Sleep is a time for comfort, complete with cozy covers and cushy pillows. And having dry skin just doesn’t jive with that. It’s hard to comfortably rest when your skin feels tight and flaky. At the same time, nighttime is your skin’s chance to repair itself. This makes it easy to see why “how to cure dry skin on your face overnight” is a customer query we’ve heard more than once—you don’t want to spend night after night (or day after day) with dry, flaky skin, and those overnight hours provide an opportunity to take action.
The truth is, there aren’t magic cures or instantaneous solutions for skin concerns. Nightfall may signal a time to refresh and renew, but you’ll need to put in the work to make it happen. Creating an effective nighttime skincare routine can help nourish very dry skin and ensure you get your beauty rest. Ahead, we’ll teach you the basics of dry skin—what it is and why you might have it—and share our top tips on how to hydrate your skin overnight.
What Is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is a concern characterized by a lack of moisture on the skin’s surface. Symptoms of dryness can vary but generally include flaking, tightness, and dullness. That said, there are varying degrees of dryness. Those with combination skin, for example, may have dry cheeks but a more balanced T-zone, while those with very dry skin may experience cracking, flaking, and discomfort.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Many things can contribute to dry, flaky skin, such as harsh soaps, chlorine, long hot showers, and even aging. One general theme: Dryness occurs when skin doesn’t have enough sebum to maintain optimal hydration. The skin’s natural moisture barrier usually helps limit moisture loss, but this function can be compromised by various factors, including skincare mistakes (like over-washing) and low humidity.
Skin tends to be driest in the winter months due to temperatures dropping and humidity levels falling. Being outdoors in cold temperatures makes it difficult for the skin to retain the essential moisture it needs, which can cause it to become dry. A lack of moisture in the air may also leave your skin susceptible to dryness and flaking. Be mindful of how long and how often you’re in cold temperatures, and remember to protect your skin with the help of an effective moisturizer.
How Do You Get Rid Of Dry Skin On Your Face Overnight?
If you’re here to learn how to get rid of dry skin on your face overnight, unfortunately, it’s an unrealistic goal. Skincare can take time to work, and healthy-looking skin requires consistency. That being said, there are several overnight skincare steps you can take to help improve the look and feel of your skin. Even better: Many of these tricks require very little effort, allowing you to snooze (comfortably) while your skincare does its job.
Remove Your Makeup Without Drying Out Your Skin
Having dry skin may make you wary of over-cleansing—maybe even to the point where you opt not to remove your makeup. While over-cleansing can definitely exacerbate dryness, it doesn’t mean you should stop removing your makeup or skip washing your face entirely. It does, however, mean that you should be careful about how you do it.
Steer clear of makeup removers that strip your skin and instead reach for a gentle, oil-based variety, like our classic Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil. Formulated with squalane and lavender essential oil, this lightweight cleansing oil dissolves dirt, impurities, and even waterproof makeup, leaving your skin feeling soft and supple. We recommend applying it directly to dry skin, then emulsifying it with water to gently rinse away the day.
Opt For Gentle, Non-Drying Cleansers
If you don’t wear makeup—or want to double cleanse for a deeper clean—wash your face with our iconic Ultra Facial Cleanser. The gentle formula is pH-balanced to help maintain your skin’s natural protective barrier, and it removes dirt and impurities without over-drying the skin. To help prevent dryness, be sure to wash your face with cool water—anything too warm can strip away your skin’s natural oils, leaving it feeling dry and tight. After cleansing, splash a hydrating toner, like Ultra Facial Toner, onto your freshly-washed skin to help soothe, tone, and prep your skin for moisture.
Use a Hydrating Facial Serum
Serums can target an array of skin concerns, including dryness. To help give dry skin a boost of moisture, consider reaching for Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum. Made with glycerin—a well-known humectant moisturizer—this gentle serum deeply hydrates and helps plump very dry skin, leaving it smoother and more even-looking.
Kiehl’s Tip: Hyaluronic acid is another popular hydrating ingredient, but different types can produce different results. We recommend formulas with small molecules of hyaluronic acid, like our Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum. It contains 11kDa hyaluronic acid—our smallest form of the molecule, capable of penetrating up to eight skin surface layers deep.* The unique serum helps neutralize the effects of external stressors, leaving the skin stronger, radiant, and more resilient over time.
