If you’re like me and didn’t think a thing about anti-aging in your 20s, you have come to the right place. Especially if you need to budget your money but don’t want to sacrifice your skin.

It is possible to have glowing, youthful-looking skin without spending a fortune on skincare products.

In this post, you will learn how to build your anti-aging routine without draining your bank account.

So let’s get started, shall we?

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

It’s never too late to start your anti-aging routinewoman looking at reflection in mirror noticing wrinkles

Even though preventative skincare is the easiest route to take, it doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for your skin to still be youthful-looking. 

If you’re in your early 30s, chances are you still aren’t showing any aging signs yet, so you still have time to prevent those fine lines and wrinkles. I mean, I didn’t start noticing any changes in my skin until around age 38.

That was also when I actually started looking for anti-aging products. It’s also why I started this blog. Because I had a hard time figuring out what was worth using and what wasn’t.

So, I want to help others save time and money instead of going through the trial and error I went through.

Also, I learned you don’t have to buy the most expensive products to have an effective routine. All the products I recommend in this post are $20 or under, unless otherwise specified.

Morning routine

At any age, you will have a morning routine and night routine. You don’t have to buy completely different products for each routine. They will just be slightly different.

Step 1: Cleanse 

You’ll use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your natural moisture. If you use a cleanser that makes your face feel tight after use, then it’s not right for you.

A hydrating cleanser will help keep fine lines and wrinkles away. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser will do just that and it also happens to be what I use! 

It removes all impurities while also hydrating with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin. My face doesn’t feel tight or greasy after use.

It’s also an excellent cleanser if you have sensitive skin.

Step 2: Toner 

Toners used to be applied to remove any impurities left after cleansing, but now toners have many uses. Most toners are now for shrinking pores but can have other ingredients for different purposes, such as hydration, exfoliation, or a spritz of antioxidants.

In my routine, I use L’Oreal’s 5% Glycolic Acid Toner with Aloe Vera for the exfoliation and hydration. It instantly leaves my skin feeling smoother and has my complexion looking brighter, without alcohol.

So it is gentle enough to use daily and a great choice for those with oily, combo, or acne-prone skin.

If you need a little more hydration or have sensitive skin, then CeraVe Hydrating Toner is for you.Like all CeraVe products, it contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides, but it also contains niacinamide to soften, smooth, and lock in moisture.

Step 3: Antioxidant Serum 

Antioxidants fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause you to age faster.
Antioxidants can also prevent and repair sun damage, brighten your skin, reduce breakouts of acne, and minimize redness, discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Vitamin C is the most popular antioxidant serum to use because of its ability to brighten the skin and promote collagen production.

But if you have sensitive skin, vitamin C may be too irritating for your skin. If this is the case for you, then try The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5. I have used several of their products and they are never disappointing.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, then CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with 10% vitamin C and hyaluronic acid is a great choice. It’s what I use, and it hydrates as well as improving my skin tone and texture.

Step 4: Moisturize 

Even if you have oily skin, don’t skip moisturizer because it can cause your skin to produce even more oil to make up for lack of moisture.

If you’re really trying to be frugal with your money, you can combine this step and the next. 

Lots of moisturizers have SPF added. And SPF is a step you don’t want to skip either.

During the day, you want to use a light moisturizer, especially if you wear makeup. So CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30  is perfect, while also combining your SPF needed.

If you’re like me, and want to use a separate moisturizer and SPF, then Neutrogena Hydro Boost  with hyaluronic acid is perfect. It’s not too heavy and will keep your skin hydrated.

lady in sun with SPF on shoulder

Step 5: SPF 

This is an important step for keeping fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and discoloration away.

When choosing an SPF, you want to look for 30 or higher to give your skin the best protection from the sun.

There’s also nothing wrong with doubling up on the sun protection if you choose to get a moisturizer with SPF and a separate SPF product.

The best SPF I have found to wear under makeup is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen LotionIt’s SPF 70 and absorbs quickly, leaving a matte and non-greasy finish.

