WHEN TO START ANTI-AGEING SKINCARE?
Many people don’t really think about anti-aging skincare until they start to see the beginnings of fine lines around their eyes. But “anti-aging treatment” can begin as early as you want, because so much is about preventing future damage.
Strengthening and protecting your skin can happen at any age, and your skin goals will likely change as your skin changes too. Think of anti-aging skincare as a process - as you notice signs of aging, add on products that address those issues.
Not 20? That’s okay! Start wherever you are. As we get older, our focus for anti-aging should expand, from purely preventative, to working on rebuilding and repairing damage.
Regardless of your age, “prevention” means protection from environmental damage. Skin naturally starts to produce less collagen after 20, resulting in fine lines, wrinkles, and looser skin. Exposure to UV rays and free radicals drastically speed up the breakdown of collagen, so sunscreen is your number one anti-aging product.
Wear sunscreen when it’s hot, cold, in the summer, in the winter - everyday. To protect your skin against both UVA and UBA rays, choose a sunscreen with an SPF and a PA rating. Make sure you use enough (don’t forget your neck), and reapply. Besides preventing wrinkles, wearing sunscreen helps prevent hyperpigmentation (age spots). At the end of the day, wash off all traces of sunscreen with a good cleanser and moisturize.
Many experts also recommend using an eye cream or serum. The skin around your eyes is thin and delicate (which is why wrinkles tend to gather there). A dedicated eye cream keeps the skin around your eyes plumped and smooth. Wearing a hat and sunglasses when it’s sunny also prevents you from having to squint, which can also lead to fine lines.
Sun exposure, indoor heating or cooling, wind, and pollution can dry your skin out, so make sure you moisturize daily. You might be tempted to skip this step if your skin is oily (or prone to acne), but drying your skin will cause it to produce more oil. As we age, our skin tends to lose lipids, so using products with hyaluronic acid and other moisturizers helps plump skin and retain moisture. Top off your routine with ceramides to seal it all in.
Besides adding more moisture, ditch any products that leave your skin feeling tight. A balanced cleanser with a low pH will keep your moisture barrier strong, protecting against stressors and keeping your skin from flip-flopping between oily and dry. You may find that you need to switch to more hydrating products as your skin changes, so don’t be afraid to re-evaluate what you’re using.
Strengthening your skin against pollutants and free radicals is something you can continue throughout your anti-aging routine. An effective way to do this is to use products with antioxidants. Vitamin C (often listed as ascorbic acid) is on the top of our list: it encourages your skin to produce more collagen, fades age spots, and protects against free radicals. When you start, use it in lower concentrations (it can be irritating), and slowly add higher doses for more potent results.
Resveratrol and flavonoids are also great at protecting the skin from UV rays and environmental damage. These can be found in a range of botanical ingredients, from fruit extracts to green tea.
Exfoliation is something you want to do even before you start to see signs of aging. Using a chemical exfoliant helps prevent acne, keeps pores clean, and smooths the surface of your skin. Using acids (AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs) a few days a week is a good way to start an exfoliation routine.
As we start seeing fine lines and hyperpigmentation, shifting to stronger exfoliants like retinoids speeds up skin turnover (producing new skin cells). Retinoids need to be approached slowly, as they can be irritating to some people. Start with a low concentration, once a week, allowing your skin to build up a tolerance. Use it in the evening and apply sunscreen in the morning - retinoids make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Peptides are a staple in anti-aging skincare. When collagen levels in your skin start to noticeably diminish (visible lines, looser skin), add peptides to your routine. They send a signal to your skin to produce more collagen, help it to retain moisture, reduce inflammation, and repair damage. All this means smoother, firmer skin. Skincare containing peptides can be used on all skin types, up to twice daily.
Brands to try:
Beauty of Joseon is a hanbang (traditional herbal medicine) skincare brand that mixes traditional remedies with newer, natural ingredients. Their products are high in protective antioxidants, using extracts from ginseng, green tea, and botanicals to brighten and repair skin.
Sioris is a brand that is focussed on simple and organic ingredients. They harvest their extracts at peak freshness so you get as many natural vitamins and antioxidants as possible. Many of their products are also certified as eco-friendly and vegan, so you can be sure of what you’re putting on your skin.
It’s never too late
There’s no “too late” when it comes to anti-aging skincare. Regardless of when you start, your skin will be better for it. Protecting yourself from the sun will make the biggest difference at any age. After that, a combination of defence and repair will keep your skin looking its best.