Do You Really Need Night Cream?
What It’s Meant to Do: A night cream is basically a heavy-duty moisturizer. These products tend to contain a variety of oils, lipids, and humectants; some also include ingredients like peptides and retinol, which both have been shown to stimulate collagen production and reverse sun damage.
So Who Needs It? Anyone with dry or mature skin, especially in the winter, says Graf. If you have other concerns — sun damage, wrinkles, irritation — a night cream with ingredients that address those concerns might be a good choice, with one caveat: Be sure you’re not using a day cream with the same ingredients, as the overuse of certain ingredients can irritate the skin.
RS Pick: Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Night Cream, $15 at drugstores.
Who Can Skip It: Women with oily skin. Most do better using their regular, oil-free day lotion at night. Those taking a prescription drug for acne, rosacea, or sun damage should check with their doctors before trying a night cream.
Do You Really Need Toner?
What It’s Meant to Do: A toner purportedly eliminates oil, tightens pores, and gets the skin ready to absorb active ingredients in other products.
So Who Needs It? Only people with extremely oily skin, says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., vice president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. And that’s only if you’re not already controlling oil in another way, like with a salicylic acid–based cleanser or an oil-absorbing lotion. (Incidentally, “there’s no truth to the theory that toners prep the skin or help other products penetrate better,” says David E. Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, in Mount Kisco, New York.)
RS Pick: Lierac Toner, $25, www.beauty.com.
Who Can Skip It: Women with normal, dry, or sensitive complexions — that is, almost everyone. Toners often overdry these types of skin, triggering the sebaceous glands to pump out more oil in an effort to prevent dehydration. The result: rebound greasiness and more breakouts.
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