Aging is tricky. Getting older means you gain greater experience and perspective, but the toll it takes on our bodies—and most visibly, our skin—can be quite daunting. That's why anti-aging skin care is a multi-billion dollar behemoth of an industry. While what you slather on your skin can't turn back the clock, it can keep your cells healthy so they function and look their very best.
"Aging is a natural part of human life," says dermatologist Tiina Meder, MD. "I love to speak about aging well, which is the idea that we live and change healthily and gracefully, without dramatic loss of skin’s elasticity, while maintaining maximum skin functionality, such as protective and immune function. Healthy skin is aging slower and looks beautiful at any age."
You can take steps at any age to ensure you're aging well. It's all about picking the ingredients that address your concerns and are appropriate for your skin. "Anti-aging skincare should be used carefully because the overuse or incorrect selection of products can damage the skin and paradoxically speed up aging instead of preventing it," says Dr. Meder,
Ahead, find tips, tricks, and product recommendations from three experts to help curate your routine.
Meet Our Expert
Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and New Jersey.
Shirley Chi, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Southern California.
How Skin Care Can Slow Signs of Aging
The biggest change that happens to our skin is the loss of collagen, the proteins that help keep skin firm, taut, and smooth. Collagen production begins to decline around age 25, and loss of can be exacerbated by sun exposure and environmental aggressors.
"Skin care can help to slow the aging process by helping to boost collagen production and protect the skin against free radical damage," says Dr. Garshick. "It is known that as we age we lose collagen, so by minimizing collagen loss and helping to boost collagen production through skin care, skin care can help to slow down the aging process."
Beyond compensating for collagen loss, skin care can also help with many other factors that contribute to signs of aging. "Healthy skin ages more slowly than unhealthy skin," says Dr. Meder. "Nowadays, we have a great spectrum of active skin-care ingredients helping to boost collagen or hyaluronic acid synthesis, restore microbiome health, relax facial muscles, improve not only a skin barrier function but a dermal-epidermal junction as well, maintain healthy microcirculation, and even slow down cells aging and increase cellular energy level."
"The morning is all about protecting the skin from the daily stressors on the skin including UV exposure, pollution, blue light, and other environmental factors," says Dr. Garshick.
To start your morning routine, the pros recommend starting with a gentle face wash. The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser is a great option because it provides a thorough, yet non-stripping cleanse while supporting the skin's moisture barrier.
2. Antioxidant Serum
"Leveraging more intense antioxidant protection should be a key part of a morning anti-aging routine," says Dr. Meder. "As oxidative stress is a global factor accelerating skin aging." The Paula's Choice 25% Vitamin C + Glutathione Clinical Serum is a fabulous option because it's made with a super-stable form of vitamin C and is enriched with glutathione and ergothioneine, two potent antioxidants that boost the efficacy of vitamin C.
One of the biggest concerns of aging skin is the loss of moisture that happens naturally over time. When skin is dry, it makes fine lines and wrinkles more apparent, so finding a nice day cream is key.Yon Ka Time Resist Jour is packed with moisturizing, wrinkle-plumping ingredients like glycerin and oat polysaccharides. The star of the formula, though, is the Youth Activator aka, the “serenity molecule" that combats signs of aging by decreasing the skin's stress response.
"Sunscreen is a key element for every morning routine," says Dr. Chi. That's because it helps protect your skin from UV rays, reducing the risk of skin cancer and sun damage, which can lead to premature signs of aging. That's especially the case if you deal with hyperpigmentation. "As anyone with a pigmentary condition such as melasma knows, even one day of going out without sun protection can cause pigment problems to come back," says Dr. Chi.
"An evening anti-aging routine is all about repair and recovery," says Dr. Garshick. "The specific ingredients may vary based on the individual skin type or skin-care concerns."
"An evening routine should include a cleanser, or double cleanse if needed, to ensure complete removal of makeup and buildup from the day," says Dr. Garshick. Try the e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Cleansing Balm followed by the Payot Nue Dtox Cleansing Foaming Gel for a gentle yet effective double cleanse.
2. Treatment Serum
Retinoid: "A retinoid is great for someone who is targeting fine lines and wrinkles as well as discoloration," says Dr. Garshick. Avène's RetrinAL Advanced Correcting Serum works to smooth wrinkles, even skin tone, and provide hydration.
Peptides: "Peptides may be a good option for someone looking to firm the skin and improve fine lines and wrinkles," says Dr. Garshick. The LYMA Skincare Set includes a serum and cream that are packed with elasticity-boosting peptides.
Exfoliating Acids: "Exfoliating acids, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid, may be used one to two times per week to help reduce dullness and brighten the skin," says Dr. Garshick. "As we age, our skin cell turnover slows down and there is a build-up of dead skin cells, so exfoliating can help to remove these dead skin cells. An eye cream and a neck cream can also be added as part of an evening routine." The DWB Beauty Exfoliation Night is a powerful serum that's designed with "surge protectors" to dampen the skin's inflammatory response, allowing it to reap the benefits of using a strong blend of alpha-, beta-, and poly-hydroxy acids without irritation.
3. Night Cream
"I recommend using a special night moisturizer respecting night skin regeneration," says Dr. Meder. "My favorite is my own Meder Circa-Night Cream for sure! It mimics eight hours of healthy sleep for ski and boosting collagen synthesis."
4. Optional: Eye and/or Neck Cream
To take your anti-aging routine to the next level, you can add in an eye or neck cream. For the eyes, the Neocutis Lumière Firm Riche is packed with peptides and growth factors to smooth skin while providing deep hydration. For the neck, try the Dr. Naomi Hit the Dec Serum, which is designed to smooth the neck and décolletage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many new ingredients can I use at a time?
"Whenever starting an anti-aging skincare routine it is best to incorporate one new product at a time to minimize any potential reaction or irritation of the skin," says Dr. Garshick.
Should I try in-office procedures?
"In-office procedures can help to complement an at-home skin-care routine for best results," says Dr. Garshick. "So it’s always best to speak with a board-certified dermatologist to determine the best approach."
How important is consistency?
"Our skin is one of the fastest renewing organs, so all products should be re-applied once or twice a day to interact with skin cells," says Dr. Meder. "You cannot get a cumulated effect using a product sporadically. It should be applied regularly to penetrate the targeted skin structure and stimulate or suppress any kind of renewal process in the skin."
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