Facts Checked By Freewill Beauty Experts - Written by Rupali Goswami (Beauty Expert) on 08th Oct 2020

Day Creams Vs. Night Creams: Know The Difference

Day Creams Vs. Night Creams

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and its primary role is to act as a first-line defense against pollution, dust, UV rays, and harmful microbes. In technical terms, your skin tends to dry if the moisture level becomes less than 10 percent.

The moisturizer process works in two ways: it either traps the moisture in your skin and prevents it from escaping or restoring the moisture that has already been lost. 

The Connection Between Moisture And Skin

The Connection Between Moisture And Skin

Moisturizers play a significant role in keeping our skin healthy and should be an essential part of our skincare routine. While moisturizers provide a protective layer to our skin in the day-time, it helps repair the night's damage.

With many products in the market nowadays, it is effortless to get lost in the sea of moisturizers, creams, or lotions. Everyone has their approach while researching a skincare regime. Some like to use all-purpose products and moisturize once per day.

Some are genuinely dedicated to their skincare routine and follow every step from using a face wash to toning, applying serums, moisturizers, face oils, sunscreen, and everything.  

Types of Moisturizers 

There are three types of moisturizers: 


Emollients are present in the form of creams, lotions, gels, and ointments. This type of moisturizer feels less sticky, penetrates the skin, and gives a soft and flexible feel.

Emollients are believed to repel the water because of its formation, made with various chemicals like carbon atoms.  


Humectant's chemical structure comprises hydroxyl groups, which help attract the skin's moisture and lock it there.

It works by penetrating the skin's outer layer, alluring the water to the skin, and closing all the moisture inside.

Sometimes in dry circumstances, humectants attract the moisture from younger, moist cells that can result in even more dehydrated skin. 


Occlusives come in the form of waxes, oils, and silicones like vaseline petroleum jelly.

It works by creating a barrier over the skin, trapping the water inside the skin layers, and preventing evaporation. Just like emollients, occlusives also contain the carbon atoms that are known to repel water. This type of moisturizer can be very sticky, greasy, and messy.

Different types of moisturizers work for different skin types and are made separately for the usage in day and night time to work its magic. 

Did You Know:

When a skin cell is born and starts its journey through the epidermis, the moisture content found in that cell is about 90 percent, but when the section ends its journey, the moisture content comes down to only 10 percent. 

Day glimmer! Day creams! 

During the day, our skin is more prone to damage from all the factors such as environmental stresses, pollution, dust, UV rays, harmful microbes, and makeup.

Day creams are designed to protect, treat, and support the skin against all these factors. Creams for the day usage mainly contain ingredients like SPF.

They are primarily focused on acting as a shield to prevent sunburns and photoaging, containing caffeine to make the skin look more toned, firm, and revitalized, and act as an antioxidant to fight free radicals.

Day creams are made in a way to have a light, non-greasy formula so that it can easily get absorbed into the skin, allow pores to breathe, and can be worn under your makeup without having that messy feeling.  

Benefits of Day Creams

  • Day cream protects the skin from sun damage and other environmental stressors.
  • It acts as an ideal base for your makeup. Suppose you often use cosmetics products like foundation or concealer. In that case, you will see how applying a moisturizer can change the application and finish of your makeup products as it smooths out your face by providing your skin with proper hydration. 
  • It heals the skin by providing all the necessary moisture, even out the skin tone, and treats the imperfections. 
  • Day-creams contain a fair amount of anti-aging and antioxidant compounds. 
  • As we know, day creams are not heavy. They tend to absorb quickly into the layers of the skin. These are mainly gel-based, making it pretty easy for our skin to soak it up within minutes. 

Did You Know:

Proper hydration is maintained by the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). It absorbs and attracts water from the atmosphere and carries on to it with naturally present water-soluble compounds. 

Night harmony! Night creams!

Like the rest of our bodies, the skin also starts the process of repairing, regenerating, and restoring while we sleep. Night creams are made to provide the skin with all the properties focused on recovery and moisture.

These creams are designed to have a slow absorbing and robust process, which takes several hours to penetrate the skin layers deeply.

Since there are no environmental factors that can affect the skin at night, these creams generally contain high ingredients in boosting regeneration.

Night creams also contain high concentration ingredients of anti-aging compounds such as retinol.

It helps stimulate collagen production and help reverse the sign of sun damage, peptides that help the skin have enough hydration to achieve firm skin and help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. 

Benefits of Night Creams 

  • Being on the heavier side of formulation, night creams provide moisture to the dry parts of the skin by deeply penetrating the skin 
  • It boosts collagen production and cell turnover, helping soften wrinkles, fine lines, correct dark spots, smooth out the skin's texture, and clear acne
  • Night creams also improve blood circulation. 
  • It helps restore the skin's elasticity by keeping it firm, tight, and fit and avoid saggy, leathery, and wrinkled skin.

Did You Know:

The stratum corneum (the upper and outermost section of the epidermis) is the only section where Natural Moisturizing Factor can be found. 

Day Creams V/S Night Creams - The Final Round!

The common difference between day and night creams comes down to three aspects: 

1. Purpose 

The purpose of both day and night creams is very different. If you use night creams in the day time, it won't provide you with any protection against the sun or any environmental factors, and it will feel a lot greasier on the skin throughout the day.

Like that, a day cream used in the nighttime will provide you with all the nourishment, but it won't give you the benefits of repairing and restoring. Plus, your skin won't be able to soak up the properties of anti-aging and moisturizing ingredients. 

2. Formulas 

Night creams are made to have a more solemn formula than day creams for many good reasons. To name one, we tend to lose the natural water from our skin at night time, so the active ingredients in the night creams help the skin lock in all the moisture with the help of a thicker formula. Our skin needs extra hydration in winters to prevent it from drying out due to the weather condition.

Whereas day creams are made with a lightweight formula. It is to avoid greasiness throughout the day due to all the skincare layering. Most of the day, creams have sunblock in them, which can be used under different skincare products without having the feeling of cakiness.  

3. Ingredients 

As the day creams are supposed to have a light-formula, these generally contain ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, etc.

Some of the common ingredients found in night creams are retinol, peptides, Ceramides, fatty acids, glycerin, etc. 

Did You Know:

Serums may not be enough to hydrate your skin properly as they are formulated with lighter oils and have ingredients with smaller molecular weight. Using a non-comedogenic moisturizer along with serum may help seal the moisture inside the skin.  

How to use it these creams 

1) During the day! 

After the cleansing and toning process on your skin, take a pea-sized amount of the moisturizer of your choice and tap it around your entire face and neck.

Always massage your moisturizers into the skin in a circular and upward motion to generate the proper blood flow.  

2) During the night! 

After washing your face with a mild foaming face wash, apply a toner for oily or combination skin.

Take a small quantity/amount of night cream, dot it on your face, spread it around your face by gently massaging it into the skin using your finger-tips in an upward and circular motion.

Night creams should be applied 10-15 minutes before you hit the bed. Always remember to start with the least amount and work your way up if required. 


Both day and night creams are beneficial in their ways and provide different results. You can't replace one with the other. The decision to choose two or three moisturizers is totally up to you. Still, they should provide you with the primary benefits of sun protection during the day and regeneration properties during the night.  

Freewill Tip:  

If this is too complex/complicated for you and you want to keep your skincare routine on a simpler side, then opting for an all-purpose cream won't be a bad idea. It will provide you with the benefits of both day and night creams in one single product, whether you are concerned about the process of anti-aging, or you need moisturization, sun protection, and more.