The Best Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine for the Money

Dear Dr Bailey,

Thank you so much for your blog! I finally found someone with straight forward information, based on science and not on the selling of a product. My question is that I am a 46-year-old mother of six with two in college, so I need the best anti-aging regimen with no frills, the biggest bang for bucks.

My skin is normal, tolerates both retinol and glycolic acid well. I have sun damage from spending my twenties in a tanning bed, not good! I wash with Glytone Gel Wash am and pm then I use Glytone Step 2 Facial Cream in the morning followed by Citrix Sunscreen. After washing in the evening, I use a Hydroquinone 4% prescription product and then a moisturizer by Origins. I wait 15 min (thanks to Dr. Bailey) and apply Tretinoin 0.1% or .05% depending on area treated. I also use a product called Modern Friction from Origins for a home microdermabrasion scrubbing of my skin twice a week.

Thank you again for your time and for all of your wonderful skincare and protection information!


Hello Michelle,

You’re on it! This is the best bang for the buck in anti-aging skin care! The key elements are all in your routine and there is nothing extra there. You’ve got:

A good cleanser matched to your tolerant skin type that gets off oil, product, and everything else the day has deposited on your skin.

Glytone Mild Gel Wash Cleanser

Glytone Mild Gel Wash Cleanser

A microdermabraision cleanser to use twice a week to keep your skin texture polished and smooth. I like Replenix Scrub for this job, but there are also other products that work. The key is to use a scrub that does not scratch, which is why I like round bead-like particles for microdermabraision scrubs.

Replenix Scrub

replenix exfoliation scrub

The best alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) for anti-aging, which is glycolic acid. You’ve chosen one of the best professional glycolic acid products made by choosing Glytone Face Cream. Glycolic acid builds collagen, increases hyaluronic acid in your skin, and compacts your dead skin cells making your skin texture appear smoother and “dewy.” It also lightens and evens out uneven skin pigment. The higher the concentration of free glycolic acid in a product, the more results you get – your Glytone Face Cream has what it takes. Glytone Face Cream 3 has even more and, if your skin can tolerate it, you can work up to level 3 when you are ready to purchase product again.

Glytone Face Cream 3

glytone face cream 3

A high-quality mineral zinc oxide broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or above. This is mandatory for anyone serious about anti-aging skin care. The sun is not our skin’s friend! Anyone who wants youthful skin that lasts over the course of their lifetime needs to keep UV rays off of their skin. Citrix is a great sunscreen for that. I’ve depended on it to protect my skin and my patients’ skin for years. It is also very reasonably priced for a sunscreen of its quality, plus it feels nice on the skin and is easy to use every day.

Citrix Sunscreen

Citrix Sunscreen

At night you’re maximizing your tretinoin (Retin A) skin treatment, which is precisely the best anti-aging product anyone can use for their skin. Tretinoin builds skin collagen, prevents age-related skin degradation, thickens the top-living epidermal layer of cells, and keeps your skin structurally youthful. It evens out uneven skin pigment, smooths skin texture, keeps pores from getting clogged, and helps lower the risk of skin cancer. It also works by a different mechanism than the glycolic acid, so you have two great things going on in your skin at the same time, and the results are additive.

There is one big item you can add to your wish list. It’s a Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System. There is no substitute, so don’t waste your money until you can afford the Clarisonic. (It’s a great gift to ask for next birthday! You can also wait until we have another Facebook Clarisonic giveaway at Dr. Bailey Skin Care.  “Like” us to stay informed on when we start giving away Clarisonic Skin Cleansing Systems again. Click here for our Facebook page.) The Clarisonic cleans skin like nothing I’ve ever seen and it helps your products penetrate even better too, giving you more bang for the buck.

Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System

clarisonic Skin Cleansing Brush

In the meantime, you could add a Buf Puf Facial Sponge for the morning cleansing step. It helps polish your skin on those days you don’t use your microderm scrub.

Buf Puf Facial Sponge

Buf Puf Facial Sponge

I also love the antioxidant ingredients in Replenix creams and Professional Cell Repair Serum that I sell but the results are much more subtle. They are more geared to preventing free radical damage, which is important, but you don’t see results as quickly in the mirror. Click here to learn more about these products, which I think are the “best of the best” for antioxidant skin care.

One additional option that I like to employ for anti-aging skin care is an annual 4-month course of Obagi Nu Derm to very specifically target stubborn uneven skin pigmentation. Obagi Nu Derm uses a combination of very collaborative product ingredients to push the hydroquinone into the skin to tackle the pigment that doesn’t want to budge. Obagi Nu Derm often gives us that final touch. I think the most logical time for Nu Derm is in the fall. It’s an expensive product kit, but you basically put your other products away for four months and just use the Nu Derm products. If you’re interested you can read my Nu Derm Post.

Great question, especially in these challenging economic times – whether you have college-aged kids or other belt-tightening adventures, it’s always good to look at “return on investment” for your anti-aging skin care routine.

Warm Regards,

Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.

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11 Responses to “The Best Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine for the Money”

  1. Amber June 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I’ve had several treatments with a new device called the Dermapen. It has done an amazing job reducing my fine lines and wrinkles!! It has also been proven to reduce stretch marks!!

  2. Angie S July 9, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    How do you feel about the use of at-home derma rollers (skin needlers?)
    Do you think, if starting out with a low profile needle size such as 0.5mm is safe for rolling about 3 times per week?
    What’s your best product suggestion to use in conjunction with skin needling?

  3. Cynthia Bailey MD July 10, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    I don’t use them but they made a presence at the last American Academy of Dermatology meeting.

    Controlled home skin ‘injury’ such as this is a new concept and I don’t think all the issues have been fleshed out. I’m concerned about ‘portal of entry’ issues (infection) and altered barrier issues with unpredictable penetration enhancement of things not meant to get routinely under the skin. When I perforate the skin barrier with laser I always use a very bland ointment until the skin barrier heals. For example, one would not want to put acid serums on open wounds nor use nano-zinc sunscreens on them either. The derm roller perforations are small but still open wounds as far as skin barrier is concerned.

    I’m conservative and extremely careful with my patients. This is the sort of treatment I will wait on and let other docs and skin care professionals ‘break new ground’ on their patients and clients, let the issues flesh out that way and then decide what I think.

  4. Dana July 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi Dr. Bailey,

    I have extremely sensitive skin and am going to try your suggestion regarding Glycolix Elite SPF 30 skin cream. I have yet to find anything that does not sting, burn, give me a flush and then a break out yet. So I am hopeful for this. I do seem to react to Zinc Oxide – but my dermatologist suggested finding a product with minimal inactive ingredients. Hopefully this does the trick.

    On this topic of antiaging. Because of my issues with finding a sunscreen I am exposed to sun and have some small brown splotches forming on my temples and around my eyes, and red veins on my cheeks. I am 39. I would love to do the retina A and glycolic acid products you mention above, but fear they are too much for my face. Do you carry any other products you recommend for antiaging and environmental damage rehabilitation or prevention for sensitive skin?


  5. Cynthia Bailey MD July 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Hello Dana,
    I always change one variable at a time when treating extremely sensitive skin with a history of product intolerance. Thus, sunscreen first. If after 2 to 4 weeks all is well, then, and only then, would I try to add a new product.

    For brown spots, the skin care options that I carry are glycolic acid or vitamin C (CRS). Both have acid pH and are thus irritating to sensitive skin with barrier compromise issues. To up the odds that sensitive skin can tolerate irritating acid pH anti aging products I usually first remove drying facial cleansers and add additional anti-inflammatory products. This helps stabilize the skin barrier, an integral step for tolerating acid pH products. The best sensitive skin cleanser in my experience is Toleriane Cleanser. I add this after tolerance of sunscreen is determined. If all is well, then I would add one of the Replenix products, either the CF Cream or Power of Three. If all is well, then consider the anti-aging glycolic (picked for skin type) or CRS vitamin C product.

    If the skin has not settled down, then try to figure out if there is an underlying skin problem that’s really to blame for skin sensitivity. I wrote a post titled How To Treat Highly Sensitive Skin From Rosacea, which gives readers some of the other more common skin conditions that compromise skin barrier integrity and can create skin ‘intolerance’ to products.

    I hope that explaining my usual approach helps.

  6. Dana July 18, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    Thank you!

    Will give it a try. Wish I lived in California!

  7. Brittany July 23, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    Regarding Michelle’s skin care regimen, she uses a 4% Hydroquinone solution (which in the US I believe can only be attained via prescription), which is a rather harsh chemical. What are your opinions on this product, Dr. Bailey? I have read that it has been linked to the development of cancer!

  8. Janette Allam August 10, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Thanks for the recommendations Cynthia! It’s really important to find a set of products that work for your skin. I’ve used Replenix Scrub and it works wonders for me ;)

  9. Kaitlin August 23, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Hi Dr. Bailey,
    Thank you so much for all of your useful information!! Currently, I am struggling with hyperpigmentation (melasma). I have used hydroquinone 4% in the past, but like to get away from it every four months or so. I recently obtained glycolic acid 20% and azelaic acid 20%. The melasma is right around my upper/check temple area. Am I able to use these two products together in the am?

    Thank you!

  10. Cynthia Bailey MD August 23, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Hello Kaitlin,
    These ingredients have been used in combination with good results for both hyperpigmentation and acne.
    Clin Ther. 1998 Sep-Oct;20(5):960-70.
    Azelaic acid and glycolic acid combination therapy for facial hyperpigmentation in darker-skinned patients: a clinical comparison with hydroquinone.
    Kakita LS, Lowe NJ.

    Clin Ther. 1998 Jul-Aug;20(4):711-21.
    Efficacy and safety of azelaic acid and glycolic acid combination therapy compared with tretinoin therapy for acne.
    Spellman MC, Pincus SH.

    Because they can both be irritating there is some risk to treatment and since the azelaic acid is prescription, the prescribing doctor should supervise treatment and product combinations. I also always have my patients use zinc oxide broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30; complete sun protection is essential to gaining control of melasma. Melasma is tough to control and azelaic acid/ AHA combo is one of the combinations that I use for it in my practice for “hydroquinone holidays”.

    I hope that helps.
    Warm Regards, Cynthia Bailey MD

  11. Kaitlin August 23, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Thank you so much for the information Dr. Bailey, very helpful!