Maybe you're in your 20s or early 30s and you think you can't possibly have (gulp) aging skin yet. Well, you're wrong. Your skin's 'youthfulness' has less to do with age than how it's been treated, so if exposed to sun, smoke and stress, your skin will start ‘acting old,’ losing collagen, glow and elasticity. Lines will develop and pores can seem more pronounced. It's easier to prevent damage than to repair it but the good news is you CAN reverse skin damage.
Here are 5 dos and 5 don’ts to help slow down and reverse the aging process and leave your skin glowing at any age.
Do stop smoking. Ever notice the skin of a lifelong smoker? It can appear wrinkly like a squashed paper bag. The fact is, smoking is the 2nd biggest cause of skin damage after sun exposure. Why? Nicotine constricts blood vessels and decreases the flow of oxygen to the skin. Not good things.
Do use an AHA or BHA (also known as retinols) every day. A daily application of a one percent prescription retinoid lotion (such as Retin-A or even better, Tazorac) can erase years from your face. AHAs used properly not only take off lots of dead skin, but can seem to take 10 years off as well by reducing fine lines. (Keep in mind these products do NOT shrink pores. Your pore size is completely hereditary, so don't believe promises of permanent reduction). Over-the-counter options such as RoC Deep Wrinkle Night Cream are good, but prescription creams work the best. Extra tip: You must stay out of the sun if you use retinoids. You are extra-susceptible to sunburns.
Do exfoliate once a week. Choose a formulation that's best for your skin type. Chemical exfoliators (glycolic or salicylic acid) are best for oily or combo skin, while scrubs found in microdermabrasives work best for sensitive skin. Some tried-and-true products we love include Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion in a Jar:
or Lancome Resurface C Microdermabrasion
Do use an eye cream daily. Eyes are one of the first places to show aging. The skin around the eyes is extra thin so you'll want to protect it from the sun with eye cream with SPF. A great one is Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 30 Eye Cream:
Do invest and ingest antioxidants. 'Antioxidants' is a huge word in aging prevention. A huge proponent of antioxidants (found in green teas and beta carotene) is dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD. To get the best possible protection against free-radical damage, Baumann suggests in Elle magazine that you take both oral and topical antioxidants. Get antioxidants in pill form by taking Heliocare vitamins.
You saw the 5 'dos' for perfect skin care. Now here are 5 don'ts:
Don’t pull and rub your skin. Aging skin has been under attack by UV rays, stress and carbon monoxide so don't stress it more by pulling on it.
Don’t forget to moisturize. While it's a myth that wrinkles are caused by dry skin, moisturizing can improve the appearance of lines by temporarily plumping them up.
Extra tip: Moisturizers are best used on damp skin. They lock the moisture in. Gross doesn't use tap water when washing skin because of harsh minerals found in many city water sources. Instead, he rinses off with Evian water.
Don’t ignore your neck and chest. The neck and chest are first to show the signs of aging (they have fewer oil glands than the rest of your body), yet most of us ignore them. Look for moisturizers that have age-fighting ingredients like vitamin A (retinols), kinetin, copper or vitamin C.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. This is a no-brainer. You’ve had it ingrained in your head since youth, but seriously, even in winter it can take just 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to damage the skin. By the way, it's a MYTH that 80 percent of your lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18, Of course it gets worse as we age. So you CAN prevent sun-induced aging by wearing sunscreen.
Don’t tan. Even if wrinkles haven't shown up yet, you need to stop tanning now because they will. Once signs of aging appears, you'll be spending a lot of money to reverse it.
One word of warning: Once you start an anti-aging regimen, you have to keep it up. The effects of acid peels, AHAs, moisturizers -- all the anti-aging products that remove dead skin cells and make skin look plumper -- won't last forever. You have to maintain them.