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

I had a reader email me a short while ago to ask the question:

” What’s the difference between day cream and night cream?  And do I really need to use both?”

It’s a fair enough question, and I’m here to provide an answer.


Day cream

Day cream tends to have a lighter, more easily absorbed texture.  This is because it’s usually worn under makeup and the lighter texture makes it easier to put makeup on after you’ve applied your face cream.

Day creams often contain sunscreens to help to protect the skin from damage as you go about your day-to-day activities.

Night cream

Night creams tend to have a richer, thicker texture.  They generally provide more moisture to the skin than day creams.

Many night creams also include a range of extra features, such as cell-renewing, skin-repairing or anti-wrinkle properties.  Our cells regenerate and repair while we sleep, so night creams take advantage of this by adding ingredients which will aid or speed up the natural processes our skin goes through.

Do you need both?

The short answer is: maybe.

If your skin is fairly clear, and you don’t notice many problems with your skins texture you might not need to use both a day and a night cream.  If you aren’t too stressed about wrinkles and aging, you might not need both.  You may be able to get away with buying one basic face cream and using this for day and night.  If you choose to go down this route, I would definitely recommend that you also get a good sunscreen to use during the day, to protect against skin damage and cancer.

However, there are lots of reasons to use both a day and a night cream.  A night cream may be too heavy to wear during the day, and constant use may block your pores or cause excessive oiliness.  On the contrary, day creams may not provide enough moisture for your skin if you rely on them as your only moisturizer.  Similarly, if you experience problems with your skin such as dryness, breakouts or aging, you may need to use both a day and a night cream to combat these.

In general, I would recommend using both a day and a night cream.  This gives your skin plenty of protection and gives you more opportunities to tailor your skin care routine to suit your skin’s needs.

My favourite products

I’ve tried quite a lot of different day and night creams over the years.  Currently I’m using Olay’s Complete Defence SPF30+ daily moisturizing lotion during the day.  At night time, I use Olay’s Complete Moisturizing lotion for sensitive skin.

During the colder months, I switch to a richer night cream.  I use Nivea Creme to give my skin an extra dose of moisture while I sleep.

Do you use a day cream and a night cream?  Or do you prefer to stick to just one?


  1. I use my everyday moisturiser (First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – which is super light but very moisturising) through the day and at night I add a few drops of rosehip oil into in and voila – my night cream.

    • You’re so clever! I love the idea of using the same product (with a slight modification) for both day and night. And your gorgeous skin is a testament to how well this works.

  2. TBH, the only time I use night cream is if i get a freebie in one of those free gifts with purchase. I don’t use a day cream that often either. Usually just under makeup. If my skin is getting dry, I use a face mask.

    • That’s fair enough. Night creams can be so pricey and if you don’t feel that you need one, then there’s no point spending your hard-earned cash on one.

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