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14 best anti-ageing night creams to sleep your way to a youthful glow

From lightweight gels to rich creams, we’ve found something for every skin type

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Thursday 01 July 2021 16:43
<p>Nighttime is a key moment for restoration, as your skin goes into cell turnover recovery mode while you sleep</p>

Nighttime is a key moment for restoration, as your skin goes into cell turnover recovery mode while you sleep

Anti-ageing night creams aren’t just for mature skin, and can be used to hydrate and improve fine lines at any age. As the final proactive part of your routine, applying night cream is an easy self-care ritual to do before bed.

Collagen production declines in our 20s, with skin also bearing the brunt of increased stress or hormonal changes. And with many of us having spent a significant amount of time in front of our screens this past year, it’s thought that free radical production from blue light exposure can contribute to skin ageing prematurely.

Anti-ageing skincare doesn’t just encompass products that work against the natural ageing process – aside from fine lines and wrinkles, it’s important to look for effective products that nourish and protect our skin from stressors. Nighttime is a key moment for skin restoration, as your skin goes into cell turnover recovery mode while you sleep.

This is also when it loses the most moisture, so it will really drink up any hydrating skincare you apply, making this the best opportunity for maximum replenishment.

One anti-ageing hero ingredient worthy of its ever-growing hype is retinol, a vitamin A derivative that can be found in different strengths, depending on the brand or product type. Retinol helps neutralise the aforementioned-free radicals by promoting elastin and collagen production.

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Consequently, the skin becomes smoother and pores appear reduced, resulting in a toned, more radiant complexion. However, if you do go for a retinol-based night cream, make sure you’re wearing SPF during the day, as its powerful properties make skin much more sensitive to the sun.

Additional anti-ageing ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, which is known for its skin plumping properties, and AHAs (or alpha hydroxy acid), which also promote collagen production, diminish fine lines, and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

From rich or lightweight textures to an overnight mask cream, we’ve got all the price points covered, so read on to discover our best tried and tested anti-ageing night creams.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best anti-ageing night creams for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Charlotte Tilbury magic night cream: £100,
  • Best for fine lines and wrinkles – Dr Dennis Gross ferulic + retinol anti-aging moisturizer: £77,
  • Best for dehydrated skin – L’Occitane immortelle precious overnight mask: £52,
  • Best budget option – Nivea hyaluron cellular filler anti-age night cream: £14.99,
  • Best for 40s – Eve Lom time retreat intense night cream: £90,
  • Best for 30s – Clarins multi-active night cream, normal to dry skin: £45,
  • Best for dry skin – Elemis pro-collagen overnight matrix: £148,
  • Best for dull skin – Ole Henriksen goodnight glow retin-ALT sleeping crème: £48,
  • Best for 50s – Tata Harper crème riche: £170,
  • Best for firming – Murad retinol youth renewal night cream: £70,
  • Best for glowing skin – Freya + Bailey forte! collagen face moisturiser: £42,
  • Best for hydrated skin – Antipodes culture probiotic night recovery water cream: £45,
  • Best for late 20s – Ren Clean Skincare v-cense revitalising night cream: £37,
  • Best for sensitive skin – No.7 protect & perfect intense advanced night cream: £24.95,

Charlotte Tilbury magic night cream, 50ml

Best: Overall

Presented in a dazzling prism-shaped pot with gold detailed lid, this is the largest version of Charlotte Tilbury’s cult-favourite magic night cream available. Lavishly thick, the elixir is almost a gel-like texture – which is so satisfying to apply, much like an extravagant serum, mask, and moisturiser hybrid. On its ingredient list are vitamin C, time release retinol and peptides – a powerhouse formula for anti-ageing.

Its therapeutic scent comes courtesy of frangipani, making for a sweet and indulgent fragrance that we found calming upon winding down for bed. Enveloping skin in a softening layer, we felt as if we were slathering on rich, intense hydration. And the next morning? We saw glowy, plumped up skin, and a welcome dewy effect that was most definitely new.

