by Sharon Feiereisen, Teen Vogue
Age ain’t nothing but a number.
Photo: Delphine Achard and Kyle Ericksen
All that talk about Kylie Jenner’s latest gig as the new face of the very mature skin care line, Nip + Fab, made us wonder theexact age to start thinking about anti-aging. So we tapped Carole Aponte, MD and founder of P.R.E.P. Cosmetics to give us the scoop.
It’s an unfortunate truth that those with the softest skin—babies—are the ones who appreciate it the least. “Children’s skin is loaded with healthy collagen and elastin fibers, the proteins that give skin its strength and flexibility,” explains Aponte. Youthful skin also has plenty of hyaluronic acid, a substance that fills in the spaces between cells and keeps skin hydrated.
When exactly does skin start to age?
There are two types of skin aging: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging occurs in everyone. Aponte explains that it’s characterized by dryness and thinning of the skin as you get older, which leads to sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles. “This type of aging develops gradually and at a fairly steady rate so it’s generally not visibly evident until adulthood.”
Extrinsic aging is caused by external factors, most notably UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds, which can lead to prematurely aged skin. This accounts for up to 90% of what we think of as normal skin aging. One of the main reasons that babies’ skin looks so great is that it hasn’t had time to develop significant sun damage. “Almost all of the roughness, deeper wrinkles, discoloration, and age spots we associate with aging is caused by sun damage,” explains Aponte. The good news is that it is preventable by lathering on sunscreen whenever you’ll be exposed to the sun’s harsh rays (that includes cloudy days!) and opting for self-tanner versus jumping into a tanning bed whenever you’re looking to warm up your skin tone.
Start thinking about protecting your skin from aging NOW!
UVA rays are equally strong year round, meaning you need to be wearing a broad spectrum SFP 30 or greater everyday. Come summer, practicing other sun-safe behaviors—wearing hats, sunglasses and protective clothing, seeking shade, and limiting time in direct sunlight between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. (when the sun’s rays are the strongest). Sunscreen is non-negotiable, but there are a few other practices that will help ensure you hit adulthood with a high level of your baby-soft skin in tact. Aponte breaks it down:
If you’re a pre-teen, there are three main ways to embrace and maintain your youthful complexion. First, you should apply sunscreen regularly to all sun-exposed skin. Secondly, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which have essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants to help protect skin from environmental damage. Finally, washing your face (concentrating on any oily or acne-prone areas), twice a day can help to remove any dirt, oil, makeup, or other chemicals that build up before they can irritate or damage your skin in the long run.
If you’re a teen, continue the basic skin care habits listed above and be sure to get enough sleep. We’re here to set the record straight: There really is some truth in that whole beauty rest theory. It’s during sleep that the body performs many essential maintenance and repair processes and clears away much of the potentially harmful chemicals that build up from daily environmental damage. Got Spring Break coming up? Beware of sunbathing or hitting up an indoor tanning bed and if you’re being treated for acne, sun protection is especially important as many acne treatments can make skin more susceptible to sunburn and irritation.
If you’re in your twenties, upgrade your daily moisturizer adding a product supercharged with antioxidants and that hyaluronic acid we told you about to your vanity. Before late-nights in the office (or out on the town!) start taking a toll on those undereyes of yours, invest in a hydrating and caffeine-packed eye cream, gel, or roll-on serum. And if your your skin is already showing signs of early aging from sun-soaking during your younger years or those all-nighters you pulled during undergrad’, adding a topical antioxidant like a vitamin C or E serum may help reverse some early signs of damage. In those with oily or acne-prone skin, an over-the-counter Retinol night cream or prescription retinoid cream may also help treat damage and even prevent any skin-thinning caused by intrinsic aging.
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