Ask Design Mom: Anti-Aging Products

August 1, 2011

Hi Gabrielle, Do you use any anti-aging products? And more widely, what do you think about the anti-aging industry? It’s difficult to know to what degree we should believe all of the beauty editors. From, Lola

Hi Lola. Thanks for your question! I have tried all sorts of anti-aging beauty products. I love to! When I go to conferences and retreats, samples are often in the goody-bags and it’s so much fun trying a luxurious face lotion or fancy sounding serum — but I have no idea if they actually work.

What I can swear by is my Clarisonic (in fact, your question inspired me to choose the Clarisonic as a prize this week). I’ve been using mine for about 2.5 years. It can be used twice a day, every day. But I only use it a few times each week. And each morning I put on moisturizer with SPF. That’s my routine, and I’m currently content with the state of my skin, so I’m sticking with it. : )

Please do chime in, Dear Readers. What are your favorite anti-aging products? Do you think it’s all hype?

P.S. — One last thing — but promise not to laugh. I once heard that applying your moisturizer with upword strokes helps combat the effects of gravity and I’ve done it ever since. What do you think? Old wives tale?

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barchbo August 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

I just started using Clarisonic about 3 months ago and the difference in my face is unbelievable! I would highly encourage it. It’s definitely worth it in the long run. My friend that is a plastic surgery nurse says it is the best nonsurgical option for the face!

I also wear SPF 30 or more on my face every day. I like Philosophy’s Help Me before bed.


2 Emily August 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

I’ve never tried Clarisonic, but I’m thinking I could use it right about now. Does it help with sun damage acquired in my 20s? I wear SPF 30 during the day and use Regenerist at night.
As for the upward face application – my 90 year old Cuban grandmother swears by it and she looks 75ish. She taught me when I was a pre-teen and I still do it. Needless to say – no sagging yet!


3 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Glad to hear Grandma agrees! : )


4 Betsy Cutler August 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

My favorite anti-aging product is H2O! It is amazing what being fully hydrated does to your skin. Of course the normal creams, lotions and potions are apart of the daily routine, but the water is so important.


5 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Yay water! And it’s the opposite of expensive.


6 McKenzie August 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

I wear sunscreen everyday and drink lots of water. I remember my mom having Mary Kay parties when I was younger and the consultant would always tell the ladies attending the parties to use upward strokes! That bit of advice stuck with me and I always wash upwards and apply lotions upwards! Even on my arms and legs!


7 Melissa August 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

my mother always told me the same thing about upward strokes and also to never use anything but your pinkie finger when applying cream around your eyes ~ and to apply in a motion towards your nose, never towards your ears. yes, i have committed to this wives tale or not ever since.


8 kathy November 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I was always told to use your ring finger when putting moisturizers on around your eyes. There are less muscles in your ring finger therefore less pressure around your eyes.


9 adriane August 1, 2011 at 11:18 am

as an aesthetician, i can promise that sunscreen is, hands down, the BEST thing you can do to keep your skin looking younger and more radiant. i think i learned in school that about 80% of premature aging is due to UV radiation. also, sunscreen ingredients are key, but my most basic bit of advice when it comes to sunscreen is to use a facial sunscreen on your face/neck/decolletage and a body one on your body.

i also have been using the clarisonic for a few years and i agree that it will change your world. it doesn’t erase sun damage but it does stimulate the skin a bit, increasing blood flow (which increases oxygen to your skin, which is always good), and it’s one of the best ways to get a good exfoliation, which rids your skin of the surface dead skin cells, allowing the brighter, healthier skin to shine through.

i never heard anything about applying moisturizer in an upward motion…in fact, if you ever apply an astringent or something with a cotton pad, always use downward & outward strokes. this is because your skin cells (and also the fine hair on your face) lie on the surface kind of like shingles on a roof…when you use upward motions with a wet product, you will kind of fluff all of that stuff up, which takes away the smoothness. OH! and when applying creams around your eyes, always use your ring fingers (they are not as strong as your pointer & middle fingers) and go from the outside corner of your eye toward the inside corner using a patting/dabbing motion…this is similar in strategy to the upward strokes for anti-gravity’s sake on your facial skin. you will not be pulling outward, which can cause fine lines to develop there.

when it comes to anti-aging products, there are certainly good products out there. i would always recommend higher-grade skin care products (like what you can purchase at a spa or dermatologist’s office) because they have less fillers and useless ingredients in them and many of them actually DO what their labels say they’re going to do. so, book yourself a facial appointment and try to learn everything you can about keeping your skin healthy and gorgeous!

and i also believe proper diet, hydration and exercise go a long way in your skin’s health. whew! sorry for the very long comment, but i felt like i had to share what i know!


