Aging is a fact of life, even if you’re still baby-faced and wrinkle-free. To learn how to address problem areas and prevent premature aging before it starts we spoke with Kavita Mariwalla, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, SUNY at Stony Brook.
1. Wear sunscreen every day, 365 days a year.
“When it comes to anti-aging the number one product is sunscreen, which you should be using all the time. We know that UVA causes a lot of aging. From constantly squinting or protecting your eyes from the sun, you can get lines. ”
2. Get in the habit of washing your face regularly.
“Always make sure – especially in summer months, to wash the face well, especially in the morning. I like bar soap.”
3. Moisturize and protect your entire body, especially areas that tend to get neglected, like the neck and the backs of the hands.
“All women forget about the back of the hands and the neck. Everybody, starting in their 20’s, should start taking really good care of those areas. For the back of the hands I recommend sunscreen and then a retinoid or retinol. For the neck, lots of moisturizer.”
4. If you start to see signs of aging when you’re in your 20’s, introduce retinol or a retinoid into your routine.
“I think there is that group of 20 year-olds that are in a pre-aging category. For them, using a retinol or a retinoid is a really good idea, because that’s a kind of medication – a topical medication that will help your skin look young for the rest of your life. I would recommend people in their mid-to-late 20’s start using retinol, which is available over the counter, or a retinoid, which is available by prescription, and start getting used to really getting care of their skin: Washing it twice a day with pH balance cleanser, using sunscreen.”
5. If you’re in your 30’s, definitely use retinol or a retinoid.
“In the 30’s I definitely recommend starting to use retinol or a retinoid. A retinol is usually the best, but not every insurance provider covers it and it can be very expensive, so we recommend an over-the-counter retinoid. They come in different formulations, usually creams and gels. I start out telling people to use them only 3 nights a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That way they can gauge whether their skin can tolerate it. Both retinol and retinoids, they can be very drying. So if you tend to be a little more dry, use a cream rather than a gel.”
6. If your skin is showing signs of premature aging, injections are a viable option.
“Don’t do it if you don’t have any lines. That doesn’t make sense. But if people are already at the point where they are getting lines, they find that after a year or two, they only need to do it maybe once a year or they’re able to go for longer periods of time because their muscles are sort of trained not to make those faces anymore. If you start early and you do it regularly, like every 4 months, you find that over time your muscles get trained to not use the facial expressions that made you have the wrinkles to begin with because your body gets used to not always scowling, or whatever the movement is that’s causing those lines.”
7. If you still get breakouts, don’t freak out.
“In terms of acne I’m getting the word out that, if you’re in your 30’s or 40’s and you get breakouts, you’re not alone. It’s so common. People say, “Oh, it’s a teenager thing.” But it’s really not. If you’re suffering from adult acne, get into a routine. For individual spots you can use on-the-spot treatments, but I do caution people: Don’t use an on-the-spot treatment five times a day, because what happens is, your zit goes away, but then you have a big dry patch around it.”
8. Take your makeup off every night before bed.
“I think that when you get older, you have to take your makeup off before you go to bed at night. When you’re young your skin can tolerate it, but by your mid-30’s you have to do something to get that makeup off. I like those Garnier Fructis wipes or the Neutrogena face wipes. When you’re too tired to remove your makeup you can just wipe it off.”