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How to Prevent Skin Aging: Anti-Aging Skincare Basics


Young woman applying facial lotion

Even though most of us are under the age of 25, that’s no reason not to think about anti-aging now. Take a look at all these beautiful women who look amazing at age 40 and above – Demi Moore, Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Halle Berry. One of the ways they look so fab (aside from great genes) is because they started taking care of their skin at an early age.

I don’t know about you, but one of my goals has always been to keep my skin as young and healthy as possible for as long as possible. I’d love to be one of those hot 40 year olds in 20 years! How does one accomplish that? Simple – by learning about anti-aging and putting it into practice as soon as possible.

Here’s a guide to anti-aging skincare, and all the things you can do now to prevent skin aging in the future!

What causes skin aging?

Tanning bed
Photo by evilerin.

Before you can effectively prevent skin aging, it’s important to understand what exactly causes our skin to look older. Here are some of the main culprits behind wrinkles, sagging skin, and other factors that determine how old your skin looks.

* Sun Damage – You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Well you hear it everywhere because it’s true – the sun ages your skin more than anything else. Literally a few minutes a day over the years is enough to cause wrinkles, age spots, rough and leathery skin, a blotchy complexion, and of course, skin cancer. People with fair skin see more skin aging from sun exposure, but those with dark skin are not immune either.

* Smoking – Cigarette smoke is a major contributor to skin aging. Research has shown that smokers are statistically more likely to develop deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than nonsmokers. People who smoke also tend to develop an unhealthy yellowish tone to their complexion. And a study from 2002 showed that facial wrinkles could be seen under a microscope in 20 year old smokers.

* Pollution – Car exhaust, smog, and other pollution common in urban areas is another skin enemy. Pollution creates free radicals, which are oxygen molecules that have been stripped of one of their electrons. Because of this, free radicals are looking for replacement electrons and attack skin components like collagen. Scary, right?

* Lack of Moisture – They tell you to drink more water for a reason! Dry skin is not a cause of aging, but a symptom – it’s actually a sign that your skin isn’t holding enough water for its repair enzymes to work correctly. Basically, when the enzymes can’t work right, your skin can’t repair the inflammation caused by the sun, excess sugar intake, and pollution. Just another reason to finally buy that cute Sigg bottle…

* Genetics – Unfortunately, a portion of your skin aging comes from something you can’t control – your own genetic makeup. To a certain extent, how our skin ages will mimic the way our parents’ skin aged. Of course, genetics are only one piece of the puzzle, so even if you have bad skin genes, it’s still possible to keep your skin looking great for many years to come!

Anti-aging skincare basics

Skin cream
Photo by sunshinecity.

If you want to prevent your skin from aging too fast, there are tons of skincare products out there that claim to fight wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin, and everything else. But let’s cut through the clutter and talk about what really works – the ingredients themselves are what make the biggest difference.

Here’s a list of must-have products that contain ingredients proven to help pause the aging process. There’s no magic bullet that will cure aging, but the following products, especially when used together, form a great defense against what ages our skin the most.

* A good-quality sunscreen – SPF 15 or higher! This is perhaps the most important thing you can put on your face now that will keep you looking young for years to come. Once you find a good sunscreen, you need to wear it EVERY DAY – not just when you plan to be out in the sun for a while. UV rays are present even when it’s cloudy, and incidental sun exposure (walking to class, going to and from your car, waiting for a bus) all adds up. To help even more, try to reduce how much time you spend out in the sun. It all helps.

There are tons of great sunscreens out there, and really, any sunscreen is better than none. But if you want a high-quality sunscreen, the best ones for your face (as recommended by skincare experts) include Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily SPF 15 Moisturizer ($13.09), Almay Sun Protector for Face SPF 30 ($8.99), Kiss My Face Face Factor Face + Neck SPF 30 ($10), and Clinique City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25 ($16.50).

* A topical exfoliant. This step isn’t an absolute must, but is recommended. Topical exfoliants remove the top layer of dead skin cells, which improves skin texture, unclogs pores, and makes your skin absorb moisturizers better. There’s also research that indicates the alpha and beta-hydroxy acids in exfoliants can increase production of collagen, an ingredient your skin loses as it ages.

