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A licensed esthetician's skincare regimen

January 19, 2012 Reviewed by AgelessJen 34 Comments

My approach to skincare has largely been preventative. When I was a teenager, I read an article in a beauty magazine that literally changed my life. The article was about sunscreen, which at the time was considered a breakthrough in skincare. The revolutionary product could actually slow down the aging process! Somehow that just stuck in my mind and I immediately ran out to the drugstore to purchase a sunscreen. The daily use of sunscreen somehow became habitual and I simply couldn’t leave home without sunscreen on my face. Back then, nanotechnology wasn’t available in cosmetic formulations and I admit I walked around for a few years looking a bit ashy because there just weren’t too many sunscreen options (imagine!). I’m glad I wasn’t too bothered by the whitish cast of ’80’s sunscreens because it’s one of the best habits I ever developed. Since then, I became a bit obsessed with all things related to anti-aging and continue to be to this day.

My approach to skincare is two-fold: protect during the day, regenerate at night.

My a.m. skincare routine starts with cleansing using a Clarisonic MIA (both a.m. and p.m.), followed by two antioxidants - usually SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (read about why I love it here) layered under Skin Nutrition Cell CPR (love it!). Why two antioxidants? As I’ve stated in a previous post, there’s a new antioxidant coming out almost every other day claiming to be the best but we don’t really know which one actually is the best, so to be safe I combine products to make sure I’m protected. When applying products, always apply from thinnest to thickest and wait a few minutes in between applications to let the product absorb properly and to avoid "pilling".  The CE Ferulic is watery in consistency so I apply it first, wait about five minutes, and then apply the next layer, which is a serum. I usually blow-dry my hair while the products absorb.

I also always wear both a chemical and physical sunscreen (waiting about 10 minutes in between applications). Why two sunscreens? Sunscreens weren’t always "broad spectrum" so I needed to combine the two to get full UV protection. Formulations have improved and you can get excellent broad spectrum coverage from a physical blocker with zinc oxide/titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. The ONLY chemical sunscreen I wear (for over 10 years) is La Roche Posay Anthelios “XL” 50+Fluide Extreme with “Mexoryl,” which is available almost everywhere but the United States. Loreal didn’t patent the same formula for the U.S. version, called "SX" with Cell-Ox Shield (which includes Avobenzone as an active).  My current favorite physical sunscreen is Hydropeptide SPF 30. Sunscreen should always be the last product you apply before makeup.

My p.m. routine involves layering serums like Skinmedica TNS Recovery Complex and Beautisol 99% Peptide Serum. I use an Rx strength retinoid (Avage) every three nights. The last product I apply is always a cream/lotion (depending on time of year) that has peptides or actives like glycolic (never with the retinoid!).

I always wear two eye creams, both a.m. and p.m. YBF Correct (which I read about on TIA!) is a staple and every time I run out and go without it, the dark circles under my eyes always return. I’m usually experimenting with an eye cream and  like to layer something hydrating over the YBF. There aren’t many sebaceous glands around the eye area and dryness reveals aging quicker than hydrated skin. If I wake up with puffiness around the eyes, I immediately apply a very thin layer of Origins No Puffery eye gel (which I keep in the refrigerator).

I avoid the sun like the plague, literally walking on the shady side of the street and am grateful to live in a big city, which affords me sun protection in the shadows of skyscrapers. Every bit of incremental sun exposure will eventually manifest itself as sun spots, wrinkles, etc. A few other rules include rarely going outside without sunscreen on - even if it’s snowing outside (read about UVA here). Never go to bed without washing your face. Always wear at least one (if not two) product(s) with some protective/regenerative properties. I’m very results oriented and regularly have professional grade treatments (performed by a licensed, skilled professional) like microdermabrasion/peels/LED therapy which yield remarkable results on improving/maintaining my skin.

Some may find my skincare regimen daunting. It’s a lifestyle choice I’ve made - just like going to the gym at least four times a week. Good skin does require discipline, but you only get one face so I think it’s worth investing the time to care for it.

UPDATE: While I'm a proponent of layering products in order to achieve heightened results, it's important to know that certain ingredients should never be combined. Read more on that here.

  • October 27, 2015

    by Pat

    Hi Nisha, just wondering have their been any updates to your skincare regimen? This article is over 3 years old so I'm wondering if anything has changed?

