Is There Really A Difference Between Day And Night Moisturizers?

We all know that it is vitally important to moisturize our skin to keep it hydrated, healthy, and happy. Whether you're looking for an oil-free, teenage-friendly option or the best moisturizers for mature skin, there are so many products on the market that claim to give the "right" hydration for your complexion. We even have creams that claim to work best in the morning and others that make the same claim about nighttime. Deciding between them can seem daunting, and it has many of us wondering: Is there a difference between day and night creams, or is it all marketing?


It can be tough to get a straight answer. There are seemingly endless informational videos on TikTok, with the hashtag #moisturizer boasting over 1.7 billion views. That's a lot to wade through. Are you still left struggling to tell the difference between night moisturizers and daytime creams? We looked into whether or not you can cut back on your collection and use just one, or if you really need a separate cream for day and night.

Day cream vs. night cream

It turns out there is a difference between daytime and nighttime moisturizers. During the day, our skin is under stress from the environment, including UV rays and pollution (via Forbes). So many daytime moisturizers contain SPFs and antioxidants, which are vital in the anti-aging battle to protect your skin. In addition to including an SPF element, day creams tend to be lighter so that they're easier to layer under makeup.


In contrast, night cream has different priorities for our skin. Night creams tend to be thicker to lock in moisture overnight. According to L'Oréal Paris, nighttime moisturizers tend to have heavier formulas. This may include super-hydrating and skin-repairing ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and vitamin C. So if your complexion is in need of some deep overnight rejuvenation, you can feel pretty confident that night creams still have a place in your routine.

Can you interchange day and night creams?

Overall, there is little harm in interchanging day and night creams. But you might reap more benefits by wearing them at their intended hours — for instance, if your night cream contains retinol. As dermatologist Whitney Bowe tells Vogue, "Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product." So it's probably better suited to nighttime application. Furthermore, the lack of SPF in a night cream means that your face wouldn't be as protected if you chose to use this product during the day.


In the end, it's probably best if you do have two separate moisturizers: one with an SPF and one for nighttime. This may be especially true as you get older, and your skin needs a little more TLC (via Forbes). If you're having trouble finding the perfect products, just talk to your dermatologist about the best moisturizers for you.