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The Beginner’s Anti-Aging Skincare Routine

I’ll be the first to admit that an anti-aging skincare routine can get rather complicated pretty quickly. When you realize it’s time to address the signs of aging, it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to begin.

If you think that it’s time to consider anti-aging products into your skincare routine but don’t have a clue where to start, this post is for you!

Versed Press Restart Retinol Serum

When you are ready to embrace anti-aging skincare, you can start by slowly incorporating anti-aging products into your current skincare routine. If you don’t have a regular skincare routine, you can create a basic anti-aging skincare routine that will treat and protect your skin no matter your age.

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QUICK TIP: If you are in a hurry and want a super basic anti-aging skincare routine…

Incorporating the following products into your current skincare routine will be a great start. Here are a few options for morning and evening. Please keep in mind that you may need to adjust the final products you choose based on your skin type.

AM: CleanseVitamin CMoisturizerSunscreen

PM: CleanseRetinoidMoisturizer

When Should You Start An Anti-Aging Skincare Routine?

The million-dollar question: When should you start an anti-aging skincare routine? Let’s look at how your skin starts to show the signs of aging:

Collagen is a structural protein in your skin (as well as your bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments). It keeps it looking plump and it keeps those pesky fine lines and wrinkles at bay. It also strengthens your hair and nails and even heals wounds.

By your mid 20’s your collagen production starts to decline. While you should always consider prevention when crafting a skincare routine, you certainly can start considering anti-aging products to combat collagen decline as early as your 20’s.

You may hear suggestions to incorporate anti-aging skincare products into your routine once you hit your 30’s or 40’s. But why wait that long? You can start with prevention at any age.

NOTE: In addition to aging, stress, dehydration, excess sun exposure, smoking, and too much sugar can also inhibit collagen production. Try to eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants to support collagen formation.

Prevention Is Key

One of the best things that you can do for your skin is to use sunscreen. You should apply sunscreen every day to counteract the effects of UV rays.

This is the prevention step that will help your skin stay firm and plump and youthful-looking for longer.

An Anti-Aging Skincare Routine for Beginners

The following routine is a very basic routine that incorporates some anti-aging heavy hitters, such as vitamin C and retinoids.

The suggested products are just a few effective options in a sea of thousands of skincare products.

Everyone will have their own unique needs, so start very basic and see how your skin responds. Work your way up to more products and steps in your skincare routine. Here is a 4-step morning and 3-step evening basic anti-aging skincare routine:

Step 1: Cleanse

It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser

I must admit that I don’t try to incorporate anti-aging products into the cleansing step of my skincare routine. While some cleansers contain actives such as acids to exfoliate your skin, I like to save actives for later steps of my skincare routine.

Cleansers can still play a large role in your anti-aging skincare routine by supporting your skin’s barrier. You never want to strip your skin or dry out your skin.

If you want to incorporate an oil-based cleanser, you can do a double cleanse with a cleansing balm (I love Heimish All Clean Balm) as the first step of a double cleanse and a gentle cream or gel cleanser as the second step of a double cleanse.

I’ve been loving two gentle cream cleansers. It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser is a citrus-scented cleanser that is non-drying and super gentle, even around your eyes.

The cleanser is formulated with It Cosmetics’ Anti-Aging Armour Rejuvenating Concentrate.

This concentrate contains collagen, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, and a super ceramide complex. These are all fantastic ingredients, but remember that they get washed off. A cleanser will only take your anti-aging skincare routine so far.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is exactly what it says it is and removes makeup and dirt while maintaining skin’s natural moisture barrier and pH.

It contains Ceramide-3 found in skin, La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water, glycerin and skin-soothing niacinamide. Plus, it comes in a cost-effective large bottle with a convenient pump.

Step 2: Treat

The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solutio 12% and Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

This is one of the most important steps in your anti-aging skincare routine. Using a serum with actives that treat the signs of aging will provide the most bang for your buck in my opinion.

I like to use products containing the powerful antioxidant vitamin C in the mornings and products containing retinoids in the evening.

AM: Vitamin C

Antioxidant vitamin C is an anti-aging powerhouse and provides a multitude of benefits to the skin. It helps to reduce the visible signs of aging and is well known for its ability to brighten the skin.

More importantly, it protects the skin from environmental stressors such as pollution and exposure from the sun (UV rays) and the resulting free radical damage.

What makes vitamin C so special is that it can prevent and treat the signs of aging.

Concentrated forms of vitamin C can be irritating to sensitive skin, but Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum and The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% do not irritate my sensitive skin. As a bonus, they are very reasonably priced!

PM: Retinoid

Retinoids are the gold standard when it comes to proven topical anti-aging products. Retinoids encourage cell turnover and boost collagen production. (We all can use a little help with collagen production!)

As a result, skin appears smoother, brighter and more even-toned.

There is much to discuss when it comes to retinoids, so if you want more information, I did a deep dive in this post on drugstore retinol.

Unfortunately, retinoids are notorious for irritating the skin, so the type and strength of retinoid that you choose should be based on your skin type.

How Often Should You Use A Retinoid?

