Reader Skincare Q: Wrinkles!

Reader Skincare Q: Wrinkles!

I got a reader skincare question on Thursday that cracked me up big time but is also oh so real, so I decided to make a blog post about it. Here’s what she wrote. Sidebar: I love when you guys send me funny emails like this!

Hey Grace,

Long time reader/listener/follower, first time emailer 🙂

I’ve been following along on your journey for years now and really appreciate your honesty and completely trust your judgement – ESPECIALLY when it comes to beauty/skincare (your skin is FLAWLESS).

OK – I need your help and I couldn’t find what I was looking for on your site. I just started a new job and was required to get a headshot. I got it back yesterday and was SHOCKED and DISMAYED at how old and haggard I looked. Within the last few months, my face has become a wrinkly mess! I’m 33 and honestly feel like  I look at least 45 in this pic.

What do you think is the best plan of attack here? My brother is getting married at the end of March and I really want to improve Wrinklegate before then.

I’m willing to go straight to botox but was wondering if there were other steps I could/should take that would be less aggressive first.  Do you recommend any specific moisturizers/creams/serums? Facials? I currently use Trish McEvoy, Kate Somerville, Kiehl’s, etc on my face but have never really bought anything specifically for wrinkles/fine lines and don’t want to waste my time/money on products that aren’t great.

ANY ANY ANY ADVICE AT ALL would be so great.

Thank you SO much,

< name redacted > / Aging Awkwardly


First of all – you sound like me – dramatic!

I highly doubt you are a haggard, wrinkly mess. We’re all our worst critics, aren’t we? It sounds like maybe you need a new photographer – professional photos should always make you look better. (For the record, my skin is good but it’s not flawless, I just know my angles and use a good photographer.) I don’t know where you live, but I have a few in New York I would recommend.

It sounds like you want to up your skincare game though, and I can definitely help with that. I can’t speak to Botox yet as I haven’t done it yet (and I say yet as it’s only a matter of time – whenever I smile I get the worst lines around my eyes and they make me so mad).

I have a lot of skincare favorites (I mean come on, just look at the shelfie above – geeeeez!) but for wrinkles specifically I would recommend three things: Vitamin C, Retinol, and Dr. Bader. I’d also recommend adding a good face scrub to your arsenal. I will always amaze myself after a good scrub. I will look haggard and sad and then I’ll give my face a good scrubbing (two minutes in the shower!) and suddenly look fresh and new. It’s such a small thing that makes a big difference.

Kk let’s get to the holy trinity:

  • Retinol is a wonderful thing. It’s the only ingredient I know of that’s been clinically proven to build collagen, decrease fine lines, improve skin’s texture—and fight acne. I talk more about it in this post, but recently started testing this one from Sunday Riley and really love it so far! Retinol will definitely dry your skin out which is why I would recommend starting at once or twice a week and working up to 3x a week.
  • Vitamin C isn’t quite as strong as retinol but it helps slough off dead skin cells. I love the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel and the Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate. It’s majorly effective and contains hyaluronic acid which has an immediate plumping effect on your skin. It’s not as strong as retinol so you can use it every night if you’d like. It is a good place to start, and nice to use in between retinol.
  • And then there’s Dr. Bader (I use The Rich Cream as my skin is very dry) I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in my skin (especially texture + fine lines) since starting to use it. It’s the best face cream I’ve ever tried. Ever. For more on Dr. Bader, read my full review!

My own routine is that I use Dr. Bader every morning and every other night. I’ll do retinol 2-3x a week and Vitamin C 1-2x a week. If my skin is getting dry I will use retinol less and Vitamin C more. I kind of try to be intuitive with my skincare and listen to what it needs. You don’t have to use Vitamin C AND Retinol, you can do just one (Vitamin C is gentler than retinol; I used to use the Kiehl’s EVERY night), but retinol is definitely more effective.

My recommendation for you would be to use Dr. Bader (regular if you have normal/combo skin, rich if you have dry skin) every morning before sunscreen, and every other night. In between, start with the Kiehl’s product every other night except for one of those nights where you’ll use retinol.

After a month, switch things up to use Dr. Bader 3 nights a week, Kiehl’s 2 nights a week, and retinol 2 nights a week. On the nights you use retinol or Vitamin C you will need to use another moisturizer over them. If you need a recommendation, I love Weleda – all of their night creams are ultra rich & creamy but I love this one in particular! I hope this helps, let me know how it goes! (And I know this routine is not cheap – sorry! I did a post about more affordable skincare but it’s not quite as high-tech unfortunately.)

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Anna:

    Hi Grace!
    Thanks for such a helpful post!! Would you ever do a post about how you went about finding the right skincare products that work for you? Trial and error? Derm recommendations? I want to have a better, more thoughtful skincare routine but the amount of products out there and how much different people rave about different ones is overwhelming. I’m nervous about spending a good chunk of money on products and having them not work or be right for me (if that makes sense…). Any advice would be so appreciated!

    2.24.19 Reply
    • Katie:

      This is so true! I’ve spent a lot of money on skincare that Grace and other bloggers have recommended, and I ended up not liking it. This is in NO away Grace’s fault, I realized I need to be a more astute consumer and realize that what works for one person won’t for another. Blogging is tricky in that a lot of them make claims like “I’ll try all this stuff so you don’t have to!” Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think of how different everyone is. Anyways, I’ve been thinking about going to a Sephora to grab some samples to try before I buy? I’m not a big Sephora person so I’m not sure if they do this with skin care products but sounds like a good starting place.

