I'll just put it out there: I'm 22. I am not overwhelmingly concerned about crow's feet, sagging skin, dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines, or any other signs of aging. I do have one prominent wrinkle on my forehead, which I blame on my expressive eyebrows that shoot up every time I hear something shocking, which, these days, is about 10 times a day. Other than that, I generally feel like I have a few more years before I start to worry about signs of aging. I like to think that one day I will age gracefully, sans any surgical or injectable help. This is not due to judgment toward such procedures (that's a personal choice you should feel liberated to make), but because I've watched Botched too many times and now live in fear.
Imagine how surprised I was, after scrolling past anti-aging products for the past few years, when I found out I actually should be using them on my skin. In fact, I'm already late to the anti-aging game! Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, board-certified dermatologist and founder of her own skincare line, kindly informed me that by my 20th birthday I should have started taking anti-aging seriously. After peppering Dr. Loretta with my most pressing questions about aging for 20-somethings, she generously shared tips I'm telling all my friends, below.
Why should 20-somethings take anti-aging seriously?
If you're looking in the mirror and see only baby-soft, taut skin, this question may have crossed your mind. For the past few generations, anti-aging was predominantly targeted at women 30 and up. However, for millennials and Gen Zers, the presence of gorgeous celebrities who seem to never age in addition to younger and younger women doing chemical peels seems to have brought anti-aging to a younger audience.
Additionally, Dr. Loretta actually does believe that we are starting to age faster than before. "I am seeing more women in their 20s with lines and other stigmata of aging that previously hadn't surfaced until the 30's," Dr. Loretta shares. And there's a reason for it: "I attribute this to the external factors that are aging us faster and at younger ages, including pollution, visible light and even irritants often from the multiplicity of products we are 'experimenting' with, which leads to irritation and in turn to collagen breakdown among other unwanted skin aging changes." Yikes.
How can we incorporate anti-aging tips into our skincare routines?
So if we accept that our bad behavior is starting to age us more quickly, there are products and techniques we can use to take care of our skin in a healthy and age-appropriate way. "I love using protective products, like daily antioxidants and also using an SPF that includes HEV blue light protection," Dr. Loretta says. "It can also help to start doing weekly or monthly at-home peels like glycolic or physical peels or using microdermabrasion and micro-needling tools."
If you're thinking about running off to be the first 20-year-old to get a facelift, here's an important distinction: anti-aging in your 20s is different than in your 60s. "Typically in your 20s you focus on prevention whereas in your 60s you are more focused on correction. But all anti-aging efforts and products should focus on addressing the damage done by both UV and visible light, pollution, climate changes and irritants." Instead of jumping to intense procedures that might not be appropriate for younger skin, begin by protecting your skin so you may not need to take dramatic action when you are older.
But anti-aging isn't about looking young.
If you're still not convinced that your youthful skin needs anti-aging intervention, here's one last piece of advice: "I take great issue with the goal of anti-aging making you look younger. I think that the best anti-aging goal should be to look like the freshest version of yourself."
While you may not be able to visibly see signs of aging, there can be cellular damage caused by your environment that, down the line, will make you age faster and perhaps less gracefully than you'd like. "I think the best goal is to age confidently with healthy looking skin that has an even tone, minimal redness and no very deep lines," Dr. Loretta shares. Well, that seems like something worth looking into.
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Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends. She's a fan of vodka tonics and creepy Wikipedia pages.
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