Until very, very recently, all “anti-aging” meant to me was Andie MacDowell smiling serenely in tired L’Oreal commercials, and (of course), the Philosopher’s Stone. But then—to cut a long story short—I travelled for a week, and decided to put all the little product samplers I’d ripped from magazines over the summer to good use. Most of them were bright, expensive-looking potions with intimidating names like “power-infusing concentrate” and “intensive corrective treatment”, that were intended as wrinkle-blasting, anti-aging concoctions. And this got me thinking: At the ripe old age of 22, do I need to be using products like these?
So, naturally, I did some research—not just for myself, but for the sake of our lovely readers, of course. After all, preventing wrinkles seems to be a topic that’s tossed around on all sorts of media outlets for women, but upon inspection there doesn’t ever seem to be a clear, coherent message sent to women in their twenties about the preventative measures that they can take to optimize their skin’s health and prepare their skin as best they can for the aging process. Do we need to be slathering on expensive creams before bedtime every night? Heck, do we need to take out a bank loan to pay for all the products that promise to keep us looking young?
The short answer is no. Our 20s are—or should be—the time in our lives when we enjoy our best skin: out of that fragile, pimple-prone time commonly known as puberty (but oft remembered as pure hell), and before the time of our lives where we will inevitably start to see age and gravity taking their toll. Our 20s are the time for us to relax a little and enjoy ourselves.
But, for anyone with a passing interest in future investment, it’s also time to start taking steps to keeping our skin happy and healthy in future years. Sure, we’re not looking in the mirror and seeing the first formations of crow’s feet yet, but it’s something that we ought to bear in mind as a future beauty concern. Plus, good overall health should always be a priority, and the best way to prolong the good health of your skin is to take measures that will have beneficial side effects across the board.
First things first: cut out the cigs, cut back on alcohol, drink lots of water, and load up on fruits and veggies. You hear it every day, and it takes no explanation, but seriously: do it. Your skin will thank you, of course, but so will your body and mind. For years to come. Hydration and a nutrient-dense diet are the first steps to protecting your body from environmental harm, and make sure you curb the damage you’re inflicting on yourself, too.
Secondly, it’s time to start using the right products. So, we searched high and low to produce this: the definitive, no-nonsense, normal-girl budget guide to prepping your skin for the future. Y’all can thank us when you’re starring in L’Oreal commercials in 2040!
Always, always, always wear sunscreen.
Whether you’re like me and you shy away from leaving the house without a face of make-up, or you prefer to go au naturel (in which case, I envy you)—you need to be wearing sunscreen. Come rain or shine, sun protection is vital. Ultraviolet rays can be damaging on even the cloudiest of days, so moisturizers with SPF are essential to your basic skincare routine. Every morning, use a moisturizing lotion that contains a minimum of SPF 30 to get the best effects.
Our pick: Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer, $21.99. This product goes a long way for its price, and aside from the guaranteed sun protection, it also boosts skin tone and intensively hydrates.
Start using an eye cream.
This was a step that I had to really coax myself to get used to, but dermatologists are in agreement that adding moisture to the eye area will pay off in the future, even if you see no problems in the area right now. Use it morning and night for a shot of intense hydration to the delicate eye area; furthermore, your make-up will sit better as you notice those niggly creases and dark circles becoming a thing of the past.
Our pick: Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream, $17.99. Check this for a glorious (and somewhat delicious-smelling) combo: glycerin, clary sage, avocado oil, Mafura butter, and Tucuma butter deliver intense moisture to the eye area. As you can imagine, this product smells divine, but it also works like a gem, and you’ll notice a real improvement even if you didn’t notice a problem before.
Use products that contain antioxidants.
Sure, you can start researching all those scary-sounding ingredients that promote collagen and cell turnover and all that jazz … but, blah, science. Honestly, in your twenties, all you’re really going to need are products that block out nasty environmental aggressors—so look for antioxidants. After all, your skin is already young and resilient, so you needn’t concern yourself too much with repairing it, but rather with protecting it from air pollution and UV rays, which are sources of free radicals. So protect your skinny skin skin with a layer of antioxidants—sourced from nice botanical ingredients—before you leave the house in the morning, and before you hit the sack at night.
Our pick: The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost, $16.20. This entire line is fabulous, but this particular product is a best-seller for a reason. Use after moisturizing to deliver a lightweight surge of radiance to your overall skin tone, that will further protect your skin all day long.