The Right Anti-Aging Products for Your Skin

Putting together an anti-aging skincare regimen can seem overwhelming. Scrap that. Is overwhelming. So, we’ve crafted this four-step strategy to help clear confusion and get you just what your skin needs.

By Genevieve Monsma
Anti-aging Creams


Anti-Aging Regimen Step #1: Know your skin type

Normal and combination skin types can usually tolerate most anti-aging formulas — so you have the green light to skip this section. Oily or sensitive? Hold up. 

If you have oilier skin, consider yourself lucky. The extra lubrication you’ve been battling for years may finally feel like a benefit when hormone swings (hi, menopause) diminish skin hydration. In the meantime, however, having extra oil can clash with some anti-aging formulas. Creams and lotions for aging skin are often laced with very emollient ingredients (e.g. shea butter, lanolin or squalene) to keep the skin looking plump and dewy. On any oilier complexion, however, all the extra moisture may just end up looking and feeling slick. So, search for formulas with descriptors like lightweightnon-greasyfast-absorbing, and possibly, oil-free (though don’t discount a formula just because it isn’t oil-free. Some oil, like tea tree, can actually be beneficial for oily or acne-prone skin).

If your skin is on the sensitive side, the one ingredient to take extra care with is prescription-strength or over-the-counter retinoids (vitamin A derivatives). While retinoids are a dermatological darling, heralded for their skin clearing, firming and smoothing benefits, they are also notorious for causing irritation, especially in the first four to six weeks of use. To minimize that impact, consider a formula with time-release technology, which diminishes the potential for irritation, or one that has a moisturizing base, which can buffer the skin against a retinoid’s drying effects. You’ll also want to sidestep formulas that are heavily fragranced or contain artificial dye. And, while you can usually use some skin-sloughing acids, do so sparingly and start with gentler options, such as lactic acid as opposed to more aggressive glycolic acid.

Although oily and sensitive types have definite limits to what they can use successfully, there are a few universal products that work for all skin types: a gentle, milky rinse-away cleanser; a noncomedogenic, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30; and an active but not irritating daily serum, such as Serucell Serum with KFS Cellular Protein Complex, which contains a medley of active ingredients, including vitamin A, but is safe for both sensitive and oily skin.

What Aging Well Means to Me

In this special section, we are showcasing women who are proud of their faces — and with good reason! We will be adding women every few days until the end of the year for inspiration as we look toward the new year. Hover over/click a photo to see each woman and read her wise words on aging well.

Anti-Aging Regimen Step #2: Learn your anti-aging ingredients

What signs of aging are you seeing? Fine lines? A jiggly jawline? A smattering of sunspots? A skincare regimen is only as effective as the ingredients it contains, so step two is to “make sure your product(s) contain the right actives to address your concerns,” says dermatologist Amy Vaughan, MD. For efficiency’s sake, look for a multi-tasking anti-aging formula that contains more than one active ingredient and targets more than one of your concerns. These anti-aging ingredients are the ones most often recommended by doctors:

Common Anti-Aging Ingredients and What They Target

1. Retinoids promote cell turnover and stimulate collagen production. They target fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, slack skin, and acne.

2. Peptides boost collagen production. They target fine lines and wrinkles, saggy skin.

3. Antioxidants (vitamins C, E and A, green tea, resveratrol, niacinamide) fight against free radicals, the unstable molecules in the environment that damage cells and accelerate aging. They target all signs of aging, as their role is primarily preventative.

4. Hyaluronic acid helps skin retain moisture (can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water). It targets fine lines and wrinkles (providing an immediate smoothing improvement), dry skin.

5. Ceramides support the skin’s barrier function, keeping moisture in and irritants out. They target dry skin, sensitized/irritated skin.

6. AHAs and BHAs (alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids) remove dead skin cells, help even tone, boost collagen production. They target dullness, flakiness, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven tone, and acne.

7. Vitamin C brightens and evens skin tone, in addition to being an antioxidant. Can also safeguard the efficacy and endurance of your sunscreen. It targets dullness and sun damage.

If you are looking for a product that addresses multiple concerns, Serucell Serum with KFS Cellular Protein Complex gives you great bang for your buck, says Dr. Vaughan. “It contains peptides, antioxidants, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid — and it addresses multiple issues, including texture and fine lines, tone, and elasticity of the skin,” she says. 

Serucell also serves as an alternative to retinoids, says plastic surgeon Tom McClellan, MD. “The KFS Cellular Protein Complex in Serucell Serum boasts many of the same benefits of a retinoid — cell turnover, increased collagen production — but it does not injure the skin to create the healing process, like a retinoid does. Instead, it hurdles beyond that four-to-six-week period of irritation and gets right to repairing, without redness and peeling,” he explains.

Anti-Aging Regimen Step #3: Pick the right packaging

This doesn’t mean splurging on a product embossed in gold, but you should look for bottles or jars designed to protect unstable active ingredients, like vitamin C, retinoids, and peptides, all of which can degrade if they are repeatedly exposed to light or air. What is thoughtful packaging? Opaque bottles (or opaque tubes within a bottle) with air-tight pumps are smart picks.

Additionally, be careful where you store your skincare products. “Even the best packaging cannot protect a skincare formula from the negative impact of high humidity or extreme temperature fluctuations, both of which can shorten shelf life,” says Dr. McClellan. The fine print on many bottles will suggest storing the product in a “cool, dark place,” which does not mean next to a steamy shower. Your bedroom, your closet or a bathroom without a shower are probably safer spots.

Anti-Aging Regimen Step #4: Be compliant

The best skincare regimen for your complexion is one that’s consistent, says Dr. McClellan. “And for most people, that means keeping things simple so they’ll actually stick to the program,” he advises. 

Dr. Vaughan suggests, in the morning, cleansing, then using an active serum topped by sunscreen. This routine is easy and quick so you won’t be tempted to skip a step, even on harried mornings, she says, “but try to choose a one-and-done, multi-tasking serum like Serucell so you get all the benefits your skin needs for the day.”

Similarly, Dr. Vaughan proposes a simple bedtime routine that includes cleansing and application of an active serum. Then, on top, you may want to add a specialty product, like an eye or lip cream, or, in the winter, when skin is driest, a heavier moisturizer. Tip: To ensure you don’t inadvertently dilute your active serum, “allow it to absorb for two minutes before you top it with anything else,” says Dr. McClellan. Finally, once or twice a week, Dr. McClellan recommends exfoliating to remove dead skin cells and create a clear pathway for your active skincare products. You may use a gentle scrub, a chemical exfoliator like an aha or bha — or, just a clean, damp washcloth.


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