Fact: as we age, so does our skin. As young as 25 years old, the amount of collagen and elastin our skin produces begins to slow down. In return, our skin feels drier and fine lines and wrinkles are more noticeable. While all of these subtle changes are inevitable (sorry!), environmental factors, like UV rays, blue light, and pollution, can further stress our skin and speed up that aging process. Regardless of how old you are, it’s never too early—or too late—to take action and prevent harmful aggressors from messing with your complexion.
With so many products on the market claiming to bottle The Fountain of Youth, it can seem daunting to figure out which anti-aging products will actually garner results and which are a total waste of your time and money. Equally as important to finding your ideal skincare products is the order of your anti-aging skincare routine, as each step works hand in hand. If you really want to yield noticeable results, it might be time to revamp your routine.
Ready to put your best face forward? Whether you want to prevent signs of aging before they start or you want to update your current ritual with an effective anti-aging skincare routine, we’re here to help. We turned to dermatologists and estheticians to break down the essential steps that are total game-changers when it comes to turning back the clock. Consider these two routines below your go-to guide for the best anti-aging skincare at any age.
Hydration is key if you want your skin to look more supple, but harsh cleansers can strip your skin. “Instead, look for products containing humectants and emollients to hydrate and moisturize the skin and keep it looking plump,” says Hadley King, MD, an NYC-based dermatologist.
Start restoring moisture right at the sink with a hydrating, gentle cleanser, like the IT COSMETICS Confidence in a Cleanser. This sulfate-free formula is tough enough to remove makeup yet gentle enough for all skin types. Plus, it’s loaded with collagen and hyaluronic acid to restore your moisture, leaving you with a more youthful glow.
A vitamin C serum creates an important line of defense against environmental stressors that can wreak havoc on your skin. We like to think of it like armor for your face. “Vitamin C is a powerhouse for anti-aging,” says Jessie Chueng, MD, a dermatologic surgeon in Willowbrook, Illinois and New York City. “Not only does vitamin C protect from free radical damage to our DNA, but it also plays a critical role in collagen synthesis, and it helps to brighten our skin by inhibiting abnormal pigment creation.”
We especially love the MURAD Multi-Vitamin Infusion Oil, which uses a potent dose of vitamin C to counteract signs of aging all while boosting hydration and brightening your complexion.
“Sunscreen is the most important component of any anti-aging skincare plan,” says Caren Campbell, MD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist. ”Sunscreen not only prevents signs of aging, but new studies show it actually helps reverse signs of aging.” Dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher—and make sure you’re applying a nickel-sized blob to your face (up that to a shot glass full for your body) to get the full protection listed on the label.
Yes, everyday sunscreen is important to protect your skin against harmful UV rays, but you should also shield your skin from damaging V light, HEV blue light, pollution, and free radicals, all of which also contribute to premature signs of aging. That’s where the MURAD Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 comes in. It offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 and is also packed with ginkgo biloba leaf extract to shield your skin from pollution and vitamin C to keep free radicals away.
The secret to slowing down signs of aging? According to dermatologists, it’s a preventative routine that relies on both retinol and exfoliation. Both encourage cellular turnover, leaving you with a luminous, younger-looking glow. “Prevention is key,” says Josie Holmes, an esthetician at SKINNEY MedSpa in NYC. “You should start to use retinoids in your mid 20's or early 30's to prevent signs of aging.” CLARK'S BOTANICALS Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream is a good place to start, thanks to its time-release retinol, which works to smooth fine lines and wrinkles all while you sleep.
Just as important as retinol is exfoliation. The best exfoliator for preventing signs of aging is a chemical exfoliator that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). These powerful exfoliators slough off dead skin cells and reduce signs of wrinkles, leaving you with a smooth, luminous glow.
Important to note: combining retinol with AHAs/BHAs, like salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids, can lead to irritation. So in order to create an effective anti-aging routine, it’s best to alternate between the two each night.
The MURAD AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is like the holy grail of exfoliating, as it contains salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids that work together to slough off dead skin cells and remove dull luster, leaving you with a glowing complexion that feels super smooth.
