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.