The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

April 9, 2018

Do you follow a strict nightly routine, Dumplings? One topic that’s received a lot of attention in wellness news is sleep and pre-bed routines—a.k.a. sleep hygiene. I love the idea of slowing down in the evening, dimming the lights, maybe doing some gentle yoga or reading a good novel (and definitely abstaining from screen-time!). My evenings are little more harried of late, however. Until things settle down at my house (not holding my breath!), I’m living vicariously through articles about creating the perfect sleep sanctuary (ahh, organic pillow toppers!).

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Although I’ve yet to master Ariana Huffington-approved sleep hygiene, there’s one thing I always do before going to bed: wash my face and moisturize like the dickens. (Okay, and bushing my teeth, but skincare is more fun, no?) Sometimes, this routine is drawn out to include a toner, a serum, and perhaps some massage. In an ideal world, the director’s cut version of my routine would happen nightly, but sometimes my little one is fussy (we all get “overtired,” honestly, so I don’t blame her!), so I make it snappy.

But that’s actually plenty. The act of self-care combined with just getting clean is essential for me. It signals that I’m ready for sleep and that I’ve somehow neatly tied off the day. 

As it turns out, nightly skincare is essential to the health of your skin, too. If you want to improve the way your skin looks in the morning (and over the course of several months),  there are three steps you must take every night in addition to getting adequate sleep, of course: cleanse, treat, and moisturize.


New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner emphasizes the importance of washing your face at the end of the day: “It’s more important to cleanse in the evening than the morning.” By removing makeup, dirt, excess oil, pollution, and sunscreen, you’re allowing your skin to focus on healing and renewal rather than combatting the inflammation triggered by these common offenders.

Why is this so critical at night? “According to our body clocks, different body cells are more active at different times of the day,” skincare expert Ingrid Wood explains. “Skin cells do their repair work most effectively at night. Research shows that skin cell regeneration almost doubles at night, peaking between 23:00 and 4:00. Production of collagen is boosted, harmful free radicals are destroyed and cell damage is rectified.” Sounds like a good enough reason to give your skin a clean slate during the night!

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Oily, acneic skin may benefit from a gentle foaming or gel cleanse like Juice Beauty Blemish Cleanser. Gently target acne bacteria with organic sage, lemon balm, and dandelion botanicals.

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous SkinAn oil-based cream cleanser is preferable for dry skin. Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser melts away makeup without stripping skin’s critical moisture barrier.


I tend to use my more potent skin treatments at night because I don’t have to worry about interference from UV rays. This is the perfect time to target your greatest skin woes—fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne, dullness, uneven texture. An exfoliating acid (like an AHA) is good for multitasking while a retinol is a dermatologist favorite for helping skin look like new. Zeicher explains that a retinol can help “fight fine lines and wrinkles, exfoliate, tackle dark spots, and improve texture.”

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleep Mask (a source of gentle AHAs and K-beauty cult classic!).

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Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment, my personal ride-or-die night treatment. This retinol treatment is so effective with only minimal skin sensitizing effects—a true retinol unicorn.

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Grown Alchemist Brightening Serum. Naturally brighten and hydrate skin with plant extracts in this luxe botanical serum.


Skin tends to lose moisture over the course of the night, which can result in a dull, flaky complexion. A trusty moisturizer also helps seal in active ingredients in any serum or treatment you use. While you’re applying your moisturizer, work in a quick massage to help you unwind while stimulating your facial circulation.

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Edible Beauty & Coco Bliss Intensive Repair–This whipped face cream combines B vitamins with vitamin C and E to help encourage skin cell renewal while pomegranate and açai fight free radical damage.

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Le Prunier pure plum oil absorbs quickly (great for all skin types) and delivers skin-boosting polyphenols and omega fatty acids.


Bonus tip: If you have trouble falling asleep because your mind is racing or you’re experiencing some residual anxiety from the day, consider adding at least one pre-bed routine to encourage your zzzs.  It doesn’t have to be lengthy. I like to inhale essential oils; a DIY infused-moisturizer or pillow spritz is quite efficient. (See our list of essential oils for anxiety.)  You can also listen to grounding music or guided meditation as you lie in bed with your eyes closed.

The Derm-Recommended Nightly Routine To Follow To Wake Up With Luminous Skin

Do you follow a nightly routine?

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Photos: Clarke Sanders on Unsplash, kevin laminto on Unsplash, Respective Brands, Mary Hood Luttrell

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Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.


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