We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it, scream it, tweet it, and graffiti it with sharpies onto public bathroom stalls until the end of time… you cannot recreate a youthful complexion once it is gone — you can only maintain the one that you currently have.
Your 20s are already hard enough without having to consider anti-aging skincare, especially since it all seems too soon, right? Wrong. Even though you just graduated from college a few years ago, signs of aging will soon begin to creep up on you before you know it. But please don’t stress (seriously, that will just make it worse), because there really are just a few steps to incorporate into your existing routine that will keep that baby face of yours plump, rosy, and glowing for years to come.
Retinol and Retinoids
Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is probably the most well-known anti-aging ingredient in skincare. Retin-based products stimulate skin cell turnover, improve circulation, and increase collagen production. Retinoids are powerful — Tretinoin (brand name Retin-A) is an FDA-approved pharmaceutical-grade anti-aging ingredient prescribed by dermatologists to treat a litany of skin issues from acne to sun damage and wrinkles (and is backed by several decades of research into its effectiveness).
Lesser doses of retinol and retinoids found in over-the-counter products are a great place to start when venturing into the use of these ingredients, as you will likely go through an adjustment period when you first begin treatment. On nights that you use retinol, avoid using AHAs within the same 12 hours. Use a simple moisturizer or night cream following retinol.
Niacin, or Vitamin B3, definitely does not get the attention it deserves for the skincare boss that it really is. Niacinamide improves the epidermal lipid barrier, protects the skin from infrared light from UV rays, decreases oil overproduction, diminishes redness, addresses hyperpigmentation, and finally, minimizes the appearance of lines and wrinkles by increasing the frequency of cell turnover. So, if you want to address early signs of aging but are still experiencing breakouts or other skin issues, niacinamide should definitely be in your rotation.
Antioxidants in skincare are your first line of defense against the environmental stressors of pollution, sun damage, and free radicals that aim to age your skin, and Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic and L-ascorbic acid, is the leader of the pack. Vitamin C improves skin’s ability to retain hydration, evens out tone and texture, and goes to work on diminishing dark spots. Vitamin C is best used in the morning prior to sun protection, but can be used twice a day as well.
We truly love our Alpha-Hydroxy Acids over here, and glycolic acid is one we especially couldn’t imagine our skincare regimen without. Glycolic acid is special in its ability to disrupt the binding of lipids that hold dead skin cells together, allowing for them to dissolve and be easily removed from our epidermis. The result is a smoother and brighter complexion and an increase in collagen and elastin production, meaning softer lines and firmer skin with continued use. Avoid using glycolic acid on the same days you use Vitamin C, as the two will counteract each other.
While hyaluronic acid doesn’t necessarily have any super special anti-aging ingredients or effects, it is absolutely impossible to keep skin youthful when it isn’t properly hydrated. Hyaluronic acid is a chemical that our bodies naturally produce; it is a glycosaminoglycan, meaning that it attracts and binds to the moisture being produced in the deeper layers of our skin and brings it to the surface. Aging isn’t simply defined by lines and wrinkles — dull and dehydrated skin leads to volume loss and therefore accelerated aging. HA is a powerhouse ingredient that is suitable for all skin types.
If you really want to supercharge your other anti-aging skincare products, consider incorporating peptides into the mix. Peptides are combinations of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, and your skin contains an incredibly important protein — collagen. Peptides alone aren’t the end-all be-all of anti-aging skincare, but in addition to other ingredients, especially Vitamin C, they can take your anti-aging skincare to the next level.
There really is no way to avoid the necessity of UVA/UVB protection on a daily basis. The sun is your skin’s arch-nemesis, and not protecting it from this damage is absolutely unacceptable. If you aren’t interested in any of the aforementioned products, just promise us you’ll at least wear sunscreen, okay? PLEASE.