The 8 Best Night Creams of 2021

Beauty sleep that will hydrate and soften your skin

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night cream

First Look

Best Overall: EltaMD PM Therapy at Amazon

"A no-frills, research-based face cream you can find gracing the shelves at your dermatologist’s office."

Best Budget: CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream at walgreens.com

"It is packed with ceramides and peptides, which help strengthen your skin's barrier while boosting collagen production."

Best Anti-Aging: Crème de la Mer at Sephora

"Loved for its moisturizing benefits, many devotees hail it as the holy grail of anti-aging skincare creams."

Best Retinol: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX Night Moisturizer at Amazon

"This has a hydrating and replenishing formula that will target fine lines and wrinkles, while evening skin tone."

Best for Dry Skin: Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream at Amazon

"It contains ingredients that help it rehydrate skin and seal the moisture in, to keep dryness at bay 24/7."

Best for Acne: Neutrogena HydroBoost at Bed Bath & Beyond

"An oil-free and dye-free water-based gel that absorbs quickly, and manages to keep the skin ultra-hydrated."

Best for Oily Skin: Tatcha The Water Cream at Amazon

"A favorite in the beauty industry, famous for hydrating skin without clogging pores or leaving behind any unwanted residue."

Best for Sensitive Skin: Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion at Amazon

"It is formulated with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides and is gentle enough for sensitive skin."

Everyone wants beautiful skin, and night cream is one of the most important steps to achieving it. “Night creams moisturize our skin, but also so many of them have great anti-aging properties,” Nazanin Saedi, MD, Director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Center tells Verywell Health.

According to Dr. Saedi, it’s all about the ingredients. “I would use products with hyaluronic acid or glycerin to hydrate the skin,” she explains. Other scientifically endorsed ingredients to look for include ceramides, “to help strengthen the skin barrier,” peptides, which are “good for helping produce collagen,” and niacinamide, to “help reduce inflammation.”

And, while night creams have a reputation for being incredibly expensive, you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your skin looking gorgeous. Here are a few of the best night creams on the market.

Best Overall: EltaMD PM Therapy

EltaMD pm therapy face moisturizer
Courtesy of Amazon.

Dr. Saedi’s top night cream pick goes to EltaMD PM Therapy, a no-frills, science and research-based face cream you can find gracing the shelves at your dermatologist’s office for a reasonit works. Not only is EltaMD PM Therapy a “great price,” but it's loaded with every ingredient a face cream needs to work magic on your skinhyaluronic acid, antioxidants, niacinamide, and ceramides. It's also oil-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and safe for sensitive skin, making it “great for all skin types,” Saedi adds. The solution is packaged in a convenient and easy-to-use 1.7 ounce pump bottle, and can also be used in the morning even though it is formulated for nighttime.

Best Budget: CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

Cerave Skin Renewing Night Cream
Courtesy of Amazon.

Dermatologists, beauty editors, and influencers alike are all obsessed with CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream, a budget-friendly face cream that lands itself on every Best of Beauty list due to the fact that it is incredibly effective as well as affordable. It's packed with ceramides and peptides, which help strengthen your skin's barrier while boosting collagen production. It also has hyaluronic acid, which pulls hydration to the skin’s surface and helps to keep it in, as well as niacinamide to repair any damage to the barrier. And, while it leaves the skin feeling immediately hydrated and velvety soft, it manages to do so without leaving any greasy residue behind. An added bonus? A little bit goes a long way, so one jar will last you longer than most.

Best Anti-Aging: Crème de la Mer

Creme de la mer
Courtesy of Amazon.

Crème de la Mer, or more commonly referred to as simply “La Mer” by insiders, influencers, celebrities, and editors, is the most highly hyped face cream in history. Dr. Saedi loves this “cult classic” for its moisturizing benefits, but many devotees hail it as the holy grail of anti-aging skincare creams. Sure, it is one of the most expensive face creams on the planet, but the heavy duty face cream provides resultsand quickly. The cream is the brainchild of an aerospace physicist, who made it his 12 year mission to concoct a potion to help heal burns he suffered after a lab experiment gone awry. The result? La Mer’s anti-inflammatory “Miracle Broth,” a secret potion of fermented sea kelp, vitamins, minerals, citrus oil, eucalyptus, sunflower, wheat germ, and alfalfa, formulated to reduce redness and irritation while repairing fine lines and wrinkles. This is the main ingredient of their trademark night cream, followed by the antioxidant concentrate Lime Tea. Many describe it as a “heavy cream” that leaves a light residue behind as it immediately quenches thirsty skin. Applying La Mer is a little different than other creams. The cream needs to be activated by rubbing a small amount between fingertips and then pattednot rubbedsoftly into the skin. Reaping the benefits of the beloved Crème de la Mer is going to cost you, however. Just one ounce of the “miraculous” potion retails for $190.

Best Retinol: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX Night Moisturizer

Olay Retinol24 Max
Courtesy of Rite Aid.

Olay’s Regenerist Retinol 24 is a drugstore beauty collection that has amassed a cult following, due to the fact that it offers luxury skincare-worthy productsfocusing on retinol as the active ingredientat an incredibly affordable price point. This October they unveiled their MAX Night Moisturizer, which has quickly become a bestseller. Why? It features a whopping 20 percent more retinol than previous incarnations as well as vitamin B3, resulting in a hydrating and replenishing formula that will target fine lines and wrinkles, while evening skin tone. It also has zero fragrance and is free of phthalates, mineral oil, and synthetic dyes.

Best for Dry Skin: Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream

Cetaphil is another great skin-centric drugstore beauty brand that prides itself on offering irritant-free products that are just as effective as they are affordable. Hyaluronic acid is its key active ingredient, but also boasts olive extract and a pro-vitamin complex, all of which help it rehydrate skin and seal the moisture in to keep dryness at bay 24/7. Like all of Cetaphil’s products, it is tested by dermatologists and is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, making it a great option for sensitive or acne-prone skin. While it is great for everyday use, fans maintain that it is their secret weapon for those times their skin needs an extra boost of hydration, like during Retin-A use, or after a laser or microneedling treatment. 

Best for Acne: Neutrogena HydroBoost

hydroboost

Finding an effective night cream that doesn’t aggravate breakouts can be difficult for those with acne-prone skin. Dr. Saedi maintains that Neutrogena Hydro Boost will hydrate the skin without irritating it, even for those who are constantly battling pimples. “It feels so refreshing and is a great year round product,” she maintains. Unlike most of the night creams on our list, it is an oil-free and dye-free water-based gel, which absorbs quickly but manages to keep the skin ultra-hydrated by locking in moisture with its hyaluronic acid formula. If you need more evidence, just scroll through the many rave reviews, which include women over 60 and life-long acne sufferers.

Best for Oily Skin: Tatcha The Water Cream

If you have oily skin, using a heavy face cream can leave your skin feeling greasy. For this reason, opting for more of a gel or water-based cream is your best bet. Tatcha The Water Creama lightweight gel-cream infused with antioxidant rich green tea and mozuku algae, oil-controlling Japanese leopard lily, and Japanese wild rose, which reportedly helps reduce the appearance of poresis a favorite in the beauty industry, famous for hydrating skin without clogging pores or leaving behind any unwanted residue. And, because it is next-level fancy, it is also infused with 23-karat gold. Upon application, which can be executed with either your fingers or the extravagant looking gold wand it comes with, it immediately cools and quenches the skin.

Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is an ultra-lightweight alternative to the brand’s Renewing Night Cream, offering many of the same skin-saving benefits. “It is formulated with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides and is gentle enough for sensitive skin,” Dr. Saedi points out. Unlike the heavier cream, it is oil-freemaking it another great option for those who are acne-pronein addition to being free of all fragrances and parabens. It is also non-comedogenic and allergy-tested. Even though it is formulated for nighttime use, it is light enough that you can also use it during the day, though you would probably want to supplement it with an SPF product.

Final Verdict

EltaMD PM Therapy 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.

What to Look for in a Night Cream

Ingredients: The most important words on a bottle of night cream are listed under ingredients. 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.

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. 

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.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As an internationally recognized health writer and product guru, Leah Groth understands that nobody wants to waste their time or money on products that fail to rear results. Over the years, she has interviewed the world's top health experts and reviewed hundreds of items, to help readers like you discover the most effective health gadgets, goops, and aids that will help you look and feel your very best.

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  1. Long A. The truth about Crème De La Mer. Elle. Updated August 24, 2016.