Ten years ago, my family experienced a huge scare when my then 65-year-old mom was rushed to the ER in order to receive emergency cardioversion—aka a medical paddle used to restart her heart. The day before the trip to the emergency room, we'd been traveling, and my mom (who has since discovered she has an extreme sensitivity to sugar) had a pumpkin spice latte and an almond-filled French pastry for breakfast and then later on after dinner a small vanilla ice cream cone. As she explains, it was enough sugar (at least for her) to send her heart into atrial fibrillation, or an uneven heart rhythm.
"As scary as the experience was, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise," she tells me. "I banished heavy sugar doses from my diet and noticed that my skin started looking better. Soon after this, I forced myself to watch a program on PBS I'd recorded called The Age Fix, hosted by plastic surgeon Anthony Youn (and later read his book by the same name). I'd resisted watching the show because I knew it wouldn't be my personal choice to go the route of plastic surgery when it came to age prevention, but as a makeup artist who specializes in helping women over 50, I felt like there could be some helpful information."
As my mom told me over the phone, Youn connected the dots for her when he said the most important thing we can do for our skin is to eat a clean, healthy diet, and sugar basically equals wrinkles. So as my mom began to reduce her sugar intake and make healthier choices when it came to meals and snacking, her skin started looking better and better, and she became more interested in what else she could do to help some age-related redness, dark spots, fine lines, and not-so-fine lines that were becoming ever harder to miss when she looked in the mirror each morning. (Her words, not mine!)
"Frankly, I'm also embarrassed to admit I'd never done much besides a morning facial cleanse in the shower, some moisturizer under my makeup, and an evening cleanse," she laughs. "But as I started checking into skin-enhancing serums and products that might benefit my skin, I realized that to get the best results from these products, I needed to make sure these formulations could penetrate deeply into my skin. I purchased a Facial Cleansing Brush ($119) which, according to research, can get your skin six times cleaner than a normal cleansing routine, and I began to add a few other exfoliating skincare products into my regimen as well."
But it wasn't until my mom began introducing various anti-aging serums into her skincare routine that she says she truly began to notice a difference in the appearance of her skin. "I also switched to a natural moisturizer—Essentiel by Adele Moisture ($39) is pure heaven—which has made my routine a bit cleaner and has been a game-changer in terms of my skin's hydration levels, especially since we spend our winters in the Arizona desert."
So are you curious to know the specifics of my mom's anti-aging skincare routine and her favorite serums? Keep scrolling! Ahead, she's sharing the best anti-aging serums and formulas that have actually made a difference in the way her skin looks and feels.
"I know this serum gets talked about all the time, but there's a reason it's so iconic. It works. If I could only use one anti-aging serum for the rest of my life, it would probably be this one. It's literally changed the clarity, brightness, tone, and texture of my skin ever since I started using it. I combine it with the two serums below, and it's my own fountain-of-youth cocktail."
"This serum is a triple threat and features coenzyme Q10 (an antioxidant that boosts collagen production, which we need when we're aging!) in addition to hyaluronic acid for hydration, and Matrixyl 3000, an amazing anti-wrinkle ingredient that's used as a less harsh alternative to retinol. This serum has really helped decrease my redness and some of the uneven patches that used to bother me on my complexion."
"As I mentioned, I like to mix this serum from Timeless with the above two for a super-charged serum mixture. It features Matrixyl Synthe'6, a powerful peptide that, according to the brand, boosts six skin-rebuilding essentials. It's great for wrinkles, and it's helped reduce some of the fine lines on my face and crepiness around my eyes."
"Alright, I confess: I've been absolutely hooked on literally all things Tatcha ever since Erin introduced me to the brand a couple of years ago. I love exfoliating with The Rice Polish: Deep ($68), and I'm always amazed when I look in the mirror after using it. My skin always looks brighter and less ruddy due to how effectively it sloughs off buildup! Who knew that removing dead skin cells could make such a dramatic difference in appearance? I love to follow the exfoliation process by applying The Essence Skincare Boosting Treatment ($110), the Dewy Serum ($89), and The Dewy Skin Cream ($70) to finish. Normally, I prefer fragrance-free products, but one whiff of the scent of these products makes me feel like I've been transported to a luxurious spa. Erin asked me to write one or two sentences, and I'm already way over my allotted word count… but did I mention the brand's Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream ($62)?!"
"This serum initially feels a bit heavy and thick out of the dropper, so I was shocked when it absorbed almost instantaneously into my skin the first time I used it, and I've been hooked ever since! I'm not quite sure how they managed that, but it's truly a wonderful product, especially for the comparatively low price point. I love a clean-beauty brand that packs a punch, and this product doesn't disappoint! It feels really soothing and fantastic on the skin, and used along with the Luminizing Face Moisturizer ($48), it provides hydration and imparts this really lovely soft glow. It's great under makeup, too!"
