Anti-Aging for Sensitive Skin: How I Navigate This at 38

I celebrated my 38th birthday this week and thought it a great time to share my grownup (anti-aging) skincare routine. I really dislike the word “anti-aging” for a myriad of reasons. I’m sure you would agree with them, goddess. To me, it’s my ET routine. No, it does not stand for “phone home,” but for Embracing Time. Every year, I get to be here to learn, grow, and really BE in the lives of my loved ones. It is a time I get to embrace. Every wrinkle tells a story; many of my fine lines were earned through deep heartbreak and difficulty. But I am a survivor, and I now get to embrace and celebrate it.

So, in this spirit, let’s get into my ET routine.


I will immediately clarify that these are not tips for fast and fierce results. Why? I have sensitive, dry skin. My skin can’t handle that much, and I must tread carefully with ET products and ingredients. If you struggle with the good ole’ “retinizing-monster,” you know exactly what I mean.

STEP 1: Hydration and moisture

I often get strange looks when I say this is a top focal point in my ET routine, but fine lines are more pronounced when my skin is dry or dehydrated. My skin is dull, dry, and blotchy. My eyes seem puffy and droopy, and my skin has a general lackluster look.

Plump, hydrated, and moisturized skin is the blank canvas I aim for. My other products penetrate better when my skin is susceptible to it; my skin glows, looks less tired, and my fine lines and wrinkles are plumped.

I use the FIGGI Beauty Evening Rescue Cream at night to replenish and restore the moisture my skin is always lacking. In the mornings, I use the FIGGI Beauty Antioxidant Enriched Day Cream to restore hydration and help fight those free radicals that cause many of the issues we associate with ET.

Step 2: Sunscreen

SO boring, so overused, and so over-recommended. But with good reason. Dark spots and uneven skin tone can be challenging to fix. Prevention really is the cure here. Especially if you struggle with hyper-pigmentation (like me), melasma, or other sun sensitivity issues.

My biggest issue with this is finding a facial sunscreen that works for me. Heliocare is, without a doubt, a body sunscreen go-to. Facial sunscreen is an entirely different ball game. When I find a fragrance-free, physical sunscreen that does not leave a thick white cast, burn my eyes, or leave an overly made-up look due to its horrible tint – I will let you know. In the meantime, please give me your suggestions! Have you found something you swear by that meets this sensitive soul criterion? I would love your recommendations.

A final tip I can give here is to use facial sunscreens that protect against UVA, UVB, HEV, and IR. This means it protects you from blue light often emitted from your computer, cellphone, screens, etc. IR refers to harmful rays coming from heating devices.

Step 3: Retinol

Okay, this is the BIG one. The gold standard, the queen of ET. This is all wonderful, but what to do if you are a sensitive soul who cannot tolerate retinol? I started slow, kept it low, and cautiously approached it. Despite this, my skin still hates it.

This is what is working for me right now. I use encapsulated retinol products at a very low dose. This means it’s a slower, more controlled process to release the retinol in the skin, making its effect a little softer.

I would prefer a 0.01 – 0.1% retinol product, but these are hard to find. Studies have shown that retinol is effective at a dosage as low as 0.01%. If you are a sensitive soul, you know that higher is not always better for us.

My retinol products are usually formulated with calming agents like ceramides, pro-vitamin B5, or allantoin. These are all great at calming, soothing, and relieving irritation. I don’t mention aloe vera because my skin reacts badly. I know, who has a reaction to aloe vera?? This weirdo over here, that’s who.

Bakuchiol is also an option, but this ingredient has yet to yield good results for me.

I don’t use retinol products every night. This is way too much for my skin. I alternate, one night on and one night off. If my skin is going through a sensitive moment, I will reduce this to twice a week.

This approach to retinol is definitely not going to give you miracle results in a hurry. This routine goes really slow and low, eventually getting you where you want to be. This is more than enough for me .

Step 4: Microneedling

Caution: Take time and care in choosing your aesthetician or cosmetic dermatologist. I love my sessions with the Scarlett RF. This is a revolutionary approach to microneedling. I got good results with normal micro-needling, but the recovery period was brutal for my sensitive skin!

The Scarlett RF treatment was a game-changer for me. It penetrates deeper than normal microneedling, submitting radiofrequency through its golden needles as it penetrates. Since it penetrates deeper and is combined with radiofrequency, it is much less upsetting to the skin, and downtime is lowered. Make no mistake, I am still hot and slightly inflamed for 12-24 hours after treatment, but my redness fades in 2-4 hours, and it is much less intense for me.

The microneedles trick the body into thinking there is an injury, and your host sends an army of cells rushing to the “place of injury” to repair it. This has the effect of intense cell generation and turnover, reducing dark spots and improving the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. It also helps with skin texture and does a great job of firming and tightening the skin. It can also help treat acne scars, just as another bonus.

When I started the treatment, I went once a month for three months. Now I only go every three months.

The Takeaway

I try to focus on prevention and to remember that time is the passage of life none of us can stall. I try my best to embrace every moment and accept that life is what it is. Fine lines will appear, my skin will sag, age will show but I can still glow!

What do you think of my ET skincare routine and the choice to embrace age? How do you get on with retinol and other age defying ingredients?

Love and Light


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