When starting out, the best application suggestion that I’ve heard when it comes to retinoids is this:

  • 1X a week for one week
  • 2X a week for two weeks
  • 3X a week for 3 weeks, etc…

From there you can increase your retinoid use. You really need to see how your skin responds to the particular retinoid that you choose.

Retinoids can make your skin sensitive to UV rays, so I prefer to use retinoids at night. You also should make sure you apply sunscreen every single day!

I personally don’t use retinoids every evening. My skin is sensitive and depending on the formula I do best using retinoids a few times a week or every other night.

Some favorite affordable and minimally irritating retinoids include Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Facial Serum, The Inkey List Retinol Serum, and Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum.

I love that Versed Retinol not only contains encapsulated retinol but also plant-based bakuchiol, an ingredient that has been proven to fight the signs of aging but without the irritation!

On evenings that you don’t use a retinoid, you may want to treat your skin with calming and nourishing serums to recover from retinoid use, which can be drying to your skin.

I love budget-friendly The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid for hydration and The Ordinary Multi-Peptide + HA Serum (formerly known as The Ordinary “Buffet”), which is loaded with peptides and amino acids that target fine lines and wrinkles, dullness and uneven skin tone.

So even on evenings when I am not using retinol, I still use products that address the signs of aging.

Related Post: The Ordinary Anti-Aging Skincare Review

Step 3: Moisturize

Olay Regenerist Whip Moisturizer

After treating your skin, it is important to seal in all of the actives with an anti-aging moisturizer. The moisturizer that you choose should be geared toward your skin type.

One of my absolute favorite moisturizers works well for my combination skin and I think would also work well for oiler complexions since it leaves a shine-free matte finish.

Olay Regenerist Whip is formulated with an all-star anti-aging ingredient, niacinamide. Niacinamide helps skin retain moisture, and encourages cell turnover and exfoliation.

Olay Regenerist Whip also contains hyaluronic acid for additional hydration and amino peptides, the building blocks of cells, which support the appearance of smoother and firmer skin.

While you can use a moisturizer like Olay both AM and PM, if you have dry skin or experience dryness from retinoid use, consider a richer moisturizer. There are so many great moisturizers on the market.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer, which is formulated with Omegas 3, 6 & 9 and ceramides support the skin’s barrier.

Passionfruit & guava extracts soothe the skin. Chia seeds replenish moisture and flax seed strengthens the skin. I loved the whipped cloud-like texture, and it reminds me of the more expensive Drunk Elephant Polypeptide Cream.

Don’t Forget Your Eyes

You may also want to incorporate an eye cream in this step. The eyes are one of the first places on our face that start to show the signs of aging, so you may want to consider one. The Inkey List Retinol Eye Cream is gentle on your sensitive eye area and super affordable!

Step 4 (AM): Protect

Paula's Choice Super Light Daily Wrinkle Defense and Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish SPF 50

The last step of your anti-aging skincare routine in the morning should be sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or not, you still need to protect your skin from UV rays.

I prefer mineral sunscreens since recently the ingredients in chemical sunscreens have come under fire. Plus my skin is sensitive and chemical sunscreens usually break me out. One of my favorite mineral sunscreens, Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF30.

It is a tinted mineral sunscreen that also contains a blend of antioxidants including resveratrol that supports the skin’s environmental defenses and prevents premature aging of the skin.

It has a silky matte finish and the light tint cancels out the mineral white cast on my pale skin.

Another high SPF mineral sunscreen is Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ / PA+++. This sunscreen leaves a minimal white cast, a matte finish and works well with makeup.

Related Post: The Best Paula’s Choice Skincare Products

Additional Steps for Your Anti-Aging Routine

In the interest of keeping an anti-aging skincare routine for beginners as simple as possible, I’ve left out treatment steps such as chemical exfoliators, masks, and peels.

If you want to add these to your skincare routine, they can be added in once or a few times a week.

For more information on these products check out my comprehensive post on drugstore anti-aging skincare: Drugstore Anti-Aging Skincare Routine.

Related Post: The Ordinary Skincare Routine For Beginners

Final Thoughts on Anti-Aging Skincare for Beginners

Well, there you have it, a basic anti-aging skincare routine. Starting an anti-aging skincare routine doesn’t have to be complicated.

You can simply start by incorporating a retinoid treatment into your skincare routine a few evenings a week to see how your skin responds. You can then add in a vitamin C treatment and consider other anti-aging treatments.

Regardless of how many steps you choose for your anti-aging skincare routine, for beginners and the experienced skincare devotees alike, it is imperative that you use a sunscreen to protect your skin.

Although there is no magic pill to eliminate the signs of aging (yet!), prevention and consistency are key to delaying the need to treat the signs of aging.

Thanks for reading and until next time…

Anti-Aging Skincare Products for Beginners

Deanna Stephenson

Saturday 14th of November 2020

This is very helpful, thank you! One question: Will a routine of vitamin c and a retinoid a few nights a week make me lose my freckles? This is something I don’t want, but want to be on top of my ageing regimen. Thanks for your advice!


Saturday 14th of November 2020

I'm not really sure...I think it depends on a few things, like the strength of the products that you use, the length of time that you use them and how your skin responds. Your best bet would be to see a dermatologist if you have specific concerns. This article may give you some tips: Thanks for reaching out!