"I just finished my first bottle of this stuff, and let me tell you, I used every last drop! I definitely saw a decrease in fine lines after using this product, but I was puzzled as to why it was working. Usually, if I even just see the word retinol, my skin starts to turn red and flake. But there was no redness or irritation! There was no flaking! Yet I was seeing a decrease in fine lines. This formula is effective yet gentle. To me, it's pure magic, and the hype and buzz are 110% warranted. There are no two ways about it—I love this product."
"This essence-serum hybrid is definitely an investment. However, it really helps hydrate and condition the skin, and I've also seen improvements in the firmness and how plump and youthful my skin looks since I added it to my normal routine. Essentially, it's a treatment you apply after you cleanse and tone, and it acts kind of like a serum primer—enhancing the benefits of whatever serum you use afterward—while also utilizing nutrient-rich caviar water to make your pores look smooth and tiny."
"Oh, this one is so, so good, and it's definitely made my skin look brighter and plumper—fewer fine lines and less sagginess! It's really lightweight, which I like. So many anti-aging products can get really heavy and cloying feeling. It features a specialized Line Relaxing Complex. It's also really hydrating, and I don't even feel like I need a moisturizer after I apply it."
"I really noticed a difference with this serum—especially regarding an improvement in the firmness of my skin and the overall tone of my skin. I especially love the fact that it's more affordable than many other products and easily available at Target, Walgreens, and other locations."
"Several nights a week, I will also just use SkinCeuticals' Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight, a nightly treatment which promotes cellular turnover and radiance. I'm a big fan of SkinCeuticals, and this product has been a favorite recently. I'm not sure if it's considered more of a serum, exfoliator, or cream, but I'm lumping it in here!"
"Erin's really obsessed with this brand, so I knew I had to check it out. Dr. Barbara Sturm makes a handful of really luxurious and high-quality serums, but it's this anti-aging formula, in particular, that's been a real game changer for my skin. I've only just started to use it, but I definitely like some of the results I'm starting to see with this product."
"I know I mentioned my love for Tatcha earlier, but I am so obsessed with this gentle polish from Tatcha for keeping my skin clean, soft, and congestion-free. This has become one of my ride-or-die skincare products to help with aging. I use it a couple of times per week, and it's really made a difference in the texture and brightness of my skin."
"Okay, I know this is going to sound a bit corny, but after applying this face cream, the only word that came to mind was “velvet.” My skin had never felt softer. Since I live in a dry climate, the next product on my wish list is the Anti-Aging Body Cream ($125). I feel like I need these results everywhere, not just my face! I honestly look forward to applying it. As an added bonus, this is one face cream that absorbs into the skin almost instantly."
"I always approach new skincare products with a bit of skepticism. I think we’ve all had experiences where we’ve had high expectations for a product after reading the claims but then were disappointed. My first experience with this product was trying it for the first time at night. When I looked in the mirror the next morning, I almost did a double take. Not only did my skin look brighter, but this product also reduced redness and seemed to even out my skin tone. It’s an absolute winner."
"One pump of this hydrating cream and your skin feels like it's being treated to a whole lot of special pampering. I love to use it as an all-over hydrating treatment but also as a pick-me-up throughout the day—almost like a spot treatment—wherever I need a little extra dose of hydration. Keeping my skin perpetually dewy and moisturized in the desert is tricky, but this is one of the few products that really keeps hydration locked in."
"I'm really picky when it comes to lotions and moisturizers and was, admittedly, skeptical of this multipurpose formula when Erin (who's obsessed) brought it home with her a few years ago. However, it didn't take long after she forced me to try it that I completely fell in love. It's pure heaven, infused with so many wonderful ingredients, and I like to use it all over my body, face, and hands. Even my husband is obsessed with it! I also appreciate the affordable price point as compared to some of my other regular creams and moisturizers."
"Finding an eye cream that's reasonably priced is hard enough. But finding one that delivers noticeable results and is reasonably priced feels akin to ending up with a winning lottery ticket. This cream feels rich without being too heavy, and it glides beautifully onto that delicate under-eye area. It definitely helps brighten and tighten everything up a bit, too!"
"Since I like to switch up my skincare and creams depending on what my skin is feeling, this luxurious cream from La Prairie is another one I swear by. When paired with the Essence in Lotion I mentioned above, it's amazing at moisturizing my skin and diminishing the severity of some of my sun and dark spots."
"I love everything I've ever tried from Shani's line (Erin is devoted and always brings her favorites when she comes to visit), so I expected no less than a super-special eye cream from Shani Darden. It feels like heaven on the skin! I'm all in for any under-eye product that both brightens and firms, and this does both—noticeably."
"This is my go-to night cream. It has a unique blend of multitasking ingredients like RES and glycolic acid so you get some exfoliation benefits in addition to the hydrated glow you wake up with the next morning. Erin complimented my skin's radiance and texture last time she visited, and I partly attribute that to using this cream regularly over the past few months."