Beauty & Wellness

The Top-Rated Night Creams of 2020

Jenny Hayber
Beauty Editor

Jenny has been a practicing esthetician in the NY metro area for over 20 years. She has extensive knowledge of skincare health, which is matched by her deep passion for beauty products.

How We Found The Best Night Creams

One of the most popular products in the anti-aging skincare category today are night creams. The goal of these specialized creams is to help accelerate your skin's natural ability to renew itself and ward off unsightly fine lines, wrinkles, and skin discoloration, ultimately revealing plumper, more radiant-looking skin.

The demand for night creams comes not only from baby boomers but women beginning in their 30's. Many consumers are starting to understand better how sun damage, air pollution, stress, and lack of sleep can result in fine lines, crow’s feet, loss of elasticity, and uneven skin tone.

The popularity of night creams has led to hundreds of different formulas flooding the marketplace. While these products all promise to deliver visible benefits, the reality is that many fall short. Some of the most popular brands don't include proven ingredients in the correct combination and dosages to be effective, and many contain low-quality and even potentially harmful fillers.

With so many options, many of us women might still be unclear about what to look for in a quality night cream. To help cut through the clutter, we have compiled months of research on which ingredients have been shown to benefit your skin's appearance.

This short guide will help you know what to look for and what to avoid so you can make an informed decision about which night cream is best for you. We also list our picks for the top 5 night creams sold today.

Let's take a moment to understand better the difference between day and night creams and how exactly night creams work.

A Good Night Cream Helps To:

Rapidly exfoliate skin6

Accelerate cellular renewal6

Attract and retain moisture7

Strengthen the skin's moisture barrier8

What Causes Aging Skin?

To understand how skin creams work, let's first understand how your skin ages. Collagen provides firmness and elasticity to your skin. Every day, natural aging and environmental factors like UV rays, pollution, and smoking breakdown collagen.1 At the same time, sun exposure signals your skin to overproduce melanin, which causes skin discoloration like freckling and dark spots.

Every night, while you sleep, your skin cells regenerate, rebuilding lost collagen and repairing environmental damage.2 But as we age, this regeneration process slows down and, at some point, can't completely fix the damage that's been done. The result is crow’s feet, sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration, and you get the picture.

Getting Your Beauty Sleep Matters

In general, women, and especially working moms, don't get enough sleep to maximize the skin's regeneration process. Studies indicate that getting less than 5 hours of shut eye every night ages skin even faster and doesn't allow it to recover as quickly from the sun and environmental damage.3

Conversely, getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night allows your skin time to renew. A study done at Case Western University showed that good sleepers experience 30% greater skin barrier recovery compared with poor sleepers. And one day after UV light exposure, good sleepers have significantly better recovery from skin inflammation.4

Day Cream VS. Night Creams

If you're wondering why your day moisturizer won't do for the night, it's because each cream has different objectives. Day creams primarily protect your skin while night creams help replenish and renew your skin.

sun-iconDay Creams

During the day, your skin is under constant assault by the damaging UV rays of the sun and air pollution. So, your day cream needs to offer protection from the sun, combat dryness, and increase elasticity and hydration. Day creams almost always contain SPF and antioxidants like Vitamin C to protect your skin from the sun and the environment. And the moisturizing agents are generally thin enough that they layer well under foundation and makeup.

Moon IconNight Creams

A night cream is applied before bedtime, and its objective is to increase your skin's natural cell regeneration process, which rebuilds collagen while you sleep.2

A high-quality formula should contain key ingredients to rapidly exfoliate the outer dead layer of skin, encouraging even more cellular renewal while deeply moisturizing your skin.5 The result is firmer, more elastic skin, and a reduction in wrinkles and sagging revealing the brighter, clearer, less discolored skin beneath.1,5 And finally, anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients work to lessen the irritation that rapid exfoliation may cause. The ingredients used in night creams should not be used during the day as they can interact with the sun and cause your skin to become hypersensitive.

