The Best Anti Aging Skincare Routine (any why we need to rename it!)
by Heather Smith on Mar 15, 2022
When it comes to anti aging skin care routines, you cannot fault a person for wanting to look refreshed, radiant, and youthful. However, the skincare marketing world is responsible for doing a lot of harm to our expectations for beauty and normal aging.
Read on to find out how to improve the health of your skin while also reframing what it means to look young or be anti-age.
The Skin Aging Process
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It is complex and protects you from the external environment, UV radiation in particular. Other essential functions are regulating your immune system, controlling body temperature (sweating), activating your senses, and performing chemical synthesis (vitamin D).
As we age, the cells in our skin begin to deplete in both number and effectiveness. As a result, our natural repair systems work less efficiently. How our skin ages has a lot to do with the external environment: sun exposure, smoking, and pollution are examples. There is also influence from our genetics and hormones.
Skin aging is divided into the categories 'chronologic' and 'photo-related. The reason is that the effects of excessive UV radiation exposure are different than just getting older.
- Biologic/Chronologic aging results in skin thinning, reduction in cell numbers, and a saggy appearance due to loss of elasticity and also loss of fat padding
- Photo-aging results in skin thickening, excessive or abnormal production of elastin/collagen and a leathery appearance
Anti aging skincare products and routines all target some component of the typical structures and processes of the skin discussed above.
When you build an anti aging skincare routine, the goals are to:
- increase collagen production
- improve the type and quality of collagen that's produced
- remove the thickened layers of stratum corneum
- reduce pigment production from melanocytes
- brighten the overall complexion and improve radiance and glow
- increase hyaluronic acid and water levels within the skin matrix
- fight further damage caused by free radicals
- improve cellular repair mechanisms
The above functions are all cellular physiologic, and cosmetics cannot claim the results – only drugs can. We discussed cosmetics claims and marketing in this blog post. It means that a cosmetic product can make claims only about how your skin should look after using it.
Pro Age Skincare Philosophy
Vilification of age-related skin changes, predominantly targeted against women, has resulted in a massive industry with unrealistic and inappropriate expectations. As a result, there has been an explosion in youth-seeking treatments and procedures that are neither necessary nor effective.
Preventing skin damage and focusing on good skin health is more important.
The pro-aging beauty movement focuses on health, not youth.
The primary focus should be using adequate SPF to protect from UV rays, not being a smoker, and getting enough water and sleep. In combination with an easy skinimalism routine, those things will help you glow at every age.
If you're unhappy with your skin's condition or appearance, you can target specific concerns with effective products. For example, reducing the effects of excessive sun exposure, improving acne, improving tone, strengthening the skin barrier, plumping up water content, and removing built-up dead cells are all ways to improve the health and glow of your skin.
Realistic Expectations for Aging Skin
Aging is normal. Skin accumulates UV-related damage. Elasticity decreases. Thickness changes. Collagen and hyaluronic acid also reduce in amount and also quality.
If you want to REVERSE the signs of aging, you will need invasive therapies. Photodamage can be reversed with lasers. Wrinkles can be eliminated with surgery or injectables.
If you want to REDUCE the signs of aging, you can start with various topical treatments.
If you want to SLOW the signs of aging, you must start early. First, you need to quit smoking and wear proper sunscreen every day, even indoors, even in the winter. Beyond that, everything is a bonus.
What Is Pro Aging Skincare
Call it what you want - pro-aging, aging gracefully, age support (that one's our favourite) - it's all marketing terminology.
The marketing terminology chosen is meant to communicate the purpose of a product to consumers. The added words tell you about the type, luxury level, and the ethics of the brand and the product. Marketing is necessary, but dishonest tactics are a problem in the beauty industry, especially when it comes to anti aging products.
Another way to look at the anti vs pro aging debate is to talk about inflammaging. This is a relatively new word, but the concepts are not old. Inflammaging refers to the process of aging as it relates to chronic inflammation. I'd argue we should be anti-inflammaging, which is pro aging in nature. Semantics? Maybe, but check out our linked article above for all the info.
Anti-Aging vs Pro-Aging: Is the Marketing Getting Old?
We'll just leave this here for you to see what we mean...
How to Build Your Anti Aging Skin Care Routine
If you're in the market to reduce the visible signs of aging on your skin, what key product types should you be looking for?
When designing a skincare routine for mature skin, it's important to know what you're targeting and also tailor the approach to your individual skin type.
