Anti-Aging 101: Ok, Really, What to do First?Monday, May 10, 2010
Last week, I told you what dermatologists recommend you include in your anti-aging regimen. Sure, that's all fine and dandy. I even named a few products I've tried and liked to fit into those steps. But, should you really just go out and buy an entire new skin care routine?
No. It's actually much more simple than that.
First, because you aren't a crazy beauty blogger like me, you should make changes to your skin care routine slowly. I test entirely new routines every 4-6 weeks. I'm lucky in that my skin tolerates this pretty well, but there's a reason I test each line for about 4-6 weeks before declaring the testing over. It takes that long for your skin to adjust to any new changes. Your skin may go through a time period where it is actually worse before things get much better.
As well, you should change only a few products at a time if possible. I would space new items out by at least a week or two if possible. Then, if you have a reaction, you know what the issue is. I would also try to stick with products that you know your skin reacts well to. If you already like your cleanser, don't change it just to add a few anti-oxidants. Try to stick with what works.
So, in my opinion, the first change anyone should make is to add sunscreen to their daily routine. I don't care if you use a separate product or have it in your moisturizer, it should be at least SPF 15, broad spectrum if possible and it needs to be a product you will use every day. Rain or shine. And it needs to be in a form that you will get adequate coverage by using the product normally. So, the sunscreen can not be primarily in your foundation or powder. You won't apply enough of those items, you need to rely on moisturizer or a separate sunscreen.
Once you've added the sunscreen, you need to decide how aggressive you want to be with your treatment products and exfoliation. If you're in your 20s or early 30s with minimal aging, you may not need to be aggressive. If you're in your 50s with fine lines and wrinkles that you hate, I recommend being a bit more aggressive.
First, think about treatment products. On the easy end of the scale, just ensure that your moisturizer (day or night, face or eye cream if you use it) contains anti-aging treatment ingredients like peptides or anti-oxidants. Use this product twice a day.
If you want to be on the more aggressive end of the spectrum, you'll get the most bang for your buck by adding in a retinoid product. While the first "easy" product might contain a retinoid, this should be a more "hard core" retinoid, a product that really features the ingredient. I often recommend that friends try out ROC products, since they have a great reputation, feature retinoids and are pretty easy to find. I'm trying out Lancaster Retinology currently, and will also be recommending this line.
When adding in your retinoid product there are a few things to keep in mind. First, retinoids make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which is partly why I recommend adding it in after adding in your new sunscreen. Do not use a retinoid without using sunscreen. Second, retinoids can definitely cause irritation and should be added in s l o w l y. By which I mean, use the product every 3rd night to begin with. If your skin is ok after a few weeks, try going to every other night. You might be able to even get away with every night. Watch your skin to see what you can handle. If you are having redness, irritation, dryness or your skin feels tight or stings, you need to back off. Skip using the product for a few days, then back up a step. You should still be using your "easy" anti-aging lotion on the nights you aren't using the retinoid.
Additional treatment products, such as an anti-oxidant product, can be added in as well after your skin is doing well with the above products. I would apply a specific treatment cream or serum before my "easy" anti-aging cream, and be alert for signs of irritation.
I think the last thing to decide is your level of exfoliation. This step doesn't need to wait for last, you can start adding this in at the very start. Truthfully, my most common method of exfoliation is plain old scrubbing. I truly take my washcloth and just scrub away, paying particular attention to my t-zone and around my nose. If I'm feeling like high tech scrubbing, I take out my Clarisonic and use that. If your face starts to hurt or turns red, stop because you've done too much! The idea is to gently mechanically exfoliate your skin.
If you decide you need to be a bit more aggressive with the exfoliation I recommend trying a chemical exfoliator. Use this on nights you aren't using your retinoid, and don't over do it. Over exfoliation can make your skin lack luster and dry. Kinda what you are trying to treat with the exfoliation to begin with. So, add this in slowly.
At a loss for where to start picking products? Obviously, I have a lot of reviews on here, but sometimes you should go with what you know works for you. I am going to cheat and use a conversation I had with my friend C. from work last week. I'm no longer a secret, undercover beauty blogger at work, and everyone knows about my site. Which means I have random discussions all the time about concealer, mascara and skin care. Which, truthfully, I kinda love.
Anyways, C. is someone I work with. She has fair sensitive skin and seems to tan easily from what I can tell. She asked me about anti-aging regimens last week, so she and I sat down to discuss what she should tweak in her routine. (Don't worry, it was a quiet part of the afternoon, it was do this or go down to the coffee cart. I didn't leave a patient waiting to be seen anywhere.) She uses a gentle cleanser (I can't remember which one, but I'm pretty sure it was Olay), an Olay Regenerist cream and Classic Olay Beauty Fluid. She's tried switching to other skin products in the past, but has had reactions such as redness and irritation. So, she goes back to the Olay.
We looked at the Olay website and discovered that the Regenerist line (contains anti-oxidants and peptides) has 2 moisturizers with broad spectrum UV coverage (I'm not counting the tinted versions, and that's when I remembered that the SPF 50 version was in my "to test" box at home), so she added that to her to buy list. Add in a ROC product to use every couple of nights, the Olay Micro-Sculpting Cream which has the highest concentration of the peptides in the whole line, and Olay Regenerist's Eye Roller Cream for when she needs the extra moisture. That's a regimen right there, made up of products from a line she's already had great luck with. Now she just has to start slowly adding in the products, making sure her skin can tolerate everything.
Hopefully this took a little more of the intimidating factors out of creating your own anti-aging regimen. If you want to go even more aggressive in your products, experience reactions or are interested in more invasive (or non-invasive) alternatives to over the counter topicals, I strongly recommend you find a dermatologist to help you out.
I've bought products from ROC, Clarisonic and Olay, and I've received samples from ROC, Olay, Clarisonic and Lancaster.