Top 4 Night Cream Ingredients

We spent months studying night cream ingredients and gathering user feedback. There are specific ingredients that, when present in a formula, help differentiate a high-quality night cream from a generic one. Below are four ingredients that have been extensively studied and been shown to reduce the signs of aging. These ingredients complement each other when blended.5

3 Ingredients To AVOID
When Buying A Night Cream

1. Sulfates are cleaning agents known to strip the skin of vital nutrients and cause redness and irritation. It's also been shown to clog pores, which causes blemishes.14

2. Parabens are commonly found in skincare products. They prevent bacteria and mold growth and extend a product's shelf life. Parabens have been shown to copy the activity of the hormone estrogen, and one clinical study demonstrated a connection with the risk of breast tumors.15,16

3. Mineral Oil and Petroleum coat your skin like cling wrap, clogging pores, and potentially causing acne blemishes. They've also been shown to slow cellular renewal, which may cause earlier signs of aging.17

Keep These In Mind When
Deciding On A Brand

Money-Back Guarantee

A reputable skincare brand demonstrates they have faith in their products by offering a 100% money-back guarantee. Some try to complicate their refund policies by placing limitations on what kind of returns they will take. Avoid any brand that does not have at minimum a no questions asked 90-day money-back guarantee.

Are The Amazon Reviews Real?

Research shows that in March 2019, there were 1.8 million new unverified reviews, with an average of 99.6% of them being 5-star reviews.18 Most of these reviews are from people paid to write them. These fake reviews inflate the number and overall star rating of a product. When deciding on a night cream that can impact the look of your skin, don't rely on Amazon reviews as they can be extremely misleading.

2020’s Top Five Night Creams

Our review encompassed 94 different Night Creams, putting each through our rigorous ReviewScout assessment process. To determine 2020’s Top 5 Night Creams, we look for predicted effectiveness, supporting studies, safety, pricing, return policy, and overall customer satisfaction.

#1 StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer

A+

Overall Grade

#1 StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer

  • OVERALL RATING9.3/10
  • Predicted Effectiveness9.7/10
  • Ingredient Quality9.7/10
  • Value9.2/10
  • Return Policy8.2/10
  • User Rating9.6/10
PROS
  • Includes Retinol, Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide
  • Includes super-antioxidant Resveratrol
  • Formulated by reputable skin care company
  • No harmful ingredients
CONS
  • Expensive Product Price
  • Limited 30-day 100% money-back return policy
Why We Chose It

StriVectin's Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer is Review Scout's top choice. It's an anti-aging night treatment with Retinol, Peptides, antioxidants, and hydrating agents Hyaluronic Acid for all skin types. This formula also contains StriVectin's NIA-114™ technology, a patented molecule that delivers Niacinamide to deeper layers of the skin.

We were impressed that StriVectin included Resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant which studies have shown to protect the skin from free radical damage, reduce discoloration, and improves overall texture.19

According to StriVectin's consumer review study, this night cream boasts an overwhelmingly positive user experience, with 83% of users reporting firmer, more radiant skin, and 94% reporting smoother texture after four weeks.20

While StriVectin has some solid ingredients, it comes at a pretty steep price of $80 for 1 oz. We also were left feeling a bit underwhelmed by the brands’ limited 30-day money-back guarantee.

*Results are based on user-generated experiences with these products, and individual results may vary. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product website for detailed information.

#2. Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer

A

Overall Grade

#2. Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer

  • OVERALL RATING9.2/10
  • Predicted Effectiveness9.2/10
  • Ingredient Quality9.4/10
  • Value9.8/10
  • Return Policy8.2/10
  • User Rating9.2/10
PROS
  • Contains Retinol, Peptides, Niacinamide, and Hyaluronic Acid
  • Long-lasting moisture
  • Value priced
  • No harmful ingredients
  • Fragrance and dye-free
CONS
  • Consumer complaints about being too harsh for sensitive skin
  • Complaints related to the texture being thick and gooey
  • Limited 30-day 100% money-back return policy
Why We Chose It

Olay’s Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer is Review Scout’s second-place choice. This is a popular skincare brand and for a good reason. Their Regenerist line has won numerous awards for its key ingredient, Pro-Retinol, which Olay claims to protect the potency of its Vitamin A derivative.

Other anti-aging ingredients included in this product are the vitamin Niacinamide that boosts moisture and enhances firmness while soothing irritation and redness. Rounding out the ingredients list are peptides that promote collagen growth and help repair skin and hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture.

We were most impressed that Olay can deliver this powerful formula at a drug store prices but disappointed that they only offer a limited 30-day money-back guarantee.

*Results are based on user-generated experiences with these products, and individual results may vary. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product website for detailed information.

