The 8 Best Night Creams of 2022

EltaMD's Therapy Facial Moisturizer is enriched with ceramides to repair skin

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Whether your skin is in need of some moisture or is peeling, night creams are a great way to keep your skin hydrated and healthy while you sleep.

Reviewed & Approved

Infused with ceramides, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, EltaMD's Therapy Facial Moisturizer works to repair and strengthen your skin. We recommend CeraVe's Skin Renewing Night Cream because it offers 24-hour hydration at a budget-friendly price.

When buying a night cream, look out for the ingredients, says Nazanin Saedi, MD, director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center. She recommends products with hyaluronic acid or glycerin to hydrate the skin, along with ceramides, which "strengthens the skin's barrier." Peptides are also good for collagen production and niacinamide reduces inflammation, she adds.

We researched dozens of night creams and evaluated them for active ingredients, formula type, scent, usage, additional benefits, and price.

Here are the best night creams on the market.

Best Overall: EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer

4.9
EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
Pros
  • Non-irritating to sensitive skin

  • Can be used during the day and/or at night

  • Moisturizes, repairs skin, and fights aging

Cons
  • Doesn’t absorb easily on all skin types

We chose EltaMD's PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer because it packs all of the best moisturizer ingredients—hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, rice protein peptides, and ceramides—into one lightweight formulation. We appreciate that the cream is free of parabens, fragrances, and oils and is non-comedogenic, making this cream friendly for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin types. A pearl-sized amount is all you need to strengthen, repair, and restore your skin’s health.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, antioxidants, peptide, ceramide | Usage: Apply a pearl-size dot to clean, dry skin and massage in 1-2 times per day | Scent: None

Best Budget: CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

Courtesy of Ulta

Pros
  • Helps restore skin barrier while you sleep

  • 24-hour controlled release hydration

Cons
  • Heavy cream that may clog pores, leading to breakouts

CeraVe is our go-to favorite for high-quality, effective products at an affordable price. This unassuming little jar is packed with peptides, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide in a formula that goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly, and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

Even though you apply this product at night, it keeps working to benefit your skin for 24 hours, continually releasing hydration to maintain your skin’s moisture level until the next application. It can be used on all skin types, and its fragrance-free, non comedogenic formula won’t irritate people with sensitive skin, either. It is a bit thicker than some other creams on our list, which could result in clogged pores, especially if you're acne prone.

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Usage: Apply in small dots to clean, dry skin and massage in once per day | Scent: None

Best Retinol: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX Night Moisturizer

Olay Retinol24 Max
Courtesy of Rite Aid.
Pros
  • Deep hydration with Retinol 24

  • Smooths, brightens, and hydrates

  • Reduces appearance of pores

Cons
  • Retinol can irritate sensitive skin types

  • Price varies widely depending on retailer

If you don’t quite have the budget for a luxury brand or prefer to shop a drugstore favorite, look no further than Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX, a whipped formula that works quickly to reduce signs of aging, reduce the appearance of pores, and absorb deep into your skin for maximum hydration.

Despite its rich, creamy texture, the product is non-greasy, sinking into your skin and providing long-lasting benefits. One note of caution, though: sensitive skin may not respond well to daily retinol, so make sure you start off testing a small area of your face, working your way up to an all-over application and regular frequency only if needed.

Key Ingredients: Retinol, niacinamide, peptides | Usage: Massage over face and neck at night after cleansing | Scent: None

Best for Dry Skin: Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 20

3
Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer
Pros
  • Reduces redness right away with licorice and caffeine extracts

  • Nourishes and hydrates excessively dry skin

  • Dermatologist-tested

Cons
  • Formulated for daytime use only

  • May not be helpful for users with rosacea

Dry skin is prone to redness, so a night cream designed to improve dryness should also combat those annoyingly red, flaky, and irritated patches of skin that pop up when your skin is short on moisture. Cetaphil Redness Relieving Night Cream tackles both dryness and redness, soothing irritated skin on the spot with licorice and caffeine extracts while infusing it with long-lasting hydration and healthy-skin ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

The formulation is also made with many skin types in mind, as it’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and noncomedogenic. That means you can treat dryness and redness without worrying that any of Cetaphil’s ingredients will irritate your sensitive skin.

Key Ingredients: Licorice extract, allantoin, caffeine, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Usage: Apply to clean skin at night | Scent: None

Best for Acne: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

3.3
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Amazon

Pros
  • Smooth, gentle application

  • Thick gel that absorbs easily and quickly into skin

  • Can be used in the daytime or at night

Cons
  • No specific anti-aging properties

  • Some may not like the water-based formula's texture

Night creams can be a catch-22 for people with acne; you need to avoid excessive dryness to prevent breakouts, but many products—like night creams—that provide intense hydration can cause breakouts, too. One of the things we love most about Neutrogena Hydro Boost is that it hydrates gently and absorbs into the skin so well that you'll barely feel it after application.

