the best skincare routine for dry and aging skin

How the heck do you deal with wrinkles when your skin’s as dry as the Sahara?!

Dry skin is delicate. Its protective barrier is broken all over the place. You need to build it back and treat your skin with kid’s gloves while it heals.

Wrinkles are stubborn. You need to kick them in the butt hard if you want to knock them off your face. And that can dry out your skin even more.

The key word here is balance. Dry, mature skin needs a gentle dose of kick-ass wrinkle fighters and a huge dollop of extra moisture and skin-repairing ingredients to keep them in check so you can get all their benefits without any side effects.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s the best skincare routine for dry and aging, mature skin:

cerave hydrating cleanser

Morning Routine

1. Moisturising Cleanser

Does your skin feel tight after washing? It’s its way of telling you it doesn’t like the cleanser you’re using.

Switch to something gentler. The ideal cleanser removes all traces of makeup and impurities without stripping your skin bare of the little sebum it naturally produces.

Cream cleansers, cleansing milks, and cleansing oils are all good options. They usually contain natural oils and emollients that melt away dirt while moisturising your skin. Win win.

Best Picks:

Related: How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

Confused how to layer skincare products and which ingredients you should never mix together? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” below to make the most of your skincare routine:

Paula's Choice C15 Booster 02

2. CEF Serum

CEF stands for Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid.

It’s one of the most – if not the most – powerful combinations of antioxidants to prevent aging. Together, the three musketeers of skincare destroy free radicals before they give you wrinkles and boost the protection of your sunscreen, helping to reduce sun damage. Vitamin C brightens your skin, too.

The catch? High concentrations of vitamin C can irritate sensitive skin. If your skin’s sensitive right now, use it on alternate days. You can always build up frequency once your skin has gone back to normal.

Best Picks:

niod multi-molecular hyaluronic complex

3. Hyaluronic Acid Serum

A hyaluronic acid serum is a must for dry skin (especially if you’ve decided not to use a toner).

Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet: it attracts water from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

Can you imagine what your skin does with all that moisture? It plumps up your skin so your wrinkles look smaller. It makes its texture soft and smooth again. And it gives the complexion a youthful glow too.

FYI, there’s more than one form of hyaluronic acid (I know, confusing!). Suffice to say here that the more forms your serum has, the better it’ll work.

P.S. If you want to make your skincare routine shorter, you can mix a few drops of your hyaluronic acid serum with your moisturiser.

Best Picks:

Related: Why Hyaluronic Acid Is A Must For Dry Skin

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturising Facial Lotion

4. Rich Moisturiser (Optional)

I say optional because hyaluronic acid + moisturising sunscreen is often enough to give your skin all the moisture it needs during the day. Only when your sunscreen isn’t moisturising enough or the weather has gotten considerably colder, you need this extra step. Here’s why:

It’s not enough to drench your  skin in moisture. You also need to make sure that moisture stays there, and that’s hard when your skin’s protective barrier is damaged. All the moisture you add in just evaporates through its cracks!

(THAT’s the real cause of dry skin, by the way).

That’s why you need rich moisturizers loaded with occlusive humectants, like rosehip oil and shea butter, that can create a protective barrier on the skin that locks moisture in.

The best ones also contain skin-repairing ingredients. This is the stuff – like ceramides, cholesterol, niacinamide and free fatty acids – that makes up the skin’s natural protective barrier. You’re giving back the skin the building blocks it needs to fix it.

P.S. you can totally use one moisturiser both for day and night. Only if one moisturiser doesn’t work well under makeup, you may want to consider getting one for your morning routine and one for your evening routine. 😉

Best Picks:

Related: The Best Moisturisers For Seriously Dry Skin

niod survival 30 review

5. Sunscreen

Don’t even think of going without it. You know what’s constantly attacking your skin? Yes, the sun. Those pesky UV rays give you wrinkles, dark spots, and cancer, AND destroy your skin’s natural protective barrier. So, pile on that sunscreen!

Best Picks:

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34.00): available at Sephora
  • Elta MD UV Lotion Broad-Spectrum SPF 30 Plus ($35.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Niod Survival 30 (£25.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique

Related: Can Cosmetics With SPF Give Adequate Sun Protection?

Night Time Routine

1. Makeup Remover

If your morning sunscreen removes your makeup effortlessly, you can use that at night too. If not, turn to oils.

Huh? Wouldn’t that turn your skin into a greasy mess? Nope. Oils work thanks to the like attracts like principle. Put simply: the oils in your makeup remover attach to the oils in your makeup and sunscreen and melt them away.

Plus, oils moisturise skin, leaving it soft instead of tight.

You can use single oils like jojoba or sweet almond oil, make your own mix (you can check out my fave DIY recipe for dry skin here), or buy a fancy oil-based makeup remover at your fave beauty store. Take your pick!

Best Picks:

Related: Why You Should Switch To The Oil-Cleansing Method

drunk elephant tlc framboos glycolic night serum

2.A. Exfoliant

There’s only one way to exfoliate dry skin. And nope, it’s not with apricot or sugar scrubs (those aren’t good for anyone’s skin).

I’m talking about glycolic acid. The star in the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) family, glycolic acid effortlessly dissolves the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, removing all those rough and dull patches from your skin.

But, that’s something that every good exfoliant does. What sets glycolic acid apart is its ability to hydrate skin, and your skin needs all the help it can get in that department.

Just don’t use it every night. Alternate it with retinol (step 3.B below).

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Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid

peter thomas roth retinol infusion pm night serum 01

2.B. Retinol

Retinol (and all other forms of Vitamin A) is the only thing that can reduce the wrinkles you already have. It works in three ways:

  • It destroys the free radicals that give you wrinkles
  • It boosts collagen production, the protein that keeps your skin firm
  • It speeds up cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process)

The catch? Retinol is harsh. It can irritate your skin, sting and flake. Start with a small concentration twice a week and build up both dose and frequency over time.

One more thing: if you’re never used retinol and glycolic acid, introduce only one into your skincare routine. Use it two/three times a week. After a month, add the other active. Use them on alternate nights. I know, it’s slow. But it’s also the best way to avoid peeling and irritations and keep your skin happy.

Best Picks:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol ($34.00) (Beginner level): available at Paula’s Choice
  • La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment (£20.65) (Intermediate level): available at Dermstore and Feel Unique
  • Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00) (Pro level): available at Beauty BayCult Beauty, Sephora and Ulta 

Related: What Strength Of Retinol Do You Need?

3. Hyaluronic acid Serum

If your skin feels tight and dry when you wake up in the morning, put on your hyaluronic acid serum in the evening too.

4. Moisturizer/Facial Oil

I’m often asked if you need both a moisturiser and oil. I say it depends on your skin.

Both good moisturisers and facial oils create a barrier on the skin that locks moisture in, help strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and have antioxidants to fight wrinkles.

If you want to keep your skincare routine as short as possible (in case you didn’t get it yet, I’m a skincare minimalist), go with either your morning moisturiser or an oil. Just use whatever your skin likes best.

If you find a moisturiser or facial oil alone isn’t enough, use both (the moisturiser goes first).

Best Picks:

Related: What Are The Best Facial Oils For Dry Skin?