Anti-aging skincare: when and how to start?

It seems like in the current beauty world, everyone (even teenagers) is constantly encouraged to inspect their skin for the first signs of fine lines and wrinkles and take the necessary steps, a.k.a. start an anti-aging skincare routine. But what exactly is the anti-aging routine? And how early is too early to start incorporating anti-aging skincare in your routine?

First, what is anti-aging skincare? In the most general sense, anti-aging skincare is moisturizing and daily sun protection. This is the best way to prevent aging-related skin troubles like severe dryness and UV damage that results in hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and loss of skin elasticity. This means that regardless of age, “anti-aging” skincare must be in everyone’s daily routines.

On a more specific level, anti-aging skincare is supplement products that help the skin work more efficiently and combat the damage that has already been inflicted. Such skincare consists of products full of antioxidants to fight free radical damage, intensive lipid-rich creams and oils to restore skin barrier function, and acid exfoliators that help to boost cell turnover that slows down as we age.

So, when should you start incorporating these heavy-duty supplement products in your regimen? It really depends on your skin type and condition. Generally speaking, you can begin using skincare that is high in antioxidant content as soon as you reach 20. These are low to non-irritating products with various Vitamins or natural ingredients like a snail, green tea, and other extracts to provide extra support for healthy skin barrier function. If you have extremely dry skin, you might benefit from adding richer creams and oils to your routine early on. But if your skin is an oily, combination, and/or acne-prone, you don’t need this. Such heavy products will only result in breakouts, clogged pores, and an increase in blackheads and sebaceous filaments.

MOTHER MADE Anti-aging Rich Snail Deep Moisturizing Sheet Mask

In your early 20s, steer clear of exfoliants with high acid concertation. “Heavy-duty” exfoliators are meant for more mature skin when normal cell turnover rate slows down, and skin can’t regenerate itself. Your 20-something skin simply doesn’t need this. Also, make sure that only one product in your daily routine contains acid. Often, people go overboard and include acid in toner, serum, and cream. This results in redness, skin flaking, and damaged the skin barrier.

Once you get in your 30’s and beyond, start to consider incorporating more active ingredients in your routine. It’s an excellent time to introduce higher concertation of Vitamin C and A (a.k.a. Retinol) in your routine together with peptide serums and heavier night creams. That doesn’t mean that you should completely forget about more natural and less harsh alternatives. While they might not miraculously erase your wrinkles overnight (no product will), they will help to support healthy skin functioning. Alternate between harsher products and their natural alternatives to ensure you’re not ruining your barrier and sensitizing the skin.

The bottom line. Your skin is the best guide when it comes to choosing what product to start and when — experiment with adding different products to your routine and note your skin’s reaction. You shouldn’t feel pressured to use a particular expensive serum just because you’ve reached a certain age, and that’s what people do. And most importantly, remember that signs of aging are completely normal. Aging is a beautiful process, and skincare is just a tool that you use along the way to minimize any “side-effects” that come along. 

Choosing skincare according to your skin type is likely damaging your skin. Here’s why

If you’re religiously following a routine designed to treat your dry/oily/combo skin, please, stop. Wait; what? Isn’t that the opposite of what beauty bloggers, self-professed skincare experts, dermatologists, and aestheticians have been telling us to do? Figure out your skin type and choose products accordingly. 

Well, in an ideal world – a world without stress, pollution, sun-damage, makeup, birth control pills, monthly hormonal rollercoaster, and god knows what else – sure, that would be sound advice. 

But here’s the truth. While our skin might be genetically predisposed to have less or more oil, larger or smaller pores, more even or rough texture, everything that comes after is a result of our own making. 

So, what does it mean? Skin types don’t exist? 

They do, in theory. Skin types are sort of like color types named after seasons or geometrical body shape types (an Hourglass-shaped Inverted Triangle, anyone?) – constructs that are way too simplistic to describe real, living and breathing people. They are a vast generalization that serves as a guide to understanding our skin and bodies a bit better, but it isn’t meant to be the be-all and end-all. 

In real life, things are rarely as black and white as having just dry skin or oily skin. The “type” we have is a combination of many many factors where genetics certainly plays a role, but not the leading one. Season changes, weather changes, hormones, hydration levels, sleep hours, and a number of drinks you had last night – these are all things that guarantee your skin condition will fluctuate. For instance, you might have been born with a skin type that tends to have more oil, but years of harsh cleansers, mattifying toners, and excessive tanning can and will eventually take its tall, bringing you closer to the dry type. And even if you’ve always moisturized diligently, applied your SPF, and never ever went to bed with makeup on, the skin will inevitably lose its youthful vigor, a.k.a. being able to hold on to moisture, as the years go by.

Skin types are sort of like color types named after seasons or geometrical body shape types – constructs that are way too simplistic to describe real, living and breathing people.

So, you see now how skin type-specific regimen might be problematic. You might be sure you are quote-unquote oily when really all the excess oil is a result of an inadequate beauty regimen that made you severely dehydrated. Swap a mattifying toner with an ultra-hydrating one, and your skin will transform. 

Let’s take another example. Imagine a young woman named Julie. Julie’s always been confident her skin is dry as a desert. She’s been diligently applying heavy, oil-based emollient creams because, as we all know, dry skin lacks oils. But to no avail. No matter how much cream she’d put on at night, her skin would feel uncomfortably tight and even itchy the next day. She’d assume that that’s just how her skin is and kept going. What she should have done, however, is to realize that tightness and itchiness are also signs of dehydration (a problem any type can face at one point) and that her skin is in desperate need of water. 

Do you see a pattern? There’re so many external factors that contribute to what is happening to your skin, and it’s very easy to get it wrong. You might be sure you’re oily when your skin is just perpetually dehydrated. You might be drying out your acne with bacteria-killing toners and masks when what you should be doing is to lay off sugar and stress less. 

The bottom line. Skin types should be treated for what they are – rough guidelines. Remember, your skin is too unique to be boxed into just one category. The best way to build a solid routine is to focus on current skin problems and work from there. Take the time to get to know your skin. Learn how it reacts to external stress factors. Apply products you think might be right for your skin and observe. How does your skin feel? Does it like the product? Does it want more? Less? None at all? You’ll be surprised to learn that what you though your skin needs, might be far away from what your skin actually needs.