How to Put Together the Perfect Evening Skincare Routine

An effective evening skincare routine is essential for skin health and a restful night's sleep. Start by double cleansing to remove makeup and debris, followed by a gentle cleanser. Incorporate a toner to rebalance pH levels, then treat your skin with serums or retinoids. Conclude with a rich moisturizer to lock in hydration.

There’s just something so appealing about getting eight blissful, uninterrupted hours of beauty sleep. (Honestly, we think Sleeping Beauty and Rip Van Winkle may have been onto something.)

Before you can slip between the sheets for a good night’s rest, though, there’s something pretty darn important to take care of—your skin, and, namely, your evening skincare routine.

“At night, our skin switches to recovery mode,” says Emily Diane Burg, founder of Emme Diane Skincare. “It’s a good time to apply active ingredients such as retinol and acne-fighting ingredients. Hydration is also key here since the skin tends to lose a lot of moisture at night.”

In addition to treating your skin with the products and ingredients it needs before bed, an evening beauty routine is also an ideal way to wind down and treat yourself to a little extra self-care at the end of a long day.

We’ve consulted a handful of skincare experts on how to put together the best evening skincare routine. Keep reading for the beauty steps you can’t skip, and the products you’ll want to try.

The best evening skincare routine

Step 1: Remove makeup and sunscreen

There’s more to cleansing the skin than just cleansing—there’s actually double cleansing. The act of double cleansing means just that—cleansing two different times, to effectively remove all makeup, sunscreen, and debris to prep the skin before applying the rest of your products.

Plus, sleeping in your makeup can lead to breakouts and clogged pores, and no one wants that! For the first cleanse, you can either use an oil cleanser or a cleansing balm.

“Thoroughly cleansing your skin is key to removing all of the impurities and environmental pollutants your skin encounters during the day,” says Burg.

Products to try:

Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil

This two-in-one makeup remover and cleanser is formulated with moisturizing camellia oil that helps nourish and soften skin.


Grace & Stella F Balm, This Works!

Crafted with synthetic beeswax and antioxidants, it emulsifies from a solid into a balm that helps remove stubborn makeup, dirt, and sunscreen from your skin.


Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

It helps remove makeup, even the most stubborn glitter and shadow, without stripping or drying skin.


Step 2: Cleanse

Yes, you already cleansed—but now it’s time for that second cleanse to really make sure your skin is, well, clean. Depending on your skin type, washing your face both morning and night is super important so your skin doesn’t become clogged or dehydrated. Follow up with a gentle yet hydrating cleanser to keep skin looking and feeling its best, sans irritation.

Products to try:

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser

In case you didn’t remove every single stitch of eye makeup, this cleanser will get it in spades. It’s formulated with the same ingredients you’ll find in contact lens solutions, so it won’t irritate them, either.


Oak Essentials Pure Gel Cleanser

Looking for the spa in a bottle? This cleanser is it. It hydrates, softens, smooths, and smells amazing to boot.


Step 3: Toner

Toner helps rebalance your skin’s pH level and replenish moisture. While it might be a little too harsh for sensitive skin types, oily and acne-prone skin can especially benefit from incorporating one into your evening skincare routine.

“This helps remove any residue and restores a healthy pH balance, which will help prime your skin for your active ingredients,” Burg says.

Products to try:

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

Damask rose extract and hyaluronic acid combine to moisturize, hydrate, and minimize the look of pores.


Biossance Squalane + BHA Pore-Minimizing Toner

It’s alcohol-free and packed with naturally derived AHAs and BHAs to tighten, purify, and clarify skin.


Step 4: Treat

Now’s the time to pick your perfect treat. Whether you apply serum, a mask, or a retinoid, evening is the time to give your skin the time to repair and rejuvenate for the day ahead.

“The most important ingredient in the nighttime routine would be vitamin A or a retinoid—retinol is the gold standard,” says Rachel Lee Lozina, founder of Blue Water Spa.

Burg agrees. “By applying at nighttime they will not have to compete with UV exposure, which allows them to work safer, minimize irritation, and produce the highest benefit,” she says.

Products to try:

Emme Diane Pro-Retinol Serum

It combats the common signs of aging by reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin dullness.


Verso Super Elixir

A combination of vitamin A and niacinamide helps refine, brighten, and moisturize the skin—and it’s formulated for even the most sensitive skin types.


Ogee Natural Retinol Bakuchiol 2% Elixir

If you’re worried that your skin is too sensitive for retinol, then try its counterpart: bakuchiol. This powerful, naturally derived ingredient helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, smooth skin, and reveal a radiant glow.


Step 5: Moisturize

After applying all of those other products, the final step in your evening skincare routine to lock in hydration is a rich moisturizer.

“The skin tends to lose water moisture at night, so products containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides can help restore and seal moisture in the skin,” Burg says.

Products to try:

baebody Retinol Moisturizer

“This is a great lightweight formula that absorbs quickly into the skin,” says Lozina. She likes this moisturizer because it helps correct and prevent the signs of aging “by promoting collagen production and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”


Farmacy 10% Niacinamide Night Mask

An overnight mask—aka a night cream—helps add even more hydration and moisture to the skin in a richer formula than you’d use during the day. This one helps refine and support the moisture barrier without feeling too heavy or greasy.


Tips for your evening beauty routine

If you find it difficult to stick to an evening beauty routine, there are a few expert tips to make it more fun and enjoyable!

1. Get your routine done before you relax

Do you feel like you settle in to watch TV and then have no more energy to get your skincare routine in before bedtime? Burg recommends switching things up.

“Make it a non-negotiable to do your night routine before you sit down to watch TV or get cozy with a book,” she says. “I personally do this and it’s so nice when it’s time to get into bed that I don’t have to worry about doing my skincare routine.”

Lozina agrees. “I like to focus on my skincare routine the second I get home,” she says. “This is great because then you don’t forget later at night when you’re tired and don’t feel like doing anything but just getting into bed!”

2. Align your family’s routines

If you have kids, then Burg recommends making it a fun activity by all doing your routines together.

“You can do your skincare while they’re taking their bath or brushing their teeth,” she says. “If you have tweens, they may even like doing a simple skincare routine with you before bed.”

3. Settle in with an eye mask

You’ve done your routine, you’ve put the kids to bed, you’ve watched all the TV you can. Before slipping between the sheets for some shut-eye, don’t forget to put on an eye mask.


Silk Eye Mask
saatva silk eye mask
Silk Eye Mask

Blocks out light for restful sleep while protecting the delicate skin around the eyes

is designed in mulberry silk with a secure elastic headband. It’s also temperature regulating to help even hot sleepers stay cool and relaxed throughout the night.


What is a good evening skincare routine?

The ideal evening skincare routine focuses on repairing and rejuvenating skin while you sleep. It includes cleanser, toner, treatments like AHAs and retinol, and moisturizer or night cream.

What should I apply to my face in the evening?

“Daytime routines are for antioxidants, hydration, and sun protection,” says Lozina. “Nighttime is for resurfacing, restoring, and rejuvenating. Typically, these treatments have actives in them and they are not safe to use during the day because they are not safe for sun exposure.”

Can I do my evening skincare routine at 5 pm?

There’s no reason why not! Skincare experts like Burg and Lozina both recommend doing your evening skincare routine earlier, so you don’t forget or get too tired. The earlier, the better!

Don’t forget about your precious mane! Here’s how to protect your hair while you sleep.

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