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13 expert-approved night serums that work their magic while you're sleeping

Give your skin extra TLC while you catch some zzz's.
TODAY Illustration / Sephora / Deim / Target / Cavan Images / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

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We use the term "beauty sleep" pretty loosely sometimes, but nighttime is actually the perfect time to set your beauty routine into overdrive. While you're catching some z's, your skin goes to work repairing itself, so applying a serum before you lay your head down on your pillow at night is a pretty smart idea.

Not sure where to start? Shop TODAY contacted several skin care experts to find out what to look for in a night serum — and they even suggested some products you'll be dying to get in bed with.

Best night serums, according to experts

L'Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum

Ready to incorporate a serum into your bedtime skin care routine? It's the perfect time to give your skin some TLC. "Serums penetrate the skin’s surface a lot better while you’re asleep and your skin cells are regenerating. While your skin rests at night, it replenishes itself, allowing the product to get absorbed better," Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified New York City dermatologist and author of “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist" said.

The skin care savant recommends looking for a serum with ingredients like retinol, peptides and antioxidants to get the most bang for your buck and swears by this anti-aging option. "It contains pure retinol and hyaluronic acid and is great for fine lines and wrinkles," she said.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum

Serums don't get much more affordable than The Ordinary's $7 exfoliating option that board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick swears by. But despite its budget-friendly price tag, the lightweight formula actually gives high-end results and tackles a range of skin care woes like uneven skin tone and texture.

"It's best used at night and contains lactic acid, a gentle but effective alpha hydroxy acid that works to eliminate dead skin cells to improve the overall texture and tone of the skin," the derm revealed. "It also contains Tasmanian pepperberry to help reduce irritation."

Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic Serum

When asked why using a serum at night is so beneficial, Boston-based dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch put it in pretty clear terms for us. "Unlike during the day, when we wear other things like sunscreen and makeup, serums can be applied to a clean face with nothing else. Talk about a clean canvas," she said.

Pixi's Glow Tonic Serum is a triple threat that hydrates, nourishes and exfoliates skin, leaving behind a soft and healthy glow. "It's a wonderful combination of ingredients that target hyperpigmentation (glycolic acid and arginine) and soothe skin (like cucumber and aloe vera) at a fantastic price."

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Want to wake up to a hydrated, glowing complexion? Try dabbing a bit of hyaluronic acid into your skin before going to bed. "The substance is naturally found in your body and holds onto moisture and keeps tissues and joints lubricated," Dr. Liia Ramachandra, a former pharma executive and skin care expert, told Shop TODAY.

Neutrogena's Hydro Boost serum is chock-full of hyaluronic acid and is oil-free, so it won't clog pores. Ramachandra called the ingredient the "holy grail" of skin care and said it can be a major power player in your beauty routine. "Evidence suggests that hyaluronic acid helps with soft tissue growth, prompts your body to make more collagen and elastin, keeps your skin moisturized, prevents tightness, boots elasticity and reduces scarring," she said.

Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Serum Max

Antioxidants like vitamin C are perfect to use during the daytime, but at night, Garshick recommends breaking out anti-aging multitaskers like peptides, which this powerhouse serum has plenty of. "It helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also smoothing the skin. This can be used day and night and is fragrance-free. It's also a good option even for those with sensitive skin," she said.

The best part? The fast-absorbing serum is formulated without parabens, fragrance, mineral oil or phthalates, so you won't have to worry about irritation from harsh ingredients.

La Roche-Posay Retinol Face Serum

This potent serum from La Roche-Posay has a trifecta of ingredients that Hirsch says are ideal for nighttime use, when skin is ready to do its best work. "It contains retinol, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid and gently turns over skin cells," she said.

The anti-aging serum is oil-free, non-comedogenic and paraben-free, and is ideal for anyone who wants to treat the visible signs of aging like lines, wrinkles and sun damage.

RoC Multi Correxion Hyaluronic Acid Night Serum Capsules

When your skin switches from protection mode to repair mode at night, it's the perfect time to wipe away all the stress it experienced during the day. "When you use a night serum that's packed with nutrients and active ingredients at night, they actively go into the cells and the rejuvenation/restoration process is intensified and multiplied," Ramachandra revealed.

The skin care expert suggests giving these paraben-free night serum capsules that are formulated with retinol and hyaluronic acid a try if you're craving plumper, more hydrated skin and visibly reduced fine lines and wrinkles.

Naturium Retinol Complex Serum

Dealing with sensitive skin but still want to reap all the anti-aging benefits of a retinol? Garshick recommends trying this $20 serum. "It combines retinol with bakuchiol, a plant-derived retinol alternative, and together helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also working to boost collagen production," she said.

The derm recommends starting off by using the product at night a few times a week and increasing the frequency as your skin gets used to it. "Serums are best used after cleansing and prior to moisturizing," she added.

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serums are often prescribed for daytime use to counteract the sun's harsh rays, but they're also quite effective as part of a nighttime routine. Ramachandra recommends this option from TruSkin and loves that it's formulated with multiple superstar ingredients like hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, jojoba oil and vitamin E.

"Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that may be effective at reducing UV damage in skin. Jojoba oil is an extremely effective natural moisturizer. Witch hazel has many benefits for skin, including relieving inflammation, tightening pores and helping with razor bumps. It may also help reduce acne, since it can cleanse your skin of excess oil," she explained.

CeraVe Retinol Resurfacing Serum

There's a serum out there for every skin care woe, and this paraben-free, non-comedogenic one from CeraVe harnesses the power of retinol to tackle post-acne marks and refine pores. It's no wonder Garshick named it as one of her go-tos.

"It contains niacinamide and licorice root extract, making it especially good for those with blemish-prone skin or discoloration. It also includes ceramides to help strengthen the skin barrier, so it won’t leave skin feeling dry or irritated," the derm noted.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum

We love a versatile formula that can be applied in the morning or at night, and this selection from Garshick certainly fits the bill. "It delivers different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, enabling hydration at all levels in the skin. This helps to plump the skin, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also keeping the skin looking healthy," the derm told us.

The lightweight, vegan serum from Glow Recipe works on a range of skin types and also includes multiple antioxidant ingredients like kakadu plum, illawarra plum and and burdekin plum, which help to brighten the skin.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Face Serum

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a high-quality serum. Case in point? Jaliman is a fan of this affordable find that has 2,600+ five-star ratings on Amazon. "It helps with fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots," she explained.

The Neutrogena bestseller is formulated with several workhorse ingredients like hyaluronic acid and retinol, and works its anti-aging magic without irritating skin, making it ideal for sensitive, mature skin. "The hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin because It’s a natural humectant and glycerin also moisturizes the skin," the derm said.

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum

Jaliman always seeks out night serums with ingredients that resurface and repair skin, and had nothing but kind words for this bestseller that travels deep into skin's surface and treat the signs of aging quickly. It even promises visible wrinkle reduction in just 28 days.

"It contains vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide) and improves the appearance of enlarged pores and dullness while fighting wrinkles. Niacinamide also stimulates fibroblasts that make collagen," she said. "The serum also contains collagen peptides that help reduce fine lines."

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