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Here at Truth In Aging, our inboxes are always teeming with reader questions. We try to answer them as thoroughly and individually as we can. Similar themes come up and it seemed worth sharing a few recent questions and my answers, as I strongly suspect that some of them will resonate with you.

Sagging skin multitasker that is pocketbook friendly

Question: I am looking for one product to use for firming as well as helping to diminish wrinkles for face and neck. I really want to limit my products to one or two good, but pocketbook-friendly items. My time is limited as I'm a busy mom and it's summer (no school!), so a product that is time efficient, user friendly and shows results would be a blessing!

Answer: I think that one of the best all-in-ones for firming and wrinkles for face and neck would be Medik8 Firewall ($145 in the shop) with copper in various forms, vitamin C, assorted antioxidants and Matrixyl 3000. Although the dual chambers require mixing the serums on the back of your hand, Firewall is user friendly. A little goes a long way as well.

More pocketbook friendly but still pretty good options would be La Vie Celeste Eclairage ($98.50 in the shop) with ChroNoline for sagging skin, and tons of skin brighteners and fine-line reducers, or Arcona Peptide Firming Complex ($72).

My skin is a little oily, especially in the summer, so I don’t need to layer on a moisturizer. But if your skin is drier and you feel you need to supplement the serum of your choice with a moisturizer, then I would go for the simple, effective and pocketbook friendly Arcona Desert Mist ($35).

A beauty routine for combination skin that has stopped responding

Question: I'm 39 and feel that my skin looks much older than my age. It's blotchy with large pores, lines, and crow’s feet. Dry for the most part, but some oiliness in the T-zone and even with the oil I still have peeling on my nose. Moreover, in trying to combat the oiliness I don't feel like most of the moisturizers penetrate very well. You name it, I’ve tried it: AHAs, Retin-A, copper, vitamin C, etc. I seem to notice an improvement in the beginning, but my skin seems to stop responding quite quickly. Can you please recommend products and a routine that might help?

Answer: I think your intuition is correct. In trying to treat the oiliness and open pores, you might have overdone the exfoliating and drying ingredients (which includes vitamin C and perhaps even copper, but certainly the AHAs and retinol), leading to blotchy, dull and unresponsive skin.

I’d like to suggest a different approach to exfoliation by incorporating dry or wet brushing into your skincare routine with a facial brush such as the Ultra Clear ($86 in the shop) to exfoliate skin, clear pores, and even out skin tone. A proper cleansing routine is going to be the foundation of your entire skincare regime, so it's important that you concentrate on a cleanser that's ideal for your skin. A good cleanser for combination skin that keeps skin feeling clean, while also toning and balancing skin is the Snowberry Gentle Remineralising Toner  ($54).This works very well alongside a facial brush as well.

You might also consider using the Arcona AM Blemish Lotion ($38), which should help shrink your pores.

Snowberry also has a good moisturizer for combination skin, the Bright Defense Day Cream Number 2; it may touch most of your bases as it hydrates, brightens and improves skin tone.

I am also going to go out on a limb and suggest Your Best Face Private Reserve ($75 in the shop). It might seem crazy to recommend oil to the oily, but a good facial oil is very compatible with the skin. YBF’s formula is very pure, non-comedogenic and has great antioxidants. I would add in a weekly or so face mask. And consider Your Best Face Prep ($80 in the shop) as it will slough off dead skin cells, clean those pores and add in antioxidants. 

Retinol, DMAE or hyaluronic acid

Question: I would like to know what are the most important ingredients for me. I am 60 years old, with beautiful skin, light olive skin tone, melasma, some tiny wrinkles, and eyes that look tired (because I am). One article says retinol is best, then hyaluronic acid, then DMAE, etc. etc.... So I am confused and don’t know which active to pick.

Answer: For melasma and light wrinkles it sounds as if some brightening ingredients would work best. If you skin is in good condition, then there’s no point in using a heavy-duty active like retinol. There are gentle but effective skin brighteners that do not exfoliate in the harsh way that retinol does. The Organic Pharmacy Rose Plus Brightening Complex ($189) has mulberry, which prevents hyperpigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, while jack fruit has also been found to be a tyrosinase inhibitor that is more potent than kojic acid. Rose Plus also has some good hydrating and antioxidant ingredients that make it ideal for fine lines as well.

Vitamin C will also be a useful ingredient for you to focus your attention on as it will help with melasma (if used regularly over time) and fine lines. Medik8 C Tetra ($70 in the shop) is a standout in that it has a 7% concentration of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. This form of vitamin C rates as potent, gentle and non-drying.

Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) has three forms of vitamin C, all stable and effective.  

Another option for targeting hyperpigmentation is Osmotics Lighten FX Serious Brightening Solution ($62). The key skin lightening actives are ChromaBright), niacinamide and alpha arbutin

For tired-looking eyes, Retrospect Flash Firm Gel ($70 in the shop) has an instant cooling and tightening effect (excellent on puffy-eye mornings) and longer-term notable smoothing of fine lines.

Prevention for a 30-something

Question: I'm in my early 30s, and am interested in prevention. There are so many great-sounding antioxidant serums on the site I don't know how to choose. I'm also a side-sleeper, and will surely begin to see wrinkles from that. What do you recommend in the way of prevention, overall, and for sleep wrinkles?

Answer: Antioxidants that prevent free-radical damage are going to be a great investment. A great starter product would be Arcona Peptide Hydrating Complex ($75 in the shop), a rare serum and moisturizer in one. For all its hydrating power, this is a fast-absorbing and non-greasy serum that keeps the skin feeling supple throughout the day or night. It has the power peptide Matrixyl 3000, a slew of hydrating ingredients and plant-derived antioxidants.

Your Best Face Restore with vitamin C and alpha arbutin for brightening the skin would be a good one to try (read our 30-year-old tester’s review).

For some more suggestions for a full beauty regimen for 30-somethings, read on.