Anti-aging skincare doesn’t have to be complicated or feel overwhelming! We checked in with board-certified dermatologists for 6 timeless, helpful and ultimately, simple tips to follow whether you’re approaching your thirties or looking for essential advice from skincare experts to follow at any age. Read on for input and insight from dermatologists: Dr. Angela Casey, M.D., founder of Bright Girl youth skincare line, Dr. Elaine F. Kung, M.D., FAAD, founder of Future Bright Dermatology, Dr. Jeffrey Hsu, M.D., FAAD, founder of Oak Dermatology, Dr. Paula Morgan, MD, PhD, FRCPC, FAAD, medical consultant for Better Goods and Dr. Debra Jaliman, MD, NYC-based dermatologist and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
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Start Off Your Day With Vitamin C & Sunscreen
Having a consistent morning routine that also protects your skin from harmful UV rays is key, Casey explains. “Morning skincare habits should take into account the circadian rhythm of the skin,” she says. In the morning, the skin has completed its rest and repair phase, which occurs overnight. Skin permeability is less in the morning compared to the evening, and blood flow to the skin slows. “Penetration of hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds peaks in the early morning hours,” she adds, “all of these factors should be taken into consideration as we address morning skincare.” With that said, Casey stresses the following morning steps over 30 or at any age as “prevention is truly the best medicine when it comes to your skin health.” Start with a pH-balanced, gentle cleanser designed for your skin type (dry, oily or combination), then she says to use a vitamin C serum and to apply moisturizer and sunscreen before applying makeup or leaving the house.
“Apply an antioxidant serum, such as vitamin C. Antioxidants are an important morning skincare step as they ‘arm’ your skin to be prepared for all of the environmental pollutants and irritants that we encounter throughout the day,” she says, adding to think of antioxidant serums as an extra layer of protection on your skin. Next, “apply an effective moisturizer, which helps lock in the antioxidant serum and well and seals the skin barrier, offering protection and hydration to the skin.” Then, remember that “sunscreen is non-negotiable,” and choose one that is “SPF 30 or higher and offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.”
Get Ready For Bed With Hyaluronic Acid Serum & Moisturizer
Just as crucial as a morning routine is for healthy aging skin, a nightly skincare regimen offers plenty of benefits when practiced consistently. In any great nighttime routine, Kung says using hyaluronic acid with a hydrating moisturizer before hitting the sheets can provide essential moisture to your skin (which can help prevent or delay the formation of more wrinkles over time). “Hyaluronic acid serum helps draw in moisture, plump up our skin, and protect skin barrier function,” she says. Personally, Kung notes that she thinks of skincare simply, and a tried-and-true way to “protect” your healthy current skin is to “use one product after cleanser and before moisturizer [hyaluronic acid serum] to take care of all your skincare concerns— discoloration, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin barrier repair.”
Cleansing with a gentle pH-balanced cleanser, then adding hyaluronic acid and finally, a nighttime moisturizer can make all the difference, especially when also practiced with the morning routine described above. Hsu agrees, and says that hyaluronic acid is “a naturally occurring substance that keeps our skin plump and youthful” and that the serum you choose should be “formulated with both high and low molecular weight.” Hyaluronic acid works best, he says, by “absorbing and holding onto water, so it is imperative that it is applied to damp skin.” This would then be followed by a hydrating moisturizer for even more support.
Skip Processed Foods For Healthier Aging
When it comes to skin health and premature aging, practicing proper sun protection is the “most important thing you can do,” Morgan says. “The second most important thing is to practice healthy eating, and there are several foods I recommend avoiding if you’d like to keep your skin looking young and healthy,” she adds. Morgan notes that “processed foods with trans fats” are more than likely to be a culprit for premature aging, earlier wrinkling and bring other health drawbacks at any age. “These foods may cause more than one health problem: obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases (like psoriasis), and cancer,” she says. “The nutrients in processed foods are stripped of their natural state; they are separated from other elements that might be essential for health,” she continues. Morgan stresses that “while processing makes food last longer, it diminishes its nutrient power, and trans fats obtained from hydrogenated oils (found in processed foods) lead to dry skin and wrinkles.” Yikes!
Eat Less Foods With High Sugar Content (For The Same Reason)
Morgan explains that sugar and eating too much of it frequently is a major cause of collagen loss, which leads to premature wrinkling. “Sugars and simple carbs cause the skin to lose collagen, resulting in a loss of tone, elasticity and more wrinkling, as well as other health problems,” she says. This, she adds, is because sugar creates a fast change in blood levels of insulin (the hormone that helps cells absorb glucose). “When glucose levels shoot up, insulin levels increase and this causes cells to lose their elasticity, which results in wrinkles,” she says. Also, Morgan notes, “one of the byproducts of sugar metabolism is glycation, where glucose binds to collagen fibers and makes them stiff and inflexible.” No thanks! Ultimately, Morgan says that “what you eat affects the way your skin looks, so make sure to include lots of fresh foods in your diet.” She advises to “try to avoid high-fat foods, especially those that are fried or processed, as these can cause a number of age-related skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.”
Supplement With Collagen
Collagen is the protein linked to skin elasticity and healthy joints, and as we age, our body produces less of it. In order to help the body improve the skin’s stretchiness, many people seek a collagen-boosting supplement to promote further production of the protein (and prevent earlier wrinkling). Jaliman recommends taking a daily collagen supplement with the recommended dose of 6000 mg, up to 6 tablets daily. “Collagen peptide consumption can increase skin elasticity and can help your body’s skin repair process, thus encouraging your body to form new collagen,” says Jaliman. She also notes that “mixing collagen powder with water” can deliver these effects. “Water is preferred as you want to avoid sugary drinks,” Jaliman says. “Drink at least 7-8 glasses of water per day as drinking water increases blood flow in the skin and body.” If you’re experiencing dry, patchy, wrinkling skin and “feel thirsty,” she advises that this is your body “asking for” water. “Our cells and tissues are made up of mostly water,” she adds. “It’s important to stay hydrated.”
While exercise is often hailed as a magic medicine for any ailment or issue (including lack of energy, fatigue, weight loss, maintaining weight, etc) it also unsurprisingly offers benefits for healthily aging skin. “Exercise can help if you make it part of your daily routine,” says Jaliman. “Exercise helps increase our blood flow, which then helps to nourish skin cells.” She adds that “research studies show that when you exercise it makes your skin look younger. Jaliman also explains that exercise stimulates substances called “myokines, specifically I L-15,” which increases the thickness of the deeper layers of the skin and decreases the thickness of the outer layers of the skin. Morgan agrees and says that “this may seem like common sense, but staying active plays a big role in the way your skin looks.” Exercising regularly reduces stress, which can cause your body to produce more cortisol and other “aging” hormones that break down collagen fibers in the skin, she concludes. “Make it a point to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day to keep your heart healthy and promote cell growth throughout your body, including your skin.”