The exact age to start using anti-aging skin creams — according to dermatologists
The wealth of products available these days to target visible signs of aging such as fine lines, crow’s feet, dark under-eye circles and dull skin are a gift and a curse. The options are so extensive that it can actually feel quite overwhelming figuring out a skin care regimen that works best. So when and where does one begin?
Experts agree that skin starts to age around 20 years old, and recommend that you start the road to prevention early. “I recommend my patients to start incorporating anti-aging skin care products in their 20s and 30s, when our skin slowly starts to lose collagen,” says Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.
The first step to reduce signs of premature aging is daily sunscreen use. Sun exposure contributes greatly to the skin’s aging process. “The best thing to follow a good skin regimen requires one to wear sunscreen — SPF 50 or higher — and to moisturize daily,” according to board-certified dermatologist Naana Boakye of New Jersey’s Bergen Dermatology.
The next step in the anti-aging skin care fight is to identify the best key ingredients in the wide breadth of products available. Boayke, and most skin experts, recommend those with vitamin A derivatives like retinol, retinyl esters or retinaldehyde to improve fine lines and skin laxity. She explains: “Oxidative stress/UV radiation plays an important role in the skin aging process by creating enzymes that degrade collagen and elastin which ultimately lead to pigmentation and wrinkles. Wrinkle-fighting creams that contain vitamin A derivatives can promote new deposition of collagen and prevent its degradation by increasing Type I procollagen.” Collagen is a protein that gives skin its elasticity and firmness, which makes the skin appear more youthful. In a nutshell: start with retinol.
How you layer products is also key to getting the highest return on your skin care investment. “After cleansing, the layering should go as follows: In the morning — exfoliator, toner, serum or gel, cream, any treatment product and then sunscreen. In the evening — exfoliator, toner, serum or gel, cream, retinoid,” says Natasha Sandy, M.D. of PolisheD Dermatology. Keep in mind that some concentrations of key ingredients can be irritating to certain skin types, so a pea-sized amount can go a long way.
Key ingredients to keep an eye out for when scanning the label of anti-aging products, include hyaluronic acid, antioxidants like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and vitamin E, glycolic acid, peptides and ceramides. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the best anti-aging products on the market, along with the benefits of each of these key ingredients — shop them below!
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Shop it: Derma E Anti-Wrinkle Treatment Oil, $10
Antioxidants like vitamins E and C protect the skin from free radicals that damage cells, and vitamin A increases cell turnover (how we produce new skin cells). With a potent concentration of both, plus a safflower oil base, this vegan treatment oil comes highly recommended for individuals with sensitive skin. Use of this product can improve overall skin texture, minimize fine lines, brown spots and large pores, and stimulate collagen production.
Shop it: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen SPF 50, $10
“Sun protection is the easiest way to protect the skin from aging, and should be started as early as possible,” says Chang. You can’t go wrong with anti-aging skincare that combines moisture and sun protection, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF 50 offers both, with the added bonus of being water light and virtually invisible under makeup. That means none of those white streaks or greasy residue that we normally see after applying sunscreen.
Shop it: CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $19
Hyaluronic acid sounds scary, but it’s actually a powerful moisturizer and assists with intense hydration of the skin. “As we age, our skin loses hydrating elements, including ceramides and hyaluronic acid,” says Chang. So, it’s important to use products that replace those “elements.” CeraVe also contains ceramides, which seal in moisture, so this is a great product for those with extremely dry skin. And with a high concentration of hyaluronic acid, this serum hydrates and protects the skin, improving the appearance of dry lines.
Shop it: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, $9
Glycolic acid is an effective chemical exfoliant that gets rid of dead skin, boosts collagen and elastin production and evens the skin’s texture and tone, which is huge when addressing hyperpigmentation. The Ordinary is a brand known for its no-frills product range, and this toning solution acts as a mild chemical exfoliant.
Shop it: Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber and Green Tea, $12
People with deeper, darker complexions tend to show signs of aging like hyperpigmentation more so than those with lighter complexions, and green tea helps to calm that inflammation and even the skin tone. Mario Badescu’s cult facial spray contains aloe, green tea and cucumber to calm, protect and hydrate the skin. Sandy also highly recommends adding products with green tea and caffeine for those in their 40s because they aid in cell regeneration.
Shop it: L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $24
Hyaluronic acid is also a great hydrating agent loaded with anti-aging benefits, especially if you have a darker complexion and skin that’s oily. The cool thing about hyaluronic acid is that it’s found naturally throughout your body and can hold 1,000 times its weight in water! Talk about a moisturizer.
Shop it: Ole Henriksen C Your Best Selfie Brightening Moisturizer & Eye Crème Set, $24
Vitamin C packs a powerful punch when it comes to stimulating collagen production, and brightening and firming the skin. All of the things we need for eyes that look youthful and well-rested. The C Your Best Selfie combo pack from Ole Henriksen contains Banana Bright Eye Crème (inspired by the beloved banana powder) to brighten dark under-eye circles, and C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème for a high dosage of vitamin C to target fine lines and provide lasting moisture.
Shop it: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Facial Serum, $18
Most skin experts agree that retinol is a key ingredient in anti-aging skin care products. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that can increase cell turnover, which improves the texture of the skin, reduces fine lines and brown spots, as well as stimulates collagen and elastin. Adding RoC’s Deep Wrinkle Serum to your nighttime routine when the skin repairs itself from your long day of adulting is a step in the right direction.
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