A lot of people ask me which products they should use for anti-aging. Of course, the answer is fairly long and complex and depends upon multiple variables like age, specific concerns, and desired results. There are so many skincare options that fall under the “anti-aging” umbrella that it can seem overwhelming.
To simplify the subject, I developed this overview enlisting the help of my friend, dermatologist Jennifer Toyohara, M.D. In it I cover the major types of anti-aging products, highlight key ingredients to look for, and offer product recommendations for each category. Click through the slideshow to learn more about anti-aging skin care including best options for prevention, hydration, exfoliation, lightening, and repair.
The Ultimate Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care 1 of 20
Prevention 2 of 20
Preventative skin care is the one anti-aging step that all adults should be practicing every day. Start these products in your 20s to help keep skin youthful and continue to use them to protect against further damage. When it comes to warding off aging, there is no better weapon than high SPF sunscreens. Antioxidants also fight against the ill effects of the sun, as well as other stressors.
Prevention – Sun Protection 3 of 20
Since up to 90% of aging comes from the sun, a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher is essential. Dr. Toyohara says, "Year â€˜round, rain or shine not just face but also ears, neck and dÃ©colletage."
1. Glo Professional Oil Free SPF 40 Sunscreen $30
2. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 $13.99
3. EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 $25
4. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 $14.39
Prevention – Antioxidants 4 of 20
The primary function of antioxidants in skincare is to combat free radicals, which are caused by sun, stress, smoking, and pollution. Ingredients like tea, coffeeberry, soy, and grapeseed extracts neutralize these wrinkle-causing molecules before they can do damage.
1. June Jacobs Green Tea Serum $52
2. Nature's Gate Targeted Eye Treatment with Grape Seed $18.99
3. Origins A Perfect World Antioxidant Moisturizer with White Tea $41
4. RevalÃ©Skin Night Cream with Coffeeberry Extract $110
5. RevalÃ©Skin Skin Firming Serum $70
Hydration 5 of 20
Skin becomes drier as we age and it's increasingly important to keep skin moisturized. I love humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin because they visibly plump skin and fill in fine lines. However, unless it is very humid out, you also need emollients and/or occlusive agents such as shea butter, petroleum, and silicones to trap moisture in and keep it from evaporating. Natural lipids called ceramides are popular moisturizing ingredients in anti-aging skin care because they become depleted with age.
Hydration – Emollients and Humectants 6 of 20
These skincare products are great for keeping skin hydrated. Humectants draw moisture to the surface of your skin for immediate results, emollients smooth flaky skin, and occlusive agents like petroleum and silicones create physical barrier to help prevent loss of moisture.
1. Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion $6.79
2. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil $48
3. Kiehl's Ultra Moisturizing Day Cream $26.50
4. Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream $49
5. Peter Thomas Roth VIZ-1000 75% Hyaluronic Acid Complex $65
6. Avene Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream $30
Hydration – Ceramides 7 of 20
Ceramides are natural lipids that make up about 20% of your skin's surface layer. These lipids decrease with age and environmental factors, compromising skin's barrier. Replacing lost ceramides will help keep skin supple and protected.
1. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Capsules $92
2. Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore Reducing Toner $13.50
3. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream $13.39
4. SkinMedica Ceramide TNS Treatment Cream $64
Exfoliation 8 of 20
As we age, dead skin cells don't shed as quickly as they once did. The result is a dull, blotchy complexion. Exfoliating helps speed cellular turnover to reveal fresh, younger-looking skin. Exfoliation should be incorporated into an anti-aging routine by the time you are in your 30s. Sloughing off dead skin cells can be accomplished chemically or manually and formulas range in strength from very mild for sensitive skin to intense peels for more dramatic results.
Exfoliation – Chemical 9 of 20
Chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid and other alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and enzymes work by dissolving the intercellular "glue" that holds dead skin cells together so that they can be rinsed away. Don't let the word "chemical" scare you, most of these ingredients are natural but the skin cells are removed through a chemical reaction.
1. June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Mask $78
2. Alpha Hydrox AHA Enhanced Lotion $10.69
3. Malin+Goetz 10% Glycolic Pads $48
4. Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser $36
5. Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Retexturizing Peel $25
Exfoliation – Manual 10 of 20
Manual exfoliants physically removing dead skin cells with textured scrubs, cloths, or brushes.
1. Origins Modern Friction $39.50
2. The Body Shop Seaweed Pore Cleansing Facial Exfoliator $15
3. St. Ives Naturally Clear Apricot Scrub Blemish and Blackhead Control $4.69
4. Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System $125
5. Arbonne FC5 New Cell Scrub $28
Lightening 11 of 20
After years of sun exposure, aging skin is prone to develop some darker areas, referred to as age spots. The sun isn't the only culprit; hyperpigmentation or overproduction of pigment, can occur due to hormonal shifts during pregnancy or after and acne breakout. Lightening and brightening skin care products claim to lighten these darken spots for a more even skin tone and can be used whenever dark spots form.
