The 19 Best Night Creams of 2023

Why, yes, I did wake up like this!

collage of best night creams including elta md and susanne kaufman night creams
(Image credit: Future)

Here's a skin fact that you probably already knew: Your skin does most of its recovery at night. As with the rest of your body, the time you spend asleep is your skin's prime time to heal after long hours spent in makeup and enduring everything from pollution to UV rays. The best night creams—considered one of the best anti-aging products in your entire skincare arsenal—not only speed up that healing, but use some choice ingredients (retinol, hyaluronic acid) to hydrate your skin and make sure you wake up glowing. But the best night cream for you will be based on your specific needs, lifestyle, and skin type—so team Marie Claire broke down the top options for you to shop.

What is a night cream?

Night creams typically contain three components: occlusives, humectants, and emollients. “Occlusives are ingredients (think: petrolatum or dimethicone) which form a protective seal over the skin to prevent water loss, '' says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist. “Humectants, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, act like sponges and grab onto water to hydrate the other skin layer. Emollients are ingredients that soften rough cells on the skin surface and fill in cracks. Common emollients used in skin care products are natural oils and fatty alcohols.” 

Generally, you want your night creams to be on the thicker side, at least when compared to your favorite day moisturizer. If you have dry skin, that means looking for something that can, in some cases, border on a balm-like texture. You can even top things off with a nourishing face oil to really trap in moisturizer provided by the cream. But if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a lightweight or whipped night cream might work best for you. 

What’s the difference between a day moisturizer and a night cream?

The difference between the day moisturizer and a night cream is usually the consistency of the product and whether it protects you from the sun. Most AM moisturizers provide both hydration benefits and sunscreen to block UV rays.

“Generally speaking, but not as a complete rule, morning moisturizers tend to be lighter in consistency,” says Zeichner. “The skin undergoes daily circadian rhythms, where specific activities occur in the morning and others at night. We know that skin hydration levels start to decline in the afternoon and into the evening, which is why an evening moisturizer is important. These products tend to be thicker in consistency to address the dryness of the skin in the evening.” 

When trying to figure out which one is for you, think about what your skin specifically needs. If your skin is super dry and flaky, for example, a retinol cream might not work for you until your skin is back on track. 

​​Do I need an expensive night cream?

No, not necessarily. There are a ton of great night creams and moisturizers that are available at the drugstore. That said, there are also some pretty incredible night creams that retail for well over $100. Both types of creams are on this list. It's all about doing your research—if you're not sure which one is for you, a trip to the dermatologist might be in order. In any case, read on to check out a bunch of grade-A night creams to fall in love with in 2023. 

The Best Night Creams