Anti-Aging Skincare Routine: A Beginner’s Guide

As of today, there is no miracle holy grail face cream existing on this planet that reverses time. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the dreaded wrinkles. There are actually a lot of solid actives that can help prevent wrinkle formation and minimize wrinkle severity. Adding a few wrinkle-fighting actives on top of a solid skincare routine (cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen) will have you covered, and you can sleep peacefully, knowing your preventative, wrinkle-fighting routine is helping you age gracefully.

Causes of Aging

There are two main culprits of aging: the sun and good ol’ Father Time. Intrinsic aging from, well, just living is called chronoaging, while aging caused by external factors (mainly UV rays) is called photoaging. Clinically speaking, chronoaging is associated with thinning skin and loss of elasticity. On the other hand, photoaging is characterized by deeper wrinkles and sagging. Our faces are naturally exposed to the elements on the regular, so chronoaging and photoaging work in tandem and lead to changes such as fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, chronic dry skin, and unwanted hyperpigmentation.

In the dermis, you’ll find crucial proteins responsible for holding everything up. Degradation in these proteins is at the crux of skin aging. 

Collagen: This protein, with its sturdy triple-helix coil structure, is the crucial support protein in your dermis.

Elastin: This appropriately named protein is responsible for your skin’s elastic “bounce-back.”

These proteins are the prime victims of aging pathways such as free radical damage, glycation caused by excess sugar, elastosis (elastin buildup), and the like. Over time, your collagen breaks down, modifications and cross-links build up, and an excess of elastin crowds your dermis. This internal structural damage translates to all the visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and sagging.

Ingredients of Anti-Aging Products

One of the most common ingredients found in anti-aging products is peptides. Peptides encompass a vast category of ingredients that can be difficult to navigate. Most ingredients are highly proprietary, and the only data available are held by peptide manufacturers. So, let’s go over some of the most common peptides you can find on the market:

Matrixyl 3000

You can find this on your ingredient list as palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, or even called out directly on the packaging. This is one of the most well-known peptides out there, created by Sederma, which has done multiple clinicals to showcase that Matrixyl can visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles.


This is another Sederma classic! Unlike Matrixyl, it has been tested more specifically for eye-area concerns such as dark circles and firmness around the eye area. You can spot this on your ingredient list as hydroxysuccinimide, palmitoyl tripeptide-1, and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.


This is one of the main ingredients found in products claiming “growth factor” benefits. It can be found alone or in a blend with other peptides. There are promising signs with this ingredient. However, since it hasn’t gone through as much testing, we recommend scoping products that use this with a blend of other good ingredients like proven antioxidants for a more comprehensive anti-aging case.

How To Build Your Anti-Aging Skincare Routine

1: Age Prevention

Are you in your 20s or 30s and starting to think about keeping your skin in tip top shape? Then age prevention should be your top priority! Daily antioxidant and sun protection are the most important parts of the prevention strategy. Consider starting here:

Day Routine:

  1. Cleanser
  2. L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Serum 
  3. Moisturizer
  4. Sun Protection

Night Routine

  1. Cleanser
  2. AHA Exfoliation (Once a Week)
  3. Moisturizer with Niacinamide

2. Actively fighting fine lines

If you’re noticing fine lines starting to creep up and want to take a more active approach to anti-aging, consider incorporating a lower concentration of retinoid to your routine—for example, 0.3% retinol two to three times a week. If you’re extra sensitive, consider alternatives such as Granactive Retinoid or bakuchiol.

Day Routine:

  1. Cleanser
  2. L-Ascorbic Acid(Vitamin C) Serum
  3. Peptides
  4. Moisturizer
  5. Sun Protection

Night Routine:

  1. Cleanser
  2. AHA Exfoliation/ Retinoid On Alternating Nights
  3. Moisturizer with Niacinamide

3: Level up with an in-office procedure

Ultimately, in-office procedures will get you much more dramatic results in a shorter time. If you decide to opt in for procedures, your postprocedural skincare can help it work that much better.

Recovery phase: If your skin is very angry post-procedure, keep your routine simple and focus on moisturization and sun protection. Soothing ingredients like allantoin and Centella asiatica extract can also help.

Help the procedure go further: Fun fact! There are many studies that show home-use chemical peels can be a great treatment between office visits to help enhance the effects of your professional peel.

Anti-Aging Pro Tips

Pro tip 1: It’s still important to keep skin-barrier function in mind when ramping up retinoids. Light irritation and shedding is expected during acclimation, but your skin shouldn’t be in a constant state of red, itchy irritation.

Pro tip 2: Aging skin tends to start skewing dryer. Consider scoping a more occlusive moisturizer by looking for ingredients such as petrolatum and shea butter higher up on the ingredient list as a night cream.

Pro tip 3: Look for good claims when shopping! Think claims more like “45% improvement in appearance of wrinkles after 8 weeks” rather than claims like “93% participants feel like skin is tighter.” Stories with mystical, proprietary ingredients with no claims are most likely not going to get you the right results.

Pro tip 4: Vitamin C is the gold standard antioxidant, but it can help to include a blend of different antioxidants. The good thing is, many antioxidant-packed products on the market comes in blends, so you don’t have to worry about layering different products!

Pro tip 5: When it comes to age prevention, your lifestyle matters! Study after study has shown that eating a high-sugar diet and smoking tobacco are both bad for your health and can negatively impact the appearance of skin.

In-Office vs. Home-Use Treatments For Wrinkles

If you’re ready to try out in-office procedures to treat wrinkles, it’s time to consult a dermatologist. When you go in for your consultation, ask about these procedures and work with the derm to see which is right for your skin type and skin conditions:

  • Laser therapy
  • Microneedling treatment
  • Botox

Hold on a second! I can buy these in stores!

It’s true that you can find many home devices that are supposed to offer “in- office efficacy.” However, generally speaking, they are not as effective and sometimes can be downright dangerous.

Microneedle: This is a firm nope from us! Most store-bought microneedles are not as fine as office-use needles, nor do they puncture as deep making them much less effective. More than likely, they do more damage than they bring any benefits. Moreover, not all of them are correctly positioned as one-time-use products for sanitation reasons. Please consult an aesthetician or dermatologist if you’d like to try this out.

Home-use lasers: Some premium home-use anti-aging laser products could work, though not exactly on par with in-office lasers. We would recommend only buying from reputable, FDA-approved brands.

Eye-Area Aging

Outside of crow’s feet, eye bags and dark circles are the most complicated skin concerns to treat. There are several nontopical factors that significantly impact the severity of these concerns: genes, diet, health, and bone structure. Thus, you’ll notice a lot of eye creams have lukewarm reviews about results. There are a couple of things to keep in mind here:

  1. Clinicals here get even more brownie points. Know that the scoring might not be as impressive as the scoring you’re used to, but that’s the reality of eye-area skin concerns.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with using your face moisturizer or serum for your eyes. Just use caution with those runny serums, and proceed with a lot of caution if the skincare formula contains AHAs or retinol.

One last depressing thought on eye creams: You might have noticed that eye creams are about the same price (sometimes more) than a face cream for half the amount. Unfortunately, the markup for a lot of these eye-cream formulas isn’t quite justified. Hence, clinicals are really important here.

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