Many of us only start thinking about skincare when a problem arises – a rogue forehead wrinkle may lead you to invest in a retinoid, and your first sign of discoloration may be what finally allows you to see what is all the hype about vitamin C. . But according to dermatologists, healthy skin deserves to be proactive instead of reactive, which means starting a longevity-promoting routine *now* so you don’t have to deal with damage control later.
Although skin type and color can play a role in how quickly skin ages, the environmental factors we are exposed to throughout our lives (think: sun exposure and pollution) are the main culprits for sunspots, wrinkles, dullness and hyperpigmentation. Most people start seeing these visible signs of aging in their 20s, when their body’s natural collagen production begins to decline, so investing in a routine during this decade can help in the long run.
The good news is that taking preventative measures doesn’t mean you have to invest in a long list of expensive products. Derms recommends keeping it simple and economical by using a few effective ingredients that have been proven to support skin longevity. While you can’t completely prevent skin aging (remember: it’s a normal, natural part of life), getting the routine right from the start can keep your complexion healthy in the long run.
“When you are [in your 20s]you have healthy sebum production, so you want to make sure you cleanse your skin twice a day,” says Ildi Pekar, a famous esthetician and facialist, who adds that clean skin is the foundation of any good skincare routine. Your skin needs to be clean so that any other product you apply can soak into the skin instead of sitting on the surface, which can clog your pores and cause acne. Not only can acne lead to scarring, but the inflammation associated with it can also damage collagen, says Sarah Cenac Jackson, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Audubon Dermatology.
For best results, look for gentle, hydrating formulas and avoid anything that dehydrates your skin. If your complexion feels taut or “perfectly clean” after washing, your cleanser is probably too harsh.
Antioxidants should be part of any longevity-promoting morning routine because they neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation, two things that block collagen and elastin production and contribute to visible signs of aging.
Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants (you’ve probably heard of it on TikTok) and is loved for its ability to ward off free radical damage, brighten skin, and fade discoloration. “Niacinamide is another antioxidant that decreases inflammation and redness and helps protect the skin from oxidative stress,” says Dr. Jackson. “And then resveratrol is a compound from grapes, it’s an antioxidant that you can use at night. It also helps protect cells from pollution and UV rays.
UV exposure, which comes from the sun, is the number one reason to accelerate the aging process of our skin – which is why any derma will tell you that sunscreen is the best “anti-aging” ingredient money can buy. The sun’s UV rays cause free radical damage, which causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin and leads to overactive melanocytes that cause dark spots.
If you’re not already, commit to wearing SPF every day (yes, even if it’s cloudy). As any dermis will tell you, sunscreen is the best anti-aging ingredient money can buy. “At the bare minimum, wear an SPF of 30 or higher every day,” says Robert Finney, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Whole Dermatology.. “Put it next to your toothbrush. Most people remember to brush their teeth in the morning, so this is kind of a good reminder.
In addition to slathering on an SPF in the morning, reapplying it regularly (every two hours if you spend time outdoors) is essential to ensure you are properly protected. To make this as easy as possible, Dr. Jackson suggests people have a “sunscreen cupboard.” “You should have several sunscreens that you like that you can use for different occasions,” she says. It looks like tinted sunscreen for a makeup-free day, lighter sunscreen before makeup, and water-resistant sunscreen when you go for a jog. After all, the “best” sunscreen is the one you will actually wear.
Throughout the day, your skin is exposed to dirt, grime, and pollution. If these things stay on your face while you sleep, you are much more likely to get breakouts. Additionally, makeup traps free radicals under your skin, which leads to fine lines and wrinkles. With all of this in mind, it is very important to wash your face before bed.
If you wear makeup, you might want to opt for a double cleanse to make sure you’ve gotten rid of all the grime (start with a makeup remover or oil-based cleanser, then follow with a gentle lather ), but if not, you can use the same cleanser from your morning routine to get the job done.
According to Dr. Finney, your evening routine is the best opportunity to focus on collagen-boosting ingredients and repair damage that has occurred throughout the day, which is where retinoids come in.
Retinoids are one of the best known ingredients for boosting collagen production. They work by increasing cell turnover, which speeds up collagen and elastin production and brings healthy new skin cells to the surface of your skin to replace dead, dull ones.
It should be noted that this particular active ingredient can cause irritation on certain skin types, so you will want to start “low and slow” (i.e. low concentration a few times a week) or opt for a formula. moisturizing to give your complexion time to adapt.
If your skin is too sensitive to retinol, Dr. Finney suggests bakuchiol, a plant-based alternative, or peptides. Both have anti-inflammatory properties and work effectively to boost collagen.
On nights when you’re not using a retinoid, you can add an exfoliant to the mix. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of your complexion, which prevents clogged pores and stimulates cell turnover to smooth your skin tone and texture. It also stimulates blood circulation and therefore the production of collagen, which leads to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.
For best results, “avoid harsh scrubs because they can actually scratch the surface of your skin and cause damage,” says Pekar. Instead, try chemical exfoliants that contain polyhydroxy acids and lactic acid, especially if you have sensitive skin. Just be sure to limit your exfoliations to no more than three times a week, as overdoing it can lead to inflammation, breakouts, dryness, and flaking.
Whether your skin is oily, dry or combination, everybody should use moisturizer before bed. Keeping your complexion clear not only prevents dryness and chapping, but also prevents your skin from overproducing its own oils that can clog your pores and cause acne. In addition, hydration is essential to maintain the resistance of your skin barrier, which is important because this barrier is your first line of defense against the elements: it prevents “bad” things, like pollution, from entering, while retaining the “good” ones, like water, in. Also, fine lines and wrinkles are more visible on dehydrated skin, so consider moisturizing a must.
Although the type of moisturizer you choose will largely depend on your skin type (people with oily skin should opt for a light, oil-free lotion, while those with dry skin may benefit from a more thick), Pekar recommends hyaluronic acidbased on formulas at all levels. The ingredient is found naturally in your skin and binds to water to help lock in moisture. Studies also showed that in addition to boosting hydration, hyaluronic acid can help plump the skin, promote elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
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