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A licensed esthetician's skincare regimen

Reviewed by AgelessJen January 19, 2012 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


    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.

    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........

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