      2.24.19 Reply
      • Aw I’m so bummed to hear that Katie! Would love to know more about your skin type and what products you’ve tried just for my knowledge! For example a reader tried the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic but has crazy sensitive skin- I NEVER would have suggested that for her skin as that’s way too strong for sensitive types. But I digress; it’s just hard because I am sharing what works for me but am not a professional!

        I always caveat with every post I write that this is what is working well for me, and that if you can, going to a derm is the way to go.

        As far as my own process; I don’t think a whole blog post about that makes sense but for me it’s a LOT of trial & error. I’m lucky in that I have access to so much – boxes of stuff arrive in the mail, and I have a great relationship with a lot of beauty publicists and doctors in the city who I can ask for questions/recommendations. But really, it’s just about trying a LOT of stuff. I’ve had readers email me with their budgets + skin types and can probably point you in the right direction… but like I said above, everyone really is different.

        2.25.19 Reply
      • Sara:

        That’s what I do before making an investment in skincare. Both Sephora and Blue Mercury in NYC are really nice about giving samples so that you can try them out. I have returned a few things to Sephora before but I try to get samples before to avoid that waste.

        2.25.19 Reply
      • Ellie:

        Katie, Sephora will sample anything they can (ie hair prays etc won’t work haha) and I sample most things for a week or two before I buy. Plus you can return…I sampled maybe 4-5 eye creams and returned two that I didn’t like on a longer time span before I settled on the one I’ve been using and loving for 10 months. Sampling is one of the best benefits from Sephora (don’t be afraid to go in for a second sample to try for longer…they are usually so generous!). Plus don’t forget to introduce new things one at a time so you know what works 🙂

        2.26.19 Reply
  2. Rachel:

    Such a helpful post, Grace! I envy your ability to intuitively listen to what your skin needs. I sometimes find keeping track of order/alternating nights/etc for different products a little overwhelming, but it’s a work in progress!

    2.24.19 Reply
  3. Thank you for the thorough answer, Grace! No wrinkles on me as of yet (touchwood!) but I know prevention is the best cure so I’m doing all I can at this point! Definitely checking out the products you mentioned. 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    2.24.19 Reply
  4. Pam:

    I would love to know how you would change the recommendation for someone 60.

    2.24.19 Reply
    • Cyndi:

      Following . . . . as I am so very, very close! 🙂

      2.25.19 Reply
      • Honestly, I am not really sure as I write from my experience. I will say that my mom is in her sixties and we use all the same products!

        2.25.19 Reply
  5. I’m really glad to see this post because I had two GIANT wrinkles on my forehead the other day – horrifying. I doubt they popped up overnight, I’m thinking maybe I was dehydrated and they showed up more, I don’t know. But it was a wake up call thst I need to start taking better care of my skin again. Plus it’s been crazy dry so I might try this whole routine!

    2.25.19 Reply
    • I really agree that with dry weather it’s so hard to tell what is wrinkles and what is dehydration and “winter skin!!” My wrinkles look so much worse this time of year.

      2.25.19 Reply
  6. Cy:

    I don’t think people realize ( as Grace will attest the first thing a Dermatologist will tell you)how important sunscreen is! All those lotions, can’t possibly make up for good sunscreen! Your skin is constantly regenerating, so suncare is really important. Grace, I love all your skin care tips too. I’m 57 and people are just starting to think I’m forty- Ish. Grace , I want to tell you , I love my fuzzy pink slippers from Amazon. They are so comfy too and a great price point. Also, have you tried the Kopari Starry eye balm? I’ve been looking to replace the Benefit “ Oo la lift” which they stopped making, didn’t care for the Lime Crime version, but I love this!

    2.25.19 Reply
    • Yes absolutely!!! This advice was tailored more to someone who wanted help “fixing” their wrinkles but prevention is so important!!!Q

      2.25.19 Reply
  7. Caitlin:

    Hi Grace,
    I love your skincare posts and book posts. I have been seeing k beauty and j beauty everywhere (Korean and Japanese). Have you used any of these products? Any sheet masks or other products you recommend? Or my new obsession eye masks (nurse here who occasionally works nights). I’ve found some of these k beauty products (peach and lily in particular) working wonders for my oily/acne/redness prone skin.
    Retinol question- I’ve been using retinol since middle school no lie and was wondering if your skin gets used to it? I just switched to a glycolic exfoliating product and find I’m getting more results. Sorry for the long comment. Thanks for everything!

    2.25.19 Reply
  8. Jenny B.:

    Hi Grace,
    I decided to follow the exact routine you mentioned in this post. Like you, I have very dry, sensitive skin. Using Kiehl’s Vitamin C for a few weeks, and then will work up to retinol. My Weleda Cream and Dr. Bader Rich Cream are being shipped as I type this! Will let you know how it works out….thank you for the detailed application instructions!

    2.26.19 Reply
    • Oh good, can’t wait to hear! I should note – my skin is dry but not very sensitive! Retinol may be tricky so start with Vit C and see how you do.

      2.26.19 Reply
  9. Lisa Autumn:

    Oh this was so helpful! Thank you so much!

    x Lisa |

    2.27.19 Reply
  10. Sharon Lee:

    Hi Grace, I just discovered your blog! Love the content of your blog – and also this post! Sharon x

    3.18.19 Reply
  11. Nicole M.:

    Grace! We need a post on all your Tracie Martyn products!

    4.28.19 Reply
  12. Would love to hear your New York head shot photographer recs!

    5.2.19 Reply