More anti-aging tips for your skin
Skin anti-ager #3: Use a retinoid.
Yes, there's a vast medicine cabinet full of anti-aging "cosmeceutical" products out there. But the very best kind of topical cream to repair the aging process, Madfes says, is a retinoid. Retinoids are vitamin-A derivative compounds that have been shown to boost collagen production and cell turnover, as well as to unclog pores and stimulate blood vessels in the area. This reduces oil and acne, smoothes skin, and gives you a brighter, healthier appearance. Retinoids have been around since the 1970s. Depending on the formulation, users typically see results within a month or two.
How to do this:
Ask a doctor about prescription-strength retinoids, which are generally most effective, Madfes says. These include tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage). Some insurance plans cover the cost.
Follow directions carefully. Usually, starting a retinoid involves a gradual introduction of the product to avoid irritation. Eventually, most people apply it just once a day.
Know that you can still get lesser, but noticeable, benefits with an over-the-counter product, according to Madfes. Look for the ingredient retinol, or retinoic acid.
Apply at night on a clean face; that's when retinoids work best. They're also sensitive to sun, which is why night is a good application time. (But if you use a sunscreen by day, you won't be hypersensitive to the sun by using a retinoid.)
Use a moisturizer on top of the retinoid, or use a moisturizer that contains retinoid.
Know that retinoids aren't recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Skin anti-ager #4: Spend time -- not necessarily money -- on a smart morning-night routine.
Skin care doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require the right basics, Madfes says. By day, that mostly means adding UV protection. But night care is equally important. "Your skin is amazing in how it can be exposed to so much all day and still regenerate," Madfes says. "But as you get older you need to help it do that."
How to do this:
Start every day with sunscreen, even if you'll mostly be inside. "You don't want the sun to kill all the new collagen you grew overnight," Madfes says.
Remove all makeup and wash your face before you go to bed. All day, your skin is assaulted by chemicals in the air that break down collagen and cause other damage. If you don't clean your face, your exposure to these pollutants will continue all night long, too.
After cleansing, apply a retinoid and then a moisturizer -- and sleep on a clean pillow (don't go weeks before you wash it).
Know that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get effective products. Look for companies that do a lot of safety testing, Madfes says; reputable manufacturers tend to invest more in this. Trust your instincts -- if claims sound improbable, they usually are. Because everyone's skin is unique, you may need to tinker until you find products that work best for you. Ask a dermatologist for recommendations if you're stumped.
Skin anti-ager #5: Pick cosmetic procedures that also help skin regenerate.
A host of skin products and procedures that are available over the counter or from specialists such as spas or dermatologists can give more than the illusion of youth -- they can actually help regenerate cells. While they can't turn the clock back forever, these choices may slow the rate of changes that cause deep wrinkles and a dull texture.
How to do this:
Try peels. Exfoliating (through facials or microdermabrasion creams applied at home) can make skin look brighter. This is because the turnover of cells grows slower as you age. A chemical peel is a deeper process that does the same thing while also stimulating collagen growth, Madfes says.
Find out if you're a candidate to resurface your surface. If the top layer of skin is looking brown, with a rough texture -- hallmarks of sun damage -- a relatively new procedure called fractional resurfacing can actually reverse some of the damage by increasing collagen production. Done with lasers in a doctor's office, resurfacing can improve skin texture while minimizing wrinkles, sun spots, and acne scars. This procedure can create visible improvements in patients who have significant skin damage.