Updated: Dec 26, 2020
We often think that we don’t need to worry about aging during our 20s and 30s, and that we can leave it till our 40s to buy those anti-aging creams. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Aging starts a lot earlier than we normally think it does—it starts in our 20s to be exact.
Our bodies start losing collagen by the time we are in our mid-twenties. This is significant because collagen loss is what shows up as the first visual signs of aging. It is what affects our faces the most.
So, what can we do about it?
What is aging anyway?
Aging can mean so many things to different people. For some, it can mean a degradation of physical health—bones and muscles getting weaker. For others, it can mean the slowing down of cognitive abilities—not being able to pick up languages as fast as you were able to, for example.
However, a simple Google search will reveal that for most people, aging is concerned with the appearance of the skin—and for good reason. As the skin in your face is thinner, more signs of aging will appear there.
In scientific terms, however, aging relates to changes in DNA. As this research article puts it so well—"if DNA is the digital information on a compact disc, then aging is due to scratches.” Aging represents changes at a cellular level—particularly the health of the mitochondria (controls cell death).
Anti-Aging in Your 20s: Get your Diet in Order
Prevention is better than cure, and this could not be truer for anti-aging. “You are what you eat” could also not be truer for anti-aging! What you eat shows up as the first visible signs of aging on your skin.
Up until we are in our 20s, collagen production in the body is quite fast and our skin cells renew pretty quickly. Once we hit our 20s, collagen production starts to slow down, and collagen destruction starts to take over. Skin cells can’t take up to a month to renew.
Collagen degradation is caused by things called free radicals—which are a byproduct of everything around us—pollution, sunlight, heat, refined foods, etc. Fortunately, there are antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables that mop up these free radicals before they can ruin your skin. The takeaway is—this is when you start ditching the sugar and oily junk food and start eating those colorful vegetables!
Best Anti-Aging Creams for Your 20s
Neutrogena Raid Wrinkle Repair Serum
Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital SPF 30 Day Cream
Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream
Anti-Aging in Your 30s: Stock up on that SPF!
You should continue with the healthy diet you started in your 20s. Did you know that different colors in fruits and vegetables represent different antioxidants? 30s is the time you go even harder with those colorful salads, green juices and green tea!
Your 30s is where sun damage (or photoaging) becomes more visible. Again, there are nutrients in your diet you should pay attention to: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, protein and zinc. All these nutrients are involved in collagen production, which you are going to need with all that sun damage!
This is also the time you want to get your skincare in order—with the most important being moisturizers and SPF. SPF is by far the most important step in skincare, because it is the first line of defense between your skin and the sun. Even when the sun isn’t strong, UV rays can penetrate glass from windows and cause skin damage.
Best Anti-Aging Creams for Your 30s
Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream
Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Anti-Aging in Your 40s: You’re going to need more backup!
In your 40s, you are going to need more than a good diet and moisturizers to save your skin. At this point, damage that has been done is starting to become irreversible. So, you are going to need stronger topical products to give your skin an extra boost.
Firstly, you’re going to need a robust SPF product. You may have been able to get away with a weaker SPF in your 30s and 20s, but you can’t take that risk here. Look for SPF 30 or higher, and a broad-spectrum UV filter that filters both UVA (causes wrinkles) and UVB (causes burning).
This is also the stage where many people start a retinol. Retinol and retinoids are chemical derivatives of Vitamin A and is one of the key ingredients in many anti-aging products. They work because topical application of retinols help thicken the epidermis (top layer of skin) by increasing the speed of cell division (cell proliferation).
Best Anti-Aging Creams for Your 40s
L’Oréal Triple Power Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer
Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Wrinkle Filler with Tri-Polymer Blend
Anti-Aging in Your 50s: Taking Extra Care
Around your late 40s and 50s, lots of women will experience menopause which is going to amplify signs of aging. During these years, your skin’s thickness in the face will reduce by as much as 1% per year, and annual collagen is at an all-time high at 2% per year. Your face will be the first area to suffer, because it has the highest number of estrogen receptors, and menopause causes a dramatic reduction in estrogen.
So, in your 50s, you need to go out of your way to protect your skin. This means your diet and skincare is on point and you mustn’t do anything to tear the skin (e.g. picking zits, too much sun exposure, etc.). You can also look into more sophisticated options from your dermatologist—chemical peels, dermarolling, etc.
This is also the age where you will suffer from volume loss in your skin. So, this means that your eyes are going to be more sunken in. Unfortunately, there’s not many ‘natural’ ways to deal with volume loss, and you’ll have to look at botox and fillers to build up volume.
Best Anti-Aging Creams for Your 50s
Clarins Extra-Firming Neck Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Cream
Cosima Flawless Eye Cream - Natural Botox®
Lancôme Rénergie Lift Multi-Action Night Cream
My Own Personal Experience with Anti-Aging Methods
Until this year, I was one of those people that never really fussed about my age. I didn’t care when guys asked me how I old I was, and I continued my annoying habit of picking my pimples. I always had a baby face, so I guess I was underestimating the aging process.
However, it all changed just after my 26th birthday in March. It finally dawned on me that I will be hitting my 30s soon. It didn’t help that I suddenly started noticing lines on my forehead, the skin around my eyes were getting darker and hollower, and I was starting to see skin folds around my nose!
So, I decided to set a very late set of New Year’s resolutions (at least I made it in time for Chinese New Year!). I started looking into skincare more and to make matters worse, I found out I was quite late to the game….Everyone on TikTok already had a religious skincare routine full of the Ordinary and Cerave products!
Anyway, as they say—better late than never! I did a complete overhaul of my skincare—got myself some new gentle cleansers, SPF 50 BB creams, Vitamin C face serums and some gentle chemical exfoliants. I caved in to TikTok social pressure and got myself some Ordinary products.
My New Fight Skin Aging Methods: Diet and Skincare
Over the past year, I researched and learned how to improve my diet for better skin and hair. I greatly increased my uptake of protein, zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A—all needed for collagen formation. In food terms, this equates to about 50+g of protein a day, lots of nuts, leafy greens, carrots and green tea every day.
Because I had damaged my skin texture so much from all the pimple picking, I also invested in dedicated skincare to improve this. I bought products containing niacinamide (helps rebuild a damaged skin barrier) and hyaluronic acid (needed for moisture).
I also learned this year that double cleansing was a thing, and a very NECESSARY thing—especially for us oily skin folks! So now, I go in with an oil cleanser first, to remove oil-based dirt, and then go in with a gentle foaming cleanser to remove water-soluble dirt. This was a complete game changer for me—I was breaking out a lot less, my pores were disappearing and my acne scars were fading away so much more.
The Future of Anti-Aging
For now, the best we have to fight skin aging methods are those expensive skin treatments and anti-aging cosmetics. However, researchers are digging deeper into the chemical and cellular pathways that cause aging.
If by determining those pathways and controlling their parameters—can they slow down aging? This is the million-dollar question that scientists are trying to find the answer to. Their solution would be to develop drugs that can control the chemical pathways of aging.
One such drug that has shown promise in the anti-aging arena is Metformin—the drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes patients. In some models, Metformin had slowed down aging and lowered the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and (possibly even) cancer. It is being considered a part of anti-aging therapy, and whether this would yield long-term results—only time will tell.
Conclusion: For Now, Keep Eating Those Vegetables!
Anti-aging science is an exciting field of health. Scientists seems to be getting closer to developing drugs and therapies to slow down aging on all fronts—your skin, physical and mental abilities.
However, we are still years—if not decades—away from benefiting from this research. So, for