I’ve had so many requests for an updated skincare routine lately along with lots of questions about what’s the “right” way to do things and what are the “right” products to use. In this post I’ll explain my entire anti-aging skincare routine and try to provide answers to some of your questions. I can’t say that my way of doing skincare is “right” or 100% perfect, but it’s what works for me and I’ve seen an improvement in my skin since I started using these products in this way.
Now that I’m 53 my skincare routine is all about 3 things:
- Seeking out anti-aging active ingredients that are proven to work and backed by independent research or those that have shown potential to work in scientific studies.
- Keeping my skin healthy, balanced, and moisturized so it can act as youthful as possible, and
- Protecting my skin from the elements that we know cause skin aging (UV rays and pollution).
These are my tips for keeping my skin younger-looking with topical products (feeding my skin from the outside) but that’s only one part of anti-aging skincare. Lifestyle and procedures are also important parts of the equation. Exercise, diet, and hydration all play important roles, but that’s for another post.
So let’s get started with my morning skincare routine:
Step 1: I wash my face twice a day. In the morning I use CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser.
I don’t use any soap or harsh detergents on my face. This is a mild cleanser that doesn’t foam up and is more like a cleansing cream. It contains moisturizing ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerine so it doesn’t strip my moisture barrier. Skin has a delicate balance that needs to be maintained in order for skin to be healthy and look younger. Harsh soaps strip away skin’s natural oil and change skin’s natural pH both of which send it into overcompensation mode where it overproduces oils and doesn’t look it’s best.
After I wash my face my main goal is to lock in the water that’s been absorbed so I don’t rub my face until it’s dry and I don’t wait to apply my serums and moisturizers. I gently pat my face and leave it slightly damp and immediately start applying my morning serums because skin is more absorbent when it’s slightly damp.
Step 2: The first serum I apply is my Timeless 20% C+E+Ferulic Serum
Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) is one of the most effective antioxidants because of it’s ability to be absorbed by the skin. Free-radicals break down the structure of the skin so neutralizing them is important! Vitamin C is one of the ingredients that’s proven to brighten skin and reduce age spots. This lightweight, watery serum also contains Vitamin E and Ferulic acid which have been shown to increase efficacy of the Vitamin C by 8-16 times. I apply 5-7 drops to face, neck, chest and backs of hands, avoiding the eyelids. I make sure to put it under my eyes, on my crows feet, and on the space between my upper lip and nose.
Timeless makes the vitamin C serum fresh when you order so it lasts longer. All ascorbic acid based vitamin C serums will oxidize over time from exposure to light and air, so the $25 price point makes it easier on my wallet when it turns yellow after 3 months and the unused portion has to be dumped out. (Click here to see how I make my C serum last longer)! Use code hf5off for $5.00 off your purchase at Timeless Skincare.
Step 3: Timeless CoEnzyme Q10 Serum
I don’t wait between products either so right after I put on the Vitamin C serum, I apply my Timeless CoEnzyme Q10 Serum. People often ask if they should wait between products and this is one of those areas where there is no “right” answer. Even dermatologists don’t agree on whether to wait or not. My derm says no waiting is needed and I like to get the increased absorption while my skin is damp and also lock in some moisture too! It all depends on how much time you have in the morning and what makes most sense to you.
This serum contains CoEnzyme Q10 and Matrixyl 3000 which are peptides. There are lots of peptides in skincare products and some of them have been shown in limited research to increase collagen stimulation and firm skin while reducing inflammation. They’re not 100% proven yet, but I use them anyway and I like that this serum contains 2 together. I apply 3-5 drops to my face (including eyelids & lips), neck, chest and backs of hands. This is a yellow viscous liquid that spreads and absorbs easily leaving no greasy film. Use code hf5off for $5.00 off your purchase at Timeless Skincare
Both Timeless serums also contain Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin which are great moisturizers so I’m already starting the moisturizing process with them.
Step 4: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer
I use CeraVe PM for my day lotion (the PM just means that it doesn’t contain sunscreen) because of the great ingredients. It’s got ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. I read some research recently about niacinimides and all the great things they can do for aging or acne prone skin so I’m way into them this year! Niacinamide is a vitamin B3 derived anti-oxidant that scavenges free radicals, it improves the skins barrier function, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it reduces wrinkles! Ceramides are lipids or fats that make up our skin but that get depleted as we age. Research shows that certain topical ceramides when combined with cholesterol can penetrate the skin and help replenish ceramides in the skin and this lotion contains both! I apply CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer all over my face (including eyelids), neck, chest and backs of hands.
When applying each product I make sure to rub some onto my upper lip between my nose and lip — that area is one that shows age but is often forgotten as we rub or creams around.
I use a separate moisturizer and sunscreen but if you need to save time in the morning, you can swap CeraVe AM for CeraVe PM to get sunscreen protection and moisturizing in one step.
UV radiation (sunshine) is the #1 ager of our skin (and it also causes skin cancer), so protecting my skin every day is VERY important! I use an all-mineral sunscreen with an SPF 50 PA++++ rating to protect against the widest spectrum of UV rays. Exuviance is my favorite although I have many sunscreens for different uses. This one looks natural and works really well under powder makeup.
I get asked all the time how to re-apply throughout the day and sadly there’s no perfect solution for this. The main thing is that some sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, so do the best you can.
Other sunscreens I use and love:
HydroPeptide Solar Defense SPF 30 – All mineral sunscreen with antioxidants that works great under most liquid foundations.
Neutrogena UltraSheer Liquid SPF 70 – All chemical sunscreen that’s lightweight, sheer and wearable alone or under makeup.
Neutrogena Healthy Defense PureScreen SPF 50 – All mineral sunscreen that’s inexpensive but leaves a whitish cast so I use it on my neck and chest.
Banana Boat Sport Ultra SPF 50 – All chemical sunscreen that’s water resistant to 80 minutes. I use this on the backs of my hands every day so it won’t wash off every time I wet my hands.
I can’t use Glycolic Acid on my face because of irritation but I do use it on my hands to treat age spots that are starting to form (ugh). Then I apply my hand sunscreen to protect and keep new age spots from forming (see Banana Boat above).
I used to use a makeup removing towelette but I’ve found it drags and pulls my skin too much lately so I switched to this coconut based melting cleanser. It’s an oil based gel that slides around my face when I massage it in without any pulling. Coconut oil is moisturizing and anti-bacterial so it can help prevent breakouts while removing my makeup. It can be used wet or dry, but I prefer dry. I rub it into my dry skin and then rinse with warm water. It does leave a slight residue which I remove with the 2nd step in my face washing “double cleanse” routine.
I never use cleansers that foam or contain abrasives on my face. This facial wash is specially formulated to clean sensitive skin while being non-drying and soothing with aloe and licorice root. I keep this cleanser on my vanity to wash my face at night and I also take this one along when I travel.
I used to use a Clarisonic sonic cleansing brush but I stopped because I found that it contributed to my breakouts. I think the bristles are hard to clean so they’re not breeding bacteria so I switched to a Konjac Sponge and I really love it! It’s made of a root vegetable that’s hard like styrofoam when it’s dry but after wetting it puffs up and softens so it exfoliates without scratching my skin. I’m always amazed at how much makeup is on the sponge after I wash with it and then I’m also amazed at how easy the makeup and dirt rinses out of it. It will build up bacteria over time so it does have to be replaced every month or two.
Witch hazel’s been around forever but most witch hazels are loaded with alcohol which can dry and strip the skin. Thayer’s Witch Hazel is alcohol-free and contains glycerin and aloe to moisturize and soothe. Witch hazel is an anti-oxidant so it fights free radicals while healing damaged skin. I wet a cotton round with this toner and sweep over my face to remove last traces of makeup. The cucumber scent is cool and refreshing!
Step 4: Tretinoin (Retin-A) 0.1% Cream (prescription)
Like in my morning routine, I don’t wait to apply my treatments at night. I leave my skin slightly damp and rub in my Tretinoin cream. I’m into my 3rd year of using Retin-A and I love the results so much I’ll never be without it! I started with 0.05% tretinoin and last year bumped up to the stronger 0.1%. My skin’s adapted to it and I have very little irritation so I can put it right up under my eyes and on my upper lip. If you’re just starting out, waiting 15-20 minutes after washing your face to apply it can reduce irritation and peeling.
Retin-A use is a long-term proposition and results are cumulative over time so you want to start slowly and work up without irritation so you can stay married to it forever! It’s not a one night stand, and it doesn’t work in a week, so be patient and you will see results. Tretinoin is the gold standard of anti-aging treatments with 30 years of independent research proving it works. I apply a pea sized amount by dotting it around my face. One dot on each cheek, 2 dots on forehead, 2 dots on jawline and one dot on the back of each hand. I spread that around my whole face avoiding my eyelids, nostrils and corners of the lips. I put one dot on my neck once a week, but my neck never acclimated and becomes irritated so I can only use it there once a week.
Step 5: CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum
On the other 6 nights I use CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum which is an over-the-counter retinol product. It’s like Retin-A’s weaker cousin but it isn’t as irritating. It’s proven to work but much slower and not as well as the prescription. CeraVe included the same great ceramides, niacin amide, and hyaluronic acid in this formula so it’s soothing and moisturizing as well. I apply one squirt to my neck and chest.
I’ve been using this serum since the beginning of time because of it’s great ingredients. Olay packs palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E into this silky lightweight serum. The peptides fight free-radicals, the niacin amide brightens, and the glycerin and hyaluronic acid are moisturizing. Three pumps spreads easily over the entire face (including eyelids), neck, chest & backs of hands.
For the last step, I apply this thick moisturizing cream. It contains niacinamide, retinol and vitamin e in a moisturizing base. When I wake up in the morning my skin’s so soft and looks hydrated too.
I know it seems like a lot when I explain the ingredients and the process but it really only takes 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night and the results are worth the investment in time. The best part is this routine won’t break the bank! I try lots of products each year but my skin never looks as good, healthy or youthful as with this group of products so I always come back to them. And for me, that’s how you know it’s the right routine for you!
Shop My AM Routine:
Shop My PM Routine:
Timeless Skincare: Use hf5off at checkout for $5 off!:
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