The Best Skincare Routine For Dry And Aging Skin

by Gio

the best skincare routine for dry and aging skin

How the heck do you deal with wrinkles when your skin’s as dry as the Sahara?!

Dry skin is delicate. Its protective barrier is broken all over the place. You need to build it back and treat your skin with kid’s gloves while it heals.

Wrinkles are stubborn. You need to kick them in the butt hard if you want to knock them off your face. And that can dry out your skin even more.

The key word here is balance. Dry, mature skin needs a gentle dose of kick-ass wrinkle fighters and a huge dollop of extra moisture and skin-repairing ingredients to keep them in check so you can get all their benefits without any side effects.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s the best skincare routine for dry and aging, mature skin:

Morning Routine

1. Moisturising Cleanser

Does your skin feel tight after washing? That’s its way of telling you it doesn’t like the cleanser you’re using.

Switch to something gentler. The ideal cleanser removes all traces of makeup and impurities without stripping your skin bare of the little sebum it naturally produces.

Cream cleansers, cleansing milks, and cleansing oils are all good options. They usually contain natural oils and emollients that melt away dirt while moisturising your skin. Win win.

Best Picks:

Shop Cleansers

Related: How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

2. Toner (Optional)

FYI, when I say toner, I mean toners, essences, mists… all those lightweight hydrating products that are springing up like mushrooms lately.

I don’t believe you need any of them. But I know a lot of you like to use them anyway. So go for a hydrating formula free of alcohol and other irritants. Bonus points if it has antioxidants too.

Best Picks:

Shop Toners

Related: Is Toner Really Necessary?

3. CEF Serum

CEF stands for Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid.

It’s one of the most – if not the most – powerful combinations of antioxidants to prevent aging. Together, the three musketeers of skincare destroy free radicals before they give you wrinkles and boost the protection of your sunscreen, helping to reduce sun damage. Vitamin C brightens your skin, too.

The catch? High concentrations of vitamin C can irritate sensitive skin. If your skin’s sensitive right now, use it on alternate days. You can always build up frequency once your skin has gone back to normal.

Best Picks:

Shop CEF Serums

Related: The Complete Guide To Vitamin C Serums

4. Hyaluronic Acid Serum

A hyaluronic acid serum is a must for dry skin (especially if you’ve decided not to use a toner).

Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet: it attracts water from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!

Can you imagine what your skin does with all that moisture? It plumps up your skin so your wrinkles look smaller. It makes its texture soft and smooth again. And it gives the complexion a youthful glow too.

FYI, there’s more than one form of hyaluronic acid (I know, confusing!). Suffice to say here that the more forms your serum has, the better it’ll work.

P.S. If you want to make your skincare routine shorter, you can mix a few drops of your hyaluronic acid serum with your moisturiser.

Best Picks:

Shop Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Related: Why Hyaluronic Acid Is A Must For Dry Skin

5. Rich Moisturiser

It’s not enough to drench your  skin in moisture. You also need to make sure that moisture stays there, and that’s hard when your skin’s protective barrier is damaged. All the moisture you add in just evaporates through its cracks!

(THAT’s the real cause of dry skin, by the way).

That’s why you need rich moisturizers loaded with occlusive humectants, like rosehipo oil and shea butter, that can create a protective barrier on the skin that locks moisture in.

The best ones also contain skin-repairing ingredients. This is the stuff – like ceramides, cholesterol, niacinamide and free fatty acids – that makes up the skin’s natural protective barrier. You’re giving back the skin the building blocks it needs to fix it.

P.S. you can totally use one moisturiser both for day and night. Only if one moisturiser doesn’t work well under makeup, you may want to consider getting one for your morning routine and one for your evening routine. 😉

Best Picks:

Shop Moisturisers

6. Sunscreen

Don’t even think of going without it. You know what’s constantly attacking your skin? Yes, the sun. Those pesky UV rays give you wrinkles, dark spots, and cancer, AND destroy your skin’s natural protective barrier. So, pile on that sunscreen!

Best Picks:

Shop Sunscreens

Related: Can Cosmetics With SPF Give Adequate Sun Protection?

Night Time Routine

1. Makeup remover

The best way to remove makeup? Oil.