These are the key considerations to help you build the best skincare routine for anti aging based on your own skin type and goals:
There isn't an anti-aging cleanser. Remember, cleansing ingredients go straight down the drain. The most important thing about cleansing mature skin is to stay with gentle options that don't strip your natural oils. Older skin is more delicate. Oil cleansing is great for this as are hydrating cleansing lotions. Most mature skin is dryer and more delicate, so go easy and don't overdo it.
Increasing your skin cells turnover and removing dead skin cells faster can help reduce the depth and visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. This is achieved using physical or chemical exfoliants.
Your at-home treatments would include topical acids or retinoids. If you want to be more aggressive, you might consider microdermabrasion or other anti-aging facial treatments like chemical peels in the clinic.
Be careful; nothing makes your skin look aged faster than dry skin! Flaky skin or caked makeup will leave things dull and accentuate the wrinkle depth. Finding the balance between over-exfoliating (causing barrier damage) and under-exfoliating (leaving dead cell buildup) can be tricky, especially if it changes every season or with your hormones. Gentler options for topical acids, like PHAs, are worth considering because they are also very hydrating.
Hydration and Moisturization
Keeping your skin hydrated and plump can be done with humectants (hyaluronic acid, beta-glucan, glycerine) and moisturizers (emollients). This is where facial oil, particularly anti-aging face oils, can help.
The best anti-aging face oils include rosehip oil, squalane, prickly pear, and plum kernel - but there are many. Oils, in general, are great for mature skin. If your skin is aged and also dry, look for oils with higher oleic acid content. One oil of some extra interest is evening primrose oil due to its potential effects on prostaglandins, hormones, and female-specific concerns during PMS and menopause.
If oils feel heavy, anti-aging face masks, sheet masks, or overnight masks are good options for many.
One natural beauty secret here would be anti-aging facial massage, often using a gua sha if you're doing it yourself at home. Face rollers, especially ice rollers, have added benefits in a natural anti-aging routine.
There's also evidence that side-sleepers have less puffiness than stomach sleepers. Ice packs and cooling treatments also help. We've seen some 'anti-aging pillows' for sale but aren't yet convinced if they’re gimmicky or not.
Improve Collagen Quality
Topical treatments like retinoids, Vitamin C serums, and others have effectiveness evidence. Many people cannot use retinol, so if you're looking for a natural retinol alternative, then a bakuchiol containing face oil would be good to consider. You might also consider more invasive interventions - microneedling (also called collagen induction therapy) is one option.
Improve Your Skin Tone
Topical treatments like those above also fit this category (i.e. retinoids and vitamin C). However, many other natural ingredients can affect your skin pigmentation - bearberry extract, licorice root extract, and Pterocarpus marsupium bark extract as examples. If you want to get more invasive, lasers have a significant role here.
Do I need a dedicated eye cream?
The jury is out on this one. Personally, I love eye creams! However, it's important for the consumer to know that there are rarely any ingredients that work specifically for the eye area. Also, that North American products marketed towards the eye area do not require any additional testing or approval. So if you have a favourite serum already, there isn't much reason to add something new.
What About Natural Products?
There's nothing wrong with pursuing a more clinical approach to your skincare. However, it's no secret that we prefer a skinimalistic and natural approach.
Many of the examples and active ingredients mentioned above are natural and great additions to the pro aging movement. Face oils are powerful emollients and antioxidants. Active botanicals like bakuchiol, bearberry, and pterocarpus marsupium bark extract are effective, gentle, and natural.
Natural anti aging skincare routines focus on reducing excess and targeting health and healing. This is what makes them so in-line with a pro-age philosophy. Some ingredients, like bakuchiol, are comparable in results to their less natural counterparts.
One disclaimer: while oils like raspberry seed and carrot are great for the skin, do not use them as SPF without a properly tested and approved sunscreen as well. We believe it's highly unethical to market natural oils as sunscreens unless they've gone through the proper clinical testing.
When it comes to any type of anti aging skincare regimen, figuring out what you want to target and what ingredients or types of treatments you're interested in is what matters most.
Working to bypass the labelling and marketing terms is important once you've zoned in on the type of product you're interested in.
In the debate between clinical and natural approaches, find the zone you're comfortable in and focus on preserving skin health.
bareLUXE Skincare is focused on supporting your skin through all of life stages. Our Age Support Face Oil is a Bakuchiol Serum that harnesses the power of active botanicals to target the signs of aging skin. Our Vitamin C Facial Oil is another option that is designed to target brightness and tone.