In the history of skin products, it’s hard to identify exactly who invented night cream. Night cream could be defined as any product used on the skin at bedtime, and kept on while sleeping. There are accounts of Roman ladies going to bed with fine olive oil on their faces, to help retain moisture in their skin and reduce wrinkling. Mention of night creams is pretty consistent in the US, throughout the whole 20th century, and obviously continues into the 21st.
It’s also difficult to define night cream, especially in the modern sense. It can refer to creamy, pasty or even colorless skin treatments that are worn during the night. Though in the past, women who wanted to reduce aging were the highest population group using night cream, there are now night creams available for people of both genders with oily skin, or combination skin. Younger people may use nighttime creams in a variety of formulations to help reduce breakouts.
The old “standard” night cream was often a product that was heavy on moisturizing ingredients like various oils. These were meant to treat the skin, but they were too heavy to be worn during the day, especially under any kind of makeup. They also tended to be fairly greasy, which probably, especially before the advent of the washing machine, was difficult to remove from bed linens.
Today’s night creams may still have a higher oil content than lighter moisturizers worn during the day, but many of them are formulated so they won’t stain sheets. Since people often have combination skin, with drier skin around the eyes and cheeks, and oilier skin on the nose and forehead, many night creams are made in noncomedogenic formulas so they won’t clog pores. You can also make your own night creams with a variety of kitchen ingredients; there are many online recipes.
The variety of ingredients in night creams represents a true range. Some of the more expensive ones may add special oils, retinol, or Retin-A formulas, citric acid, or other specialty chemicals and ingredients. Virtually all types that are marketed heavily will claim superiority over other brands, and you’ll hear words in advertisements that would seem to prove one night cream is better than another. In particular, the cosmetics industry is fond of claiming that things are scientific and proven, but these claims may be hard to defend.
If you’d like to use a night cream, think of the kind of skin you have, and look for those creams for your type of skin. If you have consistent troubles with your skin like exceptionally dry skin, a lot of breakouts, rosacea or the like, you might want to consult a dermatologist before choosing a skin cream. Also consider the type of sleeper you are when choosing a night cream. If you’re a side sleeper, or switch from side to stomach in the night, you’ll want to look for a cream that won’t bleed onto your sheets. If you always sleep face up on your back, you may be able to use a heavier cream that is also oilier.