In her upcoming film, Cake, Jennifer Aniston plays the character of Claire Simmons, a woman who survives a car accident but is then troubled by pain and addiction. To realistically portray the role (which received great acclaim at the movie premiere), the 45-year-old beauty dared to go completely makeup-free — an experience that she described to US Weekly magazine as "empowering and liberating." Aniston, the face of Aveeno skin care, has spoken often about taking good care of herself, and it certainly shows on screen in her amazing complexion.
As someone who is around the same age as Jennifer and who often enjoys going makeup-free, I find it gratifying when people compliment my "youthful" skin. Though many people think it's just a matter of good genes, think again. The right skin care routine and anti-aging products, along with some healthy habits, are the keys you need to achieving a flawless, glowing complexion. Read on for a simple step-by-step guide to great skin.
Step 1: Cleanse
The first step to great skin is proper cleansing. You want to use a gentle cleanser free of harsh ingredients like sulfates and parabens that can irritate skin. Most experts agree that you only need to wash your face once a day if your skin is dry, or twice if it's oily. Be sure to use lukewarm water, not hot, and pat your skin dry instead of rubbing with your towel.
Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Cleansing Oil & Makeup Remover ($38) is quite a multi-tasker. It not only cleanses skin and removes makeup, but also provides gentle exfoliation with fruit enzymes. It hydrates skin while helping to diminish blemishes.
VOYA Cast Away Facial Wash ($52) contains hand-harvested seaweed, which is rich in vitamins, peptides and antioxidants. This gentle and non-irritating cleanser softens and helps enhance skin's natural balance.
Skinfinite Purify Facial Cleanse ($30 in the shop) contains L-lactic acid (AHA), and Salicylic acid (BHA) to exfoliate and hydrate pores while eliminating skin impurities without parabens or sulfates.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Exfoliation gives you a rosy glow by removing dead skin cells and increasing circulation, but over-exfoliation can lead to irritation and inflammation. For best results, use a scrub only a few times a week; a facial brush can be used more often.
Stemulation Micro Derm Scrub ($34 in the shop) is a daily exfoliant that renews skin's texture, removes impurities and gives skin a fresh, healthy glow. It brightens and energizes skin by removing dull, dead cells.
Sciote Antioxidant Scrub & Masque ($50 in the shop) does double-duty to reduce hyperpigmentation and age spots as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Glycolic acid (5%) and lactic acid (2%) exfoliate while kaolin clay draws out impurities.
Step 3: Tone
Many people think that the purpose of toners is just to remove all traces of dirt and makeup residue. My earliest memories of toners were strong, alcohol-laden astringents that dried out my skin. I stayed away from them for years, but I've since learned how the right toner can actually hydrate, brighten and refresh skin. The key is to find the right toner for your skin's needs.
If you have dry skin, try La Vie Celeste Restorative Illuminating Toner ($35). Free of alcohol, oil, fragrance and toxic chemicals, it soothes, brightens and firms skin with a blend of organic botanicals and antioxidants in an aloe base.
If you have oily or combination skin, try Snowberry Gentle Remineralising Toner ($53), which is a gentle foaming cleanser and toner in one. It contains extracts of kumquat, kiwi, neem fruit, honeysuckle and sunflower, as well as white coral extract and mother of pearl extract powder.
If your skin is sensitive, try S.W. Basics Toner ($24). Containing only five simple ingredients — water, raw apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, essential oils of clary sage and sandalwood — it gently balances pH and evens skin tone while it refreshes.
Step 4: Moisturize
A day cream is not only needed to hydrate and moisturize the skin but also to build up your skin's protective barrier against environmental stresses and pollution. Because your skin repairs itself at night, a separate night cream is an essential part of your anti-aging regimen. And always use a targeted eye cream to address the delicate eye area's unique concerns.
La Vie Celeste Restorative Rose Hydrosol Eye Cream ($60 in the shop) is a gentle, non-toxic, brightening and refining eye cream. It is made with caprooyl tetrapeptide-3, a peptide that targets the laminins (think scaffolding of the skin), as well as powerful antioxidants. This silky eye cream helps to reduce the appearance of dark circles and under-eye puffiness for luminous, youthful eyes.
Amarte Eyeconic Eye Cream is an anti-wrinkle rejuvenator that delivers a 3.8% concentration of retinol with nano-encapsulated epidermal growth factor while giving vitality and resilience to your eyes without irritation. This powerful blend of active ingredients nourish, hydrate and promote elasticity around the delicate eye area.
Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) is a lightweight, non-irritating facial lotion with high concentrations of vitamins C and E. There are three forms of stable and potent vitamin C with a concentration of 8.7%.
Sciote Peptide+Defense Firming Youth Creme ($95 in the shop) moisturizes dry skin and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles with squalene and hyaluronic acid. Ingredients including glycolic acid (5%), bee propolis, royal jelly and peptides improve elasticity and even skin tone.
Lumavera Glycolic Night Cream ($80) refines pores, firms skin and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles by exfoliating but without damaging delicate skin. This lightweight treatment contains green tea and algae extracts to protect skin from free radical damage and grapefruit and tangerine extracts to even out skin tone.
Sciote Omni Phyto-Cell Face Creme ($115 in the shop) rejuvenates and repairs skin with a blend of peptides and phyto-stem cells. It minimizes the appearance of deep wrinkles while boosting collagen production.
Step 5: Use Sunscreen
Although there has been some debate over whether a daily sunscreen is always needed rain or shine, the use of sunscreen is definitely advised for prolonged sun exposure.
Skinfinite Platinum 30spf ($32.50) is a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, red algae and antioxidants to protect against sun damage and free radicals.
Snowberry Every Day SPF15 - Broad Spectrum Sun Protection ($36) is a mineral sunscreen with unique plant extract, galangal, which gives an SPF 15. As an added bonus, galangal is anti-bacterial, making it potentially useful in the treatment of acne-prone skin.
Step 6: Soothe
Facial masks are an excellent way to soothe and nourish skin, since their formulated ingredients can remain on the skin for a prolonged period to target your skin's needs. Plus, the simple application of a mask allows for some much-needed down time in which you can truly relax and pamper yourself. Try one the next time your skin feels like it needs some extra care.
Astara Skin Care Golden Flame Hydration Mask ($46) is recommended for sensitive and dry skin-types, as well as for rosacea. It plumps and moisturizes skin with sodium hyaluronate and cucumber extract, and hydrates and calms dry and weathered-damaged skin.
suki transformative cleansing clay ($48.95) is especially formulated for oily, combination, acne-prone and sensitive skin. It's a skin-balancing facial purifier that unclogs pores, reduces redness, treats breakouts and calms hypersensitivity for a clearer, smoother complexion. Plus, it serves triple duty as a cleanser, mask and spot treatment.
Michael Todd True Organics Charcoal Mask ($34) is a gentle, purifying mask that is suitable for all skin types. It uses mineral-rich charcoal to draw out impurities and toxins and clear the skin of excess oil, dirt and other pollutants. Ingredients like DMAE and hyaluronic acid hydrate the skin and improve the appearance of fine lines.
It can also be fun to make your own facial mask with simple ingredients found in your kitchen. Try Marta's recipe for a DIY Parsley Face Mask.
Finally, always remember that what we put inside our bodies shows on the outside. Every day, try to drink enough water to quench your thirst, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and cut down on sugary treats. Drink alcohol in moderation, and if you're still smoking, make every effort to stop. And never underestimate the power of beauty sleep for restoring your skin — do your face a favor and try to get a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.