* Based on a clinical study of 25 panelists measuring the penetration of the full formula via tape stripping.
Nourish With a Night Cream
Midnight Recovery Omega-Rich Botanical Night Cream
As a rule, most moisturizers will help, well, moisturize your skin—but at night, you have the option to use a slightly richer formula. (In the daytime, you might want to reach for something lighter to keep your skin from looking shiny.) For long-lasting hydration, try a moisturizer specifically designed for overnight use, like our Midnight Recovery Omega-Rich Botanical Night Cream. Infused with a blend of omega-rich fatty acids, this nourishing moisturizer helps replenish your skin’s protective lipid barrier, leaving your skin looking plump and radiant. The formula with lavender essential oil and a soothing herbal fragrance helps soothe your mind for sleep, making this night cream an ideal way to prepare for bed.
Use an Overnight Face Mask
Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Face Mask with 10.5% Squalane
This just in: You don’t need to be awake to pamper your skin. Using an overnight mask—in other words, a face mask specifically designed to work while you snooze—is one of the easiest (and, if you ask us, best) ways to give your dry skin some TLC. For serious nighttime nourishment, we recommend using Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Face Mask with 10.5% Squalane. The deeply hydrating formula helps reduce visible dryness and flaking overnight and works to prevent dryness for up to three days. It also helps stabilize the skin’s natural moisture barrier to help improve moisture retention. We recommend using it three times per week as an overnight treatment or as a quick 15-minute mask to help soothe and hydrate dry, flaky skin on your face as needed.
Try a Nighttime Face Oil
Face oils can be a great asset to your nighttime skincare routine, particularly if you’re prone to dryness. At night, after moisturizing, pat a few drops of our iconic Midnight Recovery Concentrate Moisturizing Face Oil onto your skin, focusing on areas that tend to get dry or flaky. The indulgent face oil, which contains evening primrose oil and squalane, helps replenish the skin at night when it is most susceptible to repairing itself from daily stressors. In addition to boosting moisture, the face oil also helps to visibly reduce fine lines and refine skin’s texture. Use it nightly for visibly more radiant, youthful-looking skin over time.
Don’t Forget Your Eye Area
If you don’t care for your eye area before bed, you’re doing future-you a major disservice. The delicate skin around your eyes is thin, making it uniquely susceptible to concerns like fine lines, dark circles, and dryness. So, before bed, give your eye area the TLC it deserves with Midnight Recovery Eye. This restorative cream helps replenish the delicate eye area and works to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. In the morning, reach for a daytime eye cream instead—you can find a few of our favorites here.
Trap Moisture After a Nighttime Shower
While we’ve spent this article focusing on how to address extremely dry skin on the face, the fact of the matter is that dry skin can crop up in lots of places. And if you shower at night, there’s a moisture opportunity you may have been missing out on. When you hop out of the shower, don’t rush to dry off with your towel. Instead, apply body lotion while your skin is still damp to help trap that moisture on your skin. As for what to use, we recommend Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter. This decadent body cream with jojoba butter and shea butter absorbs quickly, softening the skin with up to 24 hours of hydration.
Then, right before shutting off the lights for the evening, pamper your hands with Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, a rich hand cream starring sesame seed oil and shea butter. If you’re worried about getting the thick formula on your sheets, slip on a pair of breathable cotton gloves after applying the hand cream—this little trick has the dual benefit of helping to seal in moisture.
Wear Non-Irritating Clothes To Bed
When you have dry, flaky skin, even your favorite pajama pants can seem irritating. Try washing clothes with fragrance-free or hypoallergenic laundry detergents (fragrances can sometimes aggravate dry skin). We also recommend reaching for ultra-soft, non-irritating fabrics when it comes to your pajamas; cotton, silk, or flannel sleepwear may feel less abrasive against your skin at night.
Swap Out Your Sheets
It may sound like a stretch, but what you sleep on can actually influence the appearance of your skin. Certain fabrics may soak up the hydrating overnight creams and masks you diligently applied and may even be rough against your skin. We recommend swapping out your tried-and-true cotton pillowcases for silk versions, which not only feel luxurious but are super gentle on your skin, too.