The 3 Most Important Anti-Aging Products

The term “anti-aging” now comes with an understandable stigma. Is it possible to be both appreciative for our years and experience while also wanting to halt crow’s feet in their tracks? Here at Messycafe, we view aging as a gift to embrace, but it’s also perfectly fine to want to do so as gracefully as possible. After all, when you look beyond “anti-aging” marketing ploy, the category’s best skincare lines are formulated to support general skin health, not to make you look 22 forever.

But because anti-aging ingredients like antioxidants and retinol are harder to manufacture and stabilize, they tend to be on the pricier side. And since we know higher price points don’t always equal efficacy, keep reading to find out the best anti-aging products.

A good anti-aging skincare routine boils down to three specialty products: an antioxidant serum (like vitamin C) paired with a zinc-based sunscreen in the morning, and a nighttime cell turnover treatment (like retinol, AHAs, or BHAs).

Beyond that powerful trio, you’ll also want to pair your plan with a moisturizer that helps maintain a healthy balance of oil and water on the skin which helps it tolerate all those active anti-aging ingredients.

What age should you begin using anti-aging products?

It’s never too early to start investing in preventative skincare, but don’t go overboard. That goes for spending and your beauty lineup. You should not spend over $100 on any product that lacks scientific data to support its claims. Instead, if you want to target anti-aging, we recommend putting the money toward a laser treatment or a bit of preventive botox. Equally important to remember, our skin does a remarkable job of taking care of itself, and the more products and steps you give it to deal with, the more frustrated it may become. This can present as irritation and inflammation that speed the signs of aging.

Breaking down the perfect anti-aging skincare routine.

Hypothetically, say you’re constructing your morning and nighttime skincare routines completely from scratch. Where do you start? Everything hinges on a solid sunscreen. There is no reason to spend money on more steps until you get into the habit of applying sunscreen every day because the sun is causing the damage.

Supergoop! Zincscreen

This product works best for lighter skin types.

DermaQuest Essential SheerZinc

This light, hydrating zinc-based sunscreen is another favorite and comes in multiple shades that work beautifully on all skin types.

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen

When it comes to zinc sunscreens for the entire body, ISDIN features a repair enzyme to help correct previous damage while it protects. The milk-like consistency applies like a dream, and it comes in both white and a universal tint, so it works for every skin type.

ILIA Natural Super Serum Skin Tint

For a sunscreen that fits seamlessly into your makeup routine, weightless serum includes a non-nano zinc oxide that offers an SPF of 40 and protects skin from UVA, UVB, UVC, and blue light damage. The formula also features hyaluronic acid, plant-based squalane, and niacinamide for an added moisture boost.

Colorescience Brush-On Sunscreen Mineral Powder

If you’re a big fan of brush-on powder sunscreens, this is perfect for you and for easy, non-goopy applications throughout the day, especially over makeup.

The night shift.

Once you get in the habit of applying sunscreen, washing your face, and applying a moisturizer at night, you can start an evening treatment step to promote cell turnover. Retinol or products with AHAs and BHAs help smooth texture and promote collagen production, but it’s important to start slow — twice a week for those with sensitive skin.

We recommend the prescription tretinoin, although it may not be well tolerated by those with sensitive skin. To get you started, these milder over-the-counter options are great alternatives.

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0

SkinCeuticals’ high-concentration retinol creams come in three strengths that are ideal for most skin types.

SkinBetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream

This SkinBetter formula for its unique mix of ingredients, which promotes cell turnover while being easily tolerated.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant

For a retinol-free option, this formula is tolerable and effective at removing built-up layers of dead skin.

Biologique Recherche Lotion P50

The cult French beauty classic can be hard to get your hands on, but when it comes to gentle exfoliation that helps balance the skin’s pH, the magical formula is unmatched.

Bright days.

Once you’ve nailed cell turnover, turn your attention to your morning routine, where you’ll add an antioxidant serum (like vitamin C) to bare skin before moisturizing. A well-formulated antioxidant protects your skin from further damage by sun, pollution, and blue light differently than sunscreen. That is all you need, and of course, additional steps may help, but they have far less data to support them.

Hyper Skin Hyper Even

This favorite and affordable vitamin C products right now, Hyper Skin makes a well-formulated vitamin C more easily accessible.

SkinBetter Alto Defense Serum

This option is slightly more expensive, but it is dermatologist-tested, cruelty-free, and features zero parabens, fragrances, and dyes.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

This iconic vitamin C serum is also dermatologist-approved and is clinically proven to lighten lines and firm skin.

A-OXitive Antioxidant Defense Serum

You’ll be amazed at how fast this antioxidant-packed serum absorbs into the skin, and how widely available it is for consumers.

The products that bind us.

Beyond your three anti-aging heroes, finding a good cleanser and moisturizer is critical to nailing your routine, too. Antioxidant-rich products and cell turnover treatments ask a lot of our skin, so it’s important to support it with well-formulated daily essentials to keep it healthy and able to reap the benefits of all the great ingredients you’re applying.

When shopping for a cleanser or moisturizer, look for a succinct ingredient list.

You’re using these products on your skin every day, so you should preferably be able to pronounce all their ingredients.

Avoid ingredients that do not biodegrade.

From parabens to PEGS (polyethylene glycol), they can accumulate in our world and on our faces.

Prioritize what is most important to you.

There are a lot of options on the market today. Decide what you most value in your daily skincare staples (like being hypoallergenic or cruelty-free) and focus on finding a lineup that helps make and keep your complexion healthy.

It is always important to remember that there is no quick fix, and ultimately, you are fighting a losing battle. You have to put in the work, meaning creating healthy habits for your body and skin, starting with sun protection.


From fighting those pesky free radicals, to stimulating skin’s natural collagen production, anti-aging products make some alluring promises. Hope the products above will get you started on your journey to having flawless skin, and don’t be shy about sharing your opinions and what you thought about them in the comments below.

Stay safe, healthy, and live life to the fullest.

Xoxo, Messycafe.


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