It feels like it happens overnight. One day you look in the mirror and (gasp!) you notice brown spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. While it often feels like an overnight process, skin aging is really a gradual process that begins the first time your skin is exposed to the sun. Also, there is about a 10-year delay between actual sun damage and its effects appearing on your skin. This means that the sun exposure you get in your teens and twenties doesn’t really show up until about age 30. So, now that those pesky brown spots and fine lines have appeared, what can you do to slow the process?
FOR THE ANTI-AGING BEGINNER
Are you someone who doesn’t wash your face, or has never used face lotion before? You must be one of the lucky ones who are blessed with normal skin type that doesn’t need a lot of upkeep. But all those years going without sunscreen have probably taken a toll on your skin. The two most important and crucial products you’ll need are sunscreen and retinol.
Sunscreen. Daily use of sunscreen, even in the winter, will help to reduce exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, the DNA in our cells becomes excitable and can become damaged in the process. Moreover, UV rays cause a reduction in collagen in the skin which leads to more wrinkles and sagging. Sunscreen protects your cellular DNA from UV damage and is the number 1 anti-aging product. I prefer mineral sunscreens such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are physical blockers of the sun’s rays.
Retinol. The second most important agent in your anti-aging regimen should be nightly application of retinol (aka retinyl palmitate, retinylaldehyde). Retinol is a compound that is derived from vitamin A and is Retinol has been shown to improve the appearance of photodamaged skin when applied to the skin. While it is traditionally thought to be less potent than its prescription cousin, tretinoin, recent studies have shown that improved sustained release, multi-agent formulations of retinol are as effective as the prescription versions. When used nightly for at least 12 weeks, retinol causes improvement in overall photodamage, fine wrinkles, brightens skin tone, improved brown spots and makes skin feel smoother.
Once your beginner anti-aging regimen (SPF in the AM, retinol in the PM) becomes second nature, you’re ready to advance to the next level – tailoring your products based on skin issue
Brown spots. If you are looking to lighten brown spots (aka lentigines) on the face, you should add skin lightening and pigment blocking products with ingredients including hydroquinone, kojic acid, and licorice extract. Skin lightening products should not be used continuously. I recommend using them for 2-3 months until you get sufficient results, and then take a 1 month break. In addition, hold off on using skin lighteners in the summertime. Strong sun exposure such as that experienced during summer months will always be stronger than any skin lightening agent.
Wrinkles. If the retinol you’re using is not giving you the results you wanted, you may want to ask your dermatologist for a prescription for a tretinoin-containing product such as tretinoin cream. While tretinoin is more drying and irritating than retinol, you will likely get increased improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.
Dull skin. If you have dull, dry, or flaky skin, you may be in need of increased exfoliation. Exfoliation can be done with either a scrub or a skin acid. A scrub should be used 2-3 times per week. Apply the scrub and rub gently in a circular motion. Skin acids are a gentler alternative to a skin scrub. A skin acid, such as glycolic or lactic acid, dissolves the top layer of dead and dry skin cells in a more gentle manner than a scrub. It also encourages skin cell renewal. I love Glytone Antioxidant Renew Anti-Aging Night Cream. Either way, exfoliating that dry and flaky skin will allow your more youthful glowing skin to shine through.
Sagging skin. If you’re dealing with loose or sagging skin, then consider adding a peptide-based product such as Revision Skincare’s Nectifirm. Peptides, which are small pieces of proteins, signal the skin to make collagen, which gives skin its elasticity, support and thickness. Since the amount of collagen in the skin decreases with age, adding a peptide-based product will stimulate collagen production and lead to firmer and more youthful skin.
Generalized photodamage. If you have all of the above issues, add an antioxidant to your regimen. When your skin cell’s DNA is damaged by UV rays, free radicals are formed. Free radicals cause cell and DNA damage which can lead to skin cancer. Antioxidants block the effects of free radicals. Common antioxidants found in skin care products include vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, flavonoids (green tea, chocolate), reservatrol (derived from red wine), B vitamins, grape seed extract, pomegranate, and lycopene.
If you’re like me and you need most of the above products to maintain your healthy and youthful glow, then consider combination products. Look for products with a combination of a few of the above ingredients to speed up your skincare routine. Skip your foundation and use a tinted sunscreen such as Physician’s Formula Super CC+ instead. I love Revision Skincare’s DEJ Face Cream – a do-it-all cream packed with peptides, vitamin C, and moisturizing ceramides. At night, consider a glycolic acid based product with peptides and soothing antioxidant red tea such as Glytone Antioxidant Anti-Aging Lotion.