Should we be applying night-time skincare before or after sex?

In what could potentially be one of the most overlooked PM-related skincare questions ever, we put it to Dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan to see if sex before or after skincare is best.

Evening skincare is a bit of minefield. Between buffering your retinol, layering your acids and alternating your actives, your PM routine is pretty high maintenance.

Personally, I’m an early bird when it comes to my routine. As soon as the sun goes down, I shower and slather myself in skincare. I figure it’s best to let those actives get to work ASAP, soaking in well before my head hits the (silk) pillow.

According to Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, Founding Dermatologist of ODE Dermatology, the ideal time to apply your skincare is before 10pm. “Skin renewal and rejuvenation starts around 11pm with peak melatonin levels, so aim to have all your night time skin routine done by 9-10pm,” she says.

Timing aside, Dr Gunatheesan says there’s other factors limiting your skincare from performing it’s best.

“Not allowing enough time for each serum to absorb into your skin, over-drying the face (ideally our skin absorbs products when slightly damp), the pilling of products, incorrect cleansing products that impair the skin barrier and acid mantle, thereby compromising absorption of the actives and incorrect pairing or layering of actives,” she explains

Earlier this week a saucy question popped up in MECCA’s Chit Chat Facebook group, which read: “Hi all, a bit of a spicy question. Is it worth doing night-time skincare before sex?” Which could be one of the most overlooked PM-related skincare questions ever. So we put it to our expert.

“Ideally, one would aim for your precious night-time actives to stay in place and slowly penetrate through the skin layers, without the risk of being rubbed or wiped off during sex on to sheets, pillow and partners,” says Dr Gunatheesan.

Which makes sense but made me think, ‘What if you’re not really working up much of a sweat – can you get away with it then?’

“More sweat would result in more wastage of products like serums and moisturisers,” Dr Gunatheesan explains. “But the skin can also be sensitised when frictional irritation and sweat combine with active skincare ingredients like retinols and alpha hydroxy acids.”


So the verdict? If you’re planning on having sex, apply your skincare afterwards. But to be safe, try and start your routine earlier in the evening to allow all of your products to soak in and absorb – both before sleep and sex.

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