At a glance
Wrinkles appearing on your face? Skin aging is a natural process that affects everyone. When and how it happens is, in parts, determined by your genes. But your lifestyle also has a significant influence on how your skin will age. While you can’t do anything about our genes, this guide will help you adopt the right skin care routine and lifestyle to slow down and visibly reduce the aging process of your skin.
Do you look older than you should? Then this guide is for you!
Let’s look at practical ways to protect your skin today to slow aging and reduce visible signs of age. It’s never too late to start a new routine and make your skin look naturally younger, brighter, and fresher.
Table of contents
- What is aging: understanding skin aging
- Anti-Aging Skin Care: How to slow down, reduce and reverse skin aging?
- Throughout your life: protect your skin
- In your 30s: Start your anti-aging routine
- In your 40s and 50s: Fight premature skin aging
- In your 60s and 70s: Adapt to changes in your skin composition
- Terms and Definitions related to skin aging
Treating aging skin fast in a nutshell
- Aging changes the composition and appearance of your skin.
- You can’t stop your skin from aging, but you can slow the process down and reduce its visible impact.
- You should start today by protecting what you have.
- Your lifestyle and diet play an important role. Excessive sun exposure is the single most damaging factor.
- It’s never too late to benefit from natural skincare solutions and prevent premature skin aging.
What is aging: understanding skin aging
As you grow older, your skin will change. Those skin changes are among the most visible signs of aging. Things such as wrinkles and age spots will start to appear on your face and body.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine says that with aging, “the outer skin layer thins. The number of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decreases. The remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin looks thinner, paler, and clear. Large pigmented spots, including age spots, liver spots, or lentigos, may appear in sun-exposed areas.
Changes in your skin will reduce its strength and elasticity. This is particularly the case in areas of your face and body that were more exposed to the sun. The result is a leathery appearance.
In addition, blood vessels inside your skin are becoming more fragile. You will bruise and bleed more easily. Your skin will also produce less oil, resulting in more dryness and itchiness.
While all these changes are natural, you can fight premature aging and reduce visible signs of aging by adopting the right anti-aging skin care routine.
Before we look at the routine, let’s first understand at the main cause of skin aging and the 7 signs of an aging skin.
1. The cause: Why is your skin aging
Skin experts at the American Academy of Dermatology explain that there are many factors that cause your skin to age. Some are natural and controlled by your genes. The medical term for this type of aging is “intrinsic aging” and you can’t do anything about it. But other causes can be influenced. Our environment and lifestyle can cause our skin to age prematurely. The medical term for this type of aging is “extrinsic aging” and you can slow its effects on our skin.
The first and most significant factor that will cause premature aging is sun exposure. You can see it yourself by comparing areas of your body that have been regularly exposed to the sun with areas that are protected from sunlight.
Sunlight can cause the following problems in your skin according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
- Loss of elasticity (elastosis)
- Noncancerous skin growths (keratoacanthomas)
- Pigment changes such as liver spots
- Thickening of the skin
There is so much proven evidence that excessive exposure to the sun leads to premature skin aging that there is a medical name for it: photoaging.
Sun exposure has also been directly linked to skin cancers, so it is essential that you protect yourself adequately. We explain how to protect your skin from the sun below.
Aggravating factors: What causes premature skin aging?
Do You Look Older Than You Should? Your lifestyle and your environment might be to blame.
Dermatologists have identified the following 6 factors that will cause your skin to age prematurely:
- Diet: what you eat has a big impact on how your skin will age. A healthy and well-balanced diet is essentials. You should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Smoking: cigarette has been proven to speeds up how quickly your skin will age. Tobacco causes wrinkles and dullness.
- Repetitive facial expressions: the muscles underneath your skin contract everytime you make a facial expression. If you repeatedly contract the same muscles over many years, these lines in your skin become permanent wrinkles.
- Alcohol: alcohol dehydrates your skin, and in time, will damage the structure of your skin and make it look older.
- Exercise: a moderate level of regular exercise can improve your blood circulation, which, in turn, may prevent premature skin aging.
- Sleep: a regular and sufficient sleeping routine is critical to give your body time to refresh and renew itself. It’s called beauty sleep for a good reason.
