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Beauty question: Just how important is a night cream?

To get the right answer, you must learn to understand your own skin.

11 OCTOBER 2010

Have you ever wondered whether you really need to use a night cream? Most of us are fairly well informed about day-time moisturising care and the need to protect our skin from the daily grind, but just how important is it to use a night-time moisturiser?

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The fact is that the right answer depends on the individual. Which means that you are in the best position to decide for yourself, and the first step towards the answer is to gain a better understanding of your own skin type and personal skin needs.

After removing all traces of the day's make-up – and don't forget that even if you don't use cosmetics you should cleanse your skin throroughly at the end of the day – it's a good idea to leave your skin alone for ten minutes or so, in order for the epidermis to re-establish its own natural pH. Now you can assess whether the skin feels taut or dry, in which case it's in need of additional moisturising, or if it's plumped and flexible, in which case it probably doesn't need anything extra.

Next morning, take another close look. Are there shiny patches? Or dry areas? Look at your cheeks and take a generous pinch of skin between your fingers; if you can see fine wrinkles when you do this, it's a symptom of dehydration, so you should be using a night cream.

Remember, too, that cream doesn't need to be applied all over: you can always use it just on the more delicate areas or those that tend to dryness, such as neck and cleavage.

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