Best Skin Care Regimen and Products for Night Shift Workers

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Do you suffer from annoying and often embarrassing skin breakouts while working the night shift? 

In order to stop the acne, breakouts and put an end to the dry, itchy, irritated skin, we need to give our bodies some special treatment in the beauty department. But it’s more than just slapping on a few creams and potions…

To prevent skin breakouts, night shift workers must never skip cleansing and moistening their skin after a shift, despite how tired you feel. Secondly, using products specific to your skin type and current condition is key along with staying hydrated, using sunscreen and getting enough sleep.

Women holding green leave in front of face
Share the night shift skin care love – Thank you!

Let’s take a look at some of the recommended skin products and how to use them to make your skin glow. Plus, we will explore the best skin care regimen after working the graveyard shift and some special insider tips.

Best Effective Skin Care Products for Night Shift Workers

Are you overwhelmed by choice with beauty products and not sure what is right for you?

I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing and sussing out the best products to suit our 3rd shift lifestyle and I hope you can find something to suit you perfectly too.

It’s important to keep in mind though, that we all have different skin types. Some oily, dry, sensitive or a combination and you have to use products your skin agrees with.

If you suffer from a chronic skin condition, please consult a dermatologist and obtain specialized advice.

I start this post by giving my top product recommendations for:

  • Facial scrub and makeup removal products
  • Toner and other skin care boosters
  • Treatments and serums
  • Night creams 

Then we get stuck into other beauty product recommendations and specific tips for night shift workers.

I have structured this post from first priority when it comes to skin care and products to the last, with some special exceptions along the way.

The Ideal Post Night Shift Beauty Routine

The trick when applying your beauty products is to apply from the thinnest consistency to thickest, or from liquid to oil.

But… you also want to first use the products with the ingredients that are most important to penetrate into the skin (like antioxidants in serums). I will explain more as we go.

Step 1: Get Your Make up off and Cleanse

For the night shift workers who wear makeup, step one can be a two-part process to ensure your skin is adequately prepped to absorb the creams and serums in the next few steps.

First, we recommend removing your makeup with the beautiful DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.Opens in a new tab. When using the DHC oil, drizzle a small amount onto your dry hands, place your hands onto a dry face, rub it in, then rinse with water.

Or, use Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing WaterOpens in a new tab. which removes makeup, cleanses and refreshes your skin. I recommend both these products because I don’t have to aggressively rub the makeup off to get the desired outcome.

The second step is to wash your face with a cleanser, foam or facial scrub to remove the excess night shift dirt which was loosened up on the first step.

Just a tip from the American Academy of Dermatology

If you’re having a breakout, just completed a big gym workout or feeling super sweaty, don’t rub your face. Be gentle!

Scrubbing irritates your skin, which can worsen any skin condition, including acne”.

American Academy of Dermatology

We Recommend:

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash Opens in a new tab.because you can experience a deep clean without irritation.

It also doesn’t contain salicylic acid, which is excellent for pregnant ladies. After application and rinsing with lukewarm water, pad dry your face instead of rubbing it dry.

If you like to use a facial pad after cleansing the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance PadsOpens in a new tab. are very popular and are great for people with skin conditions like dermatitis (according to the reviews).

I generally skip this step and opt for a serum or hydrating night cream instead.

But these little beauties are packed with nourishing ingredients to give your face a glow. If you want to check it out, click here.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

Step 2: Toner and Other Skin Care Boosters

To be honest, I often forget about toning products. The watery consistency tricks me into thinking they are not doing much, but in fact, they are sneakily hydrating and nourishing the skin.

There is something about the hospital aircon that zaps away all the moisture in my face so I’m jumping back into the habit of using toner.

If you have a cleanser that balances your facial oils and provides hydration, you might not need a toner. However, it can give you the boost while working night shift you’ve been searching for.

We Recommend:

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Witch Hazel TonerOpens in a new tab. as it’s affordable and extremely popular for those like me looking to incorporate a toner back into your life. Check it out on Amazon.

I usually buy the x2 pack from Amazon to save myself a few dollars.

Step 3: Eye Cream

My mum used to tell me as a young girl (and still does), that eye cream is the best of the lot.

A non-negotiable in the beauty routine and I’ve never forgotten that. Hence, why I am okay with spending more money on eye cream than almost any other product listed here.

The skin under your eyes is incredibly delicate so instead of rubbing your eyes to apply eye cream, pat it on to prevent crow’s feet and dark circles.

Apply eye cream now before other treatments to protect this area against potentially nasty hidden ingredients in other products you may be using.