  • February 18, 2013

    by Jan

    Nisha,

    You mention that you layer YBF Correct and Origins No Puffery on puffy days. What if you're not having a puffy day, what other eye cream do you layer with Correct?

    Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  • February 17, 2013

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Although both are gentle cleansers, they are fairly different. There are similarities. Both cleansers use a gentle plant derived surfactant, although Hydropeptide has a lot more of it (2nd ingredient). Both also include botanical cleansing agents derived from coconut & soy & use lactic & malic acids to exfoliate. Both also use sugar derivatives as humectants.
    The main ingredient in Tracie Martyn's Amla Purifying Cleanser is Indian gooseberry (2nd ingredient) which is a detoxifying antioxidant with brightening properties. It also has papaya & pineapple enzymes for exfoliation as well as salicylic acid to manage acne. It contains ascorbic acid but I can’t attest to how stable it is in this formulation. There is also curcumine from turmeric known for reducing redness and appears to be extremely effective based on the reader review. There are some essential oils too but that’s largely all there is to it.
    Hydropeptide’s Cleansing gel is a cleanser & toner in one. The gel contains Trylagen, a combination of two peptides known to be particularly good at promoting collagen III as well as argireline & pseudoalteromonas ferment extract. It contains marigold for wound healing & chamomile for restoring & rehydrating. The gel also tones using witch hazel, geranium & cucumber extract. Other useful ingredients include hydrating glycerin & sodium hyaluronate, and antioxidants green tea & apple peel. The gel does however; contain PEG’s & preservatives.
    Overall Hydropeptide’s Cleanser is more than a cleanser: it’s a multi-tasking treatment for the skin & way better value at $44 for 6.7 oz. The Amla cleanser is $65 for 1.7 oz. but if you are a purist & suffer from redness, this cleanser is for you.
    Lastly, the Hydropeptide gel has a lovely citrus scent which makes it a pleasure to use. There’ve been complaints about the overwhelming aroma of Amla – a downside to being heavy on the essential oils.

  • February 16, 2013

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Pauline,

    I always apply a serum on at night as serums are highly concentrated so ideal to use at night when the body is in repair mode. You can use most serums with a retinoid as long as it doesn't have AHA's (like glycolic) or BHA's (like salicylic) as it cancels out the retinoid. I'd also avoid niacinamide as that's too much exfoliation. EGF's such as in Skinmedica's TNS Recovery Complex work wonderfully. Other great options are Skin Nutrition's Cell CPR, Skinceuticals B5 with hyaluronic acid (great for extra moisture), as well as Hydropeptide's Anti-Wrinkle Cellular Transformation.

    I should point out that it's important to wait a half hour after washing your face before applying the retinoid as H2O & Vitamin A are not friends. The peeling effects of retinoids can be diminished by applying to completely dry skin. Thus, I apply the serum right after washing my face & wait a half hour before dotting a pea sized amount of retinoid all over my face & then blending into skin. Please don't use more than a pea sized amount - less really is more when it comes to retinols/retinoids & over applying only results in unnecessary skin irritation.

    I then wait another 10 minutes and apply a moisturizer as this really helps to bypass peeling & downtime from retinoid use. Topix Replenix Power of Three Green Tea cream (oil free but very hydrating) is a great option.
    http://www.truthinaging.com/face/topix-replenix-power-of-three-reviewed-and-recommended

    Lastly, I'd recommend starting with a retinol first before moving onto an Rx strength retinoid. This is ideal in order to allow skin to acclimate to Vitamin A use.
    Hope this helps!

  • February 14, 2013

    by Ellie

    Still wondering........

  • February 6, 2013

    by Ellie

    I use Tracie Martyn facial cleanser. How would you comare it to Hydropeptide cleansing gel?
    T!

  • February 5, 2013

    by Pauline

    Hi Nisha,
    Very informative article! Quick question re pm routine - when you use the retinoid, do you still put on the serum, or you just use a retinoid and nothing else? Thanks!

  • December 26, 2012

    by Sri

    Hi Marta,

    I check out the article you recommended and I really find it helpful in creating a regimen for myself, since I am in my late 20's. Thanks:)

  • May 5, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Jane, you could take a look at this article on a regimen for 20-somethings: <a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/face/a-regimen-for-a-sleep-deprived-20-something" rel="nofollow">http://www.truthinaging.com/face/a-regimen-for-a-sleep-deprived-20-something</a>

  • May 4, 2012

    by Jane

    Hi Nisha,

    Do you have a regimen that you recommend for someone in their late 20s? I struggle to find a product that works for my skin for very long. I have dry skin that freckles easily and does break out once in a while.