10 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I love all your advice, Adriane! Thank you.


11 adriane August 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

you’re welcome! i am a HUGE fan of your blog and i love that you discuss things that so many women (even us non-moms) can relate to. keep up the GREAT work!


12 Christine August 1, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I’m not a derm, but I write about a lot of anti-aging skincare on my site and the couple of derms that read my posts have said I do a good job of explaining what the medical literature regarding what actually works and what does.

I second everything that Adriane has said above. Sunscreen is key. At least SPF 15 (30 is better) and look for ingredients that indicate broad spectrum coverage like Avobenzone, Ecamsule and Zinc Oxide. It is important to use the correct amount of sunscreen, most of us dramatically under apply. For the body, an average adult needs to use 1 ounce (a shot glass) of sunscreen. Use a pretty equal amount on your face. Because it is so hard to tell if you’ve used enough with a spray sunscreen, many dermatologists recommend against using it. The FDA even expressed some concerns over this in their recent sunscreen labeling changes a few weeks ago Also, reapply every 2 hours.

In terms of other active ingredients that work, Retinoids are the gold standard for wrinkles. You’ll find them in small amounts in many anti-aging creams, but the best thing to do is to use one of the concentrated retinoid cremes. You can get a prescription for retin-a, but there are also decent ones available from Neutrogena and Roc. Use it at night, every few nights and slowly increase in frequency. Your skin will be more sun sensitive, so definitely make sure you have a good sunscreen with it. If you have redness or irritation back off.

Peptides have been found to be helpful for other aspects of aging such as laxity. Anti-oxidants are almost impossible to avoid now, though there isn’t a lot of evidence for most anti-oxidants other than Vitamin C causing reversal of any signs of aging. Think of anti-oxidants as being more preventative for further damage.

Exfoliation (whether through a chemical like a hydroxy acid or physical via a scrub or Clarisonic) helps smooth skin, increase cell turnover (good) and can help your skin care products absorb better into your skin. Personally, I use my Clarisonic a few times a week and I love it! There are a few different versions out there, sometimes you can get a deal from places like Skin Store when they have 20% off the entire store.

Hydration is also really important for both the short and long term. A great moisturizer can plump things up quickly and have immediate results! Hyaluronic Acid (also called Sodium Hyaluronate) is a great ingredient to watch for that holds a ton of moisture but won’t make skin greasy.

As for all of the “special” application tips about direction, I’ve seen the upwards strokes mentioned over and over, even in some textbooks. I don’t know that there’s any evidence about it working, though the patting application of an eye cream with your index finger instead of pointer finger since it isn’t as strong does make sense to me.

Sorry that I rambled for so long!


13 Allyson H August 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

Even if it’s an old wives’ tale, it couldn’t hurt! I’ll start using that and see how it works.


14 Zoe - SlowMama August 1, 2011 at 11:24 am

You’re the second person to recommend the Clarisonic so it’s now on my list.

I’m always searching for the best natural moisturizers and I like many of Epicurens products.

I think the best anti-aging products for the skin are what you put INTO the body… lots of hydration, healthy oils and fats, low amounts of sugar. The women I know who have the youngest looking faces almost always have minimal skincare regimes but eat super healthy and take a few supplements.


15 Kristin August 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

Happy blog-iversary! That wives tale made me laugh because I was always told to apply moisturizer with downward strokes to smooth the little hairs on your face. Both my sister and mother are Mary Kay consultants, so I have no choice but to use Mary Kay, but I actually do love their products. Of course the most important part of any skincare regime – especially one focused on anti-aging – is to wash your face each night before going to bed, and to wear sunscreen all the time. I’ve heard that your skin ages 7 years faster if you consistently don’t wash before going to sleep. Yikes!


16 Andrea August 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’ve always used upward strokes for moisturizer, except around the eyes. Can’t hurt, right?


17 Lauren August 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

I LOVE Arbonne’s products. They are all-natural, botanically-based and my skin feels INCREDIBLE. I’m only 27 but have been using their RE9 (anti-aging line) day/night serum, toner and eye cream every day for a couple of years now. The eye cream is my absolute favorite because it keeps my concealer from sliding into all the tiny crevices (I still don’t have real wrinkles yet… Baby #1 comes this November though so that may change soon!).

