHAs for bedtime, since these potent exfoliating and resurfacing ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

So put your phone in another room, make yourself some Sleepytime tea, and let these six top-rated night serums do their jobs.

1
The Best Night Serum For Dull, Dry Skin

If I could only use one skin care product for the rest of my life, it would be this Image Skincare Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Filler. Hyaluronic acid is an amazing ingredient for restoring the collagen, elastin, and fatty tissue your skin loses over time. A single HA molecule can hold a thousand times its weight in water, which also makes it an incredibly powerful source of moisture retention. This Image serum contains six forms of HA, which release both instant and gradual bursts of hydration to quench your skin throughout the night. It really does make your skin look instantly smoother and plumper (hence the “filler” in the name), so I also like using this serum as part of my pre-makeup skin prep routine. For overnight purposes, you can either use it on its own, or mix it with a few drops of your favorite facial oil, moisturizer, or sleep mask for even more hydration.

2
The Best Night Serum With Retinol

Dermatologists confirm that everyone can benefit from retinol, a vitamin A derivative that stimulates collagen and elastin production, promotes cellular turnover, and gives you generally brighter, smoother, and bouncier skin. But especially if you have sensitive skin, pure retinol (which you need a prescription for) can cause irritation, excess dryness, and breakouts during the first few weeks of application while your skin is adjusting to this potent ingredient.

So if you want to do the retinol thing without wreaking utter havoc on your skin, give this CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum a try. The formula contains hyaluronic acid to counteract the retinol’s drying effects, while offering all of HA's firming and plumping benefits. Three types of ceramides protect your skin’s moisture barrier, which also increases hydration retention and helps reduce irritation.

3
The Best Resurfacing Night Serum

My mom’s skin is clearer at [undisclosed age] than mine is in my 20s, so when it comes to skin care, I take an “I’ll have what she’s having” approach as much as possible. Recently, she’s been working this L’Oreal Paris Revitalift 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum into her nighttime routine as an overnight exfoliant, which means I will be, too. (Her dermatologist recommended it, just as an added endorsement.)

Glycolic acid is a super-penetrable chemical exfoliant that helps slough away dead skin cells on the top layer of your skin, revealing the fresher (read: brighter and glowier) cells beneath. It’s powerful stuff in any amount, but this serum contains the highest concentration of the ingredient you can get in an over-the-counter-product. So if you have sensitive skin, ease into using this serum once or twice a week, or forgo it altogether if you experience excess irritation. Otherwise, don’t be alarmed if you feel a tiny bit of tingling on your skin, and follow it up with a rich overnight moisturizer.

4
The Best Night Serum For Acne-Prone Skin

This Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum contains some of the best ingredients from both the serum and acne-treatment worlds: repairing antioxidants and rejuvenating vitamins from the former; soothing aloe and bacteria-killing salicylic acid from the latter. It’s not as concentrated as more targeted acne treatments are, so depending on the severity of your breakouts, this may not work as an actual replacement for your standard spot treatment. That said, reviewers say it’s effective for preventing future breakouts, and a few report that it's been helpful for easing cystic and hormonal acne, too.

5
The Best Luxury Night Serum

This Tracie Martyn Firming Serum is Morariu's favorite due to its high concentration of antioxidants, which help repair environmental damage that can cause slackness, discoloration, and dullness in your skin. “This serum has eight powerful antioxidant ingredients, including resveratrol (which the Dermatology Times calls the 'longevity molecule'), green tea, and glutathione (the 'mother of antioxidants'),” he says. At the same time, squalane and hyaluronic acid, two of Morariu's other favorite nighttime ingredients, impart even more moisture, firmness, and glow. Reviewers with all skin types say they see both instant and cumulative results with this serum, and like that it’s gentle enough to use around your eye area, too.

At about $137, this serum is truly luxurious. But there’s a reason why Tracie Martyn products get consistently excellent reviews, and have such a cult-like following, even among celebrities — it’s basically the Cadillac of skin care brands. Reviewers also say that a little bit of this serum goes a long way, so you're certainly getting your money's worth.

6
The Best Night Serum For Your Eyes

The thin skin around your eyes is more vulnerable to sun damage, dryness, and collagen loss than anywhere else on your face — and since that skin is so delicate, using whatever serum you’re using on the rest of your face might irritate it (so needy!). This ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Advanced Eye Treatment, which one Amazon reviewer calls "a miracle in a bottle," is one of the few serums on the market designed especially for your high-maintenance eyes. The amino acids in the formula help restore collagen production, while an active algae strain and blue flower linseed strengthen and nourish the skin. Use it under an eye mask before bed for an even more concentrated treatment.

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