A Top Dermatologist's 5 Best Anti-Aging Tips

How to slow down the changing look of the skin you're in

Wish your skin looked younger? Aging can change skin's appearance as early as your 30th birthday or by later in midlife, depending on your habits. You can't control certain factors, like falling estrogen levels that lead to sagging skin or the genetics that give you a particular bone structure. But there are also plenty of external influences on how your skin ages -- and the right anti-aging care can help blunt their damage.

"When people first see signs of aging -- fine lines, brown marks, smile lines, crow's feet -- is when they become better about anti-aging care," says dermatologist Diane C. Madfes, assistant clinical professor at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. "The good news is that it's never too late to respond to what you see."

Her best anti-aging tips:

Skin anti-ager #1: Focus as much on what you put in your body as on what you put on your skin.

You might expect a dermatologist to emphasize only skin-care products and techniques, but Madfes says that younger skin starts with the nutrients that reach it from inside the body. The skin is the body's largest organ, after all. So diet directly affects how you visibly age.

How to do this:

  • Take a vitamin D supplement. Madfes recommends 1,000 IUs per day.

  • Eat plenty of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Ideally they should come from natural sources, including olive oil, ground flaxseed, and fish such as salmon. Fish-oil supplements are another source of these important fats, which help protect the moisture barrier. This is the protective top layer of skin that keeps moisture in but tends to thin as you age, causing dry skin.

  • Drink water -- in all its forms -- all day long. A liter a day is a good minimum start, Madfes says. Different body types, such as athletes, need more. Count green tea and coffee in your daily total, but go easy on the alcohol. Red wine does contain beneficial antioxidants, but it can also dilate blood vessels, contributing to the ruddy-faced skin inflammation called rosacea that tends to strike women in midlife.

  • Cut way back on processed foods and sugars (another reason to watch the wine intake). They promote inflammation, a biochemical process that damages the normal production of dermal cells.

Skin anti-ager #2: Halve your sun exposure.

If you've heard a version of this one before, it's because dermatologists agree that UV exposure is the number-one skin-ager out there. Sun damages elastin and causes a loss of collagen, which translates to drooping, a lost jawline, and wrinkles. It also adds discoloration and roughens texture. Not least, UV rays are the main cause of skin cancers, an aging risk that goes beyond the mere cosmetic.

"Simply saying, 'Stay out of the sun!' isn't practical, though," Madfes says. "So I tell patients to just try to cut your exposure in half -- that seems more doable."

How to do this:

  • One word: sunblock. Use a full tablespoon of sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on your face, spreading it to your neck and ears. Know that older skin tends to be more vulnerable to the effects of the sun than younger skin.

  • If you tend to forget sunscreen, try the newish makeup bases and moisturizers with UV-protection built in. On the downside, you might not get the optimum amount of SPF, but Madfes says that the plus for many women is that at least they remember some protection every day -- which is better than going without.

  • Walk on the shady side of the street. "You really can decrease your exposure with little things," Madfes says.

  • Wear UV-protective clothing. A host of new apparel blocks UV rays while wicking away moisture, making these clothes especially good for outdoor exercise.

  • Exercise outside in the early morning or late afternoon. If you can, avoid sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are most potent.

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.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

3 days ago, said...

Also,always put a moisturizer on your face before doing some activities,it might help. Thanks!

10 months ago, said...

@Rebecca74 A good skin routine is always the best start. Cleanse and moisturise twice daily. Get a bit more sleep. Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit n veggies. I have always used the Gretchen Von Thiele anti-wrinkle products. I am using it for the last 6 years as it helped me a lot in reducing my wrinkly skin. Have in mind that it’s not cheap.

10 months ago, said...

Just turned 35 and starting to see a few lines coming through (mostly in my forehead) and would like to start to use an anti wrinkle cream. I guess all my early years of sun worshipping and not moisturizing is coming to smack me in the ass :( I have a fair complexion with plenty of freckles. Any advice at all would be great as there is so much out there not sure which way to go

about 1 year ago, said...

I think that a great moisturizer like Solvaderm is needed for this skin care routine, Thanks for this as I really need to follow a good skin care routine for my grey days, I think everyone should prepare for this right?

about 1 year ago, said...

Great read! :)

over 1 year ago, said...

Very nice Tips. Drinking water is one of the most effective method to prevent wrinkle appearance. I have been using egg whites for my skin. I don’t like the wrinkles on my face, products are to costly for me so i prefer natural remedy. For wrinkles and fine lines I use the egg white mix with a crushed vitamin c tablet and mix with the egg let stay on 20 min and wash the face. It is really nice remedy for wrinkle. I also have red patches and dry skin so I use rose water for this.

over 1 year ago, said...

