As someone with a baby face and non-problematic skin, I’ve never given much thought to the idea of an “anti-aging” routine. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with a fine line here or wrinkle there; getting older is a natural part of life and I welcome the process with open arms. However, as someone who spends a lot of time playing with beauty products, I’ve learned that there are certain precautions everyone should take once they reach their twenties. Read on to find out exactly what I’m talking about.
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
Getting a head start is key. According to Kathleen Suozzi, MD, Dermatologic Surgeon at Yale School of Medicine, we put ourselves at risk for skin diseases, like cancer way earlier than we think. This is why experts will never stop telling you to wear sunscreen and stress its importance even more as you reach an age where the responsibility falls on you (rather than, you know, your youthful skin cells and resilient complexion).
“As a dermatologist that specializes in skin cancer, I know that a major risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure in a patient’s youth,” she shares. “The same UV damage is also responsible for changes in the skin that lead to the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.” It goes without saying that protecting your skin now will help you look younger later—if that’s your goal.
Dr. Jame Heskett, author of The Well Path adds, “You’ll spend a lot less money if you work from a preventative standpoint. The body’s regenerative capacity is greater the younger it is. Think about a baby getting a little cut. Even a couple hours later you can already see the healing process taking place. The older we get, the slower this mechanism is.”
Less is More
As someone who keeps beauty products in every area of her home—including the refrigerator—the idea of a streamlined routine is just not appealing. But the truth of the matter is, the core of a twenty-something’s skin care routine does not require every innovation under the sun. According to Dr. Heskett, one of the biggest mistakes we make is investing in the buzziest finds without thinking about a real strategy.
“Spend a ton of money on too many products and your skin may react like crazy,” she says. “Then spend a ton of money on more products to counteract the reaction. The result is never really knowing what works, what doesn’t work, and what’s causing a problem.” Instead, Heskett recommends choosing one quality product to tackle your biggest issue and working from there.
“The women I see in their ’40s, ’50s and ’60s who look amazing are the ones who invested in the highest quality product that was chosen for exactly what they wanted to achieve,” she says. Finally, give yourself time—that means at least six weeks—to stick with one before moving onto a new one. These products aren’t going anywhere!
The Major Preventative Products
All that said, here are five things you should add to your arsenal, like yesterday.
One more time, for the people in the back—you should be wearing sunscreen on your face and neck every day, even in the dead of winter! If you’re concerned about it clashing with your makeup, zinc-based ones are not only anti-inflammatory and healing; they’re also less likely to clog the pores.
Dr. Heskett says, “I particularly like Epicuren’s zinc propolis formulation, which has the added benefit of bee propolis, which is very anti-inflammatory.” Dr. Heskett recommends DCL’s Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50, as it’s lightweight with maximum protection.
Please wash your face every day. There simply are no excuses here. Dr. Heskett says even the most gentle option will help with sloughing off dead skin cells. If you’re an advocate for nighttime showers, do your cleansing then and pat the face with cold water in the morning. “My favorite all-around cleanser for women in their twenties is Epicuren’s Citrus Herbal Cleanser, which uses a natural enzyme to aid in cellular turnover,” she says.
You can also intensify your cleansing process with the use of a facial brush. If you’re someone who wears a lot of makeup or has oily skin that absorbs product easily, using one for five minutes a day can actively slough residue off your skin. “Follow with a warm towel over the face to encourage blood flow and then a splash of cold water.”
Antioxidant Cream or Serum
Collagen, that magical natural protein that keeps your skin plump and firm, gets weaker as you age. So, incorporating an antioxidant formula into your routine helps to ease—and in some cases—slow down the process. According to Dr. Suozzi, “Antioxidants act to mop up free radicals in the skin, which are generated by UV exposure and cause damage the skin. They also boost collagen production.”
Another way to boost collagen production while keeping your skin tone even and softening fine lines is to use a topical retinoid. Dr. Heskett says you can get this in prescription form, depending on your needs, or in an over-the-counter product.
“PCA Intensive Clarity is my favorite over-the-counter retinol. Use it nightly and it not only does it deliver a powerful punch of .5% retinol; it is remarkably gentle to the skin. I recommend that this is used under any cream, applied first after cleansing the skin.”
There are all kinds of multi-step routines that we subscribe to, but regardless of your preference, a moisturizer should always be in the mix. “It’ll minimize irritation from retinoids and for skin hydration, which is key to a youthful appearance,” says Dr. Suozzi.
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