Skincare regimen series: Dry + aging skin

Routine with tips and product recommendations.

Photo by Shane on Unsplash

Dry skin means your skin’s protective barrier is damaged and needs to be repaired, but with utmost care. You also want to combat fine lines and wrinkles at the same time — so how do you do that without further drying out the skin? Balance, my friend is what we need here.

Dry, aging skin needs an army of wrinkle fighting ingredients, along with tons of moisture, and skin repairing ingredients to combat inflammation and associated side-effects. When you have skin of color, it becomes even more complicated. We need to proceed with caution — steer clear of harsh ingredients, wrong percentages, incorrect layering, and add in skin soothing and calming ingredients. This will ensure we treat our aging skin the right way, but more importantly calm our melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment melanin) and avoid hyperpigmentation.

So where do you start and how do you choose from a sea of products on the market? Here’s the best routine for dry, aging skin:

AM routine

  1. Gentle moisturizing cleanser — The golden rule is that your skin should not feel tight after washing the face. The cleanser needs to include skin hydrating and restoring ingredients, both of which hold moisture in the skin and protect the skin barrier.

My picks:

Cerave hydrating facial cleanser

Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser

2. Antioxidants serum — This is a must have in your fight against aging. Antioxidants help prevent, fight, and neutralize free radicals.

Vitamin C is the most potent antioxidant on the planet and a must have in your skincare routine. Read my vitamin C guide to help you understand the various forms and tips to choose the right product.

My pick: The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%

3. Moisturizer — Your skin needs a fatty moisturizer when you have dry skin. Look for three types of ingredients (humectants, emollients, and occlusives), all of which work in conjunction to hold moisture in the skin and prevent it from escaping the skin’s surface. Read my guide on skin moisturizing 101 to find out more about these ingredients and how to pick the right one.

My pick: Cetaphil moisturizing cream

4. Sunscreen — Don’t even think of stepping out without your SPF. The sun is the biggest contributor to aging and depleting your skin’s protective barrier. So, make sure you invest in a good sunscreen.

My pick: LaRoche Posay anthelios SPF 50 gentle lotion mineral sunscreen

PM routine

  1. Double cleansing — This is the most important but often overlooked step in a PM routine. Read my guide on skin cleansing to find out why double cleansing is extremely important, benefits, and how to do it the right way.

I’ve been using an oil cleanser for months now and my skin has transformed — pores are cleaner, skin is hydrated and glowing, and my hormonal breakouts have drastically reduced. I made my own formulation since I couldn’t find one on the market that has the right combination of facial oils, works for all skin types, doesn’t leave a film on the surface, and can be taken off without the use of a washcloth or cotton pad.

You can follow this step with your regular AM hydrating cleanser if needed. For me I feel an oil cleanser is sufficient so that’s all I use.

My pick: Instanatural rose makeup cleansing balm

If you want to try my oil cleanser, contact me (email in bio).

2. RetinolThis is the only ingredient that can reduce the fine lines and wrinkles you already have. However, as magical as this ingredient is, it does come with irritating side effects. Read my article on retinol to know how to use this ingredient, and retinol buying guide to find out the best one for you.

Remember when you have skin of color, any kind of irritation or stinging on the skin can lead to hyperpigmentation.

My pick: The Ordinary retinol 0.2% in squalane

3. Exfoliating acids — Once a week you need to exfoliate your skin gently, and not with physical scrubs like apricot or walnut (stay away from these). Read my guide on exfoliating acids to find out the right way to exfoliate.

My pick: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA

4. Moisturizer — For details see AM routine above.

5. Facial oil — You can use facial oil as a last step to provide an extra dose of moisture. My skin gets extremely dry during the harsh New York winter months, which is when I like to bring out my facial oil. I use it after my moisturizer as a last step — works like magic.

The bottom line

Dry and aging skin is probably the most difficult to manage. The key is to steer clear of harsh ingredients and include gentle, soothing, and moisturizing ingredients.

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Simplifying Skincare

Simplifying Skincare

Science-based Skin Coach + Educator + Writer. Acne Warrior, Melanin guru and Overall Skin Nerd. Follow me on Instagram @nishthasinghofficial.