Dr Dennis Gross ferulic + retinol anti-aging moisturizer, 50ml

Best: For fine lines and wrinkles

The velvety feeling cream includes AHAs and retinol, while also being vegan friendly. Smoothing onto our skin, we found that it absorbed quickly, and its antioxidant components made it extremely softening. Given its active ingredients, we did gradually build up use, and noticed slight initial tingling but no major irritation. Our tester also noticed the texture and tone of her skin looking and feeling smoother after first use, and even more radiant after one week. Testament to the powerful ingredients, we’d recommend this if you’re looking for a potent skin care product specifically targeting fine lines and wrinkles.

L’Occitane immortelle precious overnight mask, 50ml

Best: For dehydrated skin

Technically an overnight mask, this anti-ageing number focuses on the effects of blue light, mirrored by its blue glass jar. Although you can apply a thick layer as a quick 10-minute treatment, we prefer sleeping with this pillowy soft product on for the whole night. Its skin renewal benefits come from low molecular weight hyaluronic acid and immortelle essential oil, a natural retinol alternative. A glossy consistency somewhere between a mask and lotion, our tester reported it to be cooling and relaxing on the skin. Refreshing rather than overbearing, it even helped us fall asleep, and in the morning our skin was toned, brightened, smoothed, and soothed – a big drink for those dehydrated areas.

Nivea hyaluron cellular filler anti-age night cream, 50ml

Best: Budget option

A brand-new product in a recyclable plastic pot – with the classic branding – Nivea’s latest night cream contains a combination of hyaluron and collagen, and aims to activate skin cells into producing their own hyaluronic acid and collagen. A glossy cream that glided across our tester’s skin, this product settled as a nourishing veil before soaking in, and we awoke to silky-soft skin that looked surprisingly smoothed, firmed, and hydrated, particularly given the affordable price tag. We also noted how the additional enriching magnolia extract made for a gently sweet scent too.

Eve Lom time retreat intense night cream, 50ml

Best: For 40s

This formula contains the fancy-sounding liposome encapsulated retinol complex, which, in a nutshell, is a gentle vitamin A extract to work on improving fine lines minus any irritation usually associated with traditional retinol. Offering a wonderfully rich consistency, the cream has a relaxing floral scent and comes complete with an application spatula. Instantly making skin feel calm, it smooths the complexion while soaking in fast. Our tester experienced deep nourishment in the form of plumped up skin, much less visible fine lines and a generally brighter tone. Particularly relaxing to apply because of its abundantly thick texture, a little goes a long way with this one.

Clarins multi-active night cream, normal to dry skin, 50ml

Best: For 30s

The night cream to buy if you’re looking for a natural retinol alternative, this cream from Clarins combines antioxidant teasel extract and golden poppy extract to protect skin from premature ageing. Presented in a glass jar, this glistening smooth cream felt lightweight on our tester’s skin and sunk in almost immediately. We were also pleased to discover that you can apply as much or as little as you want without the need for wiping excess product off. Gently nourishing because of its composition, the cream is calming on skin and, after some sleep, our tester’s complexion appeared soothed, quenched, and refreshed.

Elemis pro-collagen overnight matrix, 50ml

Best: For dry skin

A gel-cream formula, this overnight treatment combines Elemis’s signature marine-based ingredients such as microalgae and padina pavonica, a brown alga found in the ocean. These aim to rebalance stressed areas of skin while we sleep, as the release of stress hormones causes a decrease in both collagen and hyaluronic acid production (our skin friendly elements).

Also contributing to its inviting spa treatment scent, which is unbeatable in our opinion, we picked up on a blend of geranium, lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, and peppermint. The cream reminded our tester of a freshening balm with a soft gel feel that was rich and comforting on skin. Satisfyingly thick to apply, our tester’s face looked deeply moisturised, rehydrated and much less stressed after use.

Ole Henriksen goodnight glow retin-ALT sleeping crème, 50ml

Best: For dull skin

A violet-coloured night cream in a white pot, this rich crème includes plant-based retinol alternative, bakuchiol, and edelweiss stem cell, as well as AHAs. Designed to fight signs of ageing, the product’s consistency is a silky cream gloss that glides onto skin. Satisfyingly smooth to apply – with a subtle uplifting scent – and quite lightweight for a night cream, our tester’s skin became more supple with use. It also managed to hydrate our tester’s often dry forehead, and we noticed our dark undereye circles appeared brighter, which was a welcome bonus.