  • March 2, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Jill - I don't recommend using the Colorescience eyescreen product as it is a 'powdered' (nano) sunscreen. You don't need a different sunscreen for your eye area. Using other types of sunscreens for the face are fine to use around the eyes - just be careful not to get any into your eye as it may cause undue irritation.

  • March 1, 2012

    by jillrobin

    This is in response to your comment about where you said "I definitely would never use the eyescreen (what were they thinking?)"
    I grew up by the beach, in the sun, wearing at the most, an SPF 8 (it was the 80's and all of my older cousins wore baby oil!)
    Anyways, now in my early 30's, I have quite a bit of hyperpigmentation due to sun damage around my eyes --- so wouldn't that be a reason to have an "eyescreen"? I have also yet to find an effective eye serum or cream to decrease the appearance of the spots.
    Any thoughts?

  • March 1, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi April - Welcome to TIA!
    I will be posting an article to address your question in near future. In the meantime, take a look at these articles:

    http://truthinaging.com/face/how-to-get-dewy-skin

    http://truthinaging.com/face/getting-under-the-skin-of-hyperpigmentation-and-dark-spots

  • February 27, 2012

    by april

    Thank you for your advice and great article also, what would you recommend for rough texture and agespots? I am new to sight and love it. It is in my fav now.

  • February 26, 2012

    by Susan Robinson

    Nisha,
    I thank you so much for taking the time to lend your expertise to advise for my daughter. I always look forward to the articles and reviews you write for TIA, as well as any comments you make. It would be so great to find an esthetician in my area who would take the care with clients as you obviously do.
    Thanks again,
    Susan

  • February 26, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Susan,
    I'm glad you found the article so helpful and am happy to hear your daughter is not a sun worshipper - that's a great start!
    I had a dreadful bout of adult acne in my late 20's so I completely understand the struggle to manage acne.

    The first thing I recommend is using an anti-oxidant every morning, layered under sunscreen. I find anti-oxidants to be the most overlooked product in skincare regimens and - it's one of the most important products in my anti-aging arsenal.
    A great option for oily/combo skin types is Replenix CF with green tea which I wrote about here - http://truthinaging.com/face/replenix-cf-an-antioxidant-tea-party-in-a-bottle
    YBF Antioxidants Concentrate is another excellent option and can be blended with other products to boost anti-oxidant power:http://truthinaging.com/your-best-face-concentrate-antioxidants
    Another option is 'Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum which is alcohol based but not over drying so ideal for oily skin. The formulation is fairly comparable to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and it's only $24.95 on Amazon.com. A TIA review on Timeless C+E is forthcoming.

    Daily sunscreen is important and depending on how fair skinned your daughter is, Topix Glycolix Elite Sunscreen SPF 30 is a great option for oily skin types. It has 17% zinc oxide but some find it can leave a whitish cast on all but the fairest skin. However, it offers excellent sun protection and I'd wear it if my complexion was fairer. ColoreScience powdered sunscreen is great and is available in tinted varieties. I suggest using the orb but the brush is fine if she's careful not to inhale while applying it and steps away after application (yes, I'm serious).

    An eye cream at 30 is a must. The skin around the eye is the thinnest on the face and is usually the first place that aging shows so it's important to keep the eye area hydrated.
    Here's a roundup of TIA favorites: http://truthinaging.com/reviewed-recommended-eyes/five-best-eye-creams-2011
    Here are some great affordable eye creams: http://truthinaging.com/uncategorized/five-best-affordable-eye-creams

    It's important to exfoliate actinic skin. This can be accomplished gently with a glycolic cleanser like MD Forte facial cleansers which are excellent for acne management as well as for age management. It is a medical grade line so please review on how to best use it to avoid irritating effects: http://truthinaging.com/face/md-forte-glycolic-cleansers-reviewed-and-recommended

    As far as products to address acne, Preksha liked DDF Acne Control treatment with 1.5% salicylic acid: http://truthinaging.com/face/ddf-acne-control-treatment-reviewed-and-recommended
    TIA has upcoming reviews on acne products including Avon Clearskin Professional. I've seen clients get good results with the Invisible Blemish Spot Treatment with 2% salicylic and the Deep Pore Cleansing Scrub has also given good results for managing acne.

