The Right Anti-Aging Products for You
If your skin is in good shape—that is, it’s fairly even in tone and wrinkle-free—you need a basic, preventive routine that will help keep it that way. A rule of thumb from Tina Alster, a Washington, D.C., dermatologist: “Use daytime for protecting the skin and nighttime for repair.”
A daytime moisturizer with sunscreen: “The easiest, most inexpensive way to prevent skin aging is to use sunscreen,” says Philadelphia dermatologist Susan Taylor. “Wrinkles, sagging, and brown spots are created and worsened by the sun, so protecting yourself can have dramatic benefits.” Look for “broad spectrum” or “UVA and UVB protection” on the label, which means the product addresses both UVB rays, which burn the skin, and UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply and cause skin to age.
How to use: Get in the habit of applying moisturizer with sunscreen not only to your face but also to your neck and upper chest, says Ava Shamban, a dermatologist in Santa Monica: “Otherwise you’ll have a 30-year-old face and a 50-year-old neck.” And choose an SPF of 30 or higher, which will give you the protection you need. “When sunscreen is tested for SPF, it’s spread on as thick as cake frosting,” says Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist in New York City. A lower number might not do the trick, especially the way most of us apply it. Try: Prevage Day Intensive Anti-Aging Moisture Cream SPF 30 ($129, elizabetharden.com).
A night cream: Hydrated skin is supple skin, says New Orleans dermatologist Nia Terezakis. So it’s important to replenish the natural oils and water that you lose daily. Nighttime moisturizers contain humectants (such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid), which attract water to the skin, and emollients (such as squalene and jojoba oil) to lock that moisture in.
How to use: Night creams tend to be rich, so if you’re prone to breakouts, choose one labeled “noncomedogenic.” Gently tap it in while skin is still damp from cleansing. And give the cream time to be absorbed—up to 10 minutes—before you hit the sack. Otherwise your pillow will soak up more of the active ingredients than your face does. Try: Avène Sérénage Nutri-redensifying Night Cream ($49, aveneusa.com for stores).
An exfoliator: “Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and smooths texture,” says Miami dermatologist Fredric Brandt. Chemical exfoliants, typically creams or cleansers that contain ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, dissolve dead cells, while physical exfoliators (a.k.a. scrubs) gently buff them away.
How to use: Exfoliate up to twice a week. If you prefer a scrub, use it in the morning instead of a cleanser. And if you like a chemical exfoliant, swap one in for your nighttime cleanser or moisturizer a couple of nights a week. Try: LaseResults Exfoliating & Hydrating Cleanser ($36, laseresults.com).