#3 Kleem Advanced Retinol Moisturizer

A-

Overall Grade

#3 Kleem Advanced Retinol Moisturizer

  • OVERALL RATING9.0/10
  • Predicted Effectiveness8.4/10
  • Ingredient Quality8.9/10
  • Value9.5/10
  • Return Policy9.2/10
  • User Rating8.9/10
PROS
  • Contains Retinol and Hyaluronic acid
  • Includes Antioxidants and Vitamin E
  • No harmful ingredients or animal testing
  • Value priced
  • Limited 365-day return policy
CONS
  • Missing Niacinamide and Peptides
  • May be too harsh for sensitive skin
  • Complaints of non-responsive customer service
Why We Chose It

Kleem Advanced Retinol Moisturizer is Review Scout’s third-place choice. Kleem is one of the more popular Retinol based nighttime formulas on Amazon. Its formula contains hyper doses of Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid to reduce discoloration, restore hydration and elasticity. Kleem boldly promises younger-looking skin within five weeks of use and backs it up with a 365-day money-back guarantee.

We like Kleem’s value pricing and that it is formulated with a potent amount of Retinol. But at 2.5%, it may be too harsh for some users. Also included in this formulation are Vitamin E and Green Tea for antioxidant protection.

*Results are based on user-generated experiences with these products, and individual results may vary. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product website for detailed information.

#4 Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

B+

Overall Grade

#4 Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

  • OVERALL RATING8.8/10
  • Predicted Effectiveness8.7/10
  • Ingredient Quality8.8/10
  • Value8.7/10
  • Return Policy9/10
  • User Rating8.8/10
PROS
  • Time-released Retinol and Retinol booster
  • Includes Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid
  • No harmful ingredient or animal testing
  • 60-day 100% money-back return policy
CONS
  • High price
  • May be too harsh for sensitive skin
Why We Chose It

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream is Review Scout's fourth-place choice. Murad claims their tri-active technology, which is a time-released Retinol and Retinol booster, rapidly exfoliates the skin while being gentle enough to use every day. This formula also includes Niacinamide to strengthen the skin's barrier, smooth skin texture, and moisturizing agents to hydrate and reduce dryness.

According to Murad's consumer review study, 83% of users reported firmer, more supple skin and 80% reported more radiance after four weeks of use.21 We like that Murad provides a money-back guarantee that exceeds the length of time you should see results.

*Results are based on user-generated experiences with these products, and individual results may vary. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product website for detailed information.

#5 Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift

B

Overall Grade

#5 Exuviance Age Reverse Night Lift

  • OVERALL RATING8.6/10
  • Predicted Effectiveness8.7/10
  • Ingredient Quality8.8/10
  • Value8.5/10
  • Return Policy8.2/10
  • User Rating9/10
PROS
  • Contains Peptides and Alpha Hydroxy Acid
  • Vitamin E and antioxidant complex
  • No harmful ingredients
CONS
  • Does not include Retinol
  • High price
  • Issues with dispensing pump
  • Limited 30-day money-back return policy
Why We Chose It

Exuviance is Review Scouts' fifth-place choice for a top night cream. Instead of Retinol, Exuviance chose to formulate with Alpha and Poly Hydroxy Acids (AHA/PHAs), an active ingredient also known to rapidly exfoliate the skin to help it look firmer, less wrinkled and younger-looking. (3) We like that this formula also contains several antioxidants like Grape Seed Extract, Gluconolactone, and Vitamin E to help protect the skin from free radical damage.

According to a consumer review study done by Exuviance, after four weeks of use, 97% of Exuviance users claim improved skin appearance, with 93% of users claiming increased firmness.22

*Results are based on user-generated experiences with these products, and individual results may vary. Please refer to the manufacturer’s product website for detailed information.

