The formula for youthful-looking skin could be as close as your nightstand or medicine cabinet. That’s because using the right skin-care products can make a big difference in your complexion and help avoid signs of aging, like wrinkles.
“Your skin is a living organ that changes over time,” says Jessica Wu, MD, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face. “Adjusting your skin care to accommodate these changes will help your skin stay healthy and looking its best.”
Here are some tips and products that can age-proof your skin:
1. Use a Gentler Face Wash
When you cleanse your skin, use a gentle touch and formula. “Skin tends to get less oily and more sensitive,” Dr. Wu says. “So even if you still get adult acne breakouts, you may want to use a more gentle face wash instead of a drying acne wash.”
Try MD Complete Anti-Aging Restoring Cleanser & Makeup Remover, a mild face wash that uses essential fatty acids to deliver major hydration and green tea to fight against damage from free radicals — compounds that attack cells.
Be sure to use a light hand, cleansing in gentle, circular motions. Aggressive scrubbing could irritate already sensitive skin and accelerate aging, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
2. Start Using Retinoids
Over time, skin can begin losing collagen, the protein responsible for keeping it looking smooth and lifted. This loss can result in a creased look. Experts agree that the best line of defense is to use a retinoid, the prescription-strength version of vitamin A.
“I start recommending retinoids for anti-aging to my patients in their thirties,” explains Wu. She suggests easing into the medication with an application two to three times a week, and working up to nightly as your skin gets used to it.
Gentler forms of over-the-counter retinoid skin creams — like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream — are available online and in stores. But Wu cautions to avoid using retinoids at the same time as benzoyl peroxide, a medicine used to treat acne. That’s because benzoyl peroxide can oxidize some retinoids, making them less effective.
3. Upgrade Your SPF Routine
Regular use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is a great way to keep your skin healthy and prevent age spots and discoloration. But not all sunscreens are alike when it comes to ensuring supple skin.
“Switch to a more moisturizing sunscreen cream, and avoid alcohol-containing sprays and gels that can dry out your skin,” Wu says. “Also, look for sunscreens that contain antioxidants to protect the collagen in your skin.”
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 50, for instance, has an antioxidant blend with pure vitamin E.
4. Use a Richer Face Cream
Because oil glands can become less active as you age, the AAD recommends moisturizing properly to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
The simple act of switching your normal face cream for a richer one will help trap water against the skin, pumping up those deep crevices. As an added bonus, smooth the formula down to your neck and upper torso to treat those areas as well.
5. Watch What You Eat
Much of what happens on the outside of your body is the result of what you put in it. It’s important to eat foods that nourish the skin over the years. Avoid anything that can dehydrate, like alcohol. And foods high in sugar and white carbohydrates can actually age you faster by breaking down glucose. Opt instead for more protein in your diet, including foods like fish, lean meats, beans, and legumes to help build strong collagen. Wu also recommends foods high in vitamin C to keep skin looking youthful.
“Cooked tomatoes are high in lycopene, an antioxidant, and have been shown to fight sunburn and sun damage,” Wu says. “Eat more tomatoes if you’ve had a lot of sunburns in your younger years and are starting to see spots and sun damage.” Lycopene won’t erase existing spots but can help prevent further damage.
6. Consider Supplements
Can a pill restore dewiness in aging skin? Maybe. Omega-3s found in certain seafood, like salmon, can help keep skin moist and may even delay its maturing process by preventing wrinkles.
If you don’t eat fish or fish products, Wu suggests trying fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements. “It’ll help keep your skin supple by replenishing your skin’s own lipids [or oils], which diminish with time. It’s also anti-inflammatory if you suffer from adult acne.”
As with any supplement, check with your doctor before using.
7. Exfoliate Weekly
Our skin sheds dead cells regularly, creating a new layer every 28 days. But that process can slow over time, leading to a dull-looking complexion and rough patches. To help remove that buildup, exfoliate weekly for brighter skin.
“Use a scrub with round particles so it’s less irritating,” Wu recommends. But avoid products made with plastic microbeads, which pollute the environment and, when released into waterways, can become ingested by marine organisms.