To find a topical exfoliant, look for a product that has glycolic or lactic acid (if you have normal to dry skin), or salicylic acid (if you have normal to oily skin). Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion, Night ($12.59) is great for normal or dry skin, and Neutrogena Acne Stress Control 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment ($7.99) is perfect if you have oily or combination skin (I use it myself and it rocks!).

* Vitamins A, C, E, and B3. Another nonessential, but important if you’ve been out in the sun a lot and are concerned about wrinkles forming already. All three of these vitamins have been proven to reduce and even help reverse the aging process (all the details here)! Just remember, using a product with vitamins and antioxidants is not as important as simply wearing sunscreen, so these won’t do you any good if you run around outside every day without SPF!

If you do want the added benefits of vitamins, though, here are some highly recommended products that contain them: Jason Natural Ester-C Lotion Anti-Oxidant Regenerating Moisturizer ($16), Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum – Fragrance-Free ($18.99), and Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer ($17.49).

Prevent aging with your diet.

Fruits and vegetables
Photo by BeckyKP

Skincare is only one piece of the anti-aging puzzle. What you eat also has a huge impact on how your skin ages. Fresh, healthy foods contain vitamin antioxidants that can again help protect against free radical damage. Here are some foods you should load up on for maximum anti-aging power:

* Fruits: Papayas, mangoes, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruits, berries (all types)

* Vegetables: Spinach, leaf lettuce, carrots, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bell peppers

* Whole Grains

* Fish: Salmon, tuna

* Oils: Olive oil, vegetable oil

* Green Tea

* Dairy products: Low fat yogurt, low fat milk

* Nuts: Almonds, sunflower seeds

* Dark Chocolate (!!!)

There you have it – a guide to preventing some of the most common forms of skin aging. Follow this guide starting now and I’m confident you’ll be looking (and feeling) amazing through your 40’s and beyond!

What do you think? Are you concerned about anti-aging, or has it been something you thought you’d worry about later? Will you be thinking more about it now? Leave a comment and let me know!

Posted on on April 6, 2009 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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32 Responses to “How to Prevent Skin Aging: Anti-Aging Skincare Basics”

  1. 1
    April 6th, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I love the fact that you included diet in this post. Yes, sunscreen & etc. is important, but your diet makes a HUUUGE difference in how you will look when you’re older! Great post as usual :)

  2. 2
    April 6th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    And another one to mention is your alcohol intake. This can have a huge effect on your skin later. I believe it dehydrates you

  3. 3
    April 6th, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    ah thank you so much for this post!

  4. 4
    April 6th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I’m currently not too worried about aging, as much of my family have been aging rather well (they look 10-20 years younger than their actual age). But, I have noticed that my skin has improved after becoming vegan. Since I don’t eat meat, much of the foods you mentioned such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes/nuts (particularly almonds) are definite staples. Water is definitely important for skin and overall health, so I also try to drink at least 2 litres per day. I think out of all the methods of maintaining youth, nutrition is most important, as it works from the inside and shows outwardly.

    That being said, I also try to use only organic and plant-based products for skincare, including JASON , but not OLAY (they test on animals =( ). As for the sun, I try to stay away from it as much as possible, and (no kidding) sometimes use a parasol during the summer, to my SO’s embarassment.

  5. 5
    April 6th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    These are some great tips – thanks! I’m only 20 but I stress out about looking wrinkly when I’m older!

  6. 6
    April 7th, 2009 at 1:27 am

    I’m the same as gp by saying:
    “I’m currently not too worried about aging, as much of my family have been aging rather well (they look 10-20 years younger than their actual age).” My mom, grandma, great grandma all look much younger than thier actual age. But I will say that I do like to take care of my skin and want to be a sexy 40 something that looks like I’m in my 20’s one day! lol!
    Thanks for posting this!

  7. 7
    April 7th, 2009 at 2:27 am

    OMGosh I’m not joking I was just thinking the other day how I can prevent wrinkles in my 20s. Then I started thinking maybe I’m too young. Thanks soooo much for the tips!

