Anti-Aging Must-Haves for Every Age

Turn back the hands of time without breaking the bank.
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Woman putting anti-aging cream on her face.

This weekend, I found myself sobbing to Steel Magnolias for the zillionth time. I know I’m not the only one who has this reaction to the film, but for those who haven’t seen it, I’ll simply say that it’s filled with plenty of life lessons and a fair share of beauty-related quips. At one point, Truvy (played by the phenomenal Dolly Parton) wisely states that “time marches on, and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your face.” While the fountain of youth remains elusive, there are some incredible anti-aging ingredients that are clinically proven to help turn back the hands of time at any age – and they don’t have to cost a fortune.

Table of Content

  1. Skin Care in Your 20s
  2. Skin Care in Your 30s
  3. Skin Care in Your 40s
  4. Skin Care in Your 50s and Beyond
  5. Shopping Tips

Skin Care in Your 20s

Lucky you! This is the decade when your skin is naturally glowing with radiance and youth, so shopping for anti-aging products is probably not your main focus. But at this age prevention is key, and it makes sense to look for skin care ingredients that will fight damage now, rather than try to treat it years down the road.

Sunscreen is your best friend, so don’t leave the house without it. Look for a daily tinted moisturizer or foundation that boasts SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays. While you’re at it, look for skin products that contain antioxidants, such as green tea, pomegranate, acai and vitamins C and E. These little miracle workers serve as a barrier for your skin by fighting free radicals and preventing oxidative damage caused from sun exposure and pollution. We've seen some ridiculously good deals on vitamin C and E serums – some as low as $1 and free shipping. Sephora currently has the Murad Environmental Shield Duo for only $27, which is a steal compared to the normal price of $43. Remember to check out our Sephora coupons page for additional savings.

When it comes to anti-aging treatments, many people assume that the earlier you start, the better, but that’s not entirely the case. While you certainly want to prevent damage now, you simply don’t need to use products that speed cellular turnover or repair collagen breakdown. Your skin already handles these processes efficiently and adding products to your skin care mix can result in irritation or breakouts.

While your skin is mainly taut and firm, the skin around your eyes is thin even in your twenties, so using an eye cream now is a wise investment. Burt's Bees Radiance Eye Cream is one of many drugstore brands you'll find at a decent price, with frequent deals brining the price under $10.

And here’s some advice from a girl in her thirties: Keep it simple. You may not believe it now, but your skin is beautiful. Wear less makeup, allow your features to actually be seen (this contouring craze is getting out of hand), don’t smoke and don’t sleep in your makeup. Skin care towelettes mean no excuses, especially when you can find packs of 40 for only $1 at dollar stores. The prevention you incorporate now will pay off in the decades to come, so treat your skin right.

We Recommend: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45, $39

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45

Skin Care in Your 30s ^

I stand with you, my fellow thirty-somethings, and I know your skin care concerns. That forehead line that lingers long after an expression has left your face? I have it too. (God forbid you sleep on your face at this age, because those bizarre impression marks are going with you to work.) This is the decade when we begin seeing fine lines develop, and it makes sense. Our collagen, elastin and hydration levels are starting to decline, and the skin’s natural exfoliation process dramatically changes between our twenties and thirties. Rather than our skin cells exfoliating every 14 days like clockwork, the process slows to every 35 days instead. To keep your skin from looking dull, you’ll have to exfoliate more frequently. Exfoliation does more than reveal youthful, glowing skin; it also helps your skin absorb products more efficiently.

Another way to encourage skin turnover is through retinol, which has long been hailed for its anti-aging properties. Retinol works to exfoliate your skin while increasing its hydration levels and boosting collagen production, and as Slickdealer tangerinemixer advises, "absolutely nothing else works over time." You’ll want to apply retinol at night, as sun exposure can interfere with its abilities.

You should also look into a moisturizer with alpha hydroxy acids, which help restore skin to a radiant state. Slickdealer SchwabSqua recommend's Philosophy's Hope in a Jar with AHA, noting that her mom loves it, and my mom happens to love it, too. At-home enzyme or acid-based peels also help with resurfacing, while good old fashioned sleep promotes cellular repair and collagen production.

Those with skin sensitivities are wise to look for retinol and alpha hydroxy acid formulas that are gentle enough for your skin. RoC’s Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream is designed to deliver results without the irritation, peeling and redness that retinol sometimes creates, and our Price Tracker lists it at an all-time low right now at $15.61. When shopping for alpha hydroxy acid formulas, look for those that contain no more than 10 percent AHA content, so as not to aggravate your skin.

We Recommend: L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Concentrated Serum Treatment, $24.99

L'Oreal Revitalift Triple Power Concentrated Serum Treatment

Skin Care in Your 40s ^

When you reach your forties, you’ll likely notice an increase in your skin’s overall dryness and thinness, which only makes those fine lines more noticeable. This is a direct result of estrogen levels decreasing. Counteract the loss of moisture by adding hyaluronic acid to your skin care routine, an anti-aging miracle that Slickdealer mongorick says "helps hydrate your skin." Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body, keeping skin supple, plump and hydrated, while boosting elasticity. In fact, when used as an injectable, it can even fill in fine lines. As a cream, however, it’s known for its impressive hydrating properties. Peter Thomas Roth Neuroliquid™ Volufill™ Youth Moisturizing Hydra-Gel, which boasts hyaluronic acid as a main ingredient, is currently only $55 at Sephora (its MSRP is $110.)

