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Nobody can escape aging; it’s simply part of the wonderful cycle that is life. And with aging comes physical changes to the body, one example being your skin. It’s only natural for your skin to experience some or all of the following as time passes: wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, sagging, hyperpigmentation and lack of moisture. Again, this is normal. If you’re noticing these visible signs of aging, we’re not here to tell you these changes are bad and that you must fix them. Instead, we’d like to explain why your skin might look and feel different, and how to find products that can remedy these concerns, if that’s what you’re looking for.
We couldn’t do all of this alone, which is why we spoke to Dr. Tiffany Libby, a board-certified dermatologist, director of Mohs Micrographic and Dermatologic Surgery at Brown University and Reserveage‘s resident dermatologist, on the best way to approach aging with skincare.
What are the most common visible signs of aging and how are they caused?
We’ll start by clarifying that visible signs of aging are almost all out of your control. Part of it is directly linked to your genetics, and another part is the loss of fat and bone and the decrease in collagen production that naturally occur in all people.
In addition, UV radiation from the sun is “responsible for up to 90 percent of visible signs of skin aging on the face. The most common signs are brown spots and dyspigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity and sagging,” according to Dr. Libby. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the sunlight 24/7, so to counteract the harmful UV rays, remember to apply sunscreen on your face every single morning.
What makes serums so effective on the skin?
You’re probably wondering why we’re highlighting face serums rather than, let’s say, moisturizers. Well, serums are thin, light and easily absorbed into the skin. They are also “often comprised of higher concentrations of active ingredients, rendering them the skincare step I recommend patients to ‘splurge’ on,” says Dr. Libby.
Which ingredients should you look for in an anti-aging serum?
There are so many ingredients in the world of skincare that can help your skin age gracefully. However, if you’re looking for hydration, opt for humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, per Dr. Libby. Humectants lock in moisture, which is key to keeping your skin plump and youthful.
“If you are interested in improving the appearance of dark spots and dyspigmentation, look for serums with vitamin C, azelaic acid, kojic acid and/or tranexamic acid,” she adds. And for increasing collagen production, vitamin C, peptides and retinoids are your new best friends.
All of these ingredients make sense, as the natural process of aging can decrease moisture and elasticity (collagen) in your skin, as well as cause age spots. The next time you’re scanning the ingredient list of a skincare product, look out for these powerful anti-aging ingredients.
Which ingredients should you avoid in an anti-aging serum?
Just as there are certain ingredients that are effective at prolonging signs of aging, there are also ones you should avoid. Dr. Libby suggests you steer clear of serums containing fragrances because of their potential to cause irritation.
How often should you apply an anti-aging serum and at what stage in your skincare routine?
As TikTokers, YouTubers and derms have probably already told you, there’s an order in which you should apply your skincare products. A serum should routinely be applied immediately after cleansing your face. You need a squeaky clean complexion in order for the serum to penetrate your skin and work its magic.
Depending on your preferences (as well as the potency of a formula’s ingredients), apply your anti-aging serum once or twice daily. “If you prefer to use it once daily only, the best time is during your nighttime routine, as the evening is when skin cell growth and repair processes are at their peak,” per Dr. Libby.
Our skin expert recommends following your serum with a peptide cream such as Reserveage’s Firming Face Cream. The formula “seals in moisture and delivers copper peptides to the skin to help support collagen production.” When you’re noticing visible signs of aging, you can never have too many products that promote collagen production.
Now that you’ve gotten a crash course on the best anti-aging serums, it’s time to get into Dr. Libby’s top product picks so you can decide which one to try out next.
RELATED: The Best Wrinkle-Fighting Serums For a Line-Free Complexion
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
“A cult-favorite vitamin C serum formulated with ferulic acid and vitamin E, which help stabilize vitamin C and strengthen its antioxidant properties,” says Dr. Libby.
Here at StyleCaster, we can’t stop singing this serum’s praises. SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic serum is the crème de la crème, the cream of the crop, the gold standard, if you will. Its Holy Trinity of ingredients—ferulic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E—reduce signs of aging, protect against environmental aggressors, support collagen production and fade dark spots.
This product might not be for everyone, so Dr. Libby notes that “if you have acne-prone skin, opt for the SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, which has a lower percentage of vitamin C and is a less oily formulation.”
Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This hyaluronic acid serum from Vichy “helps calm irritated skin and is formulated with sensitive skin in mind,” per our expert.
For those who have noticed a decline in moisture in their skin, plump and strengthen your complexion with this serum. As the brand says, it has an “anti-wrinkle effect.” The formula also excludes fragrance, which always deserves extra brownie points.
Glytone Enhance Brightening Solution
“I love this product and use it daily to gently exfoliate and brighten my skin. It has a unique combination of azelaic acid to treat dyspigmentation and brighten skin, glycolic and salicylic acids to exfoliate away dead skin cells and unclog pores and niacinamide to strengthen the moisture barrier.”
Glytone’s Enhance Brightening Solution is one of Dr. Libby’s tried-and-true faves. Need we say more?
SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum
“One of the best anti-aging serums out there that uses growth factors to promote healing and improve skin cell turnover, resulting in more radiant and youthful skin,” Dr. Libby explains.
Alongside the growth factors, this SkinMedica serum incorporates Renessensce (RSC) Advanced, a blend of botanicals, marine extracts and peptides. French flax seed helps repair damage, Spanish marine extract renews skin cells and green microalgae promotes collagen production. If you have deep wrinkles, sagging skin and uneven texture, this one’s for you. And we know its nearly-$300 price tag is hard to overlook, but like Dr. Libby advises, the one skincare product you should splurge on is a serum.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Acne Serum
“Perfect for acne-prone skin to both prevent and treat breakouts, this serum has 2 percent salicylic acid that unclogs pores and targets acne, while 3 percent lactic acid helps gently exfoliate, hydrate and brighten skin,” Dr. Libby explains.
This It Cosmetics serum does exactly what its name says; it sends emerging breakouts straight out the door, and it keeps existing blemishes at bay. Salicylic acid is one of the top ingredients for acne-prone skin. When your complexion is experiencing visible signs of aging, you’ve got to put your skin to work with ingredients that combat breakouts, clear your pores and slough away dead skin cells.