Daytime and nighttime skincare routines: Singaporean dermatologists on the necessity — and differences — between the two

Daytime and nighttime skincare routines: Singaporean dermatologists on the necessity — and differences — between the two

Same difference

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @philippjelenska

Rare as it might be for the beauty community to reach a consensus on, uh, just about anything, there are several golden rules in skincare that a majority tend to agree on. These matters are least debated: the regular application of SPF, double-cleansing, and moisturising no matter the climate. The benefits of such practices on one's complexion are widely known — though opinions remain split on whether skincare regimes for the AM and PM should be kept seperate. Some claim that it is essential to maintaining a healthy visage, others declare the differentiation dispensable, a ploy even, for many a beauty brand to reap more profits. As both present compelling (and plausible) arguments, we hand the microphone over to top Singaporean dermatologists to dissect this skin stumper, below.

Is it necessary to have a different skincare routines for day and night?

Long story short? Yes. You see, your skin needs change depending if it's day or night —the former requires an emphasis on protection thanks to harmful UVA/UVB rays, while the latter necessitates nourishment and repair as skin-regeneration occurs during sleep. "It is why daytime products tend to be slightly lighter in texture," Dr Tan Hiok Hee, senior consultant dermatologist at Thomson Specialist Skin Centre, shares. "They also incorporate sun protection as it is an important component of daytime skincare use. Nightime products, on the other hand, are richer and slightly oilier in texture, many of which contain high concentrations of retinol and vitamin A derivative."

Dr Hui Min Liew, accredited dermatologist and founder of HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic, disagrees. "I think it really depends on the person's skin type," she says. "For instance, those with oily, acne-prone skin don't need a night cream. They can use the same cream they use in the day at night, too. This is because night creams are usually developed with rich, creamy textures that may further aggravate their complexion. I find it's more important to look at your own complexion and evaluate from there, or seek professional advice."

Are there skincare products to be used exclusively in the day- or nighttime?

"Retinoid products must always be used at night as they can be photosensitising and cause redness and irritation when exposed to sunlight," Dr Stephanie Ho, accredited dermatologist and founder of Stephanie Ho Dermatology, points out. "They are often found in medical grade lightening creams as well, so check with your doctor when your prescribed lightening creams should be applied." Dr Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist and founder of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, also suggests to keep an eye out for retinol derivatives that may exist in topical cosmeceutical ingredients as they, too, have the potential to cause skin irritation.

What is an ideal daytime skincare routine?

Dr Ho believes that a gentle cleanser, vitamin C serum, lightweight moisturiser, and sunscreen would suffice. Oral skin supplements can also be consumed to minimise DNA damage from UV exposure. Dr Liew on the other hand, believes that you should cater your routine to your skin type. "For those with normal or dry skin, I'd say go for a moisturising AHA-based facial cleanser, a vitamin C serum, a hyaluronic-based moisturiser, and a cream-based sunscreen," she instructs. "Oily skin types would benefit from a cleanser that contains benzyl peroxide/salicylic acid, followed by topical antibiotics, a lotion-based moisturiser, and an oil free sunscreen."

What is an ideal nighttime skincare routine?

"Double cleanse to ensure all makeup is removed. Opt for a tranexamic acid and hyaluronic acid serum next, followed with a night cream plus a retinoid cream if your skin can tolerate it," Dr Ho advises. "Your last step should be an eye cream packed with peptides and antioxidants to delay onset of wrinkles in the area."

Does having separate skincare routines have a significant impact on your complexion?

Dr Teo says it best: "Having evidence-based cosmeceutical active ingredients in your regimen is the key determinant of the efficacy of a routine. It is important to respect that certain ingredients are best incorporated into either a morning or nighttime routine due to its innate functions to maximise benefits and reduce side effects."