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The Best Cruelty-Free Night Creams For Glowing, Hydrated Skin

by Katie Muirhead

Aug 29, 2022

When it comes to curating your skincare routine, you may have pondered the necessity of a night cream. After all, it's just a moisturizer, so can it really be that different from the products you use in the morning? Well, it turns out night creams have heaps of benefits. (Namely hydrated, glowing skin.) So we've gathered some of the best cruelty-free options on the market.

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What is night cream?

A night cream is a moisturizer that (as the name suggests) is specifically formulated for evening use. Night creams can help encourage cell turnover and boost hydration. (Talk about beauty sleep!)

While day creams are usually formulated for protection from environmental stressors like UV rays, pollution, dryness, and the cold, a night cream focuses on regenerating your skin while you sleep.

Day creams are often lightweight formulas to be worn under makeup, while night creams are generally heavier. This helps them really pack a moisture punch and stay put on your skin.

Night creams can also be formulated with active ingredients that encourage cell turnover, too.

Ingredients that can cause photosensitivity, such as retinol or glycolic acid, are better suited for nighttime use when your skin is protected from the sun's rays.

Why is a night cream important?

While a simple moisturizing formula may have sufficed at one point, as we age, our skin's needs become more complex.

A specifically formulated night cream can deliver active ingredients to fight fine lines, dullness, texture, and hyperpigmentation.

Night creams aren't one-size-fits-all. To make the most of your evening routine, it's important to choose a night cream that is suited to your skin type. They're not all thick balms, either. There are deeply quenching night creams that are formulated for oily or acne-prone skin.

When is the best time to apply night cream?

It seems obvious: a night cream is part of your evening skincare routine. But when you apply it can make all the difference.

A night cream should be applied as the last step in your regimen (after any cleansers, toners, or serums). But it shouldn't be applied right before you hit the hay.

Instead, try applying your evening skincare at least half an hour before going to bed. This will allow enough time for the products to sink in and not just transfer to your pillow.

Warm a small amount of the cream in your hands and massage it into your face and neck in slow, upward strokes. This will give your skin a circulation boost and help prevent puffiness while you sleep.

What is the best night cream on the market?

There are many night cream options available, but finding the right formula for your skin can feel daunting. Don't worry, we've done the research.

Start by considering your skin type and concerns. Is your skin particularly oily, dry, sensitized, or showing the signs of aging? Use that knowledge when you consider the products on this list to find the one that's best for you.

As always, all of the products we've listed are confirmed cruelty-free. Some are organic or vegan, too!

We believe that animal testing has no place in the beauty industry, so are working hard to make it easy to shop consciously. We've gathered night creams that your skin and the animals will love!

Here are our top night cream picks:

Best For Oily Skin:

EthicsCruelty-free
Active IngredientsNiacinamide (B3), panthenol
TargetsHydrating, improves texture, refines pores, supports the moisture barrier
Best ForSensitive skin, dry skin, redness, acne-prone

This overnight mask will work to de-stress and smooth your skin while you sleep.

It has a slightly oily, sticky consistency, so a little goes a long way. The main active ingredient is niacinamide, which works to ease inflammation, minimize pores and regulate oil. This makes it a great option for those that struggle with skin concerns such as eczema, rosacea, or acne.

This mask can be used in place of or as well as a moisturizer in the evening.

If you want to use a layer of moisturizer, opt for a simple, lightweight formula as this will do the heavy lifting. Apply a thin layer at the end of your routine to make the most of your beauty sleep.

Best For Sensitive Skin:

EthicsCruelty-free
Active IngredientsOlive, almond, borage, linseed, jojoba and sunflower oils
TargetsSoothing, hydrating, protects skin
Best ForDry skin, irritated skin, aging skin

When your skin feels extra dry, sensitive, or just needs a moisture boost, a balm can help keep your skin soft and hydrated.

Formulated with a blend of oils, this overnight balm can be used as the last step in your evening skin routine. And don't worry if you're breakout-prone, it's even suitable for acne skin.

By supporting your skin's natural moisture barrier with nourishing lipids, this balm will help your skin become healthier and more resilient to stress over time.

The rich balm will melt into the warmth of your skin, leaving you looking glowing and feeling soothed by morning.

Best For Aging Skin:

EthicsCruelty-free
Active IngredientsCeramides, hyaluronic acid, adenosine
TargetsFine lines, dullness, uneven texture, loss of firmness
Best ForAging skin, dry skin

If your skin is feeling dull, tired, and a bit deflated, this night cream is designed to help with a little extra plumping.

Formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, ceramides to support the skin barrier, and adenosine to soothe the skin, this night cream will soften and firm.

This purple cream has a lavender scent, which according to aromatherapy, may help you drift calmly off to sleep.

This soothing formula is safe to use with any other active ingredients, so apply it as the final step in your evening routine after any serums or treatments.

Best Luxury:

EthicsCruelty-free, clean beauty, organic
Active IngredientsHyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, shea butter
TargetsHydrating, plumping, smoothing
Best ForDry skin, aging skin, loss of firmness, sensitive skin

This luxurious night cream is formulated to deeply quench the skin, leaving it soft and hydrated by morning.

