Apply Your Anti-Aging Products in the Right Order

by Jett Middleton on August 28, 2011

How do all the anti-aging products differ—and in what order should I apply them?

Anti-aging face products are either moisturizers or treatments. Moisturizers are typically formulated as lotions or creams. They may contain ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and other anti-agers, but their primary purpose is to moisturize and protect. Treatments are typically formulated as serums or lotions, and they deliver wrinkle-reducing, spot-fading, or skin-brightening ingredients in greater quantities than can be found in a moisturizer. Although they may contain moisturizing ingredients, their primary purpose is to treat skin concerns. At the bare minimum, use a body moisturizer, a day moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning, and a night treatment before bed. If you have dry skin, add in a night moisturizer. And if you want more anti-aging benefits, use a day treatment too. Confused? The chart below explains which products to put on when, the right sequence, and which are optional.

YOUR DAILY DEFY-YOUR-AGE SKIN ROUTINE

AM

Body moisturizer

Cleanser (optional)

Day treatment (optional)

Eye cream (optional)

Day moisturizer with sunscreen

Makeup

PM

Body moisturizer

Cleanser

Exfoliator (optional)

Night treatment

Eye cream (optional)

Night moisturizer (optional)

Time to face facts about sugar: Is your sweet tooth aging your skin?

There’s An App(lication) For That!

To get the most anti-aging bang for your buck

HERE’S HOW TO APPLY…

Day Moisturizer With Sunscreen

This serves as your sun protection, so don’t skimp—spread a marble-size blob over every inch of your face, avoiding your lash lines and eyelids.

Take the same amount and rub it over your neck, the base of your throat, and your chest. (It’s easier to do this if you apply before you get dressed.)

Wait 2 minutes for the moisturizer to be absorbed before you put on makeup.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Day SPF 30 ($20; drugstores) prevents sun damage, smooths wrinkles with retinol, and moisturizes with hyaluronic acid.

Eye Cream

Put a bead of eye cream on your ring finger, then stroke once under your eye, from about an inch away from the outer corner of your eye moving toward your nose, and once over your eyelid, from the inner corner outward. Blend in using the same motions until the cream disappears completely. Repeat around your other eye.

RoC Multi Correxion Lift Anti-Gravity Eye Cream ($28; drugstores) targets crow’s-feet and saggy lids with retinol, vitamin C, and rich moisturizers.

Night Treatment

Wash your face, dab with a towel so it’s damp but not dripping, and then use your treatment. If you have sensitive skin, dry your face completely, then wait at least 2 minutes before applying a treatment. (Anti-aging ingredients such as enzymes, antioxidants, and retinoids penetrate more deeply on damp skin, so they can irritate sensitive complexions if skin is moist.)

Treatments tend to be more potent—and have more slip—than moisturizers, so you usually need a smaller amount, anywhere from a pea-to a marble-size blob.

Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus ($45; clinique.com) treats wrinkles and UV damage with peptides and antioxidants.

Get back your youthful glow: Wake up to healthier, younger-looking skin.

Body Moisturizer

Make your body lotion more effective by massaging it onto damp skin, right after you shower, so it can seal in the moisture. Use a marble-size blob for each leg and arm and the front and back of your torso.

Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Advanced Anti-Aging Body Lotion ($6; drugstores) fights signs of aging with niacinamide and vitamin E.

HERE’S HOW TO APPLY…

Face Exfoliating 101

Exfoliating treatments speed skin cell turnover or remove pore-clogging oil and dead skin cells so your skin looks less dull—and so other products can penetrate more effectively. There are typically two types: manual exfoliators, such as the jojoba beads in a face wash, the granules in a scrub, or even a cleansing brush or washcloth; and chemical exfoliators, such as alpha hydroxy acids (these include glycolic, citric, lactic, and salicylic acids) and retinoids (they’re found in lots of anti-aging moisturizers, but they’re also considered exfoliators because they speed skin cell turnover). If you already use any of those things and add in another daily exfoliator, you could be overdoing it. So try an exfoliator meant to be applied once or twice a week, such as Philosophy The Microdelivery One-Minute Purifying Enzyme Peel ($40; philosophy.com).

Shampoo

Experiment to see how long it takes for your hair to get visibly oily (for textured hair, that can be up to 2 weeks), then shampoo the day before that.

Soak hair with warm water, then massage your scalp with a quarter-size blob of shampoo—that’s all you need, no matter how long your hair is, since you shouldn’t suds the length of the strands (they get clean when you rinse out shampoo).

Conditioner

After shampooing, rub a quarter-size blob of conditioner between your fingers, then use them to rake the product gently through your hair from midstrand to the ends. Once your strands are saturated (if you have long hair, you may need another quarter-size blob), smooth any remaining product from your hairline back over the top of your head.

Leave on for at least 2 minutes, then rinse with cool water.

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