Changes in your skin are an inevitable part of getting older. We start to lose collagen and elastin around the time we hit 30, which means that fine lines and wrinkles are pretty much a guarantee. While these signs of aging can make different people feel different ways (you do you!), if they are something you want to stave off, there are ways to do it safely and effectively at home.
“Many people assume that Botox is the only way to prevent wrinkles,” says Alexis Parcells, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of SUNNIE. But that’s not necessarily true. While injectables are the only way to make wrinkles fully disappear, with the right arsenal of products, you can keep your skin looking noticeably smoother over time.
In order to do that, though, it’s important to understand the lifecycle of a wrinkle. When lines first appear, they tend to show up in spots where your facial muscles move to make expressions—like in between your brows, around your eyes, and on your forehead. Initially, they’re known as “dynamic wrinkles,” and are only present when you’re actually moving those muscles (for example, you may see a dynamic wrinkle on your forehead when you raise your eyebrows), but will go away almost immediately once your face returns to rest. Over time, though, they set into “static wrinkles,” which are visible pretty much all the time.
With that in mind, Dr. Parcells says it’s never too early to implement anti-aging tactics into your daily skin-care routine to prevent wrinkles from setting into place—and most derms will tell you it’s something you should start thinking about by age 30. Below, she shares her tips for dealing with wrinkles at home, no Botox required.
1. Consider sunscreen your new best friend
I know you hear it all the time, but wearing sunscreen every day is critical for preventing wrinkles in the first place.. “SPF is an anti-wrinkle cream,” says Dr. Parcells explains. UV damage impacts the health of our skin cells’ DNA which, aside from causing cancer and pre-cancer, can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots, and sagging skin. Dr. Parcell recommends looking for a sunscreen with an SPF of 35 or higher, which studies have shown to be proactive in defending against UV light.
Derms are constantly singing the praises of this sunscreen thanks to the fact that it offers mineral and chemical protection and melts easily into the skin with no white cast. It’s got SPF 40, which is just what you need for daily use.
2. Use an antioxidant serum every day
“When you have prolonged sun exposure, antioxidant serums—think vitamins C and E—are key in reversing sun damage effects,” says Dr. Parcells. These ingredients protect against environmental stressors (think: pollution and UV damage), and work to gobble up the free radicals that lead to oxidative stress in your skin, which causes signs of aging like wrinkles and discoloration. Additionally, antioxidants help brighten skin, even out discoloration and dullness, and prevent inflammation.
3. Add a retinoid to your routine
Retinol is typically the most intimidating product for people to implement into their skin-care routines, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to treat wrinkles (derms are constantly touting it as the “gold star” of any anti-aging regimen). It “increases collagen production and cell turnover,” says Dr. Parcell, and works by bringing healthy new cells to the surface of your skin to replace the dead, dull ones. As it does this, it binds to the receptors in your skin that stimulate the production of fine lines and wrinkles, which strengthens your skin’s foundation and fills in fine lines. Dr. Parcell recommends using a retinoid two or three nights a week (though, if your skin can tolerate it, you can work your way up to using it nightly), and you’ll want to be sure to follow it up with a moisturizer to avoid any irritation. Pro tip? If your retinol is causing irritation, try applying your moisturizer first to create a protective layer between the active ingredient and your skin.
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