Huh? Wouldn’t that turn your skin into a greasy mess? Nope. Oils work thanks to the like attracts like principle. Put simply: the oils in your makeup remover attach to the oils in your makeup and sunscreen and melt them away.

Plus, oils moisturise skin, leaving it soft instead of tight.

You can use single oils like jojoba or sweet almond oil, make your own mix (you can check out my fave DIY recipe for dry skin here) or buy a fancy oil-based makeup remover at your fave beauty store. Take your pick!

Best Picks:

Shop Oil Cleansers

Related: Why You Should Switch To The Oil-Cleansing Method

2. Toner/Essence/Mist (Optional)

Again, this is optional. I like to keep my skincare routine as short as possible cos the more products you add, the higher the chances something can go wrong (pilling, irritation…).

If you don’t need the extra hydration, skip this step. If you do, just use your morning toner.

Related: Why Are Your Skincare Products Pilling And What Can You Do About It?

3.A. Exfoliant

There’s only one way to exfoliate dry skin. And nope, it’s not with apricot or sugar scrubs (those aren’t good for your skin).

I’m talking about glycolic acid. The star in the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) family, glycolic acid effortlessly dissolves the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, removing all those rough and dull patches from your skin.

But, that’s something that every good exfoliant does. What sets glycolic acid apart is its ability to hydrate skin, and your skin needs all the help it can get in that department.

Just don’t use it every night. Alternate it with retinol (step 3.B below).

Best Picks:

Shop Exfoliants

Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid

3.B. Retinol

Retinol (and all other forms of Vitamin A) is the only thing that can reduce the wrinkles you already have. It works in three ways:

  • It destroys the free radicals that give you wrinkles
  • It boosts collagen production, the protein that keeps your skin firm
  • It speeds up cellular turnover (the skin’s natural exfoliating process)

The catch? Retinol is harsh. It can irritate your skin, sting and flake. Start with a small concentration twice a week and build up both dose and frequency over time.

One more thing: if you’re never used retinol and glycolic acid, introduce only one into your skincare routine. Use it two/three times a week. After a month, add the other active. Use them on alternate nights. I know, it’s slow. But it’s also the best way to avoid peeling and irritations and keep your skin happy.

Best Picks:

Shop Retinol Products

Related: What Strength Of Retinol Do You Need?

4. Hyaluronic acid Serum

If your skin feels tight and dry when you wake up in the morning, put on your hyaluronic acid serum in the evening too.

5. Moisturizer/Facial Oil

I’m often asked if you need both a moisturiser and oil. I say it depends on your skin.

Both good moisturisers and facial oils create a barrier on the skin that locks moisture in, help strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and have antioxidants to fight wrinkles.

If you want to keep your skincare routine as short as possible (in case you didn’t get it yet, I’m a skincare minimalist), go with either your morning moisturiser or an oil. Just use whatever your skin likes best.

If you find a moisturiser or facial oil alone isn’t enough, use both (the moisturiser goes first).

Best Picks:

Shop Facial Oils

Related: What Are The Best Facial Oils For Dry Skin?

What’s your skincare routine for dry and aging skin like? Share yours below.



Nicole July 17, 2018 - 8:19 am

I love your blog and this routine! I have super senistive skin that tends to dry out, especially under cold weather. Two things that were real game changers in my skin care routine: using a cleansing milk instead of a lotion cleanser and the Hada Labo hyaloronic acid lotion. Have you tried it? It is one of the things that do not break me out and it is so super cheap. You should definitley try it. Kepp up your good work 😀

Gio July 21, 2018 - 7:53 pm

Nicole, I love Hada Labo hyaloronic acid lotion. Hyaluronic acid is such a game changer. 🙂

Acne Oh No July 27, 2018 - 1:53 pm

I would say you have uniqueness in your writing, just keep it up!

Gio July 28, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Acne Oh No, thank you!

