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It’s never too early to adopt an anti-aging skincare routine. Believe it or not, the aging process begins at the ripe old age of 20 when our collagen production starts to decrease. Cell turnover rates also slow down in our twenties, which makes it harder to maintain a glowing, radiant complexion.
But fear not—you can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by following the right anti-aging skincare regimen. During the day, antioxidant serum and sunscreen can help reduce sun damage and fight wrinkle-causing free radicals. At night, applying retinol increases cell renewal to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and age spots.
We all want our skin to look young and fresh for as long as humanly possible. So keep reading to learn how to build an effective anti-aging skincare routine that keeps wrinkles at bay.
The Best Morning Skincare Routine to Prevent Aging
Although it’s hard to drag yourself out of bed early to complete a five-step anti-aging skincare routine, it’s worth it to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Here are the products you should use to keep your face looking plump and radiant.
Step 1: Gently Cleanse
Even if your skin seems clean in the morning, you still need to wash it. Although you can’t see them, bacteria builds up in your pores overnight and clogs them up. This can cause acne and enlarged pores, which is the last thing you want. It’s also best to have a clean and blank canvas before you do your morning skincare routine and apply makeup.
Irritating your skin by using harsh cleansers can actually speed up aging. So it’s best to avoid cleansers with harmful ingredients like sulfates and artificial fragrances, and opt for gentle ones instead. Make sure you don’t scrub your face too hard, which can accelerate the aging process. You should also avoid splashing your face with hot water because it can dry out and irritate your face. Instead, use lukewarm water and one of the cleansers below.
- Grown Alchemist Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser contains chamomile, bergamot, rose, and willow bark to naturally purify and cleanse the skin.
- Caudalie Vinoclean Gentle Cleansing Almond Milk cleanses the skin without stripping it thanks to nourishing almond oil, castor oil, and antioxidant-rich polyphenols.
- Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser contains poloxamer, a gentle eye-safe cleansing agent, plus rosewater and comfrey root extract to soothe dry skin.
Step 2: Tone
Although you don’t have to use toner, it’s a great step to add to your anti-aging skincare routine. Toner removes dirt and oil that may be left behind after cleansing. Many toners also reduce pore size and contain antioxidants, which can help protect your skin from free radical damage.
One of our favorite products is the Moisture Infusion Toner by Renée Rouleau. It contains phospholipids and niacinamide to increase skin hydration. It’s also formulated with vitamin C and black raspberry seed oil, which are both powerful antioxidants that can protect your skin from environmental damage.
If you have enlarged pores, Paula’s Choice Pore Reducing Toner can help. It contains niacinamide to reduce pore size and chamomile and burdock root to soothe skin and provide an antioxidant boost.
Step 3: Apply an Antioxidant Serum
In the morning, your skin needs all the antioxidants it can get. Your face gets exposed to a lot of environmental stressors and pollutants throughout the day that can damage your skin and accelerate aging. Antioxidants help fight that damage and keep your complexion glowing by warding off dull skin.
One of the best ways to get an extra dose of antioxidants is to use a serum that contains them, like this one from Elemis. It has saffron flower and lotus flower milk, which are rich in anti-inflammatory flavonoids and polyphenols. This product is also formulated with Indian gooseberry to give you an extra shot of antioxidants.
Another solid option is the Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant and Superfood Face Oil. This oil is chock full of antioxidant-rich plant oils including blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, and red raspberry. It’s even cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and paraben-free.
Step 4: Use a Lightweight Moisturizer
No anti-aging skincare routine is complete without moisturizer. During the day, it’s usually best to wear a lightweight moisturizer. That way your face won’t look shiny, and you can apply sunscreen and makeup over it without feeling weighed down. Here are some of the best lightweight moisturizers to add to your skincare regimen.
- Pixi H20 Skindrink Pure Hydration Gel will hydrate your skin without clogging your pores. It’s also chock full of antioxidants like green tea, rosemary, and aloe vera to protect your skin and reduce inflammation.