We Recommend:

Budget option:
Caffeine Eye Cream. It works to reduce eye puffiness and dark circles which are all too common for night shift workers. It will also hydrate and moisturise under the eye area extremely well!

Top of the range products:
Dermalogica Age Smart Multivitamin Power FirmOpens in a new tab. or Sisley Botanical Eye & Lip Contour ComplexOpens in a new tab. to quickly remove those dark circles making you feel younger.

Step 4: Treatment, Serums and Pads

These products will give you a boost and help reduce signs of aging, prevent acne and give you an antioxidant boost.

In most cases, you don’t need to use these products every day.

If you notice your face appears dry and is laking moisture, go ahead and apply. But just be aware, some treatments and serums you chose may only need to be used once or twice per week.

We Recommend:

<$25 popular serum

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for acne treatment

TruSkin Vitamin C SerumOpens in a new tab. has incredible reviews to assist unblocking pores and preventing acne.

“As close as you can get to a topical Botox serum” (2) PCA SKIN Exlinea Peptide Smoothing SerumOpens in a new tab.

Step 5: Night Cream

Night cream is generally thicker than day creams and is designed to lock in the moisture we commonly loose when we sleep.

Applying night cream is my go-to every single day/night post showering or cleaning. The thicker consistency is delightful to apply before bed.  

In saying that, if I use a serum, I don’t use a night cream as well. If I apply serum twice a week then I apply night cream every other night. 

We Recommend:

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream Another great option under <$25: Night Cream by OlayOpens in a new tab.

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream

Did You Know…
We are meant to wait between 5 – 30 minutes for our products to “sink in” before applying the next product? But who has time for that? After showering think about applying your serum/toner then waiting a while. Get ready for bed, brush your teeth and finish getting organized. Then apply your night cream once you get into bed.

Days Off Luxury:

They say working night shift ages us quicker than if we work a 9-5 job… Why not give yourself some pampering on your days off to win back some time in the aging department?

These masks can help remove imperfections, hydrate skin, remove excess oils and help give your face a healthy glow, even after working 4 nights in a row! 

Whatever product you end up deciding on, don’t be afraid to use it in the shower (while you’ve got your conditioner in) when your pores are open. There is moisture in the air preventing your mask from drying out.

Detoxifying/Clay Masks

We recommend:
N.O. BS Charcoal Peel Off Face MaskOpens in a new tab.

Sleeping Masks

We recommend:
Majestic Pure Gold Facial MaskOpens in a new tab. will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Majestic Pure Gold Facial Mask for night shift workers

Lip Mask

To be brutally honest…I had never heard of a lip mask! So this recommendation is purely coming from incredibly positive reviews I read on the internet and on Amazon.

People are going crazy for this stuff. Check it out here to give your lips the pout and moisture they need!

We recommended:
LANEIGE Lip Sleeping MaskOpens in a new tab.

Important Take Away…

Regardless of what the experts and the pros tell you, listen to your own skin. If it looks dry, hydrate it! If it feels tight and itchy ask yourself if the product is right for you? If you’re overwhelmed by the choice in beauty products, use a cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer and sunscreen (on your days off) as a starting point.

A Quick Word on Retinol Products…

Retinol cream was developed in the 1970s as an acne treatment but was also used for treating aging skin, psoriasis and warts.

Retinol cream is loaded with healthy vitamin A which has been known to help with eyesight and keeping the skin healthy. (source)

While these creams are incredible for anti-aging, wrinkles and helping keep the skin thicker and slowing the breakdown of collagen, there are a few things you need to know.

  • Avoid sunlight exposure for 12 hours after application. Why? It contains ingredients which are sensitive to the light. If you can’t sleep and need to do a few jobs during the day, make sure you’ve applied 30+ sunscreen like my favorite facial sunscreen – IOpens in a new tab.nvisible Zinc by Ganehill.Opens in a new tab.
  • Don’t use Retinol treatments and creams on the same night as you use as exfoliative treatments (which should only be used 1-3 times per week between cleansing and toning). We recommend Paulas Choice – Skin Perfecting Facial ExfoliantOpens in a new tab. if you’re looking for the perfect, gentle facial exfoliant. Check out Amazon for prices here.  
  • If you’re new to retinol, start with a lower concentration of around 0.03% and use it only once or twice a week at first and use it between the toner and night cream as part of your routine before you hit the hay.
  • According to Dr. Axe, an online health specialist, avoid using Retinol products with other beauty products ‘especially if they contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid‘.

