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Q: “Skin care can be overwhelming, what are the essentials?”

I get this question ALL THE TIME. It IS possible to have an effective regimen without 8 steps. However, the basics are going to vary based on your skin.

For the sake of keeping it simple: for most people, the most essentials are going to include an SPF, a Vitamin C product and a retinoid*.

Remember that the best way to tackle any skin cancer is with a comprehensive skin care routine! You can read about how to build an effective routine here!

While there are many broad spectrum SPF products out there that you can get on a budget, Vitamin C and retinoids are a little more involved. Buying a cheap Vitamin C or retinoid that isn’t properly packaged or isn’t a quality analog is useless. At that point you would be better off just buying a basic moisturizer rather than wasting money on ineffective products. Stay tuned to the end for a discount code for my readers!


So with all of that in mind: Here are my 3 ESSENTIALS and a couple of recommendations for each category.


This is the absolute, hands-down, no question most important product in your routine. Why? The great majority of our signs of aging are caused by UV radiation from the sun. Yes it penetrates your windows, yes you’re still getting too much on an overcast day.

If you could follow two identical twins with the same genetics and exact same lifestyle from birth until their 80s and control for sunscreen use, the twin who wore a DAILY sunscreen would undoubtedly look exponentially better than the one who didn’t. Have I drilled this in enough? Good. Here are a few of my faves.

elta MD skin care prodct
Love for dry skin types.
pca skin skin care product
elte md broad spectrum spf 41

Vitamin C

This powerful antioxidant is a must in most anti-aging routines. It helps your skin fight free radical damage, enhances protection from UVA radiation, and helps to prevent fine lines and pigmentation as well as boost collagen production. It’s difficult to formulate and easily deactivated so a quality serum is an investment. Don’t waste your money on cheaper ones that are ineffective.

vitamin c skin care from skinceuticals
If you’re sensitive or acne-prone, opt for one of the other two Vitamin C Serums!
c-esta face cream
revision skin care product
My personal favorite for sensitive skin.


These Vitamin A derivatives are responsible for preventing and treating fine lines, increasing collagen, improving pigmentation and overall skin texture, and even have anti-acne properties. Again, because of formulation and packaging, a quality retinoid is an investment but most dermatology providers agree it is an essential part of an anti-aging regimen. **should not be used while pregnant or breastfeeding.

skinmedica retinol complex
My top rec for anti-aging
replenix smoothing serum skin care
la roche-posay product
My choice for acne.

Here you have my essential products for most anti-aging regimens. Starting here will give you noticeable changes with time and important protection from signs of aging. If you only incorporate these 3 things in your regimen, you will thank me in 20 years!

As always you can use code AMY25 for 25% off your full-priced purchase of >$50 *exclusions apply

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission when you purchase via these links at no additional cost to you (thank you! It helps me keep things up and running)… As always I ONLY recommend products, goods and services that I stand behind and personally love and use. 



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