“Some chemical exfoliators, as well as sunlight, can deactivate some retinoids, so that is why retinoids should be used at night and not at the same time as chemical exfoliators,” explains Dr. King. “Because retinoids increase the turnover of the skin cells and make the skin cells less adherent to each other, this increases the potential of exfoliation to cause irritation, so these must be combined with caution.”
“The skin around the eyes is delicate and thin, and signs of aging often first become apparent in this delicate tissue,” says Dr. King. Since the skin around the eyes is different than the rest of our body, eye cream is an imperative step in your skincare routine, regardless of your age. MURAD’s Renewing Eye Cream is a great go-to, as it brightens, restores moisture, and minimizes the appearance of fine lines—all in one product.
“As we age, our skin's fibroblasts produce less collagen and elastin,” says Dr. King. “This leads to reduced hydration, a compromised barrier function, and loss of elasticity.” Add back important hydration from step one by switching to a hydrating cleanser.
Try ORIGINS Plantscription™: Anti-aging Cleanser, which is specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles all while serving up major moisturization to your complexion.
“Exfoliation smooths and polishes the skin, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and evening out the texture,” says Dr. King. When you slough off dead skin cells you’re exposing a new layer of skin that’s ready to retain hydration, giving you a more supple appearance that looks younger, smoother, and healthier. “Over time, regular exfoliation can increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen production as well,” says Dr. King.
When it comes to anti-aging, you can’t go wrong with the DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator, which combines micro crystals and acids for a powerful and effective exfoliation technique that leaves skin looking more firm after just one use.
A powerful anti-aging serum delivers a highly concentrated dose of ingredients to your skin—think of it like a skin-saving shot for your face. The JUICE BEAUTY Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum is loaded with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that keeps free radicals away, making it a must-have in any anti-aging routine.
“Moisturizing restores hydration to the skin to make it look more plump and smooth,” says Dr. Cheung. If you have combo or oily skin, you’ll love the lightweight gel texture of the 111SKIN Cryo Activating Hydra Gel. If you’re drier or prefer products with a creamier consistency, you can’t go wrong with the AHAVA Essential Day Moisturizer. If you’re looking to cut down the steps in your skincare routine, skip step three and opt for a moisturizer that contains vitamin C and sunscreen, like the MURAD Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30.
We’ve already established that eye cream is an essential step in your anti-aging skincare routine, but aside from serving up serious hydration, an eye cream can also target and treat specific needs—it’s all about finding the right one.
If you want to decrease puffiness, the PURLISSE Blue Lotus 4~in~1 Eye Adore Serum is a great option. Blue lotus is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which means it works wonders when it comes to swelling. If you want to reduce the appearance of crow's feet, opt for the ORIGINS Plantscription™: Anti-aging Power Eye Cream. This potent powerhouse is loaded with anogeissus, which aids in collagen production.
Retinol is the most effective and proven ingredient at improving signs of aging, so if you aren’t already using a retinol, now is the time to start. “Retinols are the mainstay topical treatment for anti-aging,” says Dr. Campbell. “They have been shown to increase collagen production, increase hyaluronic acid in the skin, protect against oxidative damage, increase cell turnover, and decrease oil glands.” All of the above will lead to more youthful looking skin over time.
The DR. BRANDT SKINCARE 2% Retinol Complex Serum will help firm, improve texture, and reduce the look of wrinkles and pores thanks to a time-released retinol complex. If you’ve never used a retinol product before (they can be irritating, so it’s always best to start gradually), try NO B.S. Retinol Night Cream, which also contains lavender oil, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E to buffer the drying effects.
When it comes to minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing puffiness around the eyes, and restoring a youthful glow to your complexion, the steps in your anti-aging skincare routine can make the most difference—and it’s never too young to adopt a preventative routine.
Has switching up the steps in your skincare routine worked for you? If so, we want to know. Share a selfie on Twitter or Instagram and be sure to tag us @IPSY and tell us which products have made the most difference.