The Best Night Routine If You're An Overachiever — Or Too Tired To Move

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
Beauty sleep isn't just a cute phrase tossed around by princesses and supermodels who don't wake up for less than $10k. When you're deep in dream land, your skin is on the clock, working harder for you than it has all day to turn over cells and repair damage. That's why it's imperative to make the most of your nightly skin-care routine — whether it's one of those 3 a.m., why-can't-I-sleep-in-my-makeup instances or a Sunday dedicated to self-care.
Here’s exactly what to do for your skin if you have 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes, according to a top dermatologist.
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Cleanser + Moisturizer

Cleansing is hands down the most important step in your nighttime skin-care regimen. Use a cream-based cleanser (it won’t strip your skin of natural oils) with lukewarm water to remove all makeup, dirt, and grime from the day. Then, pat your skin dry and finish by locking in moisture with your favorite moisturizer or a few drops of face oil.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Cleanser + Eye Cream + Moisturizer/Overnight Mask

“While you're sleeping, the body's hydration rebalances,” explains NYC-based dermatologist Doris Day, MD. “Skin can lose water while you sleep and serums and creams can create a permeable seal on top of your skin so that whatever you have underneath it can penetrate.” First, use a mild cleanser. Then, tap an eye cream all around your orbital bone and follow that up with a night cream. If your skin is dry, you can swap your cream for a repairing sleeping mask instead.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Cleanser + Targeted Treatments + Eye Cream + Moisturizer

With a little extra time, you can add a serum into your routine that targets your individual skin concern, whether that's dullness, hyperpigmentation, uneven texture, or fine lines. This is also the time to apply your retinoid. Then, add your eye cream and moisturizer on top, but remember: You always want to layer products from the lightest texture to the heaviest.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
Makeup Remover + Double Cleanser + Targeted Treatments + Moisturizer

Dr. Day typically spends 20 minutes on her nighttime skin-care regimen and if you can, you should, too. Start by using a makeup remover wipe to make the cleansing process easier and ensure your skin is squeaky-clean (but not stripped). Next, use a gentle oil cleanser with lukewarm water to get rid of any residual makeup and oil. Then, reach for your regular cream cleanser or a gentle exfoliant to remove dead, dull skin cells. Now that your skin is prepped for treatments, bring in the serum, retinol, eye cream, and night cream.
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Illustrated by Paola Delucca.
All Of The Above + Mask

If you have the luxury of time to spend on your nightly routine, a mask is a must. After double-cleansing, opt for a clay mask to un-gunk clogged pores or a hydrogel sheet mask to hydrate. Dr. Day recommends leaving it on for ten minutes, then following the 20-minute regimen.
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