One of the best anti aging cream recommended by dermatologists is Bioxin regenerative day dream. Trust me, you will be amazed about results that can been seen in just few days http://www.burnfatstore.com/beauty/face-care/bioxin-regenerative-day-night-cream/

over 1 year ago, said...

These are really great tips to keeping your skin looking young. I never really had a good beauty routine, I use to just wash face with soap rinse & run. But as i got older I realised I wasn't treating my skin properly so I found a good skin care range called SKN Complex and now without fail I cleanse, tone & moisturiser and my skin has never felt and looked better. If your interest check out www.skncomplex.com.au.

over 1 year ago, said...

This article has been so very helpful. After many years of tanning in tanning beds, I never cared about the effects it would have on my skin. Now I am older and having to concern myself with the damages I created as a teen and young adult. In my search for the best products out there on the market, and after many hundreds of dollars spent, I found a great skin care line that offered all kinds of different anti -aging products including Retinol. I know that Hyaluronic Acid was not mentioned in this article, but I have found that it has been a very important factor is treating my fine lines and uneven skin color variation. I use Watts Beauty Hyaluronic Acid w/ Peptid in the AM and their Retinol 2.5 Serum in the PM. I noticed a remarkable different just after a month. The best part about Watts Beauty products is that they contain no parabens and all other ingredients are all natural, like Vitamin C (which was mentioned as a skin rejuvenate) and green tea. They also market to women and folks on a budget. All of the products I have tried are all reasonable priced under $50. Can’t beat that! Beauty on a budget and you still get the same results as leading, price gouging name brands. =) For more information, you can check out their website at www.wattsbeautyusa,com I used the code VM$5GiftCard and received $5 off my purchase. (no limit) You can also purchase their products off of Amazon as well: www.amazon.com/shops/direct2uwholesale ** I hope that my comments help whoever reads this to have a better insight on what I have found in my experience with the wonderful every going topics and cure of aging skin and all the imperfections that go along with it! God Bless!!

almost 2 years ago, said...

Everyone dream to look younger even if it’s their 30th birthday. There are certain factors that we cannot control but with the help of dermatologist and skincare experts we can make our skin look younger. So many anti aging products are available in the market but be careful when choosing. Your tips are really amazing. Thanks for sharing. Thomas Balshi

about 2 years ago, said...

My precious daughter has real ba dsd sun damage and she doesn't have the money to go see a doctor. So what can she do? Or use? So young but she love's the sun ..I just don't know what else can I do to help her .please help

about 2 years ago, said...

Do you have to put moisture On after applying retinoids

over 2 years ago, said...

Aging is not just appearance, it is also the way you feel. In spite of the fact that there are old souls with young spirits and so the metabolism is no longer the same one as it was before, of course. Therefore there are several things you can’t do to change that effect. This is why we can help ourselves feel better emotionally. I would like to share my experience since I tried injectable HGH. My life has improved a lot and now I feel more energetic, my skin looks better, I can exercise more and I can even eat what I like without worrying about the weight gain. www.hghsells.com

over 2 years ago, said...

Hi, i really like Monsia.

over 2 years ago, said...

I work far distance from my mother. I'm in the city and she is in the province. I can only visit her when there is an occasion or during holidays like Christmas and New Year. She's always asking me of what my secret why my skin became fair and very smooth unlike before. We booth laughed because we can still remember that I have a dark brown and dry skin when I was living there. So, I shared to her what makes me look sweet and fair. I used whitening and moisturizing products to help brighten my skin. I also change my diet like eating more veggies and fruits rather than processed food, and drinking more water each day to keep me hydrated. I'm also taking a skin renewal supplement like Phytoceramides to lighten my skin from within. By continuously doing it, my skin became lighter, smoother, and became more healthy.

about 3 years ago, said...

I have tried some anti aging products, but they are quite expensive.. But beauty is beauty, isn’t it? So i did research, to find a working formula.. and a friend of mine showed me this cream that she was so confident in. I have to admit that is a relly good product. They will ship you a free trial, and if you do not like it, you don’t have to buy, but for free, why not? here is more infos http://juveliereantiagingreview.weebly.com , so i hope you will have same great results as i did. and share with us a good day

over 3 years ago, said...

what do you think of life cell

almost 4 years ago, said...

The article was very helpful but when you go out there, there are thousands of products offered in the market. What brands do you recommend for anti-aging? Also, chemical peels are expensive, do you know a brand/something we can try at home? Thanks, CC

over 4 years ago, said...

Hi. My name is ashley and I have oily skin. I have developed some pimples on my forehead and cheek area. I had a facial yesterday and then sores developed on the pimpkes. So I used warm water and neutrogena soap the next day. When I Used the water the sores came off? What am I suppose to do now, will that make my face break out again? I was going to use the aloe vera gel on my face to help fix the acne problem should I Use it! And if so should I sash it off with warm or cold water or leave it on? This is irgent I need help