Sunscreen helps, but it's just the beginning. Consider, too, what you eat and how you care for your aging skin.
It's never too early to start an anti-aging, anti-wrinkle skin care plan. And it is also never too late to slow down the signs of aging skin — and even take steps to reverse them.
Step One: Practice Sun Protection Every Day
According to Scott Gerrish, MD, a nonsurgical skin care specialist with offices in Virginia and Maryland, "The single most important anti-aging thing you can do for your skin daily is to apply a high SPF [sun protection factor]sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide or titanium oxide to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun."
Wearing sunscreen is not just for summer days or to protect you at the beach. That is because the aging effects of the sun can zero in on the skin during everyday activities, such as walking the dog or watching your child's soccer game, at any time of the year.
Step Two: Start an Anti-Aging Diet
Eat at least 8 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily and fish high inomega-3s three times a week to help your skin keep from aging from the inside out. "What you eat is the second most important anti-aging factor for your skin, the first being sun protection," Dr. Gerrish says. Drink plenty of water and green tea (three to four cups daily) and eat a fiber-rich diet to reap the most benefits for your skin.
Step Three: Reach for the Right Anti-Wrinkle Skin Cream
Retin-A and its gentler formula, Renova, are the top anti-aging creams clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and to thicken collagen, the support structure in the skin that gives it youthful plumpness, says June Breiner, MD, of Lutherville, Md. Both are available by prescription in several strengths. You should notice a difference in your skin's appearance in about six weeks.
"Peptides in skin creams are the most recent anti-aging help for skin," says Gerrish. "There are creams available on the market that allow the peptides to penetrate to the collagen layer and actually thicken it, which lessens fine lines and wrinkles. The cream must have one of two key ingredients, Matrixyl or Argireline, in order for the peptides to do their job."
Glycolic acid, used in higher strengths for facial peels at the doctor's office, is another ingredient that can thicken collagen and brighten your skin. "Look for a cream that has a minimum of 25 percent glycolic acid for it to be beneficial," Gerrish says.
Vitamin C also helps your skin produce collagen.Dr. Breiner says to "look for products with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate [MAP], which allow the vitamin C to penetrate to the collagen area, where it can work its magic."
Most over-the-counter creams that promise wrinkle removal "are nothing more than expensive moisturizers," Gerrish says. Using a moisturizer is an important part of an overall, anti-aging skin-care regimen because dry, flaky skin gives an "older" appearance, but a good moisturizer doesn'tt have to be expensive. Plenty of drugstore moisturizers will get the job done without breaking the bank.
Step Four: Try a Medical Treatment for Wrinkle Relief
Talk to a dermatologist experienced in skin care about office treatments that can tighten your skin, reduce sun damage, and soften fine lines and wrinkles. Procedures being used for anti-aging skin therapy include:
Laser resurfacing and chemical peels, which remove the top layers of skin to reveal fresher skin underneath.
Botox, which blocks the muscular action that causes wrinkles.
Facial filler injections, which plump up wrinkles.
"These therapies are fairly expensive, but if you can afford it, they can truly work miracles on your face," says Gerrish.
Starting an effective anti-wrinkle plan isn't complicated. Follow through on these four simple steps, and you should start to see brighter, younger-looking skin in a few weeks.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Skin and Beauty Center.