Skincare Truths That Will Change How You Think About Anti-Aging

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The anti-aging concept is rather negative because it makes us believe there's something inherently wrong with aging, when it's a natural part of our lives. Aging is a privilege, yet we're obsessed with youth and go to great measures to keep looking younger for longer by buying expensive products and getting in-office treatments. In 2017, Allure Magazine banned the use of the term "anti-aging," and then-editor-in-chief Michelle Lee said, "When women compete to 'stay young,' we collude in our own disempowerment. When we rank other women by age, we reinforce ageism, sexism, lookism, and patriarchy."

More than trying to look too young, it's important to try to maintain the healthiest versions of ourselves regarding overall health. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss said to Official Bespoke, "The truth is, every stage of life is a blessing, and I truly believe we are lucky if we get to experience them all. Rather than constantly thinking of it as a fight against the inevitable, I encourage my patients to embrace the concept of 'restful aging.'"

A certain level of vanity is necessary so that we continue to care for ourselves, but it's easy to get obsessed with looking young all the time. Anti-aging is an inherent form of age-shaming, as if most women shouldn't be allowed to show their age, and that's not the right message to send our youth. It's more important to accept aging as natural while being aware of some skincare truths that might change how you think about aging.

Wrinkles aren't the first signs of aging

Our quest for the fountain of youth has us panicking at the first fine lines and wrinkles, and most think that's the first sign of aging. In reality, you'll likely get little sunspots, a sign of sun damage, before fine lines, but often we don't pay attention to them. New York-based dermatologist David E. Bank told Allure, "Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays to help reverse damage and prevent more from occurring."

Using sunscreen is key to maintaining younger-looking skin as it can protect you from the sun's UV rays, which can also contribute to the breakdown of collagen that contributes to sagging, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles (per Everyday Health). So, if you're a skincare minimalist, invest in broad-spectrum SPF like Naked Sundays SPF50+ Collagen Glow Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion.

Dr. Jason Emer, a board-certified dermatologist and surgeon in Beverly Hills, told Real Simple, "I find that dark spots and low facial volume is what people start to see before anything else." According to Dr. Emer, most of his patients in their 20s come in for "dark circles and hollow skin under the eyes and folds around the mouth." Therefore, while we might believe wrinkles are the first signs of aging, many people don't notice more subtle signs such as dark spots, uneven texture, and skin laxity. Don't wait to see wrinkles to know that your skin is finally aging.

Preventative skincare is better than getting treatments later

We've all heard prevention is better than a cure, which applies to skincare, too, when maintaining healthy and youthful-looking skin for longer. People who have a skincare routine from a young age are more likely to have better skin than those who do not, as preventing skincare damage is better and more accessible than treating damage your skin has already sustained.

"Scientifically speaking, there are only two things that have actual data supporting anti-aging. Number one is using a minimum of SPF 50 every single day and reapplying it every two to three hours if you can. Number two is an encapsulated retinol of some sort, and I mean a proper retinol," aesthetics doctor Ahmed El Muntasar told Who What Wear. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, the founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, highly recommends CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum with 1% encapsulated retinol and said, "It's a great option for first-time retinol users as it is gentle and will help maintain the skin barrier" (via The Zoe Report).

Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, told Well+Good, "In most things health and beauty, prevention is key. From wrinkles to hyperpigmentation, the more you protect and pre-treat your skin with proper ingredients and formulas, the better equipped you are to combat signs of aging." Preventative skincare is as essential for mature skin as it is for younger skin, as genetic aging and external factors continue to accumulate.

Luxury skincare doesn't necessarily give better results than drugstore brands

Regarding skincare products, you might think the higher the price tag, the better the results, but that's not always the case. You don't necessarily need to buy the most expensive jar of night cream to fight wrinkles; it has more to do with ingredients. 

Dr. Dendy Engelman told The Healthy, "There are some great drugstore products that can produce good results, and purchasing the cheaper (yet equally effective) products can really cut costs in the long term." She recommends choosing a skincare product by the key ingredient's concentration first and then looking at the brand second. Just because a product is more expensive doesn't mean it will fight wrinkles or dullness better than a cheaper alternative.

Luxury brands aren't more expensive because they're more potent; it could be because of the brand name, packaging, marketing, or proprietary ingredients. Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City told Byrdie, "In general, expensive does not always mean better. These proprietary ingredients can be pricier as they are rare, but that does not mean they are more effective. Often, we are not given the scientific evidence that these ingredients are in fact, worth it." Perhaps that's why we notice some people who use drugstore brands have better skin than those who only invest in expensive brands.

Skincare products won't give you the same results as in-office treatments

Now that you know the importance of preventative skincare and that expensive doesn't always mean better, it's wiser to invest in quality products from a younger age to combat the signs of aging. However, aging is inevitable, and we can't completely stop it. Skincare products only work on the surface of the skin, so if you're dealing with deep wrinkles or severe sagging, just relying on products won't give you the best results compared to a facelift or a non-invasive treatment like LED light therapy for firmer skin. 

Regarding LED light therapy, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Sheila Nazarian told Byrdie, "The red infrared lights are used for fine lines and wrinkles. The blue lights are used to improve acne and prevent breakouts. Also, blue light penetrates deep to [treat] cystic acne." LED lights go deep within the epidermis to stimulate collagen production, reduce inflammation, and brighten skin, and you'll see some results after the first treatment. Unfortunately, we can't say the same about using a skincare product once.

Similarly, you can't compare the results between a topical product and injectables like Botox. Regarding seeing effects of Botox, Dr. Oscar Trujillo, a facial plastic surgeon at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told Healthline, "Patients will generally see results more quickly in areas such as the corners of the eyes (crow's feet) and fine forehead lines." You can notice results as soon as 3–4 days after use.

Genes only partly affect how you age

Take a look at your grandmother and your mother. You might think you'll age just like them, but that's only partly true. Genes can influence how you age, but it also depends on your lifestyle. Perhaps your grandmother spent more time in the sun, and your mother drinks less alcohol than you. 

New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Real Simple, "The aging of our skin is determined by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors." He added that "Intrinsic aging refers to our genetic predisposition, and we know that some people are genetically blessed to be 'super agers.'" However, exposure to the sun's UV rays, pollution, and how we take care of ourselves are factors that fall under extrinsic aging. Even if you're born with great genes, extrinsic factors can influence "poor aging," according to Dr. Zeichner.

Your genes can only help you so much; thus, it's up to you to take care of yourself. Using sunscreen, not smoking, and exercising can all help delay the process of aging, so it's more than just skincare. Diet is also equally important. A study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that people who follow the Mediterranean diet showed fewer signs of biological aging. Adding lean meats, whole grains, fish, fruits, and nuts is good for you inside and out.