Welcome to Part 2 of my anti-aging skincare ~ my evening routine. The morning routine is all about sun-damage. . . correcting past damage and protection from future damage. The evening routine brings out the “big guns” of anti-aging topicals in the form of prescription creams while the OTC products focus on soothing and calming.
My approach to anti-aging topicals is to find inexpensive products that contain active ingredients that have been proven to work by independent clinical research. I look for ingredients like vitamin A (tretinoin or retinol), Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), Alpha Hydroxy Acid (glycolic acid), and peptides. Unfortunately, many of these can cause irritation and inflammation which is enemy #1 in skincare. So I also look for skin soothing and moisturizing ingredients like witch hazel, hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and I avoid products that have denat. alcohol on the ingredient list.
The good news is that most of these ingredients can be found in products at the drugstore now! So let’s jump right in!
The first thing I do in the evening is remove my makeup. I used to use a sonic cleansing brush (Clarisonic Mia) but it was too irritating for my skin and contributed to my breakouts so I stopped using it. So now it’s a 3-step process to clean my face:
Remove Makeup: Kirkland Daily Facial Makeup Removing Wipes
I buy these wipes in a giant box from Costco. They gently wipe away makeup without alcohol or harsh chemicals. These super soft wipes contain cucumber, chamomile flower extract, aloe, and vitamin E to moisturize and soothe while gently removing makeup including waterproof mascara.
I never use cleansers that foam or contain abrasives on my face. This facial wash is specially formulated to clean sensitive skin. It’s a non-foaming gel that’s non-drying and soothing with aloe and licorice root.
Toner ~ Alcohol Free Witch Hazel: Thayer’s Alcohol Free Witch Hazel Cucumber Toner
Witch hazel’s been around forever but most witch hazels are loaded with alcohol. I searched high and low to find an alcohol-free version. Thayer’s Witch Hazel is alcohol free and contains glycerin and aloe to moisturize and soothe. Witch hazel is an anti-oxidant so it fights free radicals while healing damaged skin. I wet a cotton round with this toner and sweep over my face to remove last traces of makeup. The cucumber scent is cool and refreshing!
Anti-Aging Treatment ~ Tretinoin 0.05% Cream (prescription)
Now that I’ve been using Tretinoin for 2 years (click here for my 2 year results post), my skin’s adapted to it and I have very little irritation so I can put it right up under my eyes and on my upper lip. I also don’t have to wait 15-20 minutes after washing my face to apply it anymore. I dot a pea sized amount on cheeks, chin, and forehead, then rub into skin avoiding eyelids and neck.
Anti-Aging Treatment ~ Hydroquinone 4% (prescription)
Overall, I’m really happy with the results I’ve seen from using tretinoin with the exception of lightening discolorations. Those pesky acne marks just don’t fade easily so I decided to add prescription strength Hydroquinone in to my routine. It’s proven to fade existing discolorations while preventing new ones from forming, but it takes time. It can take up to 6 months to see any improvement. I’ve only been using it for 2 months so I haven’t seen any results yet. I’ll keep using it for now, but I may get a fraxel laser treatment which would wipe out all those spots in a day.
Exfoliant ~ Polyhydroxy acid: Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads
I used to use a glycolic (or alpha hydroxy) acid serum every other night but it was too harsh a regimen for my skin so I dropped the glycolic completely. I kept hearing that a chemical exfoliant is a must for any anti-aging routine so I decided to add in a 20% polyhydroxy acid once a week. I chose these pads because the acid doesn’t stay on the skin and because it uses a combination of alpha, beta, and gamma acids along with soothing chamomile and green tea. I cut each pad in half so I get twice the use out of the jar. Once a week I wipe the pad over my face after the toner step, then wait 2-3 minutes and rinse with warm water. I do this instead of the tretinoin cream one night a week and I really like it!
Antioxidant Serum: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum
I’ve been using this serum since the beginning of time because of it’s great ingredients. Olay packs palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E into this silky lightweight serum. Two pumps spreads easily over the entire face (including eyelids), neck, chest & backs of hands.
Anti-Aging Treatment Neck: Vitamin A Oil: Aura Cacia Rose Hip Oil
My neck became very red, irritated and itchy from using prescription tretinoin on it so I’ve had to switch to a less effective, but less irritating vitamin A source. Rose Hip Seed Oil is a great natural source of Vitamin A so it can help with wrinkles over time, because it’s a cousin to Retin-A. It’s much much weaker, and will take much longer to work than tretinoin, but my neck was so itchy, red, & scaly that I’m happy to switch.
Moisturize: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
For the last step, I apply this thick moisturizing cream. It contains niacinamide, retinol and vitamin e in a moisturizing base. When I wake up in the morning my skin’s so soft and looks hydrated too.
Moisturize & Protect Lips: Aquaphor Healing Ointment
It’s hard to find a lip balm that stays on all night so my lips don’t feel parched in the morning. Aquaphor is the best I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a LOT). Nothing fancy, just does the job.
Seeing my evening routine listed out like this makes it look like a lot of steps and a lot of time. But it’s really not because I don’t wait between products or after washing my face. I just apply each product in order one after the other. I believe skin is most absorbent right after washing and I like to lock the water onto the surface too!
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