There are many factors – both natural and artificial – that cause our skin to age. The natural process of aging will inevitably lead to signs of getting older.  These include wrinkles, fine lines and loose or sagging skin.

Although there is no way to stop the natural aging process, we do have quite a bit of control when it comes to preventing premature signs of aging. Our environment and our lifestyle choices play large roles in determining if we will be able to postpone skin aging, and certainly enable us to prevent premature aging.

By taking some preventive measures, we have the power to slow the effects of aging and even potentially look younger than our years.

What’s more, if you are in your twenties or thirties, it is the perfect time to begin to take action to prevent premature signs of skin aging.

“What you do for your skin or against your skin will have ramifications as you age,” says dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD.

For example, choosing not to tan or smoke are two big factors that could significantly lower your chances of showing signs of premature aging.

Ways to Prevent Skin Aging

Dermatologists offer the following steps you can take to significantly reduce the occurrence and pace of skin aging:

Protect your Skin from the Sun’s UV Rays

The sun plays a major role when it comes to skin beginning to age in your early years, and it can happen fairly quickly, depending on how much sun you are exposed to and how young you are. Sun protection is vital no matter if you are at the beach frolicking on the sand or running errands on a sunny day. 

Wearing sunscreen should be a normal part of your routine. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 and suggests “broad-spectrum” should be on the label. This translates into the SPF shielding your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB damaging rays.

For UVA protection, check the ingredients list for avobenzone, mexoryl, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide.

For additional protection, look for clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.

Avoid Smoking Altogether

Smoking significantly increases premature aging of your skin. It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion. Smoking breaks down collagen and constricts blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to your skin. The prospect of wrinkles might be enough incentive for many people to not smoke, or to stop smoking.

Avoid too Much Alcohol

Having occasional drinks or drinking socially is generally not a problem. But excessive drinking causes the skin to dehydrate and dilates your blood vessels. This makes us look older. If you imbibe too much, you could also develop broken blood vessels and rosacea, a skin disorder that shows symptoms of redness and tiny pimples.

 Avoid Repetitive Facial Expressions

Every time you make a facial expression, you contract the underlying muscles. If you continually contract the same muscles over the course of many years, these lines become permanent. 

Wearing sunglasses can assist in reducing lines that are caused by squinting.

Cleanse Your Skin Gently

Scrubbing your skin clean can irritate your skin, and irritating your skin tends to speeds up the aging process. Conversely, gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin.

Apply a Facial Moisturizer Daily

Moisturizer traps water in the skin, resulting in a more youthful appearance. It would be helpful to use a skin moisturizer that contains sunscreen.

Moisturizing your face will help you to look and feel younger, and you will have softer, more elastic skin, and it will also keep your skin hydrated.  Before moisturizing, make sure that you clean your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser. You don’t want to use anything too harsh.

Types of moisturizers include the following:

Creams – a relatively heavyweight moisturizer that can be more or less concentrated. They provide a substantial amount of hydration and they keep the skin soft.

Lotions – lightweight moisturizers with a high water content. They absorb easily and don’t make the skin greasy, which can be helpful for people with oily skin.

Gels – another type of lightweight moisturizers that absorb easily and provide a good amount of hydration. Some of them contain alcohol, which can cause problems for sensitive skin.

Ointments – the heaviest and thickest types of moisturizers with a high content of oils.

Use Retinoids or Retinols

Retinoids are prescription face medications, such as Retin-A, Renova, and Tazorac, that typically provide a more youthful appearance. Retinols are a weaker form that are sold without a prescription.

Ask your doctor about whether these are safe to use if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It might be smart to wait on using retinoids until your forties if you don’t have much in the way of sun damage by your twenties or thirties, according dermatologist Waldorf, MD. 

“How necessary it is and how much difference a retinoid is going to make will depend on your baseline skin,” she adds.

Consider Antioxidants and Peptides

Waldorf suggests that a basic skin care routine for people in their twenties involves washing with a gentle cleanser and using a moisturizer at night, with a retinoid, if needed.

However, Dermatologist Doris Day, MD, says that she recommends serums infused with peptides and antioxidants, like grape seed extract, resveratrol, green tea, and vitamins A, C, and E.

If you use skin care products with antioxidants, Waldorf recommends applying them in the morning prior to using a sunscreen moisturizer. Both products can work in combination with each other to protect skin from damage.

The aforementioned tips, along with perhaps consulting with a dermatologist, will equip you with the tools and measures to potentially delay skin aging and enjoy a youthful and healthy appearance.