The lightweight gel formula, made with hyaluronic acid, goes on smoothly and coolly, to infuse your skin with moisture without aggravating acne or inducing breakouts. We also appreciate that it can be used in the morning and at night, so if it works for you (and doesn’t irritate your skin), you can double up on its usage without overdoing it or breaking the bank.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Usage: Massage into face and neck after cleansing | Scent: None

Best for Oily Skin: Tatcha The Water Cream

5
Tatcha's water cream, which comes in light turquoise and gold packaging

 Courtesy of Tatcha

Pros
  • Absorbs and hydrates without stickiness or greasiness

  • Includes “Japanese superfoods” like green tea, rice, and algae

  • Promotes glowy, radiant skin

Cons
  • Some containers may seem under filled with product

  • Lightweight, watery product may not be thick enough for some

At first glance, something called a “water cream” seems like an oxymoron: water is thin and liquidy, while most creams are thick and rich. That's why we like TATCHA’s The Water Cream, which manages to be both hydrating without overpowering, delivering intense moisture without any greasiness. That means the lightweight formula absorbs easily and leaves you with a dewy glow, while also combating acne oil and clogged pores.

The cream is oil-free, making it a perfect fit for people prone to oily skin, and its botanical ingredients—like Japanese leopard lily—work alongside superfoods like green tea and algae to enhance skin tone and smooth out texture.

Key Ingredients: Japanese camellia oil, green tea, rice, and algae | Usage: Massage a pearl-sized amount onto face, neck and décolletage up to two times daily | Scent: Botanical/floral

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

4
CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM
Pros
  • Lightweight lotion can be used for day or night

  • Oil- and fragrance-free

  • Can be layered along with other nighttime products

Cons
  • May not be thick enough for users with dry skin

  • Recent ingredient changes may cause irritation

Anyone with sensitive skin may be understandably hesitant to put anything on their face, ever. Many products promoted as “gentle enough for sensitive skin” can occasionally still cause irritation, dryness, redness, and breakouts in people with certain skin types. But CeraVe has a long-standing reputation for being exactly that: gentle enough for sensitive skin, while strong enough to actually provide some of the promised benefits.

As opposed to our earlier list pick of CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Night Cream, this PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is thinner and more lightweight, making it less prone to clogging pores and causing irritation or breakouts. But that doesn’t mean it does nothing—hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides help protect and restore your skin’s natural barrier, and since the lotion is so gentle, it can be used in the morning or at night to repair and restore your skin’s health without any adverse effects.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides | Usage: Apply to face and neck after cleansing | Scent: None

Best Oil: Annmarie Facial Oil for Sensitive Skin

Annmarie Herbal Facial Oil for Sensitive Skin

Courtesy of Annmarie

Pros
  • No essential oils, reducing potential irritation for sensitive skin

  • Smooths and softens skin

  • Formulated for multiple skin types

Cons
  • Some users dislike the scent

  • Some users will find that it clogs pores or causes breakouts

Buying an oil-based night cream can be a gamble, since these types of creams can provide amazing benefits, but often at a price, like an increase in oily skin and acne. 

While the Annemarie Facial Oil may not be for everyone (users with oil- or acne-prone skin may want to skip it), others will love the way it uses botanical ingredients to smooth, soften, and energize skin. Thank squalane, a plant-based emollient, camellia seed oil, sacha inchi oil, and grape seed oil, which all work together to create an organic, chemical-free product that even some sensitive skin-people rave about. If you suffer from extremely dry skin, we recommend adding this oil to your skincare regimen.

Key Ingredients: Grape seed oil, camellia seed oil, squalane | Usage: Pump 1-2 pumps into hand and massage into clean skin in the morning and/or night | Scent: Botanical/floral

What Our Editors Say

"I pay extra attention to beauty ingredients, due to my eczema and sensitive skin, so I have an extra appreciation for the natural mix of flower extracts and oils. The facial oil offers a light, herbal scent that’s not overpowering, and it absorbs quickly into my skin. I enjoy how much information Annmarie provides on each product, from the ingredients glossary to the video demonstrations, and the care for details—like their sustainable packaging." — Tori Zhou, Associate Health Commerce Editor  

Final Verdict

EltaMD PM Therapy (view at Amazon) is a results-based, dermatologist endorsed, and budget-friendly night cream that manages to squeeze every impactful ingredient mentioned by Dr. Saedi into a single easy-to-use pump bottle. There is a reason that the top skin doctors keep this on their shelves and recommend it to patients: it works. If you are on a budget and want to try a more affordable option before investing in a high-end night cream, we recommend starting with CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream (view at Amazon).

How We Selected

When selecting the best night creams, we spoke with dermatologists and spent hours combing the web for the best and most effective products. After taking all of our options into consideration, we determined which to feature based on a few key criteria as recommended by dermatologists: key ingredients, form, and dosage.

Once we narrowed down our options, we compared each cream's benefits to its price tag. While some choices on our list may be more expensive, we wanted to give a wide range of options that would fit all needs and budgets. Based on all of these factors, we compiled this list of the best night creams.

What to Look for in a Night Cream

Ingredients

The most important words on a bottle of night cream are listed under its 'ingredients' section. As Dr. Saedi explained, hyaluronic acid or glycerin, ceramides, peptides, and niacinamide, are all scientifically backed to produce results. However, there are other ingredients that have anti-aging, inflammation-fighting, and skin soothing powers as well. It can be fairly confusing, in fact, to figure out what all these common ingredients are—and which ones you need. 

