The Active Edit

Do You Really Need a Day and Night Cream?

written by: Kristen - Beauty Editorpublished on 5 Dec, 2023

It’s the age old beauty question… do I really need a day cream AND a night cream? Let’s be frank; it’s not as though your skin can actually tell the time or realise it’s day or night. But, a one-moisturiser-fits-all approach to hydrating your skin morning and evening may not be the best approach. Your skin’s needs actually differ at these opposing times of day and the right moisturiser will do wonders. We totally understand what it’s like being time poor, so it makes sense to have one go-to staple cream in your skincare routine. This approach is not right nor wrong, but it’s what your skin could be missing out on that is the issue.

Typically, your skin needs a higher level of protection during the day to help shield it from environmental aggressors and free-radicals that can cause damage. Equally important at night, your skin craves the repair and intensive hydration that a night cream can best deliver as your skin goes about it's natural skin cell renewal processes. 

Once you have your cleanse, exfoliation and toning down pat, it’s time to reach for the moisturiser. Let us break down the key differences and benefits of a separate moisturiser for day use and nighttime use. It could really help give your skin the right level of nourishment it deserves.

What Is a Day Cream?

A day cream is often a lighter textured hydrating moisturiser that offers additional benefits to help protect your skin throughout the day. This lighter texture allow for makeup application over the top to be even and not greasy. Often formulated to be more readily absorbed by your skin, a good day cream will also help shield your skin from environmental damage. We’re talking about the wind, heat, pollution, UV and daily moisture loss. Day creams can contain active ingredients such as Hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate, antioxidants to prevent premature ageing, in addition to Vitamin C to help boost collagen synthesis. The best day cream will also contain SPF protection, which is a good thing as applying a high protection sunscreen each day is highly recommended.

Benefits of a Day Cream

Your skin wins with a day cream as this morning moisturiser will help top up vital hydration whilst shielding your skin as you go about your day. Some key benefits a day cream can offer your skin include:

  • Provides lightweight moisture
  • Is readily absorbed
  • Antioxidant protection
  • Anti-ageing skin care ingredients
  • Prevents skin dehydration
  • UV protection
  • Creates a smooth base for makeup

What Is a Night Cream?

A night cream is more likely to have a rich texture with topically nourishing emollient ingredients to replenish lost moisture, help to firm, and counter the effects of daily environmental exposure. The main reason a night cream is better for your skin in the evening is so that can best nourish, replenish and repair your skin to keep it healthy and vibrant. 

Benefits of a Night Cream

A night cream can make your skin almost sigh with relief as it works hard to reverse the damage of the day. This is where a night moisturiser really steps up with active ingredients such as ceramides, peptides or even Retinol & Vitamin A to dramatically enhance cellular repair that naturally occurs when you are at rest. Key benefits of a night cream include:

  • Deeply replenishes nutrients and hydration
  • Prevents moisture loss
  • Repairs daily damage
  • Stimulates natural cellular functions
  • Supports optimal skin cell renewal
  • Helps reverse signs of ageing including dark spots, fine lines & wrinkles
  • Rejuvenates and supports a healthy skin barrier

What Is the Difference Between Day and Night Creams?

Now that we’ve highlighted the role of a day cream and a night cream, it’s time to clarify “Do I need day and night cream”. The differences between these two essential products really comes down to a few key points such as texture, application, active ingredients and benefits.


  • A day cream is often lighter and more readily absorbed making these morning moisturisers perfect bases for makeup application.
  • A night cream feels more luxurious and rich on the skin with nourishing emollients and plumping hydration to replace what the day took away.


  • A day cream is applied after using a face cleanser and toner in the morning with sunscreen and makeup able to be comfortably layered on top.
  • A night cream is best applied to cleansed skin in the evening, on top of serums & treatments to amplify natural skin repair processes.

Active Ingredients:


  • A day cream offers lightweight hydration whilst helping to shield your skin from daily environmental aggressors that can cause free-radical damage and premature ageing.
  • A night cream offers more richly repairing results to support natural cell turnover and boost collagen production for enhanced skin firmness.

How to Use Day and Night Creams?

Using a day cream and a night cream is actually pretty similar and oh-so easy! First step is to cleanse and tone the skin before reaching for your preferred serum. In the morning, apply a large pea-sized amount of day cream such as the Dr. Hauschka Apricot Day Cream and massage this into the face with light upwards motions. Follow with a good SPF and makeup if desired. At night, repeat the cleanse, tone and perhaps even exfoliate (to kick start the rejuvenation process) before applying your night cream over your favourite serum. The Skinceuticals Renew Overnight Dry is a perfect choice to combat parched, dry and devitalised skin. And here's our expert tip: it is always a good idea to apply your day cream and night cream to the face, then a little extra for the neck and decolletage.

Can You Use Night Cream During the Day and Vice Versa?

Specific day creams are created to benefit your skin the most, formulated with included environmental protection, lightweight hydration and silky texture to give you a flawless makeup base. Using a day cream at night is not ideal as you would be robbing your skin of the intensive moisture and repair that your skin craves at night. Furthermore on the flipside, using a night cream during the day won’t provide adequate protection from free-radical damage, but could in fact result in shiny residue or even breakouts from the rich texture. Your skin would definitely miss out in both instances, and we believe it’s just not worth the gamble.

Do You Need a Day and Night Cream?

Do you need to use a day and night cream? The answer in short is yes. The trick to find out if your skin needs a day cream and a night cream is to actually give it a go. Try a couple of samples or a skin care kit of minis to put it to the test and see how your skin responds. Trust me, you won't regret this! Your skin could be pretty good now, but the benefits of using a day cream and a night cream can really amplify results. You could be missing out on your best skin yet!

What to Look for When Buying Day and Night Creams

When it comes to making your purchase of a day cream or night cream, the best place to start is with your skin type. In fact, there are many amazing targeted moisturisers for day and night for your individual skin type to ensure the feel, benefits and results align to your skin’s wishlist. Look for a reputable skincare brand such as Dermalogica, Aspect or ASAP as these big name beauty brands are renowned for delivering visible results. And lastly, check the ingredient list for the active ingredients remembering that Vitamins C and SPF is great during the day whilst AHAs and Retinol are best suited to a night cream. 

Explore Our Full Range of Products and Find the Perfect Day and Night Cream

Completing your skincare routine couldn’t be easier when you explore the range of superior day creams and night creams at Activeskin. Catering for all skin types and addressing an array of skincare concerns, our team of skin experts can help guide you on your skincare journey towards your healthiest skin yet. Shop moisturisers from all the biggest beauty brands to hone in on the perfect day moisturiser and night cream your skin will love to leave it soft, hydrated and youthfully radiant every day (and night!).

Our top day cream recommendations:

Our top night cream recommendations: