These 12 Night Serums Prove That Beauty Sleep Isn't a Myth

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There's a point in the evening where our bodies just start to physically reject the idea of wearing anything other than pajamas or trying to find another true-crime series to start. So off to bed we go, but not before a trip to our bathroom cabinets.

Our bodies are busy repairing bees when we've drifted off to sleep, and while we're dreaming, our skin is working the night shift, which is why switching up our nighttime skincare routines can be well worth it. We throw a lot at our skin during the day—sun, pollution, and grime—so using products that serve as supportive assistants to the regenerative process will increase the benefits of that elusive "beauty sleep" tenfold.

The best place to get your souped-up nightly skin hit is through a good serum. Serums are packed with potent actives, and as our skin is most receptive to the delivery of these ingredients at night, bedtime is the best time for their application, right between cleansing and moisturizing.

We've found powerful night serums that target specific skin concerns, so you'll be spending your time in the morning staring at your reflection instead of downing a cup of coffee.

Best Overall: La Mer The Regenrating Serum

best night serum: La Mer The Regenerating Serum
What We Like
  • Long list of actives

  • Boosts radiance

  • Creamy texture

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Not only will La Mer's miracle aim to improve skin clarity and brightness, but this serum also contains a bio-ferment and marine peptide ferment, both of which claim to support skin's natural collagen and elastin production. The effect is a bouncier complexion with blurred wrinkles and pores. Bonus: The silky formula is utterly divine to apply.

Benefits: Supports skin turnover and collagen production, boosts radiance | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 1-2 pumps | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Firming: Avène Eau Thermale Physiolift Serum

Best Night Serum: Eau Thermale Avène Physiolift Serum
What We Like
  • Very hydrating

  • Reasonably priced

  • Helps firm skin

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for acne-prone skin

This serum would be the kid in school who always aced their tests. This genius formula works on skin both above and below the surface, thanks to two types of hyaluronic acid, so it'll provide moisture as you sleep. If you've got important meetings in the morning, this is the one you need to apply the night before.

Benefits: Moisturizes, plumps, firms | Skin Type: Dry, balanced, combination | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Radiance: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Essence

Best Night Serum: L'Occitane Pivoine Sublime Perfecting Essence
What We Like
  • Smooths and exfoliates

  • Lightweight

  • Great scent

What We Don't Like
  • Can irritate very sensitive skin

With skin-smoothing peony extract, this serum will leave your skin feeling as smooth as a petal. When applied at night, the plant sugars may boost your complexion—you'll up your chances of a radiant glow when you look in the mirror in the morning. 

Benefits: Refines skin texture and tone | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Exfoliating: Pixi Overnight Glow Serum

Pixi Overnight Glow Serum
What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Boosts radiance

  • Helps fade dark spots

What We Don't Like
  • Contains BHT

A gentle peel-as-you-sleep formula—it doesn't get better than that. Pixi's glycolic acid serum will exfoliate your skin as you rest, offering the same glow you get after a facial or mask, but without any hassle. It also has soothing aloe vera, so you won't have any redness when you head out for the day.

Benefits: Exfoliates, smooths, helps fade discoloration | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 2-3 drops | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Repairing: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum

Best Night Serum: Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic and Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum
What We Like
  • Visually plumps and fills in lines

  • Contains multiple actives

  • Rich, smooth texture

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

Dr. Dennis Gross's serum is addictive stuff—we're talking free radical eliminator ferulic acid combined with line-reducing retinol, so you'll likely notice a big difference in the overall texture of your skin as well as some plumping action. It'll get you even more excited about heading to bed.

Benefits: Smooths fine lines | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Repairing, Runner-Up: Alpha-H Liquid Gold Midnight Reboot Serum

ALPHA-H Liquid Gold Midnight Reboot serum
What We Like
  • Boosts radiance

  • Easy to use

  • Formula includes peptides

What We Don't Like
  • Needs a lot of product

Just as you take your daily supplements in the morning, this nighttime serum is a daily staple that repairs skin while you sleep. A combination of glycolic acid and granactive retinoid help to renew the look of dull skin, leaving it radiant. It improves the look of discoloration, plumps up the skin, reduces lines, and then ups the moisture for a smooth result.

Benefits: Exfoliates, plumps, smooths | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 4-5 drops | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Darker Skin Tones: Epara Hydrating Serum

Best Night Serum: Epara Hydrating Serum
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Softens skin

  • Addresses fine lines

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Formulated with the particular skincare needs of women of color in mind, this nourishing serum expertly tackles skin discoloration without any harsh skin-lightening ingredients. It also considers how dry darker skin can get, using a wealth of plant-based ingredients to up the moisture.

Benefits: Hydrates, smooths fine lines and wrinkles | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: Dr. Hauschka Night Serum

Best Night Serum: Dr Hauschka Night Serum
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Reasonably priced

  • Helps control oil

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough

If you're not a fan of dense creams and oils at night, this light serum needs a place in your skincare routine. It uses gentle fruit waters and extracts that won't weigh skin down or make it any oilier than it already is.

Benefits: Balances, adds radiance | Skin Type: Oily, acne-prone | Dosage: A thin layer | Size: 0.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Sensitivity: Dermalogica UltraCalming Serum Concentrate

Best Night Serum: Dermalogica UltraCalming Serum Concentrate
What We Like
  • Soothes and balances skin

  • Calms redness

  • Nice scent

What We Don't Like
  • Could be more hydrating

Our skin just loves letting us know when it's not happy, and it usually shows up in redness, sensitivity, and inflammation. At times like that, the last thing you want to do is add potent ingredients to irritate it further. Consider this serum your nighttime superhero, rushing in to save your skin with calming oat and botanical extracts along with nourishing oils. It'll work through the night to help prevent further skin issues and help with discomfort.

Benefits: Hydrates, calms inflammation | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1.3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural: Vanderohe No.1 Nourishing Face Serum

Best Night Serum: Vanderohe No.1 Nourishing Face Serum
What We Like
  • Great scent

  • Contains nourishing oils

  • Boosts radiance

What We Don't Like
  • Less actives than other options

With oils of the absolute highest grades, this serum is a miracle worker. One sniff of the instantly relaxing scent of rose, cedarwood, lavender, and Roman chamomile essential oils is enough to send you straight to sleep. But the skincare benefits are even more special; it goes deep into the skin to balance and repair.

Benefits: Hydrates, nourishes | Skin Type: All | Dosage: 3-4 drops | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dehydrated Skin: Elemis Hydra-Boost Serum

Best Night Serum: Elemis Hydra-Boost Serum
What We Like
  • Very hydrating

  • A little goes a long way

  • Helps even out skin tone

What We Don't Like
  • Value could be better

Our skin loses more water at night, so applying a serum that adds moisture is essential. Using ingredients like hyaluronic acid that are a match for thirsty skin, Elemis's moisture booster is vying for a spot on your top shelf.

Benefits: Hydrates, smooths | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Aging: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
What We Like
  • Visually plumps and fills in fine lines

  • Available in multiple sizes

  • Balanced formula

What We Don't Like
  • Contains BHT

We could spend an entire day discussing why Estée Lauder's serum is such a beauty-editor favorite. The short story is that it works on all the major signs of aging, smoothing over fine lines and plumping areas that have lost their volume. Put simply, it just makes you look rested, and we all need that.

If you have a complex morning routine to make you look more like yourself, try these night serums instead so you can set your alarm for a little later.

Benefits: Smooths, plumps, addresses signs of aging | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Dosage: One dropperful | Size: 0.2 / 1 / 1.7 / 3.9 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What to Look for in a Night Serum

Moisturizing Ingredients

Night serums that provide moisturizers and moisture-protecting ingredients are key. Moisture support will help your skin stay plump and replace any moisture lost when cleansing or from makeup use. Look for emollients, occlusive, and humectants—ingredients like hyaluronic acid and nourishing botanical oils.

Anti-Aging Ingredients

Boosting your skin's collagen and elastin will help keep it looking plump, fresh and may prevent or minimize fine lines. Look for marine peptides, and vitamin C. Retinol and ferulic acid are other effective anti-aging and free-radical fighting ingredients to look for in your night serum.

Chemical Exfoliants

Chemical exfoliants in your night serum can work to resurface and replenish your skin's surface. Look for serums that include ingredients like glycolic acid, ferulic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid.

  • What does night serum do?

    Night serums vary but most will increase skin's moisture, provide skin boosting ingredients, and help fight signs of aging. Many night serums are heavier than day serums or lotions since they have time to sink in and work overnight. This means they typically contain nourishing oils. Many night serums include ingredients like retinol that increase photosensitivity and should be avoided during the day.

  • Should I use a night serum?

    If you want a highly effective and potent product that will work while you sleep, a night serum is an excellent choice. Night serums are useful for a variety of skin concerns from hydration to blemish fighting.

  • Do I need both serum and moisturizer?

    You can find serums that provide moisturizing ingredients but a moisturizer is also a good idea. Moisturizer contain ingredients that help to lock this moisture in, creating a barrier to prevent dryness. Most serums provide moisturizing oils but lack the ability to lock in the hydration.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Milani M, Sparavigna A. The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella asiatica stem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded studyClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:311-315.

  2. Tang S-C, Yang J-H. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863.

  3. Zduńska K, Dana A, Kolodziejczak A, Rotsztejn H. Antioxidant Properties of Ferulic Acid and Its Possible Application. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2018;31(6):332-336. doi:10.1159/000491755

  4. Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatmentsPostepy Dermatol Alergol. 2019;36(4):392-397. doi:10.5114/ada.2019.87443

  5. Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skinJ Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1):43-48.

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