The one I am using right now, and am absolutely in love with, is Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Facial SunscreenEven though it is also a moisturizer, I still use a separate moisturizer, but I love the fact that it has probiotics.

I also love the way it makes my skin feel. It is a little more than $20, but not much more.

Night routine

At night your first 2 steps are the same, but you instaed of using an antioxidant serum, you’re introducing retinol into routine.

Step 3: Retinol

If you’ve never used retinol before, you need to start slow. Because retinol has been known to cause irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.

By starting slow, I mean you start with low strength and use about twice a week to start. 0.03% is usually a good starting point for most people, but if it causes too much irritation, you can go lower.

 When your skin gets used to the retinol to the point you can use it every night, then you can increase the strength. You only use retinol products at night and always wear SPF! The sun makes retinol less effective and makes skin more prone to sunburn.

 Once you can use the highest strength retinol, you can buy over the counter, then you can step your routine up a bit and get a prescription for tretinoin.

Tretinoin is the prescription strength form of vitamin A. It can reduce fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and acne. Just like retinol, it will boost collagen production and promote cell renewal. But it is stronger!

Even though it’s only available through prescription, it doesn’t mean you have to visit a doctor’s office. Even though it’s a little more than $20, you can get started for $5.

Just visit Dermatica. You can thank me later!

Step 4: Moisture 

Night time is when you use a heavier moisturizer. Your skin works hardest at night because it goes into repair and regenerate mode, so you need to use a night cream that will work with your skin and help these processes.

You want your night cream to include ingredients like retinol, (if you’re not using a separate retinol) peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid. 

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream  ticks all the boxes for a great night cream. It has 3 essentail ceramides, a peptide complex, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to help restore and maintain skin’s barrier, soften, hydrate, support skin elasticity, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

It’s also great for all skin types.

If you’re looking to even out your complexion, while also reducing finelines, wrinkles, improving firmness and hydration, then RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Restoring/ Anti-Aging Night Cream   is what you’re looking for.

Eye Creamlady putting on eye cream

Now that you are in your 30s, using an eye cream is an important step in your routine. Eye creams are made specifically for the delicate skin around your eyes.

You’ll apply your eye cream right after your moisturizer for both your day and night routines.

While it would be optimal to have a daytime eye cream and a night time eye cream, having a certain budget to work with may only leave room for one.

The best eye cream I can suggest for both routines is CeraVe Skin Renewing Eye CreamIt has peptides, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide to combat puffiness, fine lines, and crow’s feet, while also brightening, smoothing, firming and hydrating the eye area.

I use this eye cream for my day and night routines and it really works!

Extras You Can Do For Your Skin

Exfoliate Twice a Week: Even if you choose to use the toner I recommended above, you will still need some serious exfoliation. Not only does exfoliating remove debris and dead skin cells but also triggers the production of collagen.

In your 20s, scrubs were fine but the older you get, you need to start using chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid, etc. They will be easier on your skin than scrubs. 

Since you will only be using this twice a week, you won’t have to buy it as often as your other products in your routine. But you can still spend less than $20.

You can even buy a travel size and have it last you the month, such as Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Salicylic Acid  or Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant.

Face Masks: These are used to give your skin some extra nourishment. The best part about these are the fact that you can make your own homemade masks, so, other than getting the ingredients you want for the mask, you may not have to spend a dime.

The best mask I can recommend is probiotic mask and all you need is some plain Greek yogurt. You just apply it to your face and leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse. 

Probiotics are wonderful for your skin barrier and have anti-aging effects as well.

Learn more about probiotics here.

For more homemade face mask recipes read my post Have You Ever Tried A Home Made Face Mask?

Dermaplaning: This can be a great way to exfoliate as well as get rid of the peach fuzz on your face. Your face will instantly look smoother and your makeup will go on easier and look better as well.

If you choose to exfoliate this way, you won’t need the extra chemical exfoliation. Don’t forget it will also stimulate collagen production!

Do you already have a budget routine in place? If so, tell me what products you use below in the comments!

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