Their FC5 line (for younger skin) is also amazing; I slather my entire body in their moisturizing lotion every day but if I forget/skip a day, my skin definitely feels dry and “stretched.” I love it because it doesn’t have mineral oil or lanolin (sheep’s intestinal lining) which is in 99.9% of other lotions (even high-end ones). Mineral oil particles are too large to be absorbed by your skin’s cells which is why you feel like you need to “dry yourself” for a bit before getting dressed. It’s also why burn victims are slathered in mineral oil/Vaseline/baby oil – no germs can get in and cause infections. If Nothing can get in though, no GOOD things can get absorbed (so it doesn’t matter if your lotion has them, if they just sit on top they can’t do much good) and no toxins can escape either. I have naturally sensitive and oily skin so having no perfumes, additives or other crud in it is great.

Seriously though, the RE9 eye cream will change your life.


18 Johanna August 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Totally agree. Arbonne is the shizz. My husband even uses it and tells his dude friends about how much he likes it


19 Kelly August 1, 2011 at 11:59 am

Who wouldn’t love to get this??!!


20 Sherry August 1, 2011 at 12:16 pm

LOVE my Clarisonic!!!


21 Scotti August 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Has anyone tried Rodan+Fields? It’s the Dermatologists who started Proactiv – their new anti-age skincare line. I liked their products so much I became a consultant!


22 zchamu August 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I am pretty certain most anti-aging stuff is hogwash. Stay hydrated, stay out of the sun, and take care of yourself – save the money you’d spend on hocus potions and spend it on a gorgeous sun hat instead!


23 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I am hunting for a giant sun hat right this minute.


24 Kate F August 2, 2011 at 7:35 am

I just bought the Wallaroo Victoria Diva hat on a whim when we were at an outdoor concert. It rolls up/squashes and then bounces back, is light and airy (vs. Straw/raffia) but is quite dramatic and fun! I’m pleased so far.


25 Christy August 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I’ve heard great things about Clarisonic and would love to try it out!


26 Jen August 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I need to check out clarisonic.
I just wash & moisturize- Oil of Olay with SPF everyday!


27 alejandra August 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’ve never heard of Clarisonic, I think I will try it!
I try to stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen and a hat when outside. I’ve been using the Regenerist products and I’m happy with how my skin looks :)


28 Julie at strongrrl August 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I’ve had my eye on the Clarisonic for a while now. Would love to try it out!


29 Erin August 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I actually HATE my Clarisonic. It gives me the worst, most painful acne I’ve ever had. I kept using it for months because 1. it’s expensive and 2. I figured it HAD to get better, everyone else loves it so much. I tried different cleansers with it and different frequencies of use all hoping to make it better, but nothing helped. Finally stopped using it all together and my face went back to normal very shortly after. Lesson learned…not everything will work for everyone.


30 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm

So true, Erin! A friend gave me some lotion that she adored, but when I used it, I broke out. Different bodies definitely require different products.


31 Kelly August 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Clarisonic? Now I’m interested! Right now, my skin care is a bar of soap and body lotion! I’m always VERY hesitant to try new products on my skin (especially my face) because I have HORRIBLE eczema. (I recently found through allergy testing that I am incredibly allergic…to grass.)


32 stacey August 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Every morning I try and figure out what to put on first–acne medicine or wrinkle cream! I’ve been using some Burt’s Bees Carrot Creme that is only $10 a bottle. I need to do better about sunscreen because I’m starting to get blotchy, damaged areas on my face. The clarisonic sounds heavenly.


33 Michele August 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I don’t use the Clarisonic yet, but it’s been on my wishlist for a while. I think Oil of Olay has a similar, less expensive, product as well. While I’m pretty pathetic in my anti-aging regimine, I did pick up a tip recently from a make up artist. I was told to never use regular moisturizer around the eye area. It is too heavy and will pull the skin around the eyes down. Instead, be sure to only use cream meant for the eyes on that area, and apply with your ring fingers. Since they are the weakest of your fingers, they will be most gentle.


34 Kady August 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I stick with SPF moisterizers. Ill use vitamin E oil from time to time if my skin feels extra dry. Vitamin E oil from the vitamin aisle is pretty cheap and its a big ingredient in expensive moisturizers.


