Let's be honest: At the end of the day, the last thing we want to do is spend 20 minutes prepping our skin for bedtime. Our bed just seems to be calling our name, and why keep our eyes open any longer than we have to? However, one of the most important nightly beauty practices is washing our makeup - and the day - off our face. In a recent survey of 1,000 American men and women, 54% said they skipped washing their face before bedtime.
But what if I don’t wear makeup? Or what if wearing makeup to bed doesn’t cause me to break out? Do I really need to wash my face? Yes. After all, it’s the most sensitive area of skin on our body and the most prone to acne and wrinkles.
Unfortunately, despite the benefits of a nightly beauty regimen, many of us lead such busy lives that we often neglect to tend to our skin at the end of the day. If you’re struggling to stick to a nightly beauty routine that doesn’t require you to abandon your entire evening or spend your whole paycheck, you’re not alone.
Whether it’s balancing school, work, family, or all three at once, most women struggle to carve out enough time in the evening to give their skin the care it deserves.
But how can we wash our face properly when we don’t have the time to do so, nor the money needed to buy a bunch of expensive skincare products? We’ve got the answers.
If you’re looking for a way to save time and money while caring for your face properly, here are 21 quick, easy, and affordable ways to care for your face before you hit the hay.
Now, before we start, here are a couple of reasons why washing your face is good for your skin:
Removes makeup, oil, dirt, pollution, and buildup.
Do you notice a difference in your skin when you wash your face? There’s a reason for it. Washing your face removes everything sitting on your skin and leaves you looking fresh and clean. Even if you don't wear makeup, your face will have some oil on it by the end of the day. If left unwashed, this can clog pores, leaving you vulnerable to breakouts and causing your skin to look dull.
Prevents wrinkles and premature signs of aging.
If you don’t wash your face, impurities such as free radicals will damage the skin’s protective layer. This results in dehydration and lost elasticity, which means wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots can appear over time.
Our Top 21 Tips to Maximize Your Bedtime Skincare Routine
1. Know your skin type.
Many skincare products are designed for specific skin types. Knowing yours is crucial if you want to find what will work best for you. For example, if you have dry skin, and you’re using a product for oily skin, your face will probably become even drier (and angry).
Here are the five skin types:
If you’re unsure about which type you are, a quick test can help you figure it out. Wash your face with a foaming or cream cleanser, then pat it dry and leave it completely bare (no moisturizers, no serums, nothing). After an hour, see what your skin looks like.
- If your skin looks and feels smooth, and there are no visible signs of oiliness or irritation, you probably have normal skin. We’re jealous.
- Does your skin look shiny and feel slick? Do you feel the urge to use a blotting paper? Your skin is oily.
- Are there dry patches and flakiness? You’re on the dry side.
- If you’re oily on your T-zone and dry on your cheeks, you have combination skin.
- And, finally, if your skin is red, irritated, or you’re experiencing a breakout, you probably have sensitive skin.
Keep in mind that there’s a range of what’s considered dry or oily. For example, you might not have any visible signs of dryness, like peeling. Everyone is different.
2. Start with the first round of removal.
A facial cleanser alone isn’t enough to remove all traces of dirt, makeup, oil, and other buildup you encountered during the day.
There are a few options to choose from:
- A cotton pad and micellar water or makeup remover. Easily attracts and grabs dirt, oil, and makeup.
- An oil cleanser. Binds to the oils in your skin and makeup and are easily rinsed away, or can be removed with a cotton round.
- A makeup remover wipe. You can see how much is coming off!
Gently move the cotton round or wipe in a circular motion across your face, and use a separate one for any eye makeup.
3. Use warm water.
Despite what you may have heard, hot water can actually dehydrate the skin, and cold water doesn’t necessarily constrict pores.
Meet right in the middle and use warm water when washing your face. It minimizes the chances of irritation. It can also be relaxing - a great feeling before bed.
4. Pick a foaming or cream facial cleanser.
Your facial cleanser is the base of your bedtime skincare regimen. You’ll want something that effectively removes everything while targeting concerns such as wrinkles or acne - without irritating your skin.
A foaming or cream facial cleanser is a good place to start. As a general rule of thumb, foaming cleansers are best suited for oily and acne-prone skin types, and cream cleansers are best suited for dry and sensitive skin types.
5. Exfoliate regularly.
Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells, clear pores, prevent breakouts, and smoothes your skin’s texture.
The epidermis - the outer layer of skin cells - are replaced about every 28 days. We can help move this process along with the right products. You can use a facial cleanser with acids or small granules, an exfoliating mask, or an exfoliating brush with your cleanser 2-3 times a week.
Just read the product label to ensure it’ll work with your skin type.
6. Use a brush.
Facial cleansing brushes are another great option for exfoliation. Simply apply your favorite facial cleanser to your face and then gently massage it in with your brush. Don’t use an exfoliating cleanser with the brush as your skin will become irritated; pick one or the other.
You’ll want to make sure to clean it thoroughly after each use and replace it entirely every few months. For best results, use it 2-3 times a week. Initial breakouts may occur as you begin the routine and your skin adjusts, but stick with it!
Your skin will look and feel better than it did before.
7. Repeat (if you want).
If you’d prefer to skip makeup remover and instead wash your face twice, that’s definitely an option.
It's not necessary to use your cleansing brush or another exfoliant again, but if you want to remove everything from your skin, it’s important to wash your face once more with your cleanser.
Most makeups have been formulated to last for 12-24 hours, so they don’t leave your skin easily.
8. Find the right toner.
Many people (especially with dry skin types) may shy away from toner out of fear that it’s too harsh or drying.