After all that, we LOVE retinol products and think they work brilliantly!

If you’re looking for a retinol product that works, try this Super Retinol Serum.Opens in a new tab. Great for lightening aging spots and creating soft but firm skin. Read the amazing reviews on Amazon here.

General Recommendations for Night Shift Workers and Your Skin Care Beauty Regime

As an emergency nurse working both night and day shift, I know what it’s like to suffer from ugly breakouts. I hate it and I’m sure you do too.

As a kid, I used the Proactiv 3Step Acne Treatment System and it worked amazingly well, but I wanted to take a more natural approach to my skin care (AKA, fewer chemicals) hence why I recommend some of the products above…

Here are 9 things we can do as night shift workers to make sure we are giving the products above the chance to really work.

1. Be Diligent

Wash your face after EVERY shift (regardless or how tired you are and never go to bed without cleaning your face or having a shower).

Using only lukewarm water is the way to go as you don’t want to ruin the tiny little capillaries and blood vessels in your face.

2. Drink More Water

Celebs like Cameron Diaz and Kim Kardashian say water is hands down the best kind of beauty product. It prevents dehydration and allows your organs to perform their roles like getting rid of toxins harming your skin.

If we forget our drink bottles overnight and become dehydrated, we risk getting headaches, feeling fatigued, lacking energy, increased chance of weight gain and are weakening your immune response meaning we can easily catch a cold or get the flu.

This doesn’t look good for our face either. According to UW Health, “Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling“.

Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling“.

If you’re wondering how much you should be drinking overnight, Dr. Axe, say that we should drink between “25 percent and 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of water daily.

So if you weigh 160 pounds (72kg), you typically want to try to get between 40–80 ounces (1180-2300mls) of water a day”.

As a general rule, I like to fill my BEAST tumbler or large water bottle at least twice throughout the night to ensure I’m drinking enough and staying well hydrated.

Adding lemon into your water can not only help improve the taste but it’s also packed with health benefits for your skin. Take a look at our resources page for our recommended fruit-infused water bottle.

3. Get More, High-Quality Sleep

We recently read a study that suggests that having a lack of sleep can impair our skin integrity, nails and hair as well as increasing the progression of aging. Yikes!

Sleep is king in the beauty department. So think about restricting your coffee and caffeine use after midnight, skipping the after-work alcoholic drinks and avoid big, heavy meals once you get home in order to sleep like a log.

When we sleep, the body works hard to replenish our cells by sending more oxygen to our skin. During our night shifts, we are exposed to some nasty stuff. So the deeper and more consistent our sleep during the day, the more our skin will shine.

If you’re having trouble sleeping post 3rd shift, we created heaps of posts to help you sleep as a night shift worker.

Here are a few of the popular ones:

[VIDEO] – Need a few tips to sleep better, watch the video below.

4. Exercise Daily

Working out improves circulation and in turn, delivers oxygen-rich blood around your body – and skin!

Exercise not only keeps your heart and lungs healthy but it’s incredible to promote a glowing complexion.

Working out as a shift worker is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Have your workout clothes ready by the door and force yourself to see them the minute you open your eyes.

We dive more into this here – Secrets to the Perfect Post Night Shift Routine.

Form healthy habits by completing a workout once you get up in the afternoon. Once it’s done you can forget about it!

Using the sauna can also help naturally clean your pores so consider this for 20 minutes if available at the health facility or gym you visit. 

Related post: Sleep or Workout? What Should I Do After Night Shift?

Here is some inspiration to workout regularly:

[VIDEO] – Need some motivation to exercise? This one will help.

5. Wear Sunscreen Every Day (On Your Days off or When in the Sun)

If you’re struggling to work out what your face needs… it always needs sunscreen.

Obviously, you don’t need it if you’re just about to jump into bed, but once you wake up and feel like going for a walk outside – slap some on.

If you’re planning a picnic after you wake up or plan to spend hours outside, it’s recommended to apply sunscreen every 90 minutes – even when it’s cloudy!

If you’re driving, applying sunscreen to your hands is also a hidden beauty trick, so keep a little tube in the car with you.

We recommend:
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Opens in a new tab.and so do dermatologists because it’s an oil-free, mineral-based face sunscreen helping to calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to acne and discoloration.

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen

We also like:
Supergoop! Everyday SPF 50 Sunscreen For Face and BodyOpens in a new tab. because you can still wear makeup and not have a lumpy complexion. See it here on Amazon.

6. Eat a Healthy Diet by Sticking to a Meal Plan Which Works

How many times have you stuck money in the vending machine or bought a treat from the cafeteria this week?

