For you, life is good (at least when it comes to your complexion). You have no dry patches or breakouts to contend with, and your skin has a slight sheen (enviously called dewy by drier-skinned friends). However, like the rest of us, as you age, you’ll have to deal with fine lines, some sagging and possibly uneven tone. So your primary goal now is to protect the genetically blessed complexion you’ve got—and minimize signs of aging.
Because your main objective is prevention, products that boast anti-aging ingredients—plus sunscreen, of course—are your must-haves.
THE NORMAL MINIMALIST
CLEANSE You have the luxury of choosing from a wide swath of cleansers (just steer clear of sudsers geared to the very oily or the very dry—they could throw your balanced skin out of whack). Go with whatever product makes you feel good, pretty, healthy (insert whatever adjective it takes to get you washing every night before bed). Since your skin is so easygoing, observes Jaliman, you don’t need to spend the big bucks; just pick up a decent drugstore cleanser. USE AM AND PM.
HYDRATE AND PROTECT All aging skin types need to be slathered in hydrating ingredients daily. But your issue-free skin can tolerate a more “active” moisturizer (one peppered with anti-aging ingredients), which ultimately gives you more bang for your daytime buck. Most jam-packed hydrating products also throw in sunscreen for good measure, which will save you an extra AM step. (If you don’t choose a moisturizer with sun protection, do invest in a separate sunscreen lotion of atleast SPF 15 and apply it on top of your moisturizer. As any good dermatologist will tell you, up to 80 percent of the signs of aging are UV related.) USE AM ONLY.
TREAT Prescription-strength vitamin A (also known as tretinoin and found in well-known Retin-A and Renova) is the gold standard of anti-aging treatments, say doctors. It unclogs pores (making them look smaller), speeds up cell shedding (smoothing and evening out your skin tone) and stimulates collagen production so your complexion stays firmer longer. Both the Renova and Refissa tretinoin formulas have a moisturizing base, so they’re less apt to irritate (most people experience some initial redness and peeling when using a vitamin A prescription product). If your skin peels excessively, you might prep your face with a light hydrating serum or face oil before applying the tretinoin; that will slightly dilute its effects. Or try an over-the-counter retinol, which contains a milder form of vitamin A. USE PM ONLY.
If you’re willing to pull out all the stops—and be rewarded with faster, more dramatic results—follow the Normal Minimalist regimen, then incorporate as many of these extras as you like.
THE NORMAL MAXIMALIST
VARY EXFOLIATION If you find, after months of following the “treat” portion of your daily regimen, that your skin is plateauing (it looks good but doesn’t seem on its way to great), Gerstner suggests alternating an at-home chemical peel one night with your tretinoin or retinol cream the next. This two-pronged approach will jump-start cell turnover and boost collagen production to a greater degree than one method alone. She recommends using medicated pads that contain at least 10 percent glycolic acid. USE PM ONLY.
BRUSH UP So many dermatologists recommend the Clarisonic cleansing brush, you’d think they were getting kickbacks (they’re not). Jaliman says the rotating brush head simply deep-cleans the skin and speeds up dead-cell shedding in a way your hands and a foaming cleanser cannot. Skin that is especially sensitive can be irritated by the rotating brush head, but with your normal skin, you should be home free. USE PM ONLY.