As we age, the needs of our skin continue to develop and change. Aging skin is a fact of life. But no matter how old you are, there are things you can do now to prevent skin aging later.
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Skin care in your 20s
As you enter this decade, your natural facial expressions (smiling, laughing, sun exposure, squinting in front of a computer screen) all attribute to muscle contractions that will leave fine lines and creases around your forehead and/or creases around your eyes, aka "crow's feet."
"It's my belief that an anti-aging routine is begun by one's 21st birthday," says Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board-certified dermatologist. The good news is that many young women have unknowingly been using powerful anti-agers since their teens! Aren't you proud of yourself?
Keep up the good habits, it'll save you later in life: Prescription retinoids such as Retin A used to fight acne and blackheads are the gold standard of fighting early signs of aging (such as blotchy skin discoloration, enlarged pores, dull complexion and fine wrinkle lines). Continue using them for anti-aging.
Not blemish-prone? Not a problem. A 1 percent retinol can give you anti-aging benefits similar to prescription versions, says Dr. Kunin.
At this age you are at your prime -- skin is "dewy, flawless, devoid of wrinkles and age spots," says Dr. Coyle Connolly, a board-certified dermatologist with four offices in New Jersey catering to cosmetic and clinical patient needs. Protection in the form of sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen is paramount.
By far the most common error that skin care guru Joanna Vargas sees women making is not exfoliating their skin on a regular basis. "When I ask new clients about the number one complaint they have about their skin, the most common answer I get is 'it just doesn't glow,'" she said. "Exfoliating the dead cells and surface dirt twice a week is really such a simple yet effective way to achieve great looking skin in the matter of minutes."
Vargas's Exfoliating Mask is a personal favorite of ours -- it smells like grapefruit/guava/chamomile rose. In addition to Larch Tree Extract, it also contains Kaolin Clay, is high in mineral content (calcium, magnesium and zinc) that draws out impurities but not oil from the skin and lactic acid, a colorless natural substance derived from sour milk, the secret to Cleopatra's skin.
"The skin tells us a lot about what's working or not working about our lives if we care to look."
Added Vargas: "The skin tells us a lot about what's working or not working about our lives if we care to look. It is constantly changing depending upon our lifestyle, the weather, our diet … stress. Stress causes the release of hormones which actually cause your skin to become inflamed. Redness, dry patches and dull skin are all symptoms of too much stress in your life."
"I prefer broad spectrum natural physical not chemical blocking sunscreens such as Neutrogena Sensitive or MD Solar Science SPF 30 gel containing zinc or titanium dioxide. For daily facial cleansing, CeraVe cleanser is gentle, fragrance-free and inexpensive. Most of our aging comes from sun damage experienced in youth so protect sooner not later," points out Dr. Connolly.
"The best offense is a good defense, so combat the UV rays with a regular routine of sunscreen," agrees Dr. Jennifer Peterson a board-certified dermatologist on staff at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Dr. Peterson prefers to recommend either Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 or CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30 to her own patients -- they both have the added benefits of containing niacinamide (vitamin B3, which can help with acne and rosacea), dimethicone for a silky feel and moisturizers. "The key is to apply to the face, neck, chest and back of the hands daily to prevent fine lines and age spots," says Dr. Peterson.
As for cleansing, Ultrasonic brushes, such as Clarisonic are the way to go -- they can be used twice a day on the face with any nonabrasive cleanser. Not only do these products more effectively remove oils, makeup, dirt and product build-up, but also it exfoliates gently and helps anti-aging skin care products, such as vitamin C, to penetrate better into the skin.
Up next: Top anti-aging products for your 30s >>