Susan Hoover August 16, 2018 - 1:44 pm

I am 63 years old, have some sun damage, but have generally looked younger than my age. I have recently started eating about 90% vegan, and have started to notice more sagging in my face. What would my best routine skincare regularly me be for rebuilding as much collagen as possible? Susan

Gio September 6, 2018 - 8:50 pm

Susan, unfortunately rebuilding collagen through skincare is a slow process so it’s likely you’ll see more of a slowing down of sagging than a reversal. Having said that, the most effective skincare products for this are a retinoid in the evening and copper peptides in the morning. If you’re willing to try cosmetic treatments, glycolic acid peels and some lasers can also help but you should discuss those with your dermatologist.

leanne August 31, 2018 - 1:37 pm

DMAE, COQ10, serums work for me at blasting sagginess and any wrinkles.

Gio September 7, 2018 - 4:42 pm

Leanne, glad you’ve found something that works well. 🙂

Elise October 4, 2018 - 10:04 pm

Great content as usual! Your articles are so satisfying for a skincare nerd like yself 😀
A question; could I combine The Ordinary’s Resveratrol with Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F and get the same effect as with their other vitamin C? I don’t like the Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate Solution 10%.
And could I wear it underneath sunscreen? (Btw, you should really get your hands on Earthwise Farizad’s Veil – it’s the best face sunscreen I’ve ever used)

Gio October 7, 2018 - 4:12 pm

Elise, ohh thank you so much! Am very grateful for the support.

Yes, you can use Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate. It penetrates skin more deeply so it may even give you better results. The only con is that it doesn’t have vitamin E, so you may have to get from something else in your skincare (like moisturiser or sunscreen). And yes, you can use this combo under sunscreen.

Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it out.

Nancy December 12, 2018 - 4:48 am

Hi Gio, I’ve used Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant products since they first came out. They are pricey so I started to research alternative products and stumbled on your blog. Love it. I’m starting to incorporate your mature and dry skin regime into my daily skin care routine. I would like to add copper peptides as well. My question is: How should I incorporate the NIOD Copper Peptides into my morning routine? Do I replace the anti-oxidants with the peptides or do I use the peptides in conjunction with the anti-oxidants? Also, what order should the peptides be applied? Thanks, Nancy

Gio December 13, 2018 - 5:03 pm

Nancy, definitely use peptides together with antioxidants, as antioxidants have more proof supporting their benefits. You can use the peptides straight after cleansing 2 or 3 times a week. Too much copper can have the opposite effect so use them in moderation.

Lauren February 11, 2019 - 6:08 pm

Hi Gio

Thank you so much for the content. I follow this routine exactly. Am I able to skip the hyaluronic serum if I use CeravePM as a moisturizer as this product already contains hyaluronic acid? My skin is still very dull and am wondering if CeravePM doesn’t have enough hyaluronic acid and Niacinimide.

Gio February 15, 2019 - 1:03 pm

Lauren, try your moisturiser with and without hyaluronic acid serum, a couple of weeks each, and see what your skin likes best.

Tammy February 19, 2019 - 8:56 am

I have normal/combination skin, i want to keep skin hydrated aswell as radiant and sort fone wrinkles. Please see my am and pm treatment and tell me if this is alright. I use all the ordinary products.
Am. Salicylic acid just on spots, red blotches. Caffeine under eyes, hyaluronic acid, buffet and then natural moisturising factors+HA
Pm – retinol twice a week, peeling solution once a week following by moisturiser everynight

Gio February 20, 2019 - 5:57 pm

Tammy, yes this is a good routine. But if you want to save some money, you can jut use salicylic acid every day all over the face instead than the peel once a week.

Kris February 27, 2019 - 5:32 pm

Hi Gio,

I just found your blog and thoroughly enjoy it. I have been using PC products but my skin has really changed lately. Not sure if it’s the hard water in the new area we moved to, pre-menopause symptoms or what. So I’m experimenting with different PC products and my question is in the am routine, is it necessary to use a separate moisturizer with SPF? I just started using the PC Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion to combat the dryness of winter skin. On days I want a little coverage, I wear the PC Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer then a BB Cream with SPF 30. On days when I’m just around the house, I just use the SPF lotion. I plan to invest in the PC Hyaluronic Acid Serum as I am super dry in my T-zone. For the PM I started using the PC Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion but I think it may be causing me to break out in one area by my mouth, but I’m not sure. I’ve backed off from using it daily as directed by Paula’s Choice. I’m not sure if my skin is sensitive or just so dry from winter and other factors. I thank you in advance for any guidance you can offer.

Gio March 1, 2019 - 9:19 am

Kris, I hear ya! You didn’t say where you moved to, but when I moved from Italy to London I had to overhaul my entire skincare routine. The hard water + freezing winter dried it out so much. Adding a hyaluronic acid serum will surely help. To answer your question, what you need every morning is sunscreen. Moisturisers or BB creams with sunscreen work only if you apply 1/4 of a teaspoon.If you can do that, go ahead. Otherwise, you’re better off with a moisturizer without SPF followed by sunscreen.

Tammy August 18, 2019 - 10:18 pm

I just discovered your blog and I am SO glad I did.
I’ve never tried Paula’s Choice products, but I am seeing them on your lists!
I wonder if that would be considered your go-to brand for mature, dry skin?
Looking to switch it up!
Thank you!

Gio September 14, 2019 - 12:24 pm

Tammy, yes it is. The reason being, they include A LOT of antioxidants in every product. Mature skin can never get enough of them.

Brigitte September 12, 2019 - 1:24 pm

Hi Gio,
I was just about to give up searching for products and advice (mature skin) when I found your website! The info available on the Internet is really overwhelming. I love the routine you’re suggesting for aging skin (I’m 54). I understand most of it, but I might have a question regarding the morning mosturizer. My skin is more mixed than dry, but it is in certain areas. I really don’t want my skin to shine during the day and I’m worried that it would with a rich mosturizer. I might be wrong… I’d rather have a mosturizer at night as well, but I only see oil as the last step.
Thanks! Brigitte

Gio September 15, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Brigitte, if your sunscreen is moisturizing enough, if you can skip moisturiser entirely or choose a lighter formula.

Brigitte September 22, 2019 - 3:18 pm

Thanks for your response!
I’m thinking of going with Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 for moisturizing and hyaluronic acid serum underneath. If I may, I actually have another question regarding the routine. I was wondering if I can use glycolic acid (The Ordinary) before applying the CEF Serum (and HA) in the morning? I read the section on glycolic acid with Vitamin C, but I’m still not sure. The thing is that I would like to try the EUK 134 with my night time routine, but it doesn’t play well with acid, so I wouldn’t be able to use it every night, which I would like, along with Retinol (Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol).
Thanks Gio! Have a great day!

Gio October 5, 2019 - 4:53 pm

Brigitte, you can exfoliate two or three mornings a week, as long as you’re religious with sunscreen.

Teresa November 8, 2019 - 3:34 pm

After using a PM exfoliant (alternating nights) how long should you wait before applying a moisturizer? I currently alternate between Retinol Reface (Indeed) and 10% Glycolic Acid Night Cream (Pro-Derm) which contains a vitamin and moisturizing complex.

Gio December 15, 2019 - 11:04 am

Teresa, as a rule, always wait for a product to completely absorb before applying the next one.

Diana November 29, 2019 - 6:14 pm

Hi Gio!
Im using The Ordinary Glycolic Acid and also got Peter Thomas Roth Retinol.
Can I use them together or should alternate them.
Also, should I use the Hyaluronic Acid before the Retinol of after?
Thanks in advance, Diana

Gio December 20, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Diana, alternate glycolic acid and retinol at night. Hyaluronic acid goes after retinol.

Edith January 22, 2020 - 5:58 pm

Hi Gio, thank you for this great overview. I was wondering why you didn ‘t include any products of The Ordinary in this partiuclar regimen?

Gio February 8, 2020 - 7:18 am

Edith, I added the ordinary glycolic toner. 😉 As much as I love The Ordinary, I prefer to recommend multitasking products whenever possible, especially when you’re trying to treat two products at the same time.

Glo February 5, 2020 - 12:09 pm

Hi gio, how do I add niacinamide, the buffet (from the ordinary) and something for the pigmented spots, to this routine?

Gio February 8, 2020 - 5:46 pm

Glo, you can opt for a moisturiser with niacinamide, like CeraVe PM lotion, add buffet after retinol/exfoliation (wait a few minutes in between) and use a lightening treatment after vitamin C in the AM.

Comments are closed.