I think it’s safe to say that most people would like to have an easy guide on anti-aging. There are many different ways to prevent, manage, and even reverse signs of aging, but the truth is navigating the wonderful world of skincare can be a daunting task. There are SO many different products on the market these days that it would be impossible to keep up with them all! Even if you have the best products available right now, not understanding how to use them correctly could hinder your results. Luckily, I’ve had a mild obsession with all things beauty-related for as long as I can remember, and I know for a fact that putting together a good daily skincare routine is the first, and arguably most important, step to fight aging.
It’s not only about understanding what to use on your skin but also when to use each product to achieve the best results possible. To know how to do that, you also have to have a little knowledge of the most important ingredients in your products. I call them the Powerhouse Ingredients and will elaborate more on those below. And lastly, after you’ve learned what kinds of products you should include in your routine and when to use them, I’ll include a few of my favorite recommendations.
First things first… let’s get the routine order established. Before I get to that, I’d like to add that by no means do you need to get every kind of product listed below. I’m adding every possible step to keep it in order. Not every face needs every product, and it’s important to address what your skin needs instead of following a generic routine not specific to your unique concerns. Now, let’s take a look at the routine order – it can vary some from day to night, so I’ll provide examples of both.
Some skincare products really pull their weight and function as multiple products instead of just one. For example, there are some great makeup removing oil cleansers, exfoliating cleansers, moisturizers including sunscreen, etc. Products like these can save time and money as long as you aren’t accidentally missing any beneficial ingredients that your skin may benefit from. Below is a list of some of the Powerhouse Ingredients to look for when choosing your products and a short description of their purposes.
Vitamin C is one of the best natural ingredients that helps create collagen and maintain stabilization. It also helps repair UV damage, even out your skin tone, and repair hyperpigmentation while boosting the effectiveness of vitamin E and sunscreen.
Commonly known as glycolic acid and lactic acid, AHAs are powerful chemical exfoliants that don’t cause dehydration and help improve pretty much every sign of aging you can imagine.
Retains moisture in the skin and prevents dehydration due to the elements. It works for most skin types.
This might be my favorite Powerhouse Ingredient because it helps fight acne, damage from free radicals, and sun damage. It also improves fine lines and wrinkles, increases collagen, and renews skin. Keep in mind that retinol should only be used at night.
Amino Acids help with elasticity, skin barrier, inflammation, and wrinkles.
Oil that is similar to the skin’s natural oils and tends to provide just the right amount of hydration and aid dry skin. It’s not only hydrating and anti-aging, but it also improves texture and reduces redness.
Acts as a barrier between skin and the world outside, which means they are great at retaining moisture. It’s best to use ceramides after other treatments.
This works well at hydrating, healing, and boosting the effectiveness of vitamin C.
Reduces inflammation and dark spots and helps with elasticity.
This one is obvious… Sun damage is the number one cause of aging and the appearance of fine lines. Don’t leave home without it!
With the above ingredients in mind, here are a few of my product recommendations and a few tips on how to use them to gain their fullest benefits. Application is important, too, and make sure you let each product absorb before applying the next. The only exceptions are the serums, which are best absorbed when applied to damp skin. I also like to gently pat the product into my skin instead of rubbing it all over. Don’t forget to apply to your neck, decolleté, and, if there’s any excess leftover, pat gently on the backs of your hands.
I love to massage makeup removing balms and oils into my skin to melt makeup and impurities after a long day. To remove eye makeup, use a cotton pad to apply to your lid and lashes for about 10 seconds. Then, fold the cotton pad over to a clean side and apply a little more to gently glide over your lashes, eyes closed.
Remember: Your cleanser won’t be able to cleanse your skin effectively if it has to get through layers of makeup. A makeup remover is not the same thing as a cleanser, and a cleanser isn’t a makeup remover unless the product is specifically made to do both. For instance, one product I really like that serves as both a makeup remover and a cleanser is the Biossance Squalane + Elderberry Cleanser.
Murad- AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser: This is a cleanser and chemical exfoliant in one! Use only 2-3 times per week.
Physical exfoliants can either come in the form of a cleanser + exfoliant or just as an exfoliant on its own to remove dead skin cells. These are only necessary 2-3 times a week, and avoid using a physical exfoliant alongside a chemical exfoliant.
Essence is sort of like a hydrating toner that preps your skin to better absorb and boost skincare, which means it works best on freshly cleansed skin before any other products are applied. It’s also fine for daily use!
I don’t recommend using chemical exfoliants if you’re using a physical exfoliant. It’s a good idea to use both kinds 2-3 times per week, just not at the same time.
Serums can be hydrating, brightening, exfoliating, etc. Remember not to mix exfoliants. If you use a physical or chemical exfoliant, it may be best to stick to a hydrating or brightening serum. Vitamin C serums are best used during the day, and resurfacing serums are best for use at night.
Lash and brow serums are a great addition to any skincare routine, but I feel like they’re especially helpful in anti-aging routines because hair tends to thin as we age. Fuller brows and lashes help contribute to a more youthful appearance.
During the day, an eye cream containing caffeine can help reduce dark circles and bags under the eyes. At night, it’s probably best to stick to eye creams with anti-aging ingredients.
If you choose a moisturizer containing sunscreen, make sure you have another moisturizer you can use at night. I also recommend going with lighter moisturizers underneath makeup and saving the heavier ones for the night.
Retinol is my holy grail. So is its prescription-strength variant, retinoids. When starting retinol, the best thing to do is to start slow and give your skin time to adjust because it can cause irritation and sensitivity. The benefits are worth the patience it takes to stick with it, though! It’s important to note that prescription retinoid can be used after your regular nightly moisturizer, and over-the-counter products, like the ones listed below, can be used before. Just make sure you check the ingredients! For example, the U beauty resurfacing compound includes retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, and vitamins C and E. So if using this product, you don’t have to necessarily use a chemical exfoliant or serums. It’s always good to check the product’s instructions or refer back to this routine to see which products work best together.
If you choose a moisturizer or foundation that includes sunscreen, great! If not, it’s a must to have a good sunscreen made for your face to prevent photoaging. Make sure to look for a broad-spectrum formula – SPF 30-50 is usually high enough.
Creating your ideal skin routine may take a little time, but I hope this guide helps simplify the process. Remember, your routine can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be as long as you know what you’re doing with your products.