In the past, toners were alcohol-based and meant to restore the skin’s pH balance after cleansing.
Nowadays, toners are used for that and more.
They shrink the appearance of pores, serve as protection, and eliminate any missed debris or residue left over from your cleanser.
There are 3 types you can choose from:
- Toner. Water-based; doesn't include alcohol. Cleanses and balances the skin and provides hydration.
- Astringent. Includes alcohol to control oil production and minimize pores.
- Tonique. Includes a smaller amount of alcohol plus humectants for a deep cleanse and moisture.
After drying your face, place a few drops on a cotton round and gently wipe it across your face, neck, and chest.
9. Serum is your friend.
Serums are great products, and we think more people should start including them in their skincare routine. They’re liquidy and thin, but they pack a punch. The ingredients are highly concentrated to target specific skin issues, such as brightening and evening skin tone. In addition, they usually include vitamins and nutrients to nourish your skin.
Serums provide lightweight moisture and are easily absorbed. They make a great supplement to your moisturizer as it boosts hydration. Depending on the serum, you can do a spot treatment or apply it all over the face.
10. Moisturizing is crucial.
This is one of - if not, the most - important steps in your bedtime skincare routine. And, yes, moisturizer is safe for oily skin types. It keeps the skin from becoming too dry, which can actually cause an increase in oil production to compensate.
Moisturizer also provides a layer of protection, prevents the skin from becoming irritated, and promotes a smooth texture. The three main types of moisturizers are occlusives, humectants, and emollients, all of which are effective at providing the skin with hydration. Look for a non-comedogenic formula (won’t clog pores) with a boost of vitamins.
Generally, your moisturizer shouldn’t be heavy or greasy. Unscented formulas minimize the risk of irritation or an allergic reaction.
11. The perfect time for anti-aging/damage control.
If you have certain things about your skin that you want to correct, like wrinkles, nighttime is the time to do it. For example, apply your eye cream after your moisturizer, and let it work its magic while you’re asleep.
You might even see a noticeable improvement the next day. Many products, like retinoids, increase your sensitivity to sunlight.
Apply these before you go to sleep, and you won’t have to worry about hiding from the sun.
12. Layer your products correctly.
After washing and toning your face, skincare products should be layered according to the weight of the formula.
This means lighter products, like serum, go first, and richer products, like eye cream, go last. This allows for proper absorption.
For example, if you put on a thick moisturizer first, it takes up space in your pores, and they won’t get much of a chance to absorb the ingredients in a serum
13. Makeup removal wipes can be an occasional backup option.
These shouldn’t replace your normal face washing routine, but they can provide a quick solution if you're away from home or pressed for time. Makeup removal wipes help remove a significant amount of makeup before bed, leaving your pores with room to breathe.
If you’re really too tired to wash your face, keep them on your nightstand so you can remove everything from the comfort of your bed.
14. Have a “prevention vs. treatment” mentality.
Many of us treat a skin problem as it arises rather than prevent it from happening.
Washing your face every night and following up with the best products for your skin type is a proactive approach to keeping your skin in tip-top shape and can eliminate frustration down the road.
15. Give yourself time.
Make your skincare a priority every evening, even if you're traveling or coming home late. Once you know how long you need, build that amount of time into your bedtime routine. Will it take 10 minutes to wash your face? Then turn off the TV or put down your phone and start heading to bed 10 minutes earlier. You can even start your bedtime skincare routine as soon as you step foot in the door.
16. Drink a glass of water.
Hydrate your skin from the inside out! Water keeps your skin moisturized and looking healthy. It eliminates dullness, has a plumping effect, and provides elasticity.
Drinking one 8-ounce glass of water a couple of hours before bed helps your skin stay hydrated throughout the night, leaving you more prepared to face whatever the morning holds.
17. Get the recommended amount of sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. As you probably know, this is beneficial for physical and mental health in so many ways.
While you’re sleeping, your skin repairs the damage it encountered during the day. We get it - you’re busy, and this may not always be possible. But this is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to achieve great skin.
18. Do a face mask.
Laying in bed waiting for your face mask to do its job is a simple yet rewarding form of self-care.
If you don’t have time to go out and buy a pre-made mask, there are hundreds of DIY recipes online with ingredients you can get from your kitchen.
It’s easy to search for a mask that will address your skin’s needs. Not only are face masks relaxing, but they provide an extra boost to your usual regimen.
19. Choose strategic ingredients.
Take some time to assess your skin or problem areas that you’re concerned about. Do you struggle with scarring? Flakiness? Hyperpigmentation? Keep these in mind when searching for the right products.
20. Self-massage is often overlooked.
A self-facial massage right before bed is one of the best ways to relax and forget about the stress of the day. It increases blood circulation, helps with lymphatic drainage, and can give skin a glow. It’s easy, too.
Just take an oil-based cleanser or a serum and rub it between your hands. This will make it easier for your fingers to glide across your face. Gently press the center of your face with your fingertips and move outward. Next, press between your eyebrows and slide your fingers up your forehead.
Finally, massage the sides of your temples in circular motions.
21. Make a relaxing environment.
Skincare doesn’t have to be a chore. Set a mood that you’ll enjoy, and use it as an excuse to pamper yourself. Play your favorite music, light a candle, diffuse calming essential oils...whatever relaxes and rejuvenates you.
There you have it - our top 21 tips for the best bedtime skincare routine. Remember that it may take some time to make your routine a habit, and that’s okay. You don’t have to follow each tip to a T; do what works best for you.
This will be a trial and error process as you find the right products for your skin and lifestyle. Though, it’ll be worth it in the end. When you wake up, you’ll notice a positive difference in how your skin looks and feels.