Want to know the number one thing dermatologists do to look younger? It’s not injectables, it’s not lasers, and it’s not a $400 cult cream. The secret is so much simpler (and less expensive): it’s prevention. Avoiding the things that damage your skin, and adding a few key essentials to your skincare routine, will go a long way toward keeping your skin looking youthful for as long as possible.
While it’s certainly helpful to start preventing the signs of premature aging as soon as possible — ideally, in your 20s — it’s never too late, because aging is cumulative and ongoing. Here, we break down the basics of looking younger, longer with our founder, Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper).
#1 Use sunscreen every...single...day
According to Dr. Lee, the vast majority of visible aging comes from UV radiation damage over time. We’ve covered what the sun does to your skin before, but here it is in a nutshell:
- Suppresses immune system
- Damages DNA
- Increases melanin production
Translation? UV radiation leaves skin more susceptible to wrinkles, sagging, hyperpigmentation, even acne and cancer. Dr. Lee recommends finding a sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. Try: SLMD Dual Defender, a moisturizer and SPF 30 combination formulated with acne-prone skin in mind.
Ever notice how your skin looks older when it’s dry? It’s not your imagination: skin needs proper levels of hydration (water) and moisture (oil) to stay healthy and youthful. Moreover, our skin’s natural ability to stay hydrated and moisturized decreases as we age.
Dr. Lee says that many people with acne-prone or oily skin make the mistake of not moisturizing, which can leave skin dry and vulnerable, especially if you’re using acne treatments, which can be harsh. Choose a product that best fits your skin type: SLMD Facial Moisturizer is formulated for all skin types, including acne-prone skin. Hyaluronic Acid Serum can provide an extra boost of hydration, especially for those with normal or dry skin.
#3 Sleep on your back
Dermatologists can often tell how you sleep, just by looking at the pattern of fine lines and wrinkles on your face. Chances are, you’ve woken up with creasing after sleeping on your side or stomach — imagine what that can do over a lifetime.
While it may be challenging, try sleeping on your back whenever possible. Arranging pillows around your body can help. Dr. Lee also suggests using a silk pillowcase, which creates less friction and doesn't draw as much water out of the skin.
#4 Incorporate well-aging treatments
Dr. Lee recommends 3 key ingredients to help combat and prevent signs of premature aging. The good news? You don’t need to spend a fortune on luxury brands — just find a high-quality formula from a trusted source (of course, we’re partial to SLMD).
- Retinol. It's clinically-proven to help slow collagen loss, even out skin tone, and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Try: SLMD Retinol Resurfacing Serum.
- Alpha hydroxy acids. Ingredients like glycolic and lactic acids weaken the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, so they encourage the shedding of older layers. This promotes a more even-looking skin tone, and can also minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Try: SLMD AHA/BHA Swipes, Glycolic Acid Body Scrub, and Glycolic Acid Body Lotion.
- Antioxidants. Environmental stress (like UV radiation) forms free radicals, which are harmful molecules that lead to skin aging. Antioxidants like vitamin C and kojic acid neutralize these free radicals, helping to prevent things like hyperpigmentation and collagen loss. Try: SLMD Bright Future Vitamin C Serum, Dark Spot Fix.
#5 Choose a healthy lifestyle
We tend to take our skin for granted, but as our largest organ, it responds directly to the choices we make, and the environment we live in. According to Dr. Lee, a host of lifestyle factors can contribute to skin aging, including:
- Stress. This has a physical impact, since frowning causes those telltale “11” lines between the brows, and a chemical one — with elevated cortisol levels causing a breakdown in skin function and appearance.
- Sleep. Overnight is prime time for cell rejuvenation, which is essential for keeping skin looking youthful.
- Diet. You can’t turn junk food into a healthy body. Our skin needs the right combination of vitamins and minerals to function and look its best. When possible, avoid things like alcohol (which is dehydrating) and sugary, processed foods (which can increase both acne and aging).
- Exercise. Getting your heart rate up increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients and promoting that healthy glow. But don’t overdo it: excessive exercise can be dehydrating, and too little fat underneath the skin can cause sagging and hollowness that will make you look older.
Dr. Lee's Last Word
People are always searching for a “miracle cure” for visible aging. As a dermatologist, I’ll tell you that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to prevent the signs of premature aging than to reverse them. My top recommendations are to use sunscreen, moisturizer, and retinol. Start early, but don’t get discouraged — it’s never too late!