35 Design Mom August 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I use those inexpensive bottle of vitamin E oil too! They are great for dry feet.


36 Suzanne allen August 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Sunscreen, sunscreen broad spectrum sunscreen!!!


37 Renee August 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Clarisonic and would love to try it out. I’ve also heard to apply moisturizer in upward strokes….but never really do it :) Maybe I should try it out…


38 Sasha August 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Go clarisonic! I am a new mom (9 month old) and have very little time for the routine that I used to do. I did however purchase the clarisonic 2 months ago to help me out. I love it! I use diligently-little fingers on my face??-and have been so happy with the results. Weirdly, it even helped my rosacea.


39 Tamela August 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I was just reminiscing about the “Skin Machine” with a friend and we were wondering if there were any current appliances out there worth having/using…


40 jamie August 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I would love to try the clarisonic. I am in the sun all. the. time. (live in san diego, can’t help it). kind of do a full body dip in sunscreen every morning, and since we use so much lotion, we buy whatever is cheapest! the kiddos have jr. lifeguards coming up for 3 weeks, so it will be a family dip in the spf.


41 Cathy K. August 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Treated myself to a Clarisonic Mia for my birthday 6 weeks ago and I love how my skin has reacted to the daily regimine. Lots of water and heathly eating have given me good skin, but this year I just felt like it was a little dull, the Clarisonic did the trick in just a month, and now I don’t think I’d ever want to be without it!


42 Melanie W August 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I want a Clarisonic so bad! Maybe a b-day present to myself hehehe. I started rubbing some coconut oil onto my face after shower, leave it on for an hour or two, then wash off. It leaves my skin sooo soft and moisturized! It’s only about $9 for a 15 oz jar, which is ridiculously cheaper than anti-aging creams ^_^ It hasn’t clogged my pores, but I have more problems with dry skin than oily. I don’t know if it’s specifically anti-aging, but definitely makes my skin glow!


43 Shari August 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I really want a Clarsonic, but it is not in the budget. I insist everyone in my household wear sunscreen everyday. With sports and the beach, we live outdoors, so we must protect our skin.


44 Rach S August 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

not an “anti-aging” product but my ultra sensitive, eczema prone skin loves CeraVe cream.


45 Chyenne August 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I love my Clairsonic!! I’ve had it for about six months now. I got it to help clear my skin up (I’m 24). Its done that and more. Couldn’t live without it!!


46 Lola August 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm

So fun to see my question answered, Gabrielle! I figured being a busy mother of six gives you a good sense of perspective on these matters – more so than a beauty journalist. The Clarisonic sounds intesting, I’ll definitely check it out.

Personally, I’m only in my twenties and I just moisturise (the cheap but allergen-free kind) like a crazy person. I always hear people saying that their grandmother looks great for her age, and she’s been moisturising twice a day her whole life. Hopefully it’ll work on me! The best piece of beauty advice I’ve ever been given was that often bad skin isn’t caused by oiliness, but by dehydration. It is so, so true, so lots of water and moisturiser later and my skin made a full recovery. Oh, and I always dab my face dry instead of dragging a towel over it – quite possibly another old wives’ tale for you!


47 Melanie August 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I am going to have to try this! I’m turning 30 in a few months and am starting to feel the reality that I’m not getting any younger! :) Good to know that the Clairisonic works!


48 Melissa August 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I would love to try one. I have been using Olay products for a while and am ready to try something new.


49 Aimee August 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I’ve always heard that sunscreen is actually pretty bad for your skin? I could be wrong but I try to stay away from beauty products that have names I can’t pronounce. Coconut oil is a natural sunscreen and I do use that when my face is dry. You can check out if you are concerned with the products you are using. Beware you may spend hours on this site seeing if your beauty products are toxic or not!

I’ve also heard that certain herbs can really help with clearing up skin problems. I’ve just made a toner with Calendula, Plantain, and Apple Cider Vinegar. Supposedly this will pull impurities out of your face, heal scarring, and keep your skin clear and smooth. BUT I’ve also heard your skin gets worse before it gets better! I plan on starting my toner this week. Hope it works!


50 MrsF August 2, 2011 at 4:12 am

My anti-aging (or all-round feel-good) regime consists of good, organic nutrition (plenty of water, no alcohol, sugar, processed or fried food), natural/organic/paraben- and SLS-free skincare and my trusty Bioptron Compact III (

My Dad’s a dermatologist and has always said that products applied topically can only do so much to change/improve your skin or prevent it from aging – it’s what you do internally that counts.