    Lastly, I advise taking a 'progressive' and not 'aggressive' approach to skincare. It's easy to overdo it (and I have) but the potential skin damage, not to mention downtime, just isn't worth it.
    I hope this helps.

  • February 24, 2012

    by Susan Robinson

    Hi Nisha,
    I refer to this so very often for recommendation of products etc. Thank you for such a complete recap of your regimen. I hope you will keep us informed as you make new discoveries.
    I want to get my now 30 year old daughter something to start her off to an even better skin regimen than she already has. She had sever acne as a teenager and still struggles some although so much better than even 5 years ago. Otherwise, I would say she is oily/combination skin, fair skinned and definitely not a sun worshipper. What would be the first thing you would recommend?
    Thank you again,
    Susan

  • February 4, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Tiffany,
    I completely admit that I wasn't always so diligent with my skin care regimen - 70 hour work weeks at PwC didn't exactly afford me the time! But when I started down the path to becoming an esthetician, it was no longer just an inclination to maintain my skin - it became my job. I constantly experiment with various products so I can educate myself on what's available & is likely to work so I can make informed product recommendations to clients/readers. For most people, doing what I do now isn't any more possible than spending more hours at the gym than a professional personal trainer.
    You asked whether it's possible to reduce time/products from your personal regimen without sacrificing "actual beauty" - the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, since I've started managing my skin better, I don't feel the need to wear a lot of the makeup that I wouldn't have been caught dead without in public when I was in my 20's. That saves me a lot of time & money! If I need to zip out the door quickly in the morning, I apply eye cream, sunscreen, lip stain & gloss and use an eyelash curler - that's it! Double duty & long wearing products like tinted SPF & lip stains are ideal for anyone who wants to cut back without sacrificing skin health or looking great. It's just a matter of finding the right products that work for your skin type AND lifestyle in order to simplify your regimen.

  • January 31, 2012

    by Asya

    Oh, thanks very much, Nisha, this is such an informative response! There isn't actually much information on how to use sunscreen on your lips and I've always had doubts on how to proceed best. I thought that actually gloss and oil as they are shiny amplify the damage caused by the sun... Unfortunately I don't wear lipstick (I also prefer tinted lip balm) otherwise I think you're absolutely right that its coloured particles act as a physical sunblock. Thanks again!

  • January 31, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Lilian!
    I'm so glad you found the article useful & like the Hydropeptide SPF!

  • January 31, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Asya,
    I don't wear any particular product with SPF for my lips. The color pigments in lipstick actually serve as a physical blocker on the lips. My lips have a tendency to become dry & chapped and I wear a tinted lip gloss daily. The thick & 'gooey' consistency of gloss makes it very difficult for UV to penetrate to the skin. The ingredients in the majority of lip products are full of all kinds of chemicals to begin with. Moreover, even the EWG have deemed products with physical blockers containing zinc oxide to have a very low health risk for use on the lips. Dermophisiologique Optyma Lip Perfect SPF 30 & KaplanMD Lip 20 Gloss +SPF are TIA reviewed & recommended. If you are getting sun spots around the lip area, I suggest trying 'Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Sensitive Areas Stick' which is for face & lips - I use it when I'm at the beach (yes, I go to the beach on occasion). I find it's too thick for under the eyes but I use it on my lips (under gloss) and on my upper cheeks for extra protection as I tend to have recurring melasma there.

  • January 29, 2012

    by Lilian

    I'm using Hydropeptide SPF 30 as per your recommendations and is really great. Thank you for such an informative and well written article!

  • January 25, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Lena,
    I really like ColoreScience Sunforgettable sunscreen. I use it in the summer as my physical sunscreen as it feels light, is oil free & reduces shine. It's also easy to reapply if you sweat. However, the problem with powdered sunscreens (as well as spray sunscreens) is that there is a danger of inhalation and nanotechnology. Titanium dioxide & zinc oxide are excellent, stable physical blockers but are meant for topical use and should not enter the body as the minerals are toxic to our systems. Companies are not required to label particle size information on packages and there are ongoing debates about how small a particle has to be in order to absorb into skin. ColoreScience has stated that they use particle sizes 50+ nanometers which cannot be absorbed into the skin. Moreover, the minerals are coated with Organo Silicone and that is supposed to waterproof the particles and as well as increase the particle size.

