A fear of wrinkles seems to be one of the few universal truths of skin care. The desire for perfectly smooth skin runs so deep that even fresh-faced beauties with nary a line in sight are flocking to the beauty counter for an anti-aging regimen. While smart skin care is undeniably important, seeking that elusive serum of everlasting youth is actually harmful if your skin is still young.
Fighting your first wrinkles isn't about launching a full-on assault against fine lines. This battle requires a cunning strategy and a bit of finesse.
Don't Battle Invisible Lines
Dermatologists routinely see patients in their 20s whose primary concern is preventing wrinkles. In an effort to prepare themselves for the battle, these patients slather on wrinkle-fighting treatments long before they're necessary. While there are some things you can do to get a jump on wrinkle prevention, using cosmetics that are designed for older skin is not one of them.
If you're in your 20s, your skin is very different from someone in their late 30s or 40s. A moisturizer that's designed for age-related dryness is too heavy for your soft and supple skin. Using anti-aging moisturizer early is like rubbing on excess oil and can lead to breakouts if your skin is too young.
How about those products that promise to lift and firm? We all like a little lift in the right places, but your face isn't one of them if you're still under the age of 30.
Beauty products achieve this effect on the face using peptides that stimulate the skin to produce more collagen. Using this type of product on younger skin can cause major irritations, as you're encouraging already healthy skin to work overtime creating collagen you simply don't need.
Instead of slathering on preventive products at this early stage, you'll do far better to give your skin a break. Don't treat it for wrinkles that aren't there. Focus on prevention instead and you can put off anti-aging products for years.
Keep the Sun's Rays Away
The most important thing you can do to promote smooth and wrinkle-free skin is apply sunscreen to your face, neck, décolletage, and any other exposed skin.
That golden tan you're contemplating is the leading cause of wrinkles. A study on identical twins revealed that the sun plays a bigger role than heredity when it comes to determining what kind of wrinkles are waiting for you.
Don't apply sunscreen the way you do makeup, with a few carefully blended dabs. A light touch with sun protection is the kiss of death for a fresh face. You should slather on enough sunscreen to thoroughly cover your skin.
Your first application should happen 30 minutes before you leave the house for the day, but don't expect a single instance of coverage in the morning to protect you all day. Sunscreen is good for two hours, tops, whether you're in the sun or not.
If you put on sunscreen in the morning before your commute to work and spend the day inside, it's important to remember to apply a new layer about half an hour before you leave for the day. This will keep you covered on the way home.
Remember that the sun can reach you even through your windshield, so you're exposed even in the car. When you're outside continuously, apply sunscreen every two hours like clockwork to keep your skin safe, supple, and wrinkle-free.
Find a sunscreen you love and stock up, so you have bottles at home, at work, and in your bag. It's your best weapon against signs of aging.
Protect Your Eyes
The skin around your eyes is particularly sensitive, and it's one of the first areas that will show signs of aging. People often skip this area when they're applying sunscreen because they're afraid of irritation, which further exasperates the problem.
Eye cream is one of the first anti-aging products you should use, and it's something you can safely start in your mid-20s, even when you don't see any trouble spots yet.
Look for an eye cream that includes peptides to promote collagen and antioxidants to prevent collagen damage. Caffeine will constrict the blood vessels around your eyes and reduce puffiness, while brighteners like niacinamide and kojic acid help battle dark circles.
A one-two punch with an eye cream and eye serum can do wonders for this delicate area!
Keep in mind that eye creams aren't one-night wonders. While some may offer fast results, these are usually temporary and disappear shortly after you discontinue a product.
While there's nothing wrong with a quick fix, you also want products that will offer longer-lasting results, so don't get discouraged if you don't see a difference from your eye cream for the first few weeks. If your product includes the right ingredients, you'll get there.
Boost Your Vitamin C
You probably know all about getting vitamin C in your diet, but did you know it's an important antioxidant for your skin as well? Look for products with vitamin C for added protection against wrinkles as early as your 20s. Begin with a light vitamin C serum if you're still in your 20s. For added protection against wrinkles and other signs of aging, you can graduate to a vitamin C cleanser or toner as you get closer to your 30s and beyond.
Use the Right Moisturizer
Moisturizer is a must-have in your skin care arsenal, but you can't snag just any product off the shelf. The wrong pick can make oily skin unbearably slick or slough off young skin that's perfectly healthy. Do use a moisturizer, but make sure you choose the right one for your age.
If you're fighting acne, the best pick is a water-based lotion or gel that's oil-free and contains salicylic acid to help clear your skin. In your 30s, you can graduate to a moisturizer with retinol.
Your skin uses retinoic acid to produce collagen, so a product with retinol will help support healthy collagen production. Retinol also increases cell production in the top layer of your skin, so it will help pep it up and give you a smoother, younger appearance.
In your 40s, you can start using an anti-aging moisturizer with peptides. These really help to pick up collagen production and smooth out wrinkles. In your 50s and beyond, you can safely look for a moisturizer that has glycolic acid in it as well. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that loosens dead skin cells.
By gently removing older skin cells, you'll promote faster regeneration of new cells, which gives your skin a younger appearance.
In your teens, you were probably warned away from over-exfoliation, but by your mid-20s, you can make this a part of your nightly routine if you're using the right product. Choose a gentle exfoliator that pairs well with your cleanser. If it has large grains and a sandpaper-like finish, you're using the wrong product.
Dr. Harold Lancer, dermatologist to flawless-faced stars like Beyoncé, Victoria Beckham, and Kim Kardashian, explains that exfoliation "is just removing dull-skin debris and allowing oxygen to transfer [to] the lower layers of skin."
Once a week you can enhance your exfoliation routine with an at-home peel containing AHAs. A peel is the preferred routine for a deeper exfoliation thanks to its ease of application.
While you can easily lose track as you're actively scrubbing and miss a spot, peels let you smooth out your exfoliator more evenly. Follow the manufacturer's directions exactly and never leave a peel on longer than recommended to avoid the dreaded redness and inflammation of irritated skin.
Change Wrinkle-Causing Habits
If you're fighting a lot of lines around your eyes, this may be an indicator of problems with your eyesight. Visit the optometrist and see if contacts or glasses will stop your squinting.
Wear sunglasses anytime you're out in the sun, so you won't squint into the light.Facial products offer some powerful perks in the way of preventing and reducing wrinkles, but you'll make their job much harder if you're indulging in wrinkle-producing habits.
Anything that causes you to purse your lips, such as drinking through a straw, will deepen wrinkles around your mouth. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your skin, as the pursing motion is combined with exposure to harmful chemicals against your face.
If you live on a diet of coffee and soda, a different choice of beverage will boost your skin's health. Water should be your primary pick. Staying hydrated can create noticeable results in your skin if you've been skimping on water. Green tea and cocoa also contain compounds that are beneficial to your skin's health.
Use a strategic attack with a long-term battle plan to fight off wrinkles, and you can enjoy the perks of your patient routine throughout your life. Maintaining healthy skin with the right cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliating regimen will keep your face flawless at any age.
Get into the habit as early as you can and these treatments, combined with the right products, will serve you well both now and in the future!
Header image via Flickr by Send me adrift