AM vs PM: Is It A Battle Or Alliance Of Skincare Routines?


We’re all well aware that we need to use sunscreen during the day and retinoids during nighttime; or that we can skip a cleanser in the morning but we must double cleanse at the end of the day. But do we know why we have separate AM and PM skincare routines? Even as a beauty writer who has spoken to multiple dermatologists and is always surrounded by skincare products, forming a morning or evening skincare routine is still a daunting task.

So, I decided to speak to two experts from the field and have them tell us the difference between AM and PM skincare routines and the unique roles they play.

AM vs. PM Skincare

A one-size-fits-all approach to skincare is rather impractical. In my experience, my dry skin feels extremely dehydrated when I wake up. Using a cleanser only strips it of the few natural oils it has been able to produce during the night. Contrary to this, my best friend’s skin needs a heavy-duty cleanser first thing in the morning to get rid of the excess oil secreted overnight. So, a skincare routine depends on an individual’s skin concerns.


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Similarly, the skin’s needs in the morning are quite different from those at night. Although I might shy away from using a cleanser in the morning, I won’t rest at the end of the day until I’ve double-cleansed and gotten rid of all the makeup and grime off of my face.

In conversation with Dr Chytra Anand, Senior Cosmetic Dermatologist at Kosmoderma clinics and founder of SkinQ, she said, “The major difference between a morning and a night-time skincare routine lies in the purpose. While a morning skincare routine is all about protection, a night-time one focuses on repair and rejuvenation.”

Dr Chytra further explains that during the day, the skin is exposed to various stressors like UV radiation, pollution, and blue light from screens. Therefore, a morning routine should be focused on hydration, protection from the sun, and shielding skin from pollutants. At night, however, the skin goes into repair mode, regenerating skin cells and repairing the damage caused during the day. Hence, a night-time routine should focus on treating any skin issues, nourishing, and hydrating your skin.


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Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, MBBS, MD (Dermatology), Consultant Dermatologist at Dr Trasi Clinic and La Piel Skin Clinic believes that because the skin is exposed to extreme heat during the day, it gets dehydrated and is vulnerable to light-induced dermatosis like hyperpigmentation and early wrinkling.

So, during the day, the skin needs to be protected. “In the morning, milder creams can be used to avoid photosensitivity whereas in the evening, stronger creams can be used since there will be no exposure to light,” she adds.

What To Use And When?

Certain products are formulated for specific times of the day. For example, vitamin C works best during the daytime while retinoids work best at night. Dr Shefali explains that along with a broad-spectrum sunscreen in the AM, an antioxidant serum or cream containing l-ascorbic acid or ferulic acid can be applied to protect the skin from photodamage.

In PM care, post-double-cleansing, actives like hyaluronic acid, retinol, peptides or depigmenting serums can be used for detaining and anti-ageing the skin. An undereye cream or serum can be used to address the periorbital wrinkling and pigmentation.


However, some products work well in the daytime as well as at night. Explaining this, Dr Shefali says, “Antioxidants like vitamin C work better during the day as they help protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and pollution. However, it can also be beneficial at nighttime as it can help repair the skin.”


Dr Shefali also leaves us with a motto to live by when it comes to our skincare routines, “Consistency is critical for good skin, it is dynamic and requires maintenance.”

While it may seem overwhelming to have separate skincare routines for the morning and night, they are essential for maintaining healthy, radiant skin. By tailoring a skincare routine to your skin’s specific needs at different times of the day, you can maximise the benefits of the products you are using and keep your skin looking its best. So, when in doubt, consult your dermatologist!

Beauty Writer

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