Once you hit your forties, you’ll want to switch to heavier moisturizing creams supercharged with peptides and ceramides that boost hydration levels. Ceramides plump skin and hold skin cells together while retaining moisture, and they're also ideal for treating eczema. Try drugstore favorite CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion, which contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid for $14.99, although our Price Tracker has seen it as low as $10.75.

We Recommend: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, $15.37

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair  Serum

Skin Care in Your 50s and Beyond ^

Just as hormone changes affect your skin in your forties, those same changes continue into your fifties. As estrogen levels continue to fall, combating dryness becomes more of a challenge. You’ll want to utilize all of the anti-aging ingredients in your arsenal to retain moisture, build collagen and blur existing wrinkles.

Look to rich moisturizers and serums packed with peptides to help promote collagen and elastin production while improving overall hydration levels. Ceramides will help restore the skin’s moisture barrier, and if you’re noticing an increase in unevenness or redness, peptides can counteract any inflammation. For dark spots caused by sun exposure and aging, niacinamide is a brilliant ingredient for lightening trouble areas and is found in moisturizers like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Sleeping Cream.

At this age, you may want to consider professional microdermabrasion treatments to improve cellular turnover via exfoliation. This process encourages cellular turnover and allows your skin to better absorb products, which in turn improves their effectiveness. If you prefer doing microdermabrasion at home, Slickdeals user Hoganfebob_yya reports that the Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion Plus Advanced Cleansing System is "nice stuff for the price."

While it may seem a bit unconventional, numerous celebrities and women of all ages swear by petroleum jelly when it comes to keeping your skin soft and youthful. This drugstore basic isn’t moisturizing on its own – in fact, molecularly speaking, it can’t even penetrate the skin. It can, however, seal in moisture, as well as anti-aging products. Typically priced around $1, it’s worth a try to see if it helps your other products’ efficiency.

We Recommend: Olay Regenerist Instant Fix Wrinkle & Pore Vanisher, $19.99

Olay Regenerist Instant Fix Wrinkle and Pore Vanisher

Shopping Tips ^

  • If you already know that your skin reacts well to a certain brand’s lineup, it’s typically more affordable to buy larger sizes of the products you love. Packaged sets can often save you money, and you usually end up getting a product for free, which is a nice incentive. Just be careful not to spend money on combinations if you’ll only actually use one or two of the included items.
  • As someone with sensitive skin, I understand that buying skin care is sometimes a gamble. If you haven’t tried a certain product, it’s generally wise to visit a department store to request a sample. These small containers can save you the hassle of a return or skin irritation (yikes). Also, keep in mind that it’s better to test the product on a small area rather than your entire face, until you know how your skin will react. Once you know that a product agrees with you, sign up for the brand’s emails to receive extra savings on that first purchase.
  • Speaking of returns, it’s important to consider which stores will give you your money back in case a product doesn’t deliver. Sephora grants a generous 60-day return policy on used products, so even if you don’t lose your laugh lines, at least you won’t lose your money.
  • As is the case with many products, you’ll usually find some of the best skin care sales after the Christmas season. Many brands package their anti-aging skin care in holiday-themed sets or stocking stuffer gifts. Look for drastic price reductions on these once Santa leaves town.
  • While it may be tempting to dismiss drugstore brands in favor of pricey promises, don't! Many of these lower-prices alternatives afford the same, if not better, results as their expensive counterparts. The savviest decision ultimately comes down to what delivers the best outcome for your individual skin needs, so keep an open mind.
  • Many celebrities and models swear by natural skin care ingredients found outside the drugstore and department store altogether. Victoria's Secret beauties like Miranda Kerr and Candice Swanepoel credit their glow to unrefined coconut oil, and it's my personal go-to for keeping my fussy skin moisturized without suffering a breakout. You'll also find plenty of exfoliation recipes using common kitchen ingredients like sugar and salt. Create an inexpensive honey-based mask, or use avocado oil to moisturize dry skin. Experiment with a few combinations to see what your skin enjoys, and go from there.

Which anti-aging products do you personally recommend? And who else absolutely loves Steel Magnolias? Share your thoughts below!

See all anti-aging skin care Slickdeals here!

Images courtesy of ©iStock.com/Goodluz, Sephora, Ulta, Target and Drugstore.com.


Any product or service prices/offers that appear in this article are accurate at time of publish, and are subject to change without notice. Please verify the actual selling price and offer details on the merchant’s site before making a purchase.

About the Author
Lesley Sheridan Contributor

Lesley Sheridan is a freelance fashion and beauty writer who lives for Pinterest boards, animal prints, strappy shoes and coupon codes. Her bookshelves are filled with Kevyn Aucoin makeup guides, and her favorite band is and will always be INXS. A Kentucky girl at heart, she currently resides just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, with her rescue cats, a boyfriend who wishes he were an astronaut and a dog whose favorite word is “pizza.”


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