2. The effects: 7 signs of aging skin
As you age, your skin will change. Depending on your lifestyle and genes, it might happen in your 50s and 60s, or even sooner. To help you slow down and reduce the effects of aging, it’s important to identify their signs early on.
Here are the seven most common signs of aging skin:
- Dryness: The sebaceous glands in your skin will progressively produce less natural oil, as a result, your becomes dryer.
- Wrinkles: As your skin loses moisture, elastin, and collagen, fine lines and wrinkles may appear. Areas around your eyes and mouth are the most prone to wrinkles, as this is where your underlying muscles are most often contracting the skin.
- Thinning: The rate at which cells are naturally renewed in your body decreases by 7% every 10 years, as a result, your skin will gradually appear thinner.
- Dullness: For the same reasons, your natural youthful glow will be compromised and your skin tone will appear blander.
- Age spots: Melanocytes in your skin will multiply more quickly and may form dark spots. These age spots will appear mostly on areas of your skin that has been most exposed to the sun.
- Sagging: Because your skin produces less elastin and collagen, it won’t have the same firmness and strength, which might cause it to sag.
- Bruises: Blood vessels weaken over time and will be more susceptible to breaking even a minor injury, causing bruising on the skin.
Anti-Aging Skin Care: How to slow down, reduce and reverse skin aging?
The aging process is natural. How fast it happens is, in part, determined by your genes. But it can also be significantly slowed down by your lifestyle and the proper skincare routine. Certain natural products can also help you visibly reduce aging signs or altogether reverse certain damage.
While aging can’t be stopped, a good anti-aging skin care routine should help you age gracefully and maintain the natural properties of a youthful skin. The objective of your anti-aging routine should be to:
- Maintain your skin’s natural firmness
- Retain your glowing complexion
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
- Prevent and reverse aging spots
- Reduce skin cancer risk
The sooner you start, the better the results will be. But it’s never too late to start.
To help you make the most of your routine, we’ve designed a comprehensive skin care plan by age group. We’ll first look at essential skin routines that you should implement throughout your life. We’ll then look at solutions adapted for three different age groups, from the 30s all the way to the 70s and beyond.
Throughout your life: protect your skin
Sun exposure is the single most influential factor that will cause premature skin aging. It is thus essential to protect your skin against sun rays throughout your life. It is the basic foundation of an effective anti-aging strategy.
Make sure to use only natural products as sunblock to avoid having other problems caused by nasty chemicals. We recommend the best-seller SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense (SPF 50) for a total protection. It’s 100% natural and provides a matt-looking broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB. It also includes active ingredients, such as Artemia Salina, to boost your skin’s natural defenses and protect collagen from UV damage ().
Dermatologists recommend 3 other important tips:
- Drink water: Water is up there next to sunscreen as a foundation to any anti-aging routine. It’s the building block of your body. Aim at drinking 7 glasses of water per day. You can also keep a stylish water bottle with you at all time as a reminder. It works great for us ().
- Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanse: Excessive scrubbing can irritate your skin, which, in turn, will accelerate skin aging. Gentle cleansing, on the other hand, will remove dead skin cells, dirt, and makeup without irritating your skin. We recommend the excellent Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Cleansing Oil infused with fruit stem cells and vitamin C. This natural oil cleanser delicately dissolves the toughest waterproof makeup while leaving your skin smooth, soft and supple ().
- Apply a natural moisturizer every day: Moisturizers help maintain the natural elasticity of your skin and fight against pollution and other infections. The celebrity-favorite Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme is widely recognized as one of the best anti-aging moisturizer on the market today. Enriched with elasticity-boosting, cell-stimulating, and hydrating ingredients, this moisturizer stimulates the skin’s natural defense mechanisms to fight signs of aging ().
- Wear sunglasses: A good pair of sunglasses with proper UV lenses will protect your eyes from sun rays, but also keep you from squinting. Excessive squinting may precipitate the apparition of wrinkles around your eyes.
- Avoid yo-yo Dieting: Losing and gaining back significant weight multiple times stretches the skin and might damage its elasticity. If you want to lose weight, do it at a reasonable pace (experts recommend one pound per week) and avoid gaining it back too rapidly afterward.
In your 30s: Start your anti-aging routine
Between 30 and 40 years old is the perfect time to start an anti-aging skincare routine. Your skin is still souple and elastic and you’ll be able to protect its natural characteristics.
Everything that we described above should form the foundation of your routine. Depending on your skin type, you can chose a toner to help control your skin’s natural oil production (we recommend the Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion
) or one that will prevent dryness (the Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner is perfect for that).
If you start to observe early signs of aging, particularly wrinkles around your eyes or your mouth, you can still spot treat the affected area to effectively reduce or reverse their appearance. Apply natural serum after your toner and before your moisturizer to that effect. The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is often recommended by dermatologists to that effect ().
In your 40s and 50s: Fight premature skin aging
Between your 40s and 50s, your skin will start to change. Depending on your lifestyle (and your genes), you might observe more wrinkles around your eyes and your mouth. Your skin might also start to become a little bit drier.
This is a critical phase to adopt the right anti-aging routine as part of your daily habits. If you don’t fight early signs of age now, it will become much harder to reduce them later.
If you don’t use one yet, an eye cream should become essential now. An eye cream will spot-treat wrinkles and provide the right level of moisture to your skin all day long. The Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme is the absolute best (). It might be too oily for you though, and maybe better reserved for the night if you apply makeup. In which case, the ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Eye Renewal is the perfect alternative (). Not as oily as the Natura Bisse and easier to wear through the day, especially if it’s hot outside.
In addition to the eye cream, you should also start to apply an anti-aging serum before your moisturizer in the morning and the evening. A serum will help give your skin essential antioxidant to fight signs of aging. The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is the absolute best ().
Reevaluate your daily moisturizer. Because the composition of your skin might start to change, you might have to experiment with a new moisturizer to deliver the right level of moisture to your skin. The Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer is one of the best anti-aging moisturizer available at the moment. It’s packed with active ingredients to help you slow-down your skin’s aging process ().
In your 60s and 70s: Adapt to changes in your skin composition
During your 60s and 70s, changes to your skin will be more visible. While everyone ages differently, you may notice the following changes to your skin:
- Developing more age spots, wrinkles, and creases
- Bruising more easily
- Healing more slowly
These changes are normal as the composition of your skin changes. It is thus important for you to also change and adapt your skin care routine to support your skin and maintain its natural balance.
- Change how you bath: A few simple changes to your bathing routine can help reduce your skin’s dryness and itchiness.
- Wash your body with a gentle, creamy, fragrance-free soap. Because your skin produces less oil than before, it is important to use a soap that doesn’t strip away your natural moist. We recommend the excellent AHAVA Mineral Shower Gel that uses aloe vera to prevent skin dehydration.
- Wash with warm water for 10 minutes. Avoid prolonged bath and hot water as they will strip away the natural oil in your skin, which can increase dryness.
- When using a towel after your bath, gently pat water from your skin. Try to leave a bit of water on your skin as it will help with the next step.
- Apply a creamy and fragrance-free body moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing. We recommend a moisturizer formulated especially for dry skin, such as the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion (). It will help ease dryness and restore your skin’s natural protection.
- Use a humidifier: Indoor heating and air conditioning can strip humidity away from the air around you. Dry air can affect your skin and make it feel drier and itchy. You should aim for an indoor humidity level between 45% and 60% can reduce dry, itchy skin. The PurSteam Ultrasonic Humidifier is our preferred choice here. It’s very easy to use and doesn’t require you to change expensive filters. It’s small and silent and can be easily placed anywhere in your house.
- Sop using perfumes and fragrances: The alcohol that is present in fragrances and perfumes can strip away the natural moist in your skin, leading to more dryness and itchiness.
- Be attentive to early signs of skin cancer: From age 50, the risks of developing skin cancer and pre-cancerous growths increases. You should start to regularly consult with a professional dermatologist and examine your skin often to identify potential risks. Learn more about detecting skin cancer.
Terms and Definitions related to skin aging
Anti-aging skin care can feel like a different language sometimes. Let’s translate in plain English what the most important terms and concepts mean.
Aging skin definition
The term “aging skin” refers to the changes that happen in your skin as you age. An aging skin will look thinner, paler, and clear according to the US National Library of Medicine. Large pigmented spots, including age spots, liver spots, or lentigos, may appear in sun-exposed areas.
Wrinkles are small depressions in the skin’ surface. They may be coarse or fine, depending on their depth.
Coarse wrinkles most often appear on the forehead, outer corners of the eyes and as vertical lines on either side of the mouth.
Fine wrinkles are a shallower network of small lines or indentations, especially around the eyes and mouth. They are usually the result of repetitive facial muscle contractions over many years.
In general, wrinkles are caused by a combination of:
- Your skin thinning and your facial muscle mass being reduced
- A reduction in collagen, elastin, and moist
You can help prevent wrinkles by avoiding excessive and repetitive facial expressions and keeping your skin moisturized.
Age spots definition
Age spots are small dark areas that may appear on your skin as you age. They vary in size and usually appear on areas of your skin that are most regularly exposed to the sun, such as your face and hands.
While very common in adults older than 50, younger people can also get age spots if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Age spots are usually harmless and don’t require treatment. It is possible, however, to lighten or remove them for cosmetic reasons by using skin-bleaching products.
The best protection against age spots is to regularly use sunscreen when going outside.
Collagen and elastin definition
As you age, the levels of collagen and elastin naturally present in your skin will begin to lower. This is often referred to as a breakdown of collagen and elastin and can lead to a reduction from 20% to 80% of the skin thickness.
Changes in the fibroblasts, the skin cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin will negatively affect the skin’s inability to repair itself.
Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to sunlight accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin. These breakdowns result in the skin elasticity and strength being reduced. This phenomenon accounts for why more mature skin takes longer to assume its original position when extended or pulled.
Aging is a natural process. But how you age can be largely under your control. And it starts today!
By following our anti-aging skin care routine and our advice by age group above, you will be able to slow down and reduce the signs of aging on your skin.
Protect your skin and stay hydrated.
Further reading recommendations
We’ve used several authoritative sources to write this article. We recommend that you review them if you want to learn more about aging in general and aging skin in particular. These are also great resources if you want to investigate a specific aspect of the condition or want to stay up-to-date with the latest medical research.
The National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, the American Academy of Dermatology, Medline Plus, and WebMD each have excellent in-depth resources on aging. We recommend you start there:
The International Dermal Institute has an excellent paper on the structural changes to the skin that are associated with aging. Results from recent studies on the slow down of cell turnover between our 30s and 80s are especially interesting:
If you want to explore skin aging even further, we recommend the following publications that were used when writing this article:
- “A daily skin care regimen with a unique ceramide and filaggrin formulation rapidly improves chronic xerosis, pruritus, and quality of life in older adults.” by Chang ALS, Chen SC, et al., Geriatr Nurs, June 6, 2017.
- “Photoaging: Mechanisms and repair.” by Rabe JH, Mamelak AJ, J Am Acad Dermatol, 2006.
- “Aging and photoaging.” by Chung JH, Hanft VN, et al., J Am Acad Dermatol, 2003.
- “Impairments in skin integrity.” by Murphree RW., Nurs Clin North Am, 2017.
- “Promoting skin health in older people.” by Cowdell F., Nurs Older People, 2010.
- “Dry skin in the elderly: complexities of a common problem.” by White-Chu EF and Reddy M., Clin Dermatol, 2011.
- “Pigmentary changes in aged and photoaged skin.” by Castanet J, Ortonne JP., Arch Dermatol. 1997.
- “Cigarette smoking: risk factor for premature facial wrinkling.” by Kadunce DP, Burr R, et al., Ann Intern Med. 1991.
Authors: Ashley Nelson and Samantha Woodworth
Last updated: September 9, 2018
- Aging changes in skin by U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018.
- What causes our skin to age?, by the American Academy of Dermatology, 2018.
- How to create an anti-aging skin care plan, by the American Academy of Dermatology, 2018.
- What are the top seven signs of aging skin?, by Nivea, 2018.
- Aging Skin: Do You Look Older Than You Should?, by Matthew Hoffman, MD, WebMD, 2018.
- How to care for your skin in your 60s and 70s by the American Academy of Dermatology, 2018.
- Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin/a>, by Dr. Diana Howard, The International Dermal Institute, 2018.
- Age spots (liver spots), by the Mayo Clinic, 2018.
- Zakiya P. Rice, MD, FAAD, AAD Fellow, Certified in dermatology by the American Board of Dermatology.
- Before You Pop a Pimple, by Shelley Levitt, WebMd.
- Breakouts definition, by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2018.
- Blemish definition, by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2018.