Citations
  1. Zhang, Shoubing, and Enkui Duan. 2018. "Fighting Against Skin Aging". Cell Transplantation 27 (5): 729-738. doi:10.1177/0963689717725755.
  2. Kahan, V. et al. (2010) "Can poor sleep affect skin integrity?", Medical Hypotheses, 75(6), pp. 535-537. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2010.07.018.
  3. Addor, F. (2018) "Beyond photoaging: additional factors involved in the process of skin aging", Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, Volume 11, pp. 437-443. doi: 10.2147/ccid.s177448.
  4. Oyetakin White P, 2 Koo B, 3 Matsui MS, 3 Yarosh D, 3 Fthenakis C, 1Cooper KD, 1Baron ED. 1Department of Dermatology, 2Department of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University , Cleveland, Ohio USA, and Estee Lauder Companies Inc., Melville, New York USA
  5. Fu, J.J.J., G.G. Hillebrand, P. Raleigh, J. Li, M.J. Marmor, V. Bertucci, and P.E. Grimes et al. 2010. "A Randomized, Controlled Comparative Study Of The Wrinkle Reduction Benefits Of A Cosmetic Niacinamide/Peptide/Retinyl Propionate Product Regimen Vs. A Prescription 0·02% Tretinoin Product Regimen". British Journal Of Dermatology 162 (3): 647-654. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09436.x.
  6. Griffiths CE, et al. 2020. "Restoration Of Collagen Formation In Photodamaged Human Skin By Tretinoin (Retinoic Acid) – Pubmed – NCBI ". Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8336752?dopt=Abstrac
  7. Kong, Ming, Xi Guang Chen, Dong Keon Kweon, and Hyun Jin Park. 2011. "Investigations On Skin Permeation Of Hyaluronic Acid Based Nanoemulsion As Transdermal Carrier". Carbohydrate Polymers 86 (2): 837-843. doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2011.05.027.
  8. Connexin43 Carboxyl-Terminal Peptides Reduce Scar Progenitor And Promote Regenerative Healing Following Skin Wounding | Regenerative Medicine". 2020. Futuremedicine.Com. https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2
  9. Li, W., Wong, H., Serrano, J., Randhawa, M., Kaur, S., Southall, M. D. and Parsa, R. Li, W. et al. (2017) "Topical stabilized retinol treatment induces the expression of HAS genes and HA production in human skin in vitro and in vivo", Archives of Dermatological Research, 309(4), pp. 275-283. doi: 10.1007/s00403-017-1723-6.
  10. Gorouhi, F., and H. I. Maibach. 2009. "Role Of Topical Peptides In Preventing Or Treating Aged Skin". International Journal Of Cosmetic Science 31 (5): 327-345. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00490.x.
  11. Bauza E, e. (2020) Collagen-like peptide exhibits a remarkable antiwrinkle effect on the skin when topically applied: in vivo study. – PubMed – NCBI , Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15648443
  12. KERSCHER, MARTINA, JULIA BAYRHAMMER, and TILMANN REUTHER. 2008. "Rejuvenating Influence Of A Stabilized Hyaluronic Acid–Based Gel Of Nonanimal Origin On Facial Skin Aging". Dermatologic Surgery 34 (5): 720-726. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34176.x
  13. Bissett, Donald L., John E. Oblong, and Cynthia A. Berge. 2006. "Niacinamide: A B Vitamin That Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance". Dermatologic Surgery 31: 860-866. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31732.
  14. De Jongh, Cindy M., Maarten M. Verberk, Carien E. T. Withagen, John J. L. Jacobs, Thomas Rustemeyer, and Sanja Kezic. 2006. "Stratum Corneum Cytokines And Skin Irritation Response To Sodium Lauryl Sulfate". Contact Dermatitis 54 (6): 325-333. doi:10.1111/j.0105-1873.2006.00848.x.
  15. Routledge, Edwin J., Joanne Parker, Jenny Odum, John Ashby, and John P. Sumpter. 1998. "Some Alkyl Hydroxy Benzoate Preservatives (Parabens) Are Estrogenic". Toxicology And Applied Pharmacology 153 (1): 12-19. doi:10.1006/taap.1998.8544.
  16. Darbre, P. D., A. Aljarrah, W. R. Miller, N. G. Coldham, M. J. Sauer, and G. S. Pope. 2004. "Concentrations Of Parabens In Human Breast Tumours". Journal Of Applied Toxicology 24 (1): 5-13. doi:10.1002/jat.958.
  17. Kligman, A. (1972) ""Acne Cosmetica"", Archives of Dermatology, 106(6), p. 843. doi: 10.1001/archderm.1972.01620150029011.
  18. Amazon Flooded With Millions Of Fake Reviews In 2019 – Reviewmeta Blog “. 2019. Reviewmeta.Com. https://reviewmeta.com/blog/amazon-flooded-with-millions-of-fake-reviews-in-2019/.
  19. ”Resveratrol As An Active Ingredient For Cosmetic And Dermatological Applications: A Review". 2020. Journal Of Cosmetic And Laser Therapy. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14764172.2018.1469767?journalCode=ijcl20.
  20. https://www.strivectin.com/advanced-retinol-intensive-night-moisturizer-1-1oz
  21. https://www.murad.com/product/new-retinol-youth-renewal-night-cream/
  22. https://www.exuviance.com/product/age-reverse-night-lift-cream/F20254X?bc=10168