    I've stopped using the powder brush completely and I definitely would never use the eyescreen (what were they thinking?) or the mist. Last summer I only used the sunscreen from the "orb" with a powder puff. I feel that using a powder puff (carefully) reduces the amount of powder that can become airborne, hence inhaled.
    I totally understand that layering is time-consuming but you don't need to put on as many layers as I do. You only need 2 layers to be well protected. I would recommend an antioxidant like CSS CE Ferulic which has a watery consistency and absorbs super fast. After that, you just need a good physical blocker (like ColoreScience) -your face is protected within 5 minutes!

    Check out CSS CE Ferulic here: http://truthinaging.com/face/why-does-skinceuticals-ce-ferulic-cost-100-more-than-css

  • January 25, 2012

    by Tiffany

    While I'm sure you must have amazing skin due to this regimen, it must cost you so much in both time and money! I can't imagine using so many things on my face. Even now I'm trying to find ways to remove items from my beauty routine without substantially losing out on the actual 'beauty.' Is that just not possible? I would assume if you were able to use less products you would do so...

  • January 24, 2012

    by Lena

    Nisha, what is your take on powder sunscreens like colorscience? I find myself frustrated having to put so many layers of products and the idea of high spf powder is interesting. Have you tried it yourself?

  • January 22, 2012

    by Asya

    Thanks, Nisha!

    Another thing as you seem to know your sunscreen. Do you use a separate one for the lips? I am wary of putting chemicals on my mouth but haven't found anything that will protect effectively the delicate lips skin and ended up some quite annoying sun spots there.... How do you proceed? Thnaks!

  • January 20, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Asya,
    Peptides are ideal for anyone in their thirties. They help to regenerate collagen which is what your skin is largely made up of. We produce less collagen as we age. Peptides are great because they are generally more gentle compared to most anti-aging ingredients which can irritate skin. Check out Marta's write-up on peptides for more info: http://truthinaging.com/ingredient-spotlight/peptides-what-are-they

  • January 20, 2012

    by Nisha

    Hi Ann - I'm honored that the article has inspired you to improve your skin care regimen! My current cleanser is Hydropeptide Cleansing gel which I squirt onto my Clarisonic Mia and quickly run under some water before using it on my face and neck. The gel is $44 but really is a treatment in itself. It's a cleanser, toner & exfoliant all in one. I've used it on clients of all skin types and it's very effective at removing makeup (I would recommend a separate eye makeup remover). However, it does contain lactic acid (the mildest of all AHA's) so if you are allergic to dairy, this isn't for you. If I have a professional treatment coming up (chemical peel, etc), I switch to Phytomer Accept Neutralizing cleanser a week before. I think it's best to have your skin at its' normal pH before professional grade treatments so it's advisable to cut down use of products with too many actives in the formulation. The Phytomer Accept line is what I use on clients with the most sensitive skin types. My own skin type is normal to dry (in winter) and generally not sensitive.

  • January 20, 2012

    by Susan Robinson

    I found this article most interesting and helpful! Thank you for an informative and well written article! Many useful ideas.

    Susan R.

  • January 20, 2012

    by Asya

    Hi,

    Great article! Would you also recommend using peptides such as Beautisol for someone in their mid-thirties? Thanks!

    Asya

  • January 19, 2012

    by Jan

    Great article - I'm anxious to get a few of these products and try myself!

  • January 19, 2012

    by Ann

    Nisha, Great article, very informative. Really enjoyed reading it. As a result, I will now adapt a more disciplined approach in terms of my skincare regimen! By the way, which cleanser/s are you using? And also what is your skin type? Many thanks Ann

  • January 19, 2012

    by Nisha

    Alexandra, I'm glad you found the article helpful! Skin Nutrition Cell CPR is also great for PM use. It has regenerative hexanoyl dipeptide-3 which activates skin cell regeneration.

  • January 19, 2012

    by Alexandra Smith

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Beautisol's 99% pure peptide serum, too! So excited to hear you use it as well. I am going to have to try Skin Nutritional Cell CPR next for during the day - have not heard of that. Thank you so much for this great overview! Very helpful!!

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