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We all know skincare is critical for maintaining a healthy complexion and fighting back against signs of aging. Studies show that Americans, particularly women, spend thousands of dollars and years of their lives on their skincare routines, with varying levels of success.

One of the most critical things you can do to ensure your skincare routine is successful is to ensure you’re taking excellent care of your face at night. Removing makeup, cleansing, and moisturizing are necessary steps to take before bed so that your skin can properly work on restoring itself, just like the rest of your body does while you sleep.

With so many different products touting various claims, it can be challenging to know which steps are the right ones for you. But with some general knowledge about why nighttime skincare is so important and how you can take advantage of your body’s natural restorative processes, you can find the right routine for you.

Why Nighttime Care Is Critical

Most of us wash and moisturize our faces at least once a day, so it may seem like overkill to do so right before bed. But the truth is that our skin is better able to absorb the products we use at night without interference from things like sun exposure, pollution, or makeup. Cells in all parts of our bodies turn over while we sleep, meaning it’s prime time for creating healthier skin.

Start with a Clean Slate

It can be tempting to fall into bed at the end of a long day without removing your makeup, but doing so can lead to clogged pores and breakouts, not to mention a dirty pillowcase. With the proper products, taking off your makeup doesn’t have to be a chore. Try things like micellar water or an oil-based cleanser to lift makeup (even the waterproof stuff) right off. Your face will thank you in the morning.

Lather Up

Once you have removed your makeup, you can get to work removing dirt and impurities that have collected in your pores during the day. Use a gentle cleanser that won’t irritate your skin to lift these particles away. This isn’t the time for rough exfoliants or harsh cleansers. Remember, nighttime skincare is about rejuvenation.

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Get Toned

Some view toner as an optional step, but it can help balance moisture levels in the skin, a beneficial feature for those with complexions on the oily side. They can also contain healthy vitamins and minerals that benefit your skin and are a refreshing addition to your routine.

Be Particular

Everyone’s skin is different, so take customized steps that are right for you. If dryness is a problem, try a serum with hyaluronic acid. If you struggle with acne, do any spot-treating you need. Or, if you’re trying to fight signs of aging, you might try a retinoid, although it’s best to consult with a dermatologist first since these products can be irritating to the skin. This is also when you can apply specialized products like under-eye creams.

Bring the Moisture

Moisturization is especially important at night when the product has the best opportunity to really sink into your skin unimpeded. Pick a gentle product that won’t clog pores so you can use it every day. Don’t be afraid to spread it on a little thicker than you do during the day, but you should still massage it in so that it doesn’t rub off on your pillow the second you lie down.

Skincare routines can seem tedious at first, but once you get in the habit, they become a natural part of getting ready for bed, just like brushing your teeth. By taking a few extra minutes before bed, you’ll set your skin on the path to a glowy complexion for years to come.