Think anti-aging regimens are something for our mothers? Think again. The truth is, we (and our skin) starts aging the second we do. The earlier we start protecting our skin, the longer it’ll remain looking its best.
“Sebum production starts between ages 9 and 10. It’s imperative to start a healthy skin care routine before the introduction of makeup and the onset of puberty,” says Kim Grustas, founder and owner of Good For You Girls Natural Skincare. Nourishing the skin is as important as getting rid of dirt, grime and bacteria. “If you treat your skin well, it will repay you with a healthy, happy glow,” says Grustas.
Moisturizing maintenance. Dr. Dana Khuthaila, a double board certified NYC-based plastic surgeon, says the most important steps in preventing aging is to cleanse, moisturize and wear sunscreen. When used regularly, your daily moisturizer will reduce the appearance of dark spots. When your skin tone is even, you’ll be able to sleep in sometimes (more on that soon) because you don’t have to wear as much makeup!
Exfoliate 1-3 times a week. Change frequency as necessary, maybe twice weekly in the summer and once weekly in the winter. As your skin changes, so must your exfoliation habits. “Everything you buy now says use daily, prompting us to scrub away,” says Kim Laudati of Kim Laudati Skin Care whose golden rule is squeaky clean is only good for your dishes!
Create good habits. Get in the routine of washing your face before bed every single night – without fail. “Your body goes into repair mode while you sleep so it’s important not only to thoroughly cleanse away dirt and oil from the day but also to assist your skin in its nightly rehabilitation,” says Gretta Monahan, salon owner and author of Style and the Successful Girl.
Start using eye cream. The delicate skin around the eyes is thin and if not taken care of properly, can lead to premature fine lines and wrinkles. Start with a basic moisturizer like Bliss’ Fabulous Every Day Eye Cream ($30, Blissworld.com). “As you age, up the ante by looking for high performance anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C for brightness and a dose of antioxidants and hyaluronic acid,” says Monahan.
Make SPF 30 a habit. According to CNN Health, a new study finds that regular sunscreen use protects against photo-aging; the wrinkling, spotting and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Be sure to always reapply every two hours when getting direct and consistent exposure (think outdoor sports) and definitely post swimming, shower, and exposure to water. “Skin cancer is one of the top 5 cancer killers in the US, plus sun exposure creates premature wrinkles and unsightly spots!” says Laudati.
“The number one thing we should be doing right now to avoid aging is applying sunscreen daily,” says dermatologist Dr. Josh Zeichner. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of repair. Studies have shown that even low levels of UV exposures add up over long periods of time and have a significant impact on the skin. Translation: lines, wrinkles, and skin cancers.
Eat the rainbow. A well-balanced diet will not only feed your body, it will feed your skin — your body’s largest organ. Clean greens and healthy clean foods will help your skin look bright and glowing. You should also aim to drink lots and lots of water, says Allison Tray of Tres Belle Petite Medi-Spa in New York.
Gentle cleansers can do double duty to remove makeup. You can also use a gentle cleanser as many times a day as necessary without stripping, irritating and drying out your skin. “While people that experience acne often feel the need to use harsh cleansers and treatment lotions, less is more when your skin is acting crazy,” says Laudati.
Hydrate. Water is the most important thing we put in our bodies. Dryness causes skin to lose its supple, plump feel. That loss of plumpness makes wrinkles appear and dulls skin.
Take your vitamins. Start taking the right supplements now to slow down the development of fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and sun damage. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist and New York Times best-selling author, calls Astaxanthin ($20, VitaminShoppe.com) a “superstar supplement” because “it provides wrinkle reduction” by internal supplementation. It also reduces hyperpigmentation (better known as age spots).
Retinol. It’s not too soon to incorporate a retinol, which will improve the appearance of early acne and build collagen, says Dallas dermatologist Dr. Kristel Polder. Two examples are RoC Nightime Retinol ($17, Drugstore.com) and La Roche-Posay Redermic R ($38, Target.com).
Sleep better. Sleep is your friend in a million ways and the best thing you can do to reduce future signs of aging is to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping repairs the body, both inwardly and outwardly. We sometimes have excess energy, and are able to not get a full night’s sleep and still make it throughout the work or school day. “However not getting a full night’s sleep impacts their physical appearance, especially if done regularly. Getting 3 REM cycles a night is better than any cream, herb, or surgery – so sleep to invest in your future!” says Kenny Kline, the founder of slumbersage.com.