Ever get a rude awakening? Like, a rude beauty awakening? This, my dear readers, is the abject horror you experience when you notice something about your appearance for the very first time. Like that day I had to break it to myself that my foundation shade (of three years) didn’t match my neck. Absolutely horrifying. Couldn’t un-see it. Instagram? Deleted.
But I once had a realization of this sort that probably saved my life. It seems comical in hindsight, mostly because my initial diagnosis of the problem was a panic-ridden mess. But it was a problem all the same–I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.
At first, I complained to my dad that I was aging. Yes, aging. I was fifteen and seeing lines around my lips. Faint, sure, but they were definitely there. Now my dad, well-versed in the basics of dermatology, assured me that these so-called wrinkles were actually “laugh lines,” not old-age ones. But did that mean I had to stop bursting into laughter every time someone told a funny joke? Stop smiling altogether? Unfortunately, knowing the source of my little headache didn’t seem to help at all.
This scare I experienced was precisely the stimulus that pushed me into anti-aging care. My premature “nasolabial folds” were therefore a blessing in disguise. You see, the fear of aging harbored by a kid in the bloom of youth couldn’t possibly be great enough. It’s like the relationship between a procrastinating student and the exciting danger of a looming deadline. Nothing can deter him from wasting time, not once he’s tumbled into that deadly YouTube spiral. And nothing will ever work, not unless he manages at one point to slip up, miss the due date, and get a big fat zero. There’s no wake-up call better than the real deal. Youth, as people like to say, is wasted on the young. It’s wasted on the young because prevention is much better than the cure, and no one practices prevention.
So what are some of the things you can do to stop old age in its tracks? You know, before it even shows up around the corner? Well, necessity is the mother of research.
1. The sun is your enemy.
Sorry to be raining on your summer tanning parade. UV rays are known to be one of the worst things you could subject your skin to if you’re trying to keep it young. Sun exposure is responsible for up to 90% of facial aging!
- Stay out of the sun when you can. Use hats, UV-blocking sunglasses, UV protection umbrellas, and the like.
- Wear sunscreen whenever you can. Did you know that regardless of the season (summer or winter) and regardless of the weather (sunny or rainy), you’re still basically exposed to the same treacherous, aging UV rays?
- Good sunscreen is water-resistant/waterproof, broad spectrum (protects against UVA rays), and has an SPF of 30 or higher (protects against UVB rays).
- My recommendation is Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Water-Light Lotion For Face & Body ($29). I like it because it’s water-resistant (80 minutes), broad spectrum, has an SPF of 50, and feels light on the skin. I hate sunscreen that comes on pigmented like foundation, and this one is the opposite of that: perfectly clear.
- Make sure you don’t rely too much on your sunscreen, though. You’ll need to reapply it every once in a while, and just because you have sunscreen on doesn’t mean you can run outside and start acting like a human sunflower.
2. Anti-aging creams are your best friend.
Honestly, they don’t even have to singularly target aging. The following products seem to be the most coveted:
- MISSHA Super Aqua Snail Cream ($45)
- Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream SPF 30 ($58) and Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate ($65)
- Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($70 – $100) and Perfectionist [CP+R] ($98)
- SK-II PITERA Essence ($99 – $290) and R.N.A. POWER Radical New Age Cream ($230)
Some good anti-aging ingredients to look out for are acai oil, alpha-lipoic acid, caffeine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ-10), grape seed extract, hydroquinone, hydroxy acids, niacinamide, peptides, retinol, tea extracts, and vitamin C.
3. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!
Exfoliation is a great way to facilitate cellular turnover, i.e. the shedding and later regeneration of cells, in your skin. It also helps trigger the production of collagen and elastin, two things that’ll keep your skin young. Some products to consider buying are:
- Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($29.50)
- Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion ($41)
- Chanel Gommage Microperlé Éclat Maximum Radiance Exfoliating Gel ($45)
- Fresh Sugar Face Polish ($62)
4. Engage in the right lifestyle.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet full of vitamins and antioxidants. Think red bell peppers, blueberries, salmon, broccoli, spinach, grapes, sweet potatoes, nuts, oats, and avocado. You can further fortify this diet with anti-aging collagen peptide supplements.
- Keep active through regular exercise. It’ll help your entire body stay young!
- Drink lots of water–it’s a hydrating cure-all. If you don’t like water, there are ways to get around it at times (but not all the time) with fruits, vegetables, and juices.
- Sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase. They’ll be gentler on your skin as you toss and turn at night. You should also try to rest on your back to avoid causing creases on your cheeks.
- Apply skincare products onto your face in an upwards direction. This last one is an interesting tip I got from a friend of my mom’s, and is meant to counteract the effects of gravity constantly tugging down on the skin.
5. Cosmetic procedures.
If you feel like you’ve jumped on the bandwagon too late, or if you want something more dramatic to kickstart and motivate your anti-aging journey…look no further than cosmetic procedures to get the job done! Here I’ll be focusing on more natural solutions. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m leaving out makeup and intensely invasive plastic surgery procedures (like facelifts) as solutions not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because in terms of seeking long-term solutions, they can be misleading in their portrayal of how young your skin really is. I like getting rid of the root cause, not sloughing away at the symptoms.
- Laser skin resurfacing treatments. Fraxel lasers and ProFractional lasers stimulate skin cell regeneration and collagen production. Old, wrinkled, and blemished skin will quickly be replaced by new, healthier skin as your face heals from the work of the laser.
- Redermalization mesotherapy. This involves multiple injections of vitamins, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids into the skin, which give it the ingredients it needs to maintain a healthy and youthful appearance. The micro-punctures from the injections also stimulate collagen production.
- Botox. While a single injection isn’t a long-term solution, botox essentially paralyzes certain facial muscles for an extended period of time. Continued injections can therefore help you stop making wrinkle-inducing facial expressions, or at least decrease the intensity of these expressions. It’s like you’re smiling and frowning…economically.
- Fillers made from hyaluronic acid, such as Juvéderm and Restylane. While fillers themselves are short-term, hyaluronic acid is a natural component of healthy skin. The injections themselves could also stimulate collagen production.
- Thermage treatments. Radiofrequency energy is made to penetrate the skin, tightening it, lifting it, and stimulating collagen production.
You might look ridiculous now, running around with your parasols and snail creams and what not. But better look it now, so you can look gorgeous later. And by later, I mean whole decades down the line!