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Ready, set, hydrate — the 14 best night creams for combating seasonal dryness

Experts and NBC Select staff recommend the best options for overnight hydration.
According to experts, the best night creams include ingredients that moisturize and replenish exhausted skin.
According to experts, the best night creams include ingredients that moisturize and replenish exhausted skin.Kara Birnbaum / NBC

I bought my very first night cream after realizing indoor heat was causing my oily skin to feel the exact opposite — dry and tight. Any reservations I had about its efficacy disappeared after that first application. The next morning, my skin felt plump, moisturized and generally back to normal, so I’ve been using one ever since.

SKIP AHEAD  The best night creams in 2024 | How to shop for night creams

According to Dr. Serena Mraz, a board-certified dermatologist at Solano Dermatology in Vallejo, California, night cream is designed to deliver intense moisture and key nutrients to your skin while you sleep. “This time is crucial for the skin’s ‘clean up’ and repair of damaged cells, and regeneration of healthy cells,” she says. Tiara Willis, a New York-licensed esthetician and skin care influencer, agrees: “It’s when your skin does the most to repair itself, which is why it’s also beneficial to use products with ingredients that are intended to cause visible changes in the skin,” she says.

Whether you’re looking to combat seasonal dryness or simply want to expand your skin care routine, we’ve rounded up the best night creams according to experts, including NBC Select staffers who are always researching and trying new products. We’ve also gathered expert guidance to keep in mind as you consider your choices and individual needs.

Selected.Our top picks

The best night creams in 2024

For those who choose to use a night cream, Willis says it’s important to use one "created by chemists from a reputable brand that contains humectants, emollients and occlusives.” (More on those below.)

With that being said, we asked our experts to share their favorite night creams for a range of skin types and gathered their recommendations below. We’ve also included options NBC Select staff love, and other top-rated night creams that align with expert guidance. Some of them, although not labeled as night creams, deliver similar benefits. “It’s important to keep in mind that ‘night cream’ is a marketing term,” says Willis. “A product can act as a night cream without the label.”

Skin Better Alpharet Overnight Cream

Recommended by Willis as an option for all skin types, this cream effectively treats fine lines, wrinkles, texture and uneven skin tone, according to the brand. Plus, “[this cream] combines retinoic acid, the active used in prescription retinoids, with an alpha hydroxy acid, with little-to-no irritation,” according to Willis.

Best for: All skin types 

Naturium Intense Overnight Sleeping Cream

This overnight cream from Naturium is very rich and formulated with triglycerides, squalane and glycerin, making it most effective for dry skin types, according to Willis. It should be used at least 2-3 times a week for maximum benefits, according to the brand, and it’s also vegan and fragrance-free, to reduce the chance of irritation for those with sensitive skin. 

Best for: Sensitive and/or dry skin

Clarins Multi-Active Night Moisturizer

Described by NBC Select commerce editor Lindsay Schneider as her “absolute forever tried and true,” this moisturizer is safe for all skin types, according to the brand. It’s formulated with teasel and ginger lily extracts to smooth fine lines while you sleep, and helps to brighten and tone skin to fight signs of interrupted or minimal sleep, says Clarins.

Best for: All skin types

Alphascience Ultra Deep Cream

This cream is designed to help prevent future damage by using proteins to firm and thicken skin, according to the brand. “[It contains] powerful and unique ingredients to activate stem cells, prevent collagen degradation and stimulate collagen synthesis,” says Mraz. She especially recommends this cream to those with sensitive skin.

Best for: Sensitive and/or mature skin

Cetaphil Healthy Renew Purified Peptides Night Cream

This night cream from Cetaphil contains purified peptides as an alternative to retinol for those with sensitive skin, and is a favorite of NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin. “This is a creamy yet lightweight night cream that I use as my go to when my skin is in good condition,” she says. “I find it richer than the moisturizer I use during the day, and it leaves my skin soft and hydrated,” she says.

Best for: Sensitive skin

Ma:nyo Panthetoin Enriched Balm

After receiving this balm from Ma:nyo, it quickly became one of my favorite nighttime products. It uses macadamia nut-derived ceramides and humectants like panthenol to lock moisture in while also balancing the skin’s natural oil levels, according to the brand. Although the texture initially seems heavy, once massaged into the skin, it absorbs really well. Plus, it keeps my skin hydrated against the artificial air of my heater without leaving behind any excess grease or residue

Best for: All skin types

Sunday Riley C.E.O Vitamin C Rich Hydration Cream

While most night creams are formulated with hydrating ingredients, this option from Sunday Riley also targets dull skin with vitamin C to brighten your skin while you sleep, according to the brand. Other notable ingredients include lime pearl, a natural source of alpha-hydroxy acid, and bisabolol, an antioxidant known for its soothing properties, according to Sunday Riley. It also has a 4.6-star average rating from 1,525 reviews on Amazon.

