That is the question I get asked all the time. There are so many ads out there making people believe they need to use a thick, heavy night cream. But I really believe that the trick is to using something light. Why? If you use a rich, heavy night cream every night your skin becomes dependant on the creams and forgets how to produce a normal balance of natural oil. It's like a cosmetic addiction (as if being addicted to chocolate wasn't bad enough).
This doesn't mean you need to shun moisturizing at night. Personally, I like to apply an ultra-light lotion, oil or serum just a few nights a week. My favorites are Primavera's Evening Primrose Face Oil Capsules and Jurlique's Herbal Recovery Gel. Another wonderful lotion is Suzanne aux Bains Organic Night Treatment (look for it soon on Saffron Rouge!). The consistency is just right and the essential oil-derived scent is divine. I do think it's important to go 'au naturale' at least two nights a week.
Another theory is that, because your skin is faster at regenerating new skin cells while shedding the old ones at night, your skin needs to be able to 'breathe' at night. This totally makes sense to me, because if you clog up your cells with heavy cream, they might not be able to 'do their thing.' As a child my mother used to have these alternative medicine (maybe acupuncture) charts around the house, which stated different active times for all the organs in the body. I'm only mentioning this because the idea of organs working at different times is not a new idea.and the skin is after all our largest organ.
Instead of using a night cream Dr. Hauschka Skin Care suggests cleansing then toning (the Rhythmic Night Conditioners are great for this-they tone and heal on a deep level). Jurlique recommends against heavy moisturizers and suggests the Wrinkle Softener Cream if you must use something 'heavy' at night. However the Herbal Recovery Gel or Herbal Recovery Mists will give you the moisture you desire, without being heavy. Again, if you have to use something creamier, Santaverde recommends their creams for day and night and Weleda's Iris Night Cream is specifically for…night.
Here's a prime example of what heavy creams can do. A sweet lady came into the Saffron Rouge Boutique. Her skin was so dry at night that the pain from the dryness would actually wake her up multiple times throughout the night. She was using a very heavy drugstore cream that was supposed to be great for dry skin. (The ingredients actually stripped the skin of its moisture but that's a whole new story.) For weeks I worked with her to help her skin. First she applied Dr.Hauschka's Moisturizing Mask very lightly overtop of the Rhythmic Night Sensitive (she also had rosacea). An hour or two later she would apply the Rhythmic Conditioner ampoule. A few weeks later she was down to using just the ampoules at night and Rose Day Cream (plus cleansers and toners) during the day. Her skin now looks really good because it's 'breathing' and in balance again.
What's the moral of the story? Sometimes products you put on your skin will actually do the opposite of what you want them to. The trick is to use the lightest product on your skin at night as possible (or nothing at all). Your skin has a job to do, and sometimes products just get in the way.