Tata Harper crème riche, 50ml

Best: For 50s

Although not specifically named as such, this product works best at night, so the active ingredients (including hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids) can soak into the skin most efficiently. Although it is undeniably a considerable investment, the packaging highlights its decadence. In a green glass jar with a gold lid, the piece de resistance is a tiny gold spoon for precise and clean portion control.

The refreshing botanical scent reminds us of summer flowers and reflects the natural floral ingredients. Buttery soft, it’s thick and creamy without being cloying, and glides across the face, neck and decolletage, before soaking straight in. Our tester’s skin became brightened and toned after use, with skin significantly hydrated, making those lockdown lines look much less obvious.

Murad retinol youth renewal night cream, 50ml

Best: For firming

This cream comes in a recyclable pot and features a useful push-down release top to make the application feel cleaner. The formula includes several active ingredients such as niacinamide, picolinamide and retinol – because of the powerful components, you may experience sensitivity with daily use. And as our tester’s skin is prone to that, we found applying the cream three times a week worked best.

The cream is a lightweight sheen on skin, and although it did tingle a little at first, due to the ingredient blend we saw impressive results, with our tester’s skin appearing firmer and brighter. We particularly noticed an improvement in frown lines and our tighter, less tired-looking forehead.

Freya + Bailey forte! collagen face moisturiser, 60ml

Best: For glowing skin

Formulated with collagen, retinol, fruit derived AHAs and hyaluronic acid, this is an anti-ageing moisturiser ideal for nighttime use. Held in a white recyclable PET plastic bottle with gold trim and nozzle applicator, our tester loved a calming herbal scent of this cream. The texture is light, leaving our skin silky soft straight after application. We did find that, due to the retinol inclusion, our skin tingled a little, which is why we’d recommend using every other night if you are sensitive to active ingredients. The results we saw were skin that looked less drawn and fatigued (thank you, home school), and a welcome radiant glow.

Antipodes culture probiotic night recovery water cream, 60ml

Best: For hydrated skin

A brand-new launch from the New Zealand born brand, this cream features plant-based hyaluronic acid, and focuses on strengthening the skin’s healthy microbiome – its natural protective barrier. Its anti-ageing components come from balancing probiotic ingredients. A calming lilac shade, our tester enjoyed the soothing plant fragrance, and how it made their skincare regime feel even more relaxing. Satiny soft, the cream glides across the skin, absorbing with ease and leaving no excess. It felt gentle on skin, providing nourishment that was visible in our hydrated, brightened complexion.

REN Clean Skincare v-cense revitalising night cream, 50ml

Best: For late 20s

Suitable for all skin types, this cream comes in a recyclable bottle with a pump release applicator, and there’s a matching day cream too. With ingredients including vitamin C, frankincense oil and wheatgerm to stimulate collagen production, this product is both vegan and cruelty-free, and comes with a natural scent. The lightweight cream has a gentle lotion consistency that rubs into skin evenly – we found it best for those who prefer a night cream that isn’t heavy – and offers a sheeny finish that perked up our skin, particularly in dehydrated areas, which were extra luminous after use.

No.7 protect & perfect intense advanced night cream, 50ml

Best: For sensitive skin

Part of the brand’s popular protect and perfect range, you’ll recognise the classic packaging on this one. This anti-ageing night cream includes retinyl palmitate, a mild enough retinoid for those of us with sensitive skin. Plus, peptides have been included to help boost the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid. The composition specifically focuses on free radicals generated by sun and stress, and we found it to have an inviting, clean scent. With a thick consistency that took time to soak into the skin, it did sit on the surface for a while, but its richness meant our tester’s skin felt soothed and nourished the next morning.

The verdict: Anti-ageing overnight creams

Our best buy goes to Charlotte Tilbury’s rich and indulgent magic night cream. If you’re looking for powerful active ingredients, we also loved Dr Dennis Gross’s moisturiser. For a mid-range price point, we really rate L’Occitane’s mask night cream multi-tasker. But for a truly affordable option, plump for Nivea’s hyaluron cellular filler anti-age night cream.

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Tackle fine lines, wrinkles and dullness with the best anti-ageing serums

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