The signs of aging are made more obvious when the skin is dehydrated, so this nourishing cream help to deliver plumping moisture into the skin and keep it there.

A winner for even sensitive skin, the ultra-thick cream melts into the heat of your skin.

Note: If your skin doesn't always crave such a rich formula, consider only using this night cream throughout the harsh winter months.

Best Budget:

EthicsCruelty-free, vegan
Active IngredientsFermented purple tea, marula oil
TargetsHydrating, softening
Best ForDry skin, aging skin

This night cream is an affordable option to help smooth and soften skin that is dry or aging.

Fermented purple tea is an antioxidant that helps to protect and repair your skin from environmental stressors such as pollution and blue light.

Green coffee encourages the turnover of damaged cells, while microalgae helps your skin to retain its collagen.

EthicsCruelty-free, vegan, refillable
Active IngredientsNiacinamide (B3), hyaluronic acid, aloe
TargetsHydrating, plumps fine lines, brightens
Best ForOily skin, dull skin, dry skin

This gel-cream formula is surprisingly rich, making it a great option for those with oily or combination skin.

It is formulated with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and aloe to hydrate, balance, and soothe any sensitivity. (Oh and fun fact: Rihanna had it formulated specifically for her bedtime routine.)

Apply this as the last step in your nighttime routine. The included scoop helps keep bacteria from your fingers out of the product.

If this night cream becomes a staple that you keep repurchasing, note that the packaging is refillable as well as recyclable.

EthicsCruelty-free, vegan
Active IngredientsNiacinamide (B3), hyaluronic acid, bakuchiol, evening primrose oil
TargetsHydrating, brightening, smoothing, plumping
Best ForDry skin, fine lines, uneven texture, aging skin

This night cream is fairly new to the market from the brand co-founded by Scarlett Johansson, The Outset.

It has a rich texture to really quench and support your skin overnight. Niacinamide works to balance, brighten and improve texture, hyaluronic acid draws hydration within the skin, and evening primrose oil nourishes and softens.

This formula also contains bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that has the retinol-like quality of encouraging skin cell turnover.

This formula will nourish, plump, and brighten overnight, and is particularly suited to those wanting to fight the signs of aging. While it has a slightly more luxurious price tag, the formula is simple with no noticeable fragrance.

EthicsCruelty-free
Active IngredientsVitamin C, rosehip oil
TargetsHydrating, brightening, evens skin tone,
Best ForDull skin, dry skin, hyperpigmentation

If age spots or hyperpigmentation are getting in the way of your best glow, this night cream could be for you.

Formulated with vitamin C, this rich moisturizing cream works overnight to even skin tone, plump fine lines, and keep your skin hydrated.

This night cream is generally suitable for sensitive skin, but to be safe it's best to be cautious when combining it with other active ingredients at night like retinol or AHAs.

As the name suggests, it smells like rose, which is worth noting if you're sensitive to scents.

EthicsCruelty-free
Active IngredientsRetinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil
TargetsHydrating, firming
Best ForAging skin, dry skin, dull skin

As the skin ages, its ability to turn skin cells over slows down. This means that the skin can start to feel dull, dry, and tired.

This night cream contains retinol, an ingredient proven to help refresh the surface of the skin and leave it brighter and smoother.

While retinol can sometimes cause sensitivity, this rich night cream is jam-packed with moisturizing ingredients such as hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing peptides, and softening jojoba oil.

This combination works to support the skin's moisture barrier and keep it looking plump and hydrated.

When using retinol, it's best to avoid other exfoliating treatments. You can apply this night cream to a freshly cleansed face and neck in the evening or layer it over a hydrating serum to really quench your skin.

EthicsCruelty-free, vegan
Active IngredientsAloe, calendula, sunflower seed oil
TargetsHydrating, brightening, smoothing, plumping
Best ForDry skin, fine lines, aging skin, redness

While this unique formula is not technically a night cream, it is one of few moisturizers that are both rich enough and simple enough to use at any time of the day.

This nourishing cream is formulated to soothe the skin with aloe and calendula and keep it soft with ingredients such as sunflower seed and black currant seed oil.

To work the moisture into your skin and encourage circulation to your face, massage this cream into your face and neck in the evening (and in the morning, too).

This protective cream will not only hydrate your skin but also help restore it to its smoothest, softest self. This formula is suitable to use with other active treatments. Simply massage it as the final step in your evening skin care regimen.

The verdict

Night creams can help level up your skincare routine and leave you feeling glowing and quenched by morning.

Whether your skin is oily, dry, aging, or sensitive, there's a night cream formula that can put in the work while you catch your beauty sleep.

To wrap it up:

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  • Tara T says:

    I so appreciate these lists! I am in the process of changing all of my makeup and hygiene products over to an absolute cruelty free regiment. These lists are very helpful, especially with their breakdowns. Thank you so much for all you do!

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