Any beauty expert will agree: It’s never too early to have a good skin care routine. It’s easier when you’re younger, too; all you need are the basics and you’re good to go. But as you grow older and skin is exposed to more environmental factors, irritants, and stressors, it becomes apparent that more meticulous care is needed.
Which brings us to this question: At what age should I start using anti-aging products?
Here’s a fact: The signs of aging usually start manifesting on the skin, especially on the face, in your 20s—particularly at age 25 and up. So this is actually the perfect time to start thinking about kick-starting an anti-aging regimen. That said, it’s also very important to know which products and ingredients you should start with, so you don’t go splurging on—or shocking your skin with—potent anti-agers that are best reserved for your older years. Case in point: The use of retinol and its derivatives is usually advised for those in their 30s and older, as they can be too harsh on younger skin.
Keen on preserving your skin's youth? Here's a quick primer on good anti-aging habits that you can start as early as your 20s.
Dr. Kaycee Reyes, dermatologist at Luminisce Skin and Laser Clinic in BGC, says that if you haven’t been using sunscreen every day, you should seriously consider adding one to your daily routine. In case you didn’t know: The sun’s ultraviolet rays are the number one cause of aging and damage on your skin, and this remains true even on a cloudy day! So don’t forget to slather on a product with at least SPF 15 daily to keep skin protected. This is good advice for children and teens, too, as they’re also vulnerable to sun damage, which can manifest on skin later in life.
You can start stimulating skin regeneration and collagen formation—to help ward off wrinkles, pigmentation, and sagging—by adding gentle acids to your routine, says Dr. Reyes. Think: alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids, which are usually found in cleansers, scrubs, and toners. A word of caution: Since acids cause faster turnover of skin cells, skin can become extra sensitive to sunlight so don’t forget about your SPF.
If you have sensitive skin, you can substitute acid-infused products with scrubs with natural exfoliating ingredients such as red ginseng extracts, oats, and lemon extracts.
A basic skin care step, moisturizing regularly is also an effective anti-ager as it keeps skin nourished and hydrated. Remember: Dry skin is more prone to developing fine lines, as it’s less elastic and easily damaged. Make sure to moisturize generously all over your face and neck a.m. and p.m.
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30s and up
By your 30s, you’ll start to notice more visible signs of aging such as wrinkles, dark spots (hyperpigmentation), and even sagging. At this point, skin regeneration really starts to slow down, so this is when you can begin amping up your anti-aging routine with more potent ingredients and products. Dr. Reyes’s advice? You can start focusing on battling pigmentation with brighteners such as Vitamin C and kojic acid, and upgrading your protection by infusing antioxidants—which help fight damage—into your routine. You can also start using retinol a.k.a. a potent wrinkle fighter, but she advises going for the lowest concentration first. Dermatologists usually initially prescribe tretinoin as it’s the milder form.
The bottom line
“Pre-aging” is very real, so the earlier you start being proactive about skin care, the less regrets you’ll have 10 or 20 years down the line. Just make sure to exercise extra care in choosing which products to use, and don’t just slather on any random anti-aging product without checking the ingredients first.
It’s also important to remember that everyone’s skin is different—and we all age differently, too—so it’s best to consult with a dermatologist, especially if you have sensitive or problematic skin.
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