51 Anne August 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

Sunscreen! Ladies, don’t forget your neck and upper chest.


52 Kira August 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm

My moisturizer says to apply with upward strokes on the bottle. I remember reading that and thinking it was silly, but I have been putting it on that way ever since.


53 Michelle T. August 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I’m hoping to get a Clairisonic for my birthday next week, I think I’ve told my husband enough times but I guess time will tell!


54 Erin @ Small Types August 2, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I’ve been wondering about the Clairisonic! I think I could use it!


55 Sue Pea August 3, 2011 at 5:10 am

I heard a dermatologist say once that you shouldn’t put anything on your face that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. For the last couple of years I’ve been using skin creams that a friend has made or using one that I’ve made myself with all natural ingredients. I also believe that what you put inside is as or more important than what you slather on the outside. Limit alcohol, lots of water, organic as much as possible. And learn to embrace the fact that I’m getting older no matter what I do to stop it.


56 Belky August 3, 2011 at 8:08 am

I just askedmy hubby for the Clarisonic, I really hope he gets it.

My friend who orks at Clinique told me, te most important things re,
Drink tons of water,
Always wash your face at night
Eye cream!


57 Tarin Rafferty August 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

Exactly the kind of advice I’ve been looking for, I have spent the last several years ignoring all the latest anti aging advice and now I feel like I am playing a desperate game of catch-up. Thanks to everyone for getting me up to date!


58 june August 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

great post, made me resolve to wash my face every day! clarisonic sounds like the deal. my mom, who is chinese, swears by camellia oil for everything from anti-aging to treating blemishes.


59 Emily August 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I would love to try the clarisonic. I’m having trouble finding a good moisturizer with sunscreen for my face. What kind do you use?


60 Sheila @ Chinaberry August 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I swear by my Exfolia beauty cloth which makes my skin sooo smooth. After I use it I notice that my pores aren’t as obvious and my face looks fresher. It’s very affordable (under $10) and many people think it’s as good or better than a fancy facial!


61 Andrea August 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

i read this a few days ago, and ever since i read it, i’ve been applying my moisturizer with upward strokes. i don’t even care if it works or not – it feels lighter and more refreshing. there’s something to getting the peach fuzz headed in the wrong direction. thanks!


62 Emily August 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Did you announce this winner yet Designmom?


63 Lisa Hinson November 15, 2012 at 9:16 am

I started using the Clarisonic skin brush about a month ago as well – I LOVE the results!


64 Lori Irby February 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog!! I have just recently started using the MACRO-EXFOLIATOR by Rodan and Fields and the results are amazing!! I used the RF products for a little while and decided to join the company as a consultant because after trying Murad, Dermalogica, Phytomer and who knows what else….I finally found something that works for me! (only tried because of the 60 day money back guarantee bc I was tired of spending my money). If anyone is looking for an anti-aging regimen I definitely suggest looking into REDEFINE by Rodan and Fields. The Macro-E has a diamond tip that removes millions of dead skin cells and only need to be used once a week!


65 Candace April 24, 2013 at 5:35 am

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll
be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!


66 Jess October 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I’m obsessed with coconut oil! I use it in the morning as my moisturizer slash natural sunscreen, and I ‘wash’ with it at night. I also slather it all over my face and body in the shower, and make a scrub with salt, coconut oil, and lavender essential oil when I want to exfoliate. If I have to run and my face still looks greasy, I put some apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and it leaves my skin looking so nice. Aimee was right about the ewg skin deep website, you will be enlightened and much more careful about what products you use! Some people think the coconut oil is a guaranteed breakout, but it is light, easily absorbed, and has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal properties. I actually put it directly on breakouts and it helps to clear them! I use unrefined coconut oil as it has more nutrients. I’m only 27, so no wrinkles yet, but I get compliments on my skin constantly! I also turned my 48 year old mom onto coconut oil and then didn’t see her for a month. Her skin looked amazing! I even put it in my tea and take it internally! Speaking of, I drink a cup of matcha green tea every morning. Matcha is the whole green tea leaf stone ground into a powder so you ingest all the benefits of green tea. It has tons more antioxidants than regular green tea and gives you a calm yet alert feeling, along with a slow release of caffeine over 6 hours so no jitters and no crash. Great stuff!


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