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A celebrity esthetician started an anti-aging skincare routine when she was in her 40s. Here's how she 'saved' her skin.

Julia Pugachevsky   

A celebrity esthetician started an anti-aging skincare routine when she was in her 40s. Here's how she 'saved' her skin.
  • Cynthia Franco is an esthetician with celebrity clients like Barry Keoghan and Ana de Armas.
  • She started using anti-aging skincare products in her 40s and feels they "saved" her skin.

Cynthia Franco is no stranger to anti-aging skincare concerns. As an LA-based esthetician with A-list celebrity clients, her day-to-day work includes using a Cold Plasma Lift Gun on Barry Keoghan and giving Queen Latifah a microcurrent facelift before the Met Gala.

But while anti-aging skincare routines are all over social media now, Franco, who started her career as a makeup artist, told Business Insider that she became fascinated with products like vitamin C serum and retinol before they became ubiquitous in bathroom cabinets.

"At that time, I was getting close to 40," Franco, now 54, told BI. She saw signs of aging in her own skin and became interested in learning how to reduce fine lines in clients as well.

"I'm so glad that I started when I started," she said. "I wish I had started earlier, but I think I saved my face a lot in the last 15 years."

Franco shared the four steps she follows to keep her skin smooth and firm.

1. Taking sun protection seriously

Prior to learning more about anti-aging, Franco said she didn't think too much about sun protection. Now, with years of experience, she says it is the "number one" way to prevent early wrinkles and dark spots.

"I would maybe use an SPF with a 15 to 30, sometimes mixed with a moisturizer," Franco said. (Standard guidance is a minimum of SPF 30). She also wouldn't reapply her sunscreen, letting it wear off throughout the day — a habit she says many people have but don't realize reduces the effects of sunscreen.

Additionally, Franco started taking sun exposure more seriously, too. "I stopped going out in the sun," she said, making exceptions for early mornings and late afternoons when the sun isn't at its peak. "I would never go out midday and go sun-soak myself, like I see a lot of young people still doing today," she said.

2. Double-cleansing fully removes makeup

Another big step for Franco was becoming "really diligent" about makeup removal at the end of the day. She started double-cleansing, a process that involves using an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and oil and a water-based cleanser to clean off any remaining residue.

"We have so much on our skin at the end of the day," Franco said. "The degradation of our elastin and collagen is being affected by the products that we leave on."

3. A quality vitamin C serum goes a long way

Franco said the third step in the "line of defense" against premature signs of aging is a vitamin C product.

"It's super important to start using it first thing in the morning," she said. "It helps you throughout the day to keep those pollutants from attacking your skin."

So long as you invest in a quality vitamin C serum, she said the antioxidants should be working all day long.

4. Invest in extras like retinol and peptides

Franco said the first three steps are "non-negotiable" staples of any good anti-aging skincare routine. That being said, she found that adding other products continued to improve her skin tone.

"Retinol was really, really important when I started it 15 years ago," Franco said, because it stimulates collagen and increases cell turnover. "I think that saved my skin a lot."

She also called peptides the "crème de la crème" of anti-aging skincare products, especially if you start using them after your 30s.

"It's like a relaxant for your skin and it's going to help your skin look younger, longer," Franco said.

To simplify things, Franco suggested finding products that include several ingredients in one, such as a retinol or vitamin C serum with peptides. That way, you don't have to commit to "a 10-step skincare routine" to reap all the benefits.