Hands down the question I am asked most about is my skin care routine. I’ve had a few girlfriends confess they regret not taking the time to develop a skin care routine when they were younger and now they really don’t know where to start or what products they should be using. I was lucky to establish a skin care routine early on, but even so, now that I’m in my 40s my routine looks very different from my regimen in my 20s and 30s. I hadn’t even heard of vitamins for the skin until a few years ago when I began seeing Murissa Wallace of Milk + Honey Skincare Studio for facials — but they are a huge component of my skincare routine these days. I have to confess, though, it’s taken me a long time to fully grasp why certain vitamins and serums are important to aging skin. I finally get it. But, terms like brightening and anti-aging are thrown around so much it’s hard to know what products you should be using. So today with help from Murissa we are breaking down the problems commonly associated with aging skin and the essential vitamins and serums that will tackle these issues.
The 4 Essential Elements of A Healthy Skin Care Regimen
When I was a teen my skin care routine revolved around the Clinique three step system: the facial bar, toner, and the signature yellow moisturizer. I pretty much thought of that as a pretty solid skincare routine until I met Murissa. Murissa’s philosophy is that an adult skincare regimen should consist of four essential elements:
- vitamins and nourishment for the skin
- sunscreen (in your morning routine) and an under eye cream (in your evening routine)
I think most of us kinda understand the rationale behind applying sunscreen and under eye cream but I was curious why the toner that I relied upon as a teen was not important anymore and why it is replaced by skincare vitamins. According to Murissa, most toners are overly drying and strip the skin of essential oils. As skin ages, it experiences water loss, dries out, and tends to be starving for hydration. The toners we relied on in our youth are just too harsh for adult skin.
Topical Vitamins For Nourishing The Skin Versus Moisturizing
Okay, so now that you know that most toners (unless they are hydrating) are a no-no, you might be wondering what the difference is between vitamins and nourishment for the skin versus simply applying moisturizer. They sound like they serve the same purpose, right? Not exactly. The skin needs certain nutrients to prevent and reverse many signs of aging. No matter how well-balanced your diet is the body delivers only a small percentage of nutrients to your skin and our vital organs get first dibs. Plus, there is no way to send nutrients straight to your crow’s feet or brown spots. The solution to address those issues is to apply vitamins topically to deliver maximum anti-aging benefits. Topical skin vitamins do everything from improving texture and tone to fading under eye circles and damaged pigmentation spots. Moisturizers, on the other hand, are merely sealants to seal in the products/vitamins that have been applied to your skin. Makes sense, right?
The Two Most Important Topical Vitamins For Nourishing The Skin
Murissa’s belief is that there are two important vitamins for nourishing the skin: Vitamin C and Vitamin A. She recommends using Vitamin C serums in the morning and Vitamin A retinols at night.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a brightening agent. It addresses the brown spots on your face (often called hyper pigmentation) that are caused by the sun. A topically stabilized plant-based Vitamin C serum smoothes and firms skin and fades the brown spots which are basically just damaged skin cells. It works well when used in conjunction with Vitamin A. A Vitamin C serum should be the first thing that touches your face after cleaning and rinsing your skin in the morning and before applying sunscreen.
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A is the best overall age-fighter. It reduces wrinkles, fades brown spots, and smoothes out the skin. It strengthens the skin from the inside out and speeds up the turnover of skin cells. This process also makes your skin vulnerable to sun exposure so you have to be careful when you are in the sun if you are using them. While prescription retinols work the fastest, Murissa heavily advocates for plant-based Vitamin A for newbies. They have fewer side effects and slowly build skin tissue which helps avoid the irritation, redness, and flaking normally associated with prescription-grade retinols. She recommends applying them every 2-3 nights initially eventually building up to nightly use. A small amount the size of a pea is enough to cover your entire face.
Examples of Vitamin A (retinols) you might try:
ZO Essential Growth Factor Serum | Rodan + Fields Redefine Intensive Renewing Serum | Renova (Prescription) retinol | Skinbetter Alpharet Overnight Cream | ZO Obagi- Retamax Active Vitamin A Micro Emmulsion
I hope this helps breakdown some of the mystery around skincare vitamins and serums. I would highly recommend getting a skincare consultation from an aesthetician or dermatologist to determine which products are best for you. And, I want you to know, this is not a sponsored post. I simply wanted to share a skincare discovery with my girlfriends.
Murissa Wallace is a Medical Aesthetician and owner of Milk + Honey Skincare Studio in Arlington, Virginia. She offers free 45 minute skincare consultations at her studio. You can schedule an appointment with Murissa here.
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Photography by Anna Meyer
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