For all you gals out there that swear by a simple regimen - good for you! I used to only need cleanser and moisturizer too. But one day, you'll get to that age... and suddenly the basic cha cha won't cut it anymore, if ya know what I mean. ;)
So, I won't go into details about my basics - cleanser, toner or moisturizer. I think most of you have found what works for your skin type. If you have sensitive skin like mine, watch out for those pesky ingredients and you should be set. Also, you don't need to spend $$$$$$$$$$ on a good moisturizer - you can find less expensive, effective alternatives. (But there aren't as many choices for cheap, effective anti-aging skincare IMO.)
I will be focusing on the steps after toner, and before moisturizer. I'll call these the "serum steps". I'm currently using three things: 1) Kevin Beautymaker Aquamarine Hydrating Eye Serum, 2) Kevin Beautymaker Aquamarine Hydrating Serum, 3) Jojoba oil by Desert Essence.
For skincare, I don't really care about packaging, but here it is in a nutshell:
Beautymaker - 5/5 for the convenient pump
Dessert Essence Jojoba Oil - 2/5 since you can pour out too much. (Not shown below.)
Beautymaker's boxes are very thick and sturdy.
Very simple, plastic casing.
Pump dispensers. Excellent.
1) Beautymaker Hydrating Serum 5/5
Fantastic!!!!! Plumps and smoothes my face - very similar to the effects of a sheet mask! Absorbs extremely fast on me. It does leave a strange tacky finish, so I use jojoba oil afterwards, and then put on my moisturizer so it'll spread easier. I believe this product, in conjunction with the jojoba oil, has really saved my skin this winter!! Really can't beat the price, especially considering the ingredients.
2) Beautymaker Hydrating Eye Serum For me: 5/5. For others w/dry undereyes: I don't know!
My undereye area is actually just fine - no dryness, lines or darkness. But it can't hurt to hydrate it anyway! Plus, it's very difficult to find an eye serum in the same price range with these ingredients. I have noticed it plumps my eye area nicely, and doesn't give me milia. It doesn't absorb as fast as the Hydrating Face Serum, but I don't mind.
Both Beautymaker serums look the same - transparent with a gel consistency.
Here's an unfocused close-up.
A little more spread out.
3) Desert Essence Jojoba Oil 5/5
I use this like a serum, and it's a definite staple in my skincare!! Gives my skin that extra boost of moisture, and improves the overall tone and texture of my skin. Less is more with this product, I pour out a 2-pea-size amount of this to cover my face. I use this after the Hydrating Serum, and they go wonderfully together. I use a patting motion to put this on, because spreading is difficult due to the finish of the Hydrating Serum. I also pat a little around my eyes area - again, does not give me milia.
This is not the original bottle. I decanted the oil into a Burt's Bee's vial. I find this size more convenient.
Really really thin consistency - I had trouble taking close-up photos of this one.
All these three products together cost less than $50 (not including shipping)!! That's super-amazing!! After serums, I follow-up with a moisturizer - usually rotate between Cetaphil lotion or Better Botanicals Sandalwood moisturizer. It's been 2 or 3 weeks, and my skin VERY happy. No more dryness or tightness - I'm very pleased.
You might say - why not just buy a really good $50+ moisturizer, and skip those serum steps?? Well, I haven't found anything that absorbs completely, works that brilliantly or is that versatile all by itself. (And I've tried my share of really really expensive ones). Don't get me wrong - I'll definitely continue to try different moisturizers that seal in and complement the serums. But the serums alone have become the keystone in my skincare routine.
Now, I haven't ventured into specific anti-aging products yet. Still got lots of research to do about those!