If you're serious about anti-aging-like, syringe-between-the-eyes serious-then your product regimen is likely no joke: your acid-imbued peel pads are of derm-devised potency, your retinoid game couldn't be more on point, and sunscreen is, naturally, your top Subscribe & Save item on Amazon.
Yet you're constantly barraged with-wooed by-the promise of more. Oils, ampoules, and masks rife with gold, stem cells, the rarest of extracts: They're the ancillaries and extras, but are they indispensable? With the help of our discerning skin pros, we've curated a collection of add-ons to elevate even the most conscientious of wrinkle-foiling rituals.
A Hyaluronic Acid Serum
A unanimous must among the dermatologists we interviewed is SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($103, Amazon.com), a balmy serum that boasts five forms of hyaluronic acid, or HA. (Just one would feel pedestrian, no?) The water-hoarding molecules are of "varying shapes and sizes to allow for deeper, longer-lasting hydration," explains Ellen Marmur, a derm in New York City. She, in fact, has patients apply two pumps of HA5 over another "juicier" HA serum-the French vegetable-derived blend Previse Nutrify-sealing in moisture for a super smooth result. Of course, HA5 is plenty powerful on its own, plumping the skin without adding weight or greasiness, says New York derm Heidi Waldorf, while also "reducing irritation [brought on by] other products, and supporting the skin's ability to produce more of its own hyaluronic acid."
The Antioxidant Boost
We've yet to meet a derm who isn't obsessed with SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic's ($130, Amazon.com) unparalleled capacity to vanquish free radicals-those skin-ravaging molecules spawned by everything from sunlight to pollution to everyday cellular activities. With 15 percent l-ascorbic acid, plus vitamin E and ferulic acid, "this really is the gold standard among antioxidants-it helps prevent wrinkles, fades dark spots, and gives a glowy look that lasts all day," says Whitney Bowe, a derm in New York City. She suggests mixing a few drops with your daily sunscreen-yes, even if your SPF has built-in antioxidants, as there's usually no way of knowing their strength or lifespan in such creams.
The Growth Factor Ampoule
There's something magical about ampoules-and it's far from smoke and mirrors. The tiny vials serve to preserve and protect their contents, maintaining potency, which is crucial for volatile anti-aging actives. But that's just one reason why Miami dermatologist Joely Kaufman is so taken with Biopelle Tensage Intensive Serum 40 Ampoules ($79.94, Amazon.com). These single servings of concentrated snail growth factors are shown to "encourage healing by producing new collagen and hyaluronic acid, and stimulating cell turnover" to cast off old, tarnished cells, she explains. Beyond the long-term repair boon, they're also on-the-spot soothing-Kaufman applies them to freshly lasered skin to temper inflammation-and just one dose imparts a supernatural glow.
The Supercharged Sunscreen
Loyalty to a beloved SPF is commendable, but this formula may convince you to edit your auto-order: Luzern Laboratories Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($50, Sephora.com). Holistic facialist Kristina Holey turned us on to the cold-crafted cream, and, we must say, it puts most other sunscreens to shame. It's a mineral formula, for starters, which means it more fully protects against the entire spectrum of sunlight-visible, infrared, and ultraviolet, says New York derm David Bank. This anti-aging action is bolstered by an impressive pack of antioxidants and brightening botanicals. And you'll actually want to wear this stuff, because it's both deliciously hydrating and, and despite touting a whopping 15 percent zinc oxide, it's nearly invisible on skin of all colors.
The Anti-Pollution Face Mask
Be it a hot blast from an M57 tailpipe, or a menacing pall across the city skyline, air pollution, in all its noxious forms, has been shown to weaken collagen, stir up spots, and sap skin's protective lipids. (The minuscule particles stick to makeup and sunscreen, and worm their way into pores.) Which is why LA derm Ava Shamban urges patients to use a clay- or charcoal-based mask at least once a week to help expunge toxins. The latest ultra luxe versions offer "a gentler way to exfoliate, as they hydrate while doing the dirty work," she says, while also "improving the delivery of any anti-agers you apply after." Tata Harper Purifying Mask ($65, Sephora.com) blends deep-cleansing clay and probiotics in a soothing aloe base. Bobbi Brown Instant Detox , with seawater and white clay, goes on graphite-colored, cool, and silky-then splashes right off. ($47, Sephora.com)
THE LIFTING MASK (THAT ACTUALLY LIFTS)
Yeah, we know: "Lifting" products tend to fall flat. But Dr. Waldorf assures us the NuvesseMD Serum No. 7 Firming and Anti-Aging Mask ($74-$128, NuvesseMD.com), a clingy coconut fiber-derived sheet, truly delivers-in large part due to how it delivers: The company's proprietary transdermal technology "allows the peptides, antioxidants, and humectants in the mask to move past the thick topmost layer of skin into the deeper layers beneath," she says, adding that one sheet can infuse the equivalent of a full tube of hyaluronic acid, leaving skin instantly taut and dewy while promoting long-term collagen growth. Pop it on mid-flight or before applying your evening-out makeup.
THE INSTA EYE-BRIGHTENER
No one's questioning the awesomeness of your eye cream-but even the best in the game need the occasional assist. For us, it's after a bout of insomnia, or before our Claritin kicks in, when our under-eyes look bloated and dim. Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Hydrating Mask ($65,JoannaVargas.com), a saturated bamboo sheet, drives in depuffers, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to remedy all bad things. For more of an anytime-anywhere fix, there's the less drippy, won't-undo-all-your-makeup Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Hydra-Gel Eye Patches ($75, Sephora.com). The cooling crescents are laced with gold, which is as anti-inflammatory as it is over-the-top opulent. Caffeine, hydrolyzed collagen, and hyaluronic acid round out the formula.
THE RADIANCE-RESTORING OIL
Chanel Sublimage L'Extrait Intensive Recovery Treatment ($650, Nordstrom.com) is designed to be doled out one drop at a time, notes New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler, so don't get greedy. With a pure, concentrated dose of patented Vanilla planifolia extract, the oil "greatly improves skin's vibrancy, the health of its barrier, its hydration level, and regenerative properties," she adds. Smoothed over your nightly retinoid, it can also help counter flakes and irritation.
THE HAND-REPAIRING ESSENTIALS
They say if you want to know a woman's true age, look at her hands. Last year, Radiesse became the first injectable filler to win FDA-approval for hand augmentation-but some, we suspect, were too self-conscious to high-five. (Where my Gen-Xers at?) Sun damage surfaces early on these perennially exposed parts in the form of mottling, crinkling, and that boniness born of thinning skin. But you can help stave it all off (the cost of injections, too) by using a retinol-based hand cream, like Eve Lom's new Time Retreat Hand Treatment ($50, NeimanMarcus.com). Beyond thickening the skin with vitamin A, the rich cream attacks brown spots with niacinamide, and softens with natural oils and butters. Once the bitterness of winter sets in, make time once a week for Nannette de Gaspé Hands Masque ($85, NanettedeGaspe.com) , a waterless, plant-based formula that helps brighten and heal. "The beauty of [this] oil-based formula is that it can help the active ingredients slip past the skin's lipid barrier, giving it a slight edge over the competition," says cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson.
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