  8. 8
    April 7th, 2009 at 7:06 am

    For the record: every star you mentioned here uses Botox and plastic surgery to stay young so maybe you should’ve picked someone better….

  9. 9
    April 7th, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Mizztissa – Good point! Alcohol definitely doesn’t do your skin any favors, although I didn’t see it mentioned in any of the research I did as being specifically linked to aging skin. Either way, drinking is unhealthy aside from the occasional glass of red wine (more antioxidants).

    gp – Sounds like you’re doing great already! And I have heard about Olay – animal testing sucks. Although even the companies that say they don’t test on animals often just outsource the testing to other companies who do.. my little sister is an animal science major and told me all about it. Very sad :(

    Amy – That’s not true. While Kim Cattrall has admitted to having botox, no plastic surgery, Halle Berry and Demi Moore have both repeatedly denied having anything done. Just because a tabloid says a star has had a procedure doesn’t mean they have!

  10. 10
    April 7th, 2009 at 8:30 am

    love the post! my mom has been bugging me about anti-aging and INSISTS me to wear sunblock everyday since I was about 10. She takes care of her skin well and at her 44 age, people often mistake her for being 30-ish. Skin aging is definitely something I’ve worried about. :)

  11. 11
    April 7th, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I work in a store geared towards middle aged to older owmen and it always amazes me when I see some of them with this fantastic glowing skin. It really does make you look younger.

    Most people have told me that their secret is moisturizing daily! :)

  12. 12
    April 7th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Fantastic article! You have a great website, Zephyr.

    I do have a question on the topic of daily sunscreen for the skin. I have a moisturizer that has a sunscreen of SPF 15. Are we supposed to slather it on generously for the SPF to count? Shoudl we apply it several times a day as regular sunscreens ask for?

    That part is always so vague to me.


  13. 13
    April 8th, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Zephyr: (love your name btw) That’s very true about companies that mislabel their products. which is why I’m often very anal about the ingredients list, and whether not only if the products themselves are tested on animals, but if the ingredients are as well. Great to hear that your sister’s interested in animals (ecology, biology, environmental sciences?) I’m hoping to go into environmental philosophy myself for grad school :).

  14. 14
    April 8th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I really like this post. I have very fair skin and it is very important to apply sunscreen. Especially if you are sweating alot (on a really hot day) or swimming (which can wash sunscreen off) it is really important to reapply it several times. Even though some sunscreens are waterproof, it is much safer to reapply then to risk getting a sunburn. Most people wait until they get outside to apply the sunscreen but you are supposed to actually apply 10-15 minutes before you go outside so your skin has time to soak it in before you go out in the sun. I hope these tips help!

  15. 15
    April 8th, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    What if you have a little makeup on? Wouldn’t reapplying sunscreen on the face throughout the day mess it up?

  16. 16
    April 9th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Is it just me who can’t wait to turn 40?

    I guess I grew up with role models who just happened to be middle aged, but I think there’s elegance in the 40s, a timelessness. I wouldn’t want to look like a 20 year old when I’m 40. I want to accept myself as I am and grow naturally.

    that’s not to say I don’t want to ignore my skin’s health, but I’m not about to fret over it like a maniac. I’ll drink my water and eat my veggies and exercise :)

  17. 17
    April 10th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    actually, i’ve read from scientific research that:

    – 50% of a person’s sun damage happened before she is 18
    – the skin structure will start to age (ie, cell turnover process starts to slow down) at the age of 25

    so, i definitely feel that anti-aging should be an ongoing process. you dont need to do everything that a 40 year old would do now, but at least be aware of and practise some basic skincare habits consistently. a little goes a long way (:

  18. 18
    April 10th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hate my skin…. I do all the right things, i live in a forest, i dink mineral water, i dont smoke, i rarely drink alchohol (but i enjoy it!!)…. Guess it genetic… but i have tried a lot of things and gotta say, that the best adwise is the diet part…. a healthy diet changes skin dramaticly, i have tried expensive creams, and all kind of wierd stuff, but the diet is most efficient….