- Origins Antioxidant Moisturizer With White Tea contains an antioxidant-rich blend of white tea and cranberry to protect your skin from environmental damage. It also has edelweiss extract to help strengthen your skin barrier and lock in moisture.
- Kiehl’s Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream is a lightweight moisturizer that contains calendula extract and powdered flower petals to reduce redness and improve skin tone and texture.
Step 5: Slather on Sunscreen
If you only include one step in your morning anti-aging skincare routine, make it sunscreen. Wearing SPF is crucial if you want to prevent aging because sun damage is one of the main causes of fine lines and wrinkles.
You don’t have to use anything fancy, either—facial sunscreen from the drugstore like Neutrogena Clear Face and Aveeno Protect + Hydrate will do the job. Just make sure you buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to provide the most protection against UV rays.
Nighttime Anti-Aging Skincare Routine for All Skin Types
Your skin has different needs at night compared to during the day. For example, you don’t have to put on sunscreen before bed. But you should apply retinol before hitting the hay to fight wrinkles while you sleep. Retinol is an anti-aging powerhouse that breaks down in sunlight and becomes much less effective, so it’s best to slather it on after dark.
Read on to learn more about which anti-aging skincare products to use before bed if you want youthful, firm skin for years to come.
Step 1: Cleanse
Cleansing is even more crucial at night than in the morning. Your skin has been exposed to pollutants all day long, so it’s important to wash them away. Dermatologists recommend that you double cleanse before bed to ensure your skin is totally clean, especially if you wear makeup.
For our first nighttime cleanse, we like to use a cleansing oil or balm. They’re capable of removing stubborn waterproof makeup without stripping or irritating the skin. Here are some of our favorites below.
- Mario Badescu Cleansing Oil contains rice bran, jojoba, and evening primrose oils for extra hydration.
- Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil contains green tea extract, which fights wrinkles by increasing collagen and elastin production.
- Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm contains Hungarian Mud to draw out impurities and squalane, which hydrates the skin and combats wrinkles.
Then we follow up our cleansing balm with our regular morning cleanser to get our face extra clean before moving onto the next step in our anti-aging skincare routine.
Step 2: Apply a Hydrating Serum
Our nighttime skincare routine includes retinol, which can be a little drying. That’s why we like to use a super hydrating serum filled with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and squalane.
One product that’s always in our rotation is Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum. It contains hyaluronic acid and pineapple ceramides to nourish and soothe your skin. We love Glossier Super Bounce too, which has vitamin B5 and glycerin to draw moisture into your skin.
Step 3: Use an Eye Cream
The skin under your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face, which can make it more prone to wrinkles. That’s why it’s a good idea to give your eyes some extra TLC and apply a hydrating eye cream every night.
We swear by Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment, which has avocado oil to hydrate and brighten the under-eye area. The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG is another great option if you want to depuff your eyes and reduce the appearance of dark circles. If you have sensitive skin, try out La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Cream. It has niacinamide, thermal spring water, and shea butter to soothe tired, dry eyes.
Experts recommend that you moisturize your under-eye area before the rest of your face because eye creams tend to be thinner than night creams. Thin serums and creams can’t penetrate thick ones, so always apply your anti-aging skincare products from lightest to heaviest.
Step 4: Apply a Thick Moisturizer
Even if you have oily skin, it’s essential to moisturize twice per day. Did you know that dehydration can actually cause fine lines to develop? Luckily, applying a thick night cream before bed can help rehydrate your skin and reduce dehydration-induced wrinkles. Moisturizers can also help maintain your skin barrier, which keeps things that are good for your skin like water and ceramides in and harmful stuff out. A damaged skin barrier can lead to problems like rough, dull skin, so you definitely want to avoid it.
Although you’ll probably want to use a light moisturizer that pairs well with makeup during the day, experts recommend switching to a thicker cream at night. A richer cream with collagen-boosting ingredients like peptides will help nourish and restore your skin while you sleep. Here are a few night creams to consider adding to your anti-aging skincare routine.
- Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer has peptides to increase collagen, plus pomegranate spheres and hyaluronic acid to boost skin hydration.
- LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask has hyaluronic acid, evening primrose oil, and glycerin to soothe and moisturize your skin while you snooze.
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream contains colloidal oatmeal and niacinamide to relieve dryness and even out your skin tone.
Step 5: Apply Retinol
Collagen is what makes your skin look plump and youthful. Unfortunately, collagen production drops 1% every year starting at age 20. Dermatologists agree that retinol is one of the best defenses against decreased collagen production and aging. It’s a form of vitamin A that can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, fade age spots, improve skin texture, and even out your skin tone. Collagen is a total workhorse that you need to add to your anti-aging skincare routine ASAP!
As we mentioned above, retinol should only be applied at night because it becomes less effective when exposed to sunlight. It can also dry out your skin, so you should take extra care to moisturize your skin properly. You should also avoid mixing retinol with certain products that can further dry out your skin, like toner and chemical exfoliants that contain hydroxy acids.
Retinol is safe to use every day. However, you may want to dial back your usage in the winter if you’re prone to seasonal dryness. And if you want to exfoliate, don’t use your retinol serum on the same day to avoid skin irritation.
When you add retinol to your anti-aging skincare routine, you should start slow and build up your skin’s tolerance to it. At first, stick to using a small pea-sized amount once or twice per week and work your way up from there.
Although you can get prescription retinol from your dermatologist, over-the-counter versions are gentler and better for newbies. Shop some of our favorite products below.
- Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil combines retinol with blue tansy and German chamomile to soothe skin and calm redness.
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum contains lab-created microencapsulated retinol, which may be less irritating than regular retinol and better for sensitive skin.
- Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Rapid Renewal Retinol Treatment combines retinol with hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, algae extract, and vitamin E to moisturize your skin.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may want to apply another layer of moisturizer over your retinol serum to reduce irritation. Just wait ten minutes to give the retinol a chance to sink in before you reapply your night cream.
Anti-Aging Lifestyle Tips
Skincare products aren’t the only part of an effective anti-aging regimen. If you’re serious about preventing wrinkles, you’ll also have to make some lifestyle changes to keep your skin healthy.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is essential if you want to prevent visible signs of aging like wrinkles. Your skin repairs itself while you sleep, healing the environmental damage it sustained from being exposed to the sun and elements during the day. The less sleep you get, the less time your skin has to restore itself. Eventually, sleep deprivation will start to take a toll on your skin and may lead to extra fine lines and wrinkles.
Your sleeping position is also important. If you spend nine hours face down on your pillow every night, you could develop permanent wrinkles. So try to sleep on your back if possible, or get a silk pillowcase. Because silk is so smooth, it reduces the friction between your face and your pillow, which may lower your chances of developing unwanted sleep wrinkles.
Wear Protective Clothing and Accessories
When it comes to preventing aging, the sun is your worst enemy. Exposing your skin to UV rays increases the production of unstable molecules called free radicals. In small amounts, free radicals can be beneficial because they help fight off infection-causing pathogens. But if your body accumulates too many free radicals, they can damage your DNA and cell membranes, a process known as oxidative stress.
Prolonged oxidative stress promotes the aging process, which is bad news for your skin. It can cause you to develop age-related skin problems like fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, and sagging before your time.
Nobody wants to look older than they are, so it’s important to avoid oxidative stress to ward off premature signs of aging. Eating foods and using skincare products that contain antioxidants can help keep your free radical levels in check. But an ounce of prevention is usually worth a pound of cure, so you should try your best to avoid sun damage in the first place.
Wearing sunscreen is a great start, but we also suggest dressing in long sleeves and pants when you know you’ll be out in the sun for a few hours. Hats and sunglasses can also protect your skin from UV rays and prevent you from squinting, which is one of the main causes of crow’s feet.
Although there’s no cure for aging, these products and lifestyle changes can slow down the process substantially and keep your skin looking younger for longer. Starting your anti-aging skincare routine in your twenties will also give you a leg up in the race against time. If you make minor changes now, like applying a daily sunscreen and changing your sleeping position, you can prevent some of the main causes of aging, like sun damage and sleep wrinkles.
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