You don't need us to tell you that moisturizer is an essential part of an effective skincare routine—we've said it plenty of times before. While it's critical to choose a moisturizer that's suited to your skin type and unique needs, that's not the only factor that matters. It's also important to use it at the right time. In short, that means using a day cream in your morning skincare routine and a night cream in your nighttime skincare routine.
Here, we'll break down the differences between day cream and night cream and explain how having a different moisturizer for day and night can be beneficial. We'll also provide recommendations on the best daytime moisturizers and best night creams from Kiehl's to add to your skincare routine. Smooth on your favorite face mask, settle in, and read on for your Kiehl's guide to daytime and nighttime moisturizers.
Day Cream vs. Night Cream: What You Should Know
Water, as you may know, is a key component of the skin's natural moisture barrier. Without enough moisture, your skin can feel dry or rough, and may be more vulnerable to the damaging effects of external stressors, like ultraviolet radiation and extreme weather. Keeping your skin well-hydrated with a moisturizer is therefore essential for maintaining strong, healthy-looking skin.
Of course, not all moisturizers are created equal. While both day and night creams do have the same ultimate goal—hydration—they can differ in several ways, as well. We typically recommend lighter, readily-absorbable lotions and moisturizers for daytime, as they can hydrate without giving the skin a greasy or shiny appearance. Day creams may also include antioxidants to help defend your skin against damaging environmental stressors and often contain sunscreen (which is a must-have in your daytime skincare routine, no matter the weather or time of year).
On the other hand, night creams don't have to be as lightweight—mainly because it doesn't matter if your skin looks a little bit shiny while you're catching Z's. They're often formulated to complement your skin's natural repair processes that occur while you sleep, and may contain heavier emollient or occlusive ingredients.
Additionally, if your nighttime skincare routine features ingredients like retinol or alpha-hydroxy acids (both of which can be drying if overused), a thicker, richer night cream can help keep your skin moisturized and reduce the likelihood of irritation.
Our Best Moisturizers For Your Skin
Now that you understand the benefit of having a separate daytime moisturizer and night cream, we can dive into the specifics. Keep reading to discover our best day creams and nighttime moisturizers for your skin type.
The Best Daytime Moisturizers From Kiehl's
For All Skin Types:
Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30
If you have "normal" skin—that is, skin without any significant concerns, like breakouts or excessive dryness—look for a moisturizer suitable for all skin types, like Ultra Facial Cream SPF 30. Inspired by our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cream, this classic day cream contains olive-derived squalane and fountain plant extract. The non-greasy formula absorbs quickly, leaving the skin feeling soft and hydrated for up to 24 hours. It offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays and can be used daily for smooth, healthy-looking skin.
For Oily Skin:
Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream
For those prone to blemishes or visible oiliness, we recommend reaching for a water-based moisturizer, such as Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream. This unique moisturizer, made with hydrating glycerin and micronized amino acids, sinks into the skin immediately with a refreshing cooling effect. It provides long-lasting moisture to keep skin hydrated and shine-free for up to 24 hours. When used consistently, it also helps to visibly minimize the appearance of enlarged pores—a common concern for those with oily skin.We recommend applying a generous layer of this weightless, non-comedogenic moisturizer to your face and neck every morning for skin that looks (and feels) fresh and balanced.
For Combination Skin:
Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream
Combination skin can be tricky to manage, since it exhibits multiple characteristics (like oiliness and dryness) simultaneously. To help keep your combination skin looking and feeling its best, try adding Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream to your morning skincare routine. This lightweight face cream contains calendula extract and micronized calendula petals. Upon application, the non-greasy moisturizer provides a burst of soothing hydration that leaves skin feeling soft and smooth all day long. It helps improve the appearance of dullness and fine lines within one week, while continued use helps visibly reduce redness to reveal more even, radiant-looking skin.
For Men's Skin:
Facial Fuel Energizing Face Moisturizer For Men
Guys looking for a lightweight daytime moisturizer can reach for Facial Fuel Energizing Face Moisturizer For Men. This men's skincare staple, which contains energizing caffeine and antioxidant vitamin C, awakens dull, tired-looking skin. The fast-absorbing formula helps defend the skin against damaging environmental stressors, like air pollution, and can be used daily to promote a healthy, revitalized appearance.
Kiehl's Tip: Even if you're using a moisturizer with SPF, your morning routine should include a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Try Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+, which provides long-lasting protection against both UVA and UVB rays and absorbs quickly with a non-greasy, matte finish. If you're highly sensitive or prone to breakouts, a mineral sunscreen, like Super Fluid Daily UV Mineral Defense, may be more compatible with your skin.
The Best Night Moisturizers From Kiehl's
For All Skin Types:
Ultra Facial Cream
Everyone—regardless of age, skin type, or skin concerns—can use our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cream. This iconic formula (a Kiehl's #1 best-selling moisturizer) boasts a blend of moisturizers, including olive-derived squalane, glycerin, and emollient avocado oil. It provides immediate and long-lasting hydration to balance the skin and absorbs quickly without a greasy or heavy finish. Use this Kiehl's classic as the final step in your nighttime skincare routine for softer, smoother, and visibly healthier skin.
For Uneven Skin:
Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face and Neck Cream
If your skin looks lackluster or uneven, swap your night cream for Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face and Neck Cream. This anti-aging powerhouse stars hydrating hyaluronic acid and phytomimetic vitamin A, a retinol alternative suitable for sensitive skin. It is clinically-demonstrated to even skin tone and smooth skin texture within just four weeks, while continued use helps firm the skin and visibly reduces wrinkles.* We recommend applying a generous amount of this powerful moisturizer to your face and neck every night to promote a more lifted, radiant appearance.
*Results based on a 12-week clinical study of 53 panelists in the US.
For Mature Skin:
Powerful Wrinkle-Reducing Cream
For those looking to address fine lines and deeper wrinkles, we recommend Powerful Wrinkle-Reducing Cream. This fortifying facial cream, made with copper PCA and calcium PCA (in other words, peptides), helps target fine lines and wrinkles and visibly refines the skin's texture. It's clinically-demonstrated to increase skin's elasticity by nearly a third and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.* Use this anti-aging must-have as your go-to night moisturizer for visibly smoother, younger-looking skin.
*Skin elasticity significantly improved by 32% after four weeks. Tested on 50 women aged 35 to 55.
For Dry Skin:
Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask
As we mentioned earlier, the best time to give your skin extra hydration is while you sleep, since you don't have to worry about how shiny your skin looks while you're snoozing. If you're feeling drier than you'd like, try pairing your go-to night cream with a hydrating sleep mask, like Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask. This overnight mask, which contains shea butter and desert plant extract, helps replenish skin's water reserves while you sleep for softer, more supple skin by morning. We recommend using this nighttime mask once to twice weekly for long-lasting hydration that leaves skin refreshed and healthy-looking.