According to dermatologist Erum Ilyas, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology in Prussia, Pennsylvania, a good first step is understanding what many of these ingredients do:

  • Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the skin that hydrates and is unlikely to cause allergic reactions. 
  • Ceramides restore and protect the skin. 
  • Niacinamide, a.k.a. vitamin B3 has anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties as well as antimicrobial activity; it may also reduce sebum or oil production in the skin.
  • Peptides and alpha hydroxy acids can firm and tighten the skin.

Armed with knowledge about what these popular ingredients can be used for, you can make more informed choices about what products to buy based on their ingredient lists.

Budget

No matter what your budget is, you can find a great face cream loaded with the ingredients recommended by Dr. Saedi. If you are willing to seriously invest in your skin, then you should check out La Mer or Tatcha. However, many people swear that the less expensive brands are similarly miraculous.

“It’s important to recognize that you do not necessarily get more for paying more,” says Dr. Ilyas. “I am honest with my patients when I say I truly use drugstore brands for moisturizers and cleansers for myself.”

When trying to choose a budget-friendly night cream, Dr. Ilyas recommends taking a problem- and ingredient-based approach:  avoid making decisions based on often-misleading product claims and aim to choose only one or two products that specifically tackle your concerns.

“If your only concern is to find a basic product that will restore and protect your skin, choose a night cream that has ceramides, hydrating agents, and potentially niacinamide,” she advises. “If you are challenged with acne or considering adding anti-aging products, make this a secondary product with ingredients focused on this specific task, such as retinol.”

Scent

Most of the face creams on our list are fragrance-free. While scent might seem like an afterthought, many people find that specific fragrance isn’t just a potential irritant, but may be a bit overwhelming. This is highly user-dependent, however.

“If your skin is tolerant of most products, then it may not be necessary to seek out fragrance-free products,” says Dr. Ilyas, “[but] if you do have sensitivities, fragrance-free can be a really important criterion for your night cream to meet.”

This is easier said than done, however; Dr. Ilyas explains that truly fragrance-free products are not as widely available as you may think: “Fragrance-free literally means without fragrance—the base ingredients of the product may [still] have a natural scent.”

Furthermore, she says some products will claim to be “unscented” or “non-scented,” but that this does not translate to fragrance-free. Instead, it might mean a scent has been added to mask the scent of the base ingredients.

Non-Comedogenic Testing

 If you have acne-prone skin, you’ll need to be especially careful about choosing a product that doesn’t worsen your breakouts. Again, though, that’s easier said than done!

“When choosing a night cream for acne-prone skin, it’s important to keep in mind the risks associated with clogging your pores or triggering more breakouts,” says Dr. Ilyas. “Ideally, a non-comedogenic cream should be chosen, [which means no increase in blackheads was found after testing].”  

However, Dr. Ilyas adds that this testing doesn’t include whiteheads, pus bumps, or inflammation, so you may still experience an increase in acne, even with a non-comedogenic cream. Trial and error is a necessary evil when it comes to finding a product that doesn’t irritate acne-prone skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How often should you use night cream?

    Unsurprisingly, Dr. Campbell says you should use a night cream every night, especially in the winter when there’s less humidity in the air and indoor heating causes skin to become drier. 

    But what is unexpected is her suggestion that, depending on your skin type, you may want to use your night cream during the daytime, too. 

    “Oftentimes the best creams don't have to be solely used in the evening,” Dr. Campbell explains. “Lighter weight night cream can be used in the daytime along with sunscreen.”

  • Does night cream replace moisturizer?

    It can, says Dr. Campbell, since moisturizers include any topical applications that help hydrate the skin and restore the skin barrier—which is literally what night creams are (and what good ones do!). 

    “[Moisturizer] is an overarching term that includes lotions, creams, and serums,” she explains. “Creams contain more oil than water, whereas lotions contain more water than oil—which is why creams are best for drier skin and night time, when thicker-textured topicals are less burdensome.”

    The recommendation? If you want a thicker moisturizer, you can certainly swap out your daytime lotion for a night cream used twice daily, but this won’t be the best fit for everyone. If you need something more lightweight during the day, you’ll want to stick with a lotion-style moisturizer to hydrate your skin without overdoing it.

  • How long do you need to use night cream before seeing results?

    This depends on the cream, the ingredients, and the results you’re trying to achieve, says Dr. Campbell. Different products will take more or less time to show benefits, especially if you’re tackling wrinkles on top of moisturization.

    “[With most night creams], hydration should improve in a few days but anti-aging benefits will take months,” Dr. Campbell says.

  • When should you start using a night cream?

    “If you are prone to eczema, you may [want to] use a cream on the face and body every morning and night to repair the genetically impaired skin barrier, [and patients struggling with acne should] start even earlier, in their teens, to help mitigate the dryness from their acne treatments,” says Caren Campbell, MD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist. “If you do not have skin issues or a genetically impaired barrier, you would likely start using night cream in your 20s.”

Why Trust Verywell Health

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

Was this page helpful?