  19. 19
    April 15th, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I never knew that certain foods like salmon, tuna, and almonds can help prevent aging..? I also heard that LOTS of water also helps clear the skin, prevent aging and helps you lose weight. Grabbing a bottle of water instead of a soda is always a better choice, it’s what I do since I’m become a health nut. I’ve changed what I eat; I exercise more often, and it to top it off my skin looks great because I’m eating the right foods. Since the trend is to go ‘GREEN’, it made me look at things from a different perspective, I take more care of things in my life like: what I eat, my body, and my skin..

  20. 20
    April 28th, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks so much! I’ve been looking for something like this for awhile but this is the only place I could find it so far :)

  21. 21
    May 13th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me about this. Thank you

  22. 22
    July 9th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    it’s great that you write all this about the skin
    the skin and wrinkles is something very important
    and i’ve always worry about it
    i every day use sunblock spf 50 (at least 50)
    the sunblock has helped me a lot because i have a lot
    of spots (genetic) and the sunblock has helped me
    really to control that i don’t have more of them

  23. 23
    July 15th, 2009 at 1:22 am

    I have a good skin and never had to look for a skin care product. I think I should take care of the diet for retaining it. Thanks for the suggestions on diet. I will make sure to follow it.

  24. 24
    January 6th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I was horrified to read that 50% of sun damage occurs before you’re 18 (amber’s post)!! I’m 21 and grew up in Africa and have very fair skin so it’s very badly sun-damged already with freckles and dark spots!! Doing everything in my power to prevent further damage as I can’t afford to have any chemical peels to get rid of the damage I already have!!! Changing my diet and drinking loads of water!!! Suncream every day! All my old creams that don’t have any suncream in them are being thrown out tonight, no matter how much they cost! gonna make sure my kids dont go through what I went through! They gonna hve uncream on all the time!!

  25. 25
    January 23rd, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Have used a bunch of different night moisturizers in the past and NONE compare to the Made from Earth Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer. The cream doesn’t smell all fruity like the others I’ve used.

    The cream really penetrates the skin, doesn’t just sit on top of skin making your face look like you brushed oil on it. It balances the tone of my ruddy dry blotchy complexion and moisterizes very well. Even upon waking up my skin looks great. My skin looks and feels hydrated. Definitely recommended for women who are looking to even their skin tone and have a glowing look on their face.

  26. 26
    July 6th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I’ve found that for my hair, using an argan oil serum like BE Beverly Hills Inspired makes my hair stay moist even when i’m out in the sun all day and has helped it look younger..I think it’s the argan oil that does it. reverses aging or something like that. Maybe i’ll get some lotion too!

  27. 27
    May 9th, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Great tips. My mom is 46 and she looks 25! I swear. Her skin looks better than mine. Here is how she told me she stayed youthful looking after I had to practically pull it out of her lol! She uses sunscreen almost everytime she left the house. Doesn’t smoke. As far as I am concerned I’ve never seen her smoke a cigarette my whole life. But she is no angel . But she has been doing yoga, where. You stand upside down, I’ve never seen her do it though, guess cause it might look funny? She has been eating Goji berries for as long as I can remember. She says they taste like cranberries but I am a very high allergic reaction so but that’s her tips. I hope I will age slow like she did

  28. 28
    May 9th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Just don’t run or jog, they both cause early wrinkles and sagging. Pulls the skin from muscle tissue. Too much pressure can’t take it anymore!! No but its better for your skin to ride a bike or take long strides.

  29. 29
    November 24th, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Awesome post. Another tip: My mother in law swear that using an eye cream since she was twenty is her reason for looking young :)

  30. 30
    April 12th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Agree with your comments that you really need to start your anti-aging skin care
    from an early age. I suffered terribly when I was in my teens and it wasnt until I reached my late twenties that I started to look at my diet and eat more healthy foods and my skin really started to improve. Spinach and Blueberries are my fav
    super foods and these really seem to work.

  31. 31
    May 1st, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Alcohol and smoking really did it for me. Stopped smoking and cut down on the heavy drinking and the change in my skin was amazing. I started drinking water throughout the day and using a general moisterizer at night before bed and my skin has really improved. You do really need to look after your skin if you want to look good,

  32. 32
    July 20th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Hi there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

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