Best for: All skin types

Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask

While including the usual hydrating benefits of a night cream, this overnight mask from Youth to the People is also formulated with brightening ingredients like vitamin C and superberry complex, says the brand. Willis recommends this cream for those with non-sensitive, combination skin, or those struggling with dullness.

Best for: Dry or combination skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Serum

Malin loves Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost products for their reliability, and suggests this pressed-serum moisturizer as a night cream. Its highly concentrated formula includes hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to restore the skin during sleep, according to the brand. “I have sensitive, often dry skin, and this product has never irritated it,” she says.

Best for: Sensitive and/or dry skin

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

“CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is an affordable and simple moisturizer that is soothing and helps maintain your protective skin barrier,” says Willis. “I would recommend this for oily-to-combination skin that isn’t prone to acne.”

Best for: Oily or combination skin

Versed Skin Sweet Relief Overnight Barrier Balm

Made with nutrient-rich butters like bacuri and kokum seed to help support your moisture barrier, Malin uses this cream whenever she needs a soothing night treatment. “When my skin is particularly raw, I slather it in this barrier balm,” she says. ”It has the consistency of butter and melts into my skin when I spread it over my face —  I wake up and my skin is 100x softer and more hydrated than the day before.”

Best for: All skin types

Peach & Lily Overnight Star Night Cream

This night cream from K-beauty brand Peach & Lily uses antioxidant ingredients like berry and black ginseng extracts to firm and nourish skin, according to the brand. It’s also formulated with peptides to help reduce fine lines, and has a lightweight non-greasy formula, says Peach & Lily. The cream is also a top-rated best seller, with a 5-star average rating from 593 reviews on Peach & Lily.

Best for: All skin types

Tatcha Indigo Overnight Repair Serum

Made for those with sensitive skin, this serum-in-cream moisturizer is formulated with ingredients like Japanese indigo and red sage root to calm irritation, and ceramides and hyaluronic acid for moisture and hydration, according to the brand. Along with calming and hydrating properties, this cream also uses mondo grass root to help cultivate good bacteria, says Tatcha, which improves the overall texture and tone of your skin. This cream is also a Tatcha bestseller, with a 4.5-star average rating from 1,827 reviews on Tatcha.

Best for: Sensitive skin

Futurewise Slug Balm

During the wintertime, Malin likes to use this as a last step in her nighttime routine, due to its jelly-like consistency. “I use the Cetaphil or Neutrogena night cream first, and then lock everything in with this slug balm,” she says. The balm is designed to act as an occlusive, according to the brand, and uses lipids and plant-based oils to strengthen your skin’s barrier and allow for better product absorption. 

Best for: Dry skin

How to shop for night creams

When shopping for a night cream, experts recommend considering factors like cost, the cream’s ingredients, and your skin’s individual needs and sensitivities. To help you find the best night creams for your skin, we expanded on some of their advice below:

  • Active ingredients: Experts recommend looking for ingredients that focus on moisturizing and replenishing exhausted skin. Also, “retinol and alpha hydroxy acids are great ingredients to look out for, as they reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and improve uneven skin tone,” says Willis. Mraz also recommends firming and collagen-stimulating ingredients like genistein, saponaria stem cells, and lupine protein.
  • Skin type: According to Mraz, despite popular belief, all skin types benefit from night creams — however, depending on your skin type, there may be some considerations that you should keep in mind. 
    1. For those with dry skin, Willis recommends night creams that are “rich with bitters, lipids and occlusives like petroleum jelly” for maximum possible hydration.
    2. Night creams with heavier ingredients like peptides, retinol and alpha hydroxy acids are best for those with mature skin, says Willis. These ingredients all help to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
    3. For oily skin, Willis says that gel-creams with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin are best, while those with combination skin may want to look for “light moisturizers that aren’t too rich or thin.” Mraz also recommends hydrating gels, as they “provide moisture without being overly occlusive.”
    4. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, Willis recommends avoiding fragrance and potentially pore-clogging ingredients in your night cream.
  • Price: Both experts emphasize the importance of shopping within your means when choosing a night cream. “More expensive is not necessarily better,” says Mraz. Willis also warns against purchasing popular products blindly: “Don’t purchase something just because it went viral on the internet,” she says. Instead, she suggests reading ingredients and patch testing before making any big purchases.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Serena Mraz is a board-certified dermatologist at Solano Dermatology in Vallejo, California, specializing in general and cosmetic dermatology while also practicing as a research clinician.
  • Tiara Willis is a New York-licensed esthetician and skin care influencer, focusing on skin care and beauty for women of color.

Why trust NBC Select?

Ashley Morris is an associate SEO reporter for NBC Select, covering skin care, wellness, home and kitchen, lifestyle and more. For this piece, she interviewed a dermatologist and an esthetician about the best night creams, including how to use and shop for one.

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