At what age should I start using anti-ageing products?

This is a question we are asked a lot at Faceworks.  We are so careful to apply sunscreen to our children, but as adults we often neglect our skin until signs of ageing are already present, and not so easy to treat.

Anti-ageing products can be used from about age 20 years onwards.  Many of our younger clients want to start using the right products now to help them avoid wrinkles and sun damage in the future. Numerous research studies show that the most important steps that people in their 20’s and 30’s can take to maintain their skin and prevent damage is to avoid smoking and wear sunscreen each and every day, even if its cloudy or raining! Sunbeds absolutely are bad for your skin as is prolonged exposure to the sun. Drinking enough water is also important for skin hydration. There’s a lot of skincare hype out there, but here are a core group of well-proven ingredients that work, are uncomplicated and are affordable.

The main products that everyone should invest in are:

1.     Sunscreen

Sunscreen has the ability to prevent wrinkles from forming and prevents premature ageing.  Of all the over the counter anti-ageing creams and serums available this is the most important skincare product that everybody should use as part of their daily routine, and not just when they are on holidays or when the weather is nice. Over 90% of wrinkles (not to mention skin cancer, pigmentation, loss of elasticity, and premature skin ageing) are caused by sun exposure and they are so preventable. Ideally a sunscreen product should have high protection (SPF 30-50+), be broad-spectrum (protecting against UVA and UVB rays), and absorb easily and not feel greasy or heavy. It should be applied on the face, neck and décolletage and the backs of the hands, as these are the most sun exposed areas and the most vulnerable to sun damage and wrinkles. Don’t rely on SPF in foundation or tinted moisturisers as the protection isn’t high enough and is often blended onto the jawline only,  resulting in less protection. 

2.     Fruit Acid exfoliants

Skincare products using Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs, from sugar cane, milk or almond extracts), Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs, salicylic acid, from tree extracts), and Poly Hydroxy Acids (PHAs, from milk or plant extracts), all help to stimulate cell renewal which helps keep the skin looking healthy. They gently dissolve dead skin cells and empty the pores rather than abrasive or scrub products which rub at the surface layers and can be harsh for those with sensitive skin. These fruit extracts also help to control breakouts, reduce pores, fade discoloration from sun and acne scarring, and keep the skin smooth and plump by hydrating the skin layers. They can be formulated as a cleanser, day or night cream, or treatment mask. The choice of which ingredient depends on your skin type. PHA’s tend to be gentler than AHA’s or BHA’s, and are suitable for even sensitive skin.

3.     Retinol Cream

Applying a retinol cream on the face several nights a week can make the skin look smoother and younger. Retinol supports the natural cell regeneration process and reduces the appearance of signs of skin ageing, and can reverse some signs of ageing.  Other than sunscreen, retinol is the best biologically active ingredient, and it is backed by so many years of scientific proof. Every dermatologist and aesthetician recommends retinol to those in their early twenties onwards. Retinol reduces acne, shrinks enlarged pores, evens out skin tone and improves skin texture. It is an all-round star ingredient for the skin. In people in their forties, we use a higher retinol strength to stimulate collagen and reduce ageing signs. The product should contain adequate amounts and the right type of retinol to work properly. Retinol should only be applied at night, as sunlight can de-activate it. It is not suitable for pregnant women, breast-feeding women or those planning a pregnancy due to the vitamin A content.

4.     Antioxidant Serum

Antioxidant serums are applied to protect the skin cells from environmental damage, including sun damage. They can be used from the early twenties onwards and contain vitamins A, C, E, B3 and plant extracts. They are extremely effective when used underneath daily sunscreen for neutralizing free radicals that breakdown collagen and damage cells, and for brightening and moisturising the skin.

5.     Eye Cream

The skin around the eye is delicate and thin and generally is the first to show signs of ageing.  A good eye cream will nourish this area and keep the skin hydrated and prevent lines and wrinkles from forming. Try to wear sunglasses, especially when driving.