For a basic anti-aging skin care kit, dermatologists recommend –
- a mild cleanser (to remove impurities and unclog pores)
- an antioxidant vitamin C serum during the day 
- a moisturizer
- a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 15 to 30, (to protect skin from the aging effects of the sun)
- a retinol cream (derived from vitamin A) at night.
If you wish to pare down your skin care kit and make it even more basic, you could simply use a cleanser, a moisturizer and a sunscreen.
If you wish to extend it you could add toners, facial scrubs, chemical exfoliants, a comedones extractor, an electric face-cleansing/vacuuming/massaging/exfoliating brush, a pigmentation-fading cream and cleansing/moisturizing facial masks.
The purpose of facial serums is to allow nutrients to soak into the deeper skin layers that standard moisturizers are not able to reach. The molecules in serums are smaller than the molecules in moisturizers, so moisturizers cannot penetrate the skin as deeply as serums. Serums are about skin nutrition while moisturizers are about adding moisture to the skin and keeping it there.
There are many types of serums commercially available, including anti-aging serums, skin brightening serums and even acne preventative serums. Serum should be applied before you apply moisturizer.
Serums are skin care products containing high concentrations of certain active ingredients. These ingredients may be substances such as retinol (with a wide range of skin benefits), hyaluronic acid (to improve the look of lines and wrinkles), vitamin C (to brighten the skin and help fade pigmentation and age spots) or glycolic acid (to exfoliate the skin).
The molecules in serums are smaller than those in moisturizers. Serums are designed to penetrate deeply into the skin, to provide essential nourishment. They are not to be confused with moisturizer, whose purpose is to keep the skin hydrated by covering it with a protective barrier. Serums can really benefit your skin. For example, when we consume vitamins in food, most of those vitamins are used throughout the whole body and only a tiny portion reaches the skin. When we apply vitamins directly to the skin via serums, however, the skin reaps all the benefits.
Serums must be used correctly and consistently if you are to receive the full benefits. They should be applied after you cleanse your skin, but before you apply moisturizer. Apply serums when your skin is still slightly damp from rinding. As with cleansing and moisturizing, remember to cover your neck and upper chest when rubbing on the the serum. After approximately four weeks of daily use, improvements in the skin’s appearance become noticeable.
Toners are unnecessary, particularly if you cleanse your skin properly. In fact, commercially available astringent toners can harm your skin by stripping away its natural oils. Toners used to be touted as ‘pore refining’; however, they do not in fact close the skin’s pores because pores are incapable of opening and closing. We recommend saving your time and money for skin care products that really work.
About skincare products:
All skincare (and haircare) products, whether synthetic, organic or a combination of both, contain some or all of the following ingredients in various forms and proportions:
- surfactants (used in hair shampoos)
About commercial skin care products:
Cosmetics manufacturers generally use a lot of synthetic ingredients, because synthetics cost less than natural ingredients, it is easy to obtain them, and they can be diluted with little effort. Because chemicals are relatively cheap, commercial skin care preparations do not have to cost a lot in order to do their job. You can go ahead and purchase the five basic skin care preparations from druggists, pharmacies, supermarkets, beauticians, day spas etc., or you can make your own.
We don’t need to depend on synthetics to make highly effective skincare products. There are hundreds of natural ingredients that actually outclass synthetics in terms of performance, as well as being environmentally sound and sustainable.
Home-made Skincare Products
Recipes for home made skin care products can be found in our books Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide (Books 1 & 2)
About making your own skin care products:
* Beware of essential oils: Avoid adding essential oils to your skin care preparations, as many of them can cause sun sensitivity (phototoxicity), otherwise also known as photosensitization. The agent in the oil causing this sun sensitivity is ‘bergaptene’. Skin that has become over-sensitive to sunlight is more easily damaged by sunburn. The main oils causing phototoxicity are those from the citrus family, when they are extracted by direct expression and without distillation. There are however some oils, like lemon, which still remain phototoxic even after distillation. Oils like bergamot, lime and bitter orange are severely phototoxic when used undiluted, but the sun sensitizing effect is decreased when they are used in very low dilutions. Pure essential oils can naturally contain skin irritants such as terpene and methanol.
* Avoid fragrance: Many commercial skin-care products contain added fragrance. Most fragrant ingredients give off their scent by way of a volatile reaction, which almost always causes irritation of the skin and some inflammation. Research has shown that fragrances in skin-care products are among the most common causes of sensitizing and allergic reactions.
Even if your skin doesn’t look irritated or inflamed, the fragrance might still be a problem. The outermost layer of skin (the epidermis) generally hides the fact that it’s being irritated by showing no obvious reaction. Below the surface, irritating ingredients can cause collagen to break down, obstruct the skin’s capacity to fight environmental damage, and impede the skin’s capacity to heal. All this can be happening in the lower layers of skin without any obvious signs on the surface! The irritant reaction you don’t see or feel is nonetheless harming your skin’s capacity to decrease wrinkles, retain elasticity and appear youthful.
For people with sensitive skin, and especially those with is rosacea or acne, fragrance irritate the skin so severely that the reaction will show up on the surface. Fragrance of any kind (including natural essential oils) should be strictly avoided.
* Rose flower water: There is one exception to the above rule, and that is rose flower water. If you really want to add fragrance to your home made skin care preparations, choose pure rose flower water. Note that this is not the same as commercial ‘floral waters’, which are generally manufactured by mixing water with essential oils. Rose flower water is gentle emollient and has anti-inflammatory properties. Most other flower waters can contain irritants – orange blossom water and lavender flower water, for example. Recipes for home made rose flower water can be found in our books.
* Flower extracts: Some pure flower extracts such as Hibiscus sabdariffa flower extract possess anti-oxidant properties and inhibit elastin degradation to maintain skin elasticity. Recipes for home made flower extracts can be found in our books.
* Storage and labeling: Always store your home made skin care preparations in clean, sterilized containers that are lightproof. Label them clearly, e.g. ‘Chickpea Flour Skin Cleanser’, and mark them with the date they were made.
* Shelf life: Additionally, if mixing your own skin care products make a little at a time and store under refrigeration. As a general rule use it while it is still fresh, within two weeks.
 ‘Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant drug that can be used topically in dermatology to treat and prevent changes associated with photoageing. It can also be used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation.’
Vitamin C in dermatology
Pumori Saokar Telang
Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 143–146.
 Draelos ZD. Cosmeceuticals. In: Alam M, Pongprutthipan M, editors. Body Rejuvenation. 1st ed. New York, NY: Springer; 2010: Chap 8.
Reszko AE, Berson D, Lupo M. Cosmeceuticals: practical applications. Clinics in Dermatology 2009; 27(4):401-416.
Grossman R. The role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2005; 6(1):39-47.
 Source: Karen Bruno on WebMD
 Source: Kraft.
 Source: Acta Dermato-Venereologica, November–December 2000, pages 412–415.