If we want to stop skin breakouts while working the night shift, we need to start thinking about what we are putting in our mouths.

Eating sugary foods and those with a high GI rating like sweets, soda, candy and ice cream cause a quick inflammatory response throughout our entire body.

Our insulin levels spike which eventually leads to a higher production of skin oils, clogging up your pores. 

I previously spoke about the importance of drinking water for our skin so try and pack meals to work, that are full of water-dense foods such as:

  • Celery
  • Watermelon
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi

We have created a few helpful posts which can assist you to choose foods which will not only boost your complexion but keep your belly satisfied.

While you’re shopping and trying to meal plan – this post (which is targeting new nurses, but applies to most) can help work out how to meal plan.

7. Stress Less

I’m sure at some point you’ve experienced (or are experiencing) stress in your life and suddenly your face starts to break out. I know I have.

This issue with stress and our skin is that stress triggers our body to start producing more hormones like cortisol (our stress hormone) which in turn tells our glands to make more oil. And guess what? Oily skin is more prone to acne and skin problems.   

At work, make an effort to avoid office drama and people creating it. At home spend time outside and hang around people who make you feel good. If a relationship seems to hard to maintain and it’s bothering you, is it time to let it go?

It’s also okay to say no. I am horrible at this, but don’t feel like you need to say yes to every event you get invited to. Being pulled in 10 different directions can be pretty stressful.

These posts may help you keep the stress levels down specifically as a night shift worker:

Practicing yoga (for FREE) via YouTube can also be a great stress release and something which is now firmly part of my nursing life.

Below is a video from Yoga with Adriene which is simply wonderful. Taking the time to do even a 5-10 minute workout can make you feel more in control and less stressed.

8. Stick to Cooler, Shorter Showers

I LOVE a hot shower but it actually robs our skin of its moisture. Turn down the heat and always moisturize within 3-5 minutes, post-shower and pat drying yourself instead of rubbing.

Some dermatologists say we should be using an ointment instead of a cream because they have the greatest emollient effect.

It’s true they are much greasier but they can provide a seal to lock in that moisture. If you’re looking for an affordable ointment I recommend the Aquaphor Healing Ointment.Opens in a new tab.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

9. Question Yourself – Do I Need to Wear Makeup?

For the ladies, makeup does make everything better, well at least for my own reflection, BUT do we really need it on night shift?

If yes (I’m feeling you), consider a natural power like the Organic 100% Natural Vegan Matte Bronzer MakeupOpens in a new tab. or something light that doesn’t clog your pores like Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup.Opens in a new tab.

10+ hours with heavier makeup is hard for your skin to recover from.


Summary: Best Skin Care Regimen and Products for Night Shift Workers

Take the time to be diligent about washing and cleansing your face after each and every night shift. NEVER skip this step.

Drink more water, exercise daily, have cooler showers and consider boosting your beauty routine with face masks and serums on your days off (or after a stressful shift!). 

As a night shift worker, your body is shouting out for some love. Feed it with products which mesh well with your specific skin type and don’t forget to seek guidance if you suffer from a chronic skin condition.

Thanks for reading this post about the best skin care products for those who work the 3rd shift. What else do you add into your night shift beauty routine?


Emma signature |

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

2 thoughts on “Best Skin Care Regimen and Products for Night Shift Workers

  1. Hi Emma! For you, should I wear sunblock before sleeping in the morning? Or before I work my night shift (I’m very much exposed to computer work and blue light)? I’ve read a lot of blogs but other blogs don’t seem to understand the sunblock dilemma of night shift workers like me, lol. Thanks!

    1. Hi Loverois, thanks for your comment. Once I get home from a night shift, shower and jump into bed, I would not put on sunblock. I’d apply my normal serums, eye cream and moisturiser (recently found Rawkanvas – and I’m loving it!) and that’s it. You however have raised a very interesting point regarding blue light and its effect on the skin. We speak a lot about blue light blocking glasses to protect our eyes but not our skin. Intreging. After doing some reading, the research doesn’t seem to be strong in highlighting its effect. So until we know, I supposed it couldn’t hurt using tinting moisture with sunscreen in it before you go to work? I do leave sunscreen in my car for the commute home, though the UV rays are likely not high enough to cause burning this early in the day. I did find these blue light blocking sunglasses which may help for the commute home?

      Remember to slip, slop, slap that sunscreen on your days off! Wearing clear blue light blocking glasses it what I recommend overnight though whilst at the computer. This video explains what I’m talking about –

      Hope that helps.

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