Life happens, and no one will ever blame you for putting your career, kids, parents, happy hours, whatever before your skin-care regimen. But if you haven’t yet whipped your anti-aging routine into shape, now’s the time—because it only gets harder from here. Just sticking with the basics, like moisturizing and dutifully applying SPF like a champ, is no match for time, UV rays, genetics, and gravity. But it’s not all bad news (we promise). Really, you just need a multi-faceted approach to take down the wrinkles and sun spots. With these smart steps and powerful ingredients, you just might find yourself pulling a Benjamin Button.
1. A consistent AM and PM skin-care routine.
Not only will that serious dedication to a set regimen help you decompress after a long day (think of it as built-in self-care) but it can also improve your skin. That’s because most skin-care products take two weeks to a month to begin showing results—and that’s assuming you’re using them regularly. Not only will you be able to see benefits in the mirror if you’re actually using your products every morning and night, but sticking with the same routine means that it’ll be easier to figure out which products aren’t working once you start incorporating new ones.
2. A good, powerful eye cream.
“You look tired today” is one of those things no one wants to hear. (It’s also rude, but that’s another story.) One study showed that using a moisturizer with sunscreen, night cream, and eye cream was significantly more effective in minimizing crow’s feet than just the moisturizer and night cream alone. Look for a hydrating formula that has a cooling effect, which can take down puffiness, while vitamin K erases dark circles.
3. Formulas rich in active anti-aging ingredients.
Keep an eye on your active ingredients, because these are way more important than the brand, the scent, or literally anything else about a skin-care formula. In particular, look for those with peptides—proteins that enhance skin’s natural function—and niacinamide, a vitamin that boosts firmness and noticeably minimizes the look of wrinkles and fine lines. Try Rodan + Fields’ three-step Redefine regimen. It includes the Triple Defense Treatment, which delivers not one but both to skin, and the Overnight Restorative Cream, which pairs niacinimides with hyaluronic acid for a serious dose of hydration.
4. Antioxidants that complement one other.
After sunscreen, your number-one defense against signs of aging is antioxidants, which fight the free radicals that cause acne, wrinkles, and even dark spots. But antioxidants have another benefit: Certain ones work synergistically, boosting the efficacy of others, like vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, and even green tea extract. This makes them the MVPs of the beauty world, and if you haven’t begun incorporating them into your routine, now’s the time to do it.
5. Hydration, hydration, hydration
Age is just a number, but its consequences are not—like losing the oil glands and integrity of the moisture barrier that keep skin moisturized. When your skin is dry, wrinkles and fine lines can actually look more obvious (think of how a sponge seizes up when it dries out). No thanks! So constant hydration is key. Make sure your moisturizer—which you should be using both morning and night—contains hyaluronic acid, a potent molecule that acts like a moisture magnet; you can double up by layering a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum under it.
6. A regimen for your neck and décolletage
You could have the facial skin of a newborn, but there’s no point in that if your neck and chest are wrinkled and freckled. And that’s usually the case, since that area is as exposed to sun damage as the face, but rarely (if ever) gets the same amount of regular sunscreen applications. The skin there is notoriously thin, too, so it deserves its own dedicated skin-care products. Start using a neck cream, stat, or at least extend your go-to moisturizers all the way down. And, of course, start slathering your SPF there if you aren’t doing so already.