Lightening – Hydroquinone 12 of 20
Hydroquinone, which is available in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths, is widely considered to be the most effective topical lightening ingredient. However, some people are leery of hydroquinone and prefer more natural and/or gentle lightening agents.
1. Obagi Nu Derm Clear (Prescription only)
2. Vivant Bleaching Serum Forte $58
3. Kate Sommerville Complexion Correction Spot Reducing Concentrate $48
4. Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60
Lightening – Brightening Agents 13 of 20
Natural lightening agents include licorice root extract, kojic acid, and vitamin C. Sheishido's extremely popular brightening products are formulated with 4MSK. Clinique's Even Better is currently the best-selling lightening serum on the market while SkinMedica's Lytera is a new product that claims to be as effective as prescription-strength hydroquinone.
1. SkinMedica Lytera Skin Brightening Complex $118.75
2. Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Treatment $19
3. Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial $48
4. Sheishido White Lucent Power Brightening Mask $68
5. Perricone Vitamin C Ester Serum $98
6. Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector $49.50
Repair 14 of 20
Repairing damage that has already been done to skin is much harder than preventing damage. When it comes to wrinkle repair, prescription-only retinoids and over-the-counter retinols are still the pick of most dermatologists. However, other ingredients are gaining more and more loyal followers. There are so many ingredients that claim to turn back time. The following are the tried and true and, in my humble opinion, are your best bests. You should be using rejuvenating products that repair fine lines and wrinkles, stimulate collagen and elastic production, and encourage cellular turnover by your late 30s/early40s.
Repair – Retinols 15 of 20
Retinols are over-the-counter retinoids. These derivatives of vitamin A are the only anti-aging ingredient that are proven effective at a cellular level. The increase cellular turnover, and stimulate collagen and elastin production.
1. Ren Bio Retinoid Anti Ageing Cream $65
2. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream $16.79
3. Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM $65
4. RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream $18.39
5. Glo Retinol CS $52
Repair – Niacin 16 of 20
Vitamin B3 derivatives niacinamide and nicotinic acid improve barrier function, encouraging natural collagen production. It strengthens the outer layer of skin and may stimulate elastin, which keeps skin firm and supple.
1. StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate $139
2. B. Kamins Nia-Stem Moisturizer Kx $125
3. Olay Pro-X Deep Wrinkle Treatment $23.99
4. NIA24 Skin Strengthening Complex $93
5. CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion $11.39
Repair – Peptides 17 of 20
Peptides are molecular links of amino acids that help skin produce collagen. Collagen is the substance that gives skin a firm and young appearance. According to WebMD, researchers believe that apply peptides to your skin may have a filling effect, similar to injections.
1. StriVectin-SD Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles $65
2. Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Regenerating Serum $15.99
3. Kinerase C8 Peptide Intensive Treatment $78.40
4. Principal Secret Reclaim Age Braker EyeFirmation Eye Serum $19.95
5. DermaE Peptides Plus Wrinkle Reverse CrÃ¨me $35
6. DDF Wrinkle Relax $91
Repair – Marine Extracts 18 of 20
Marine extracts, and in particular, marine algae have become increasingly popular ingredients to fight aging. The algae is incredibly rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that rejuvenate skin, strengthen tissues, and balance moisture. La Mer was famously developed by a scientist who set out to transform the look of his own skin after suffering burns in a lab. The microalgae in Algenist was also an accidental anti-aging discovery made my scientists.
1. Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer $90
2. Body Shop Seaweed Pore Perfector $20
3. Kiehl's Cryste Marine Firming Eye Treatment $40
4. La Mer Moisturizing Cream $285
5. La Prairie Advanced Marine Biology Eye Gel $105
Repair – Growth Factors 19 of 20
New ingredients in anti-aging skin care pop up all the time. Growth factors are one that appears to have a great deal of merit behind the hype. These naturally occuring proteins are responsible for cellular growth and proliferation. They promote tissue repair and stimulate the production of collagen to soften fine lines and wrinkles.
Lifestyle 20 of 20
Of course, selecting the right skin care is only one piece of the anti-aging puzzle. For optimal results, don't forget to eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, don't smoke, and get enough sleep. (Just don't sleep on your face. Dr. Toyohara warns that people who favor sleeping on one side have more wrinkles on that side.) My last, very unofficial piece of advice: have fun. Whether its in my mind or not, I'd swear that the young at heart don't just act younger; they look younger too!
Note: While these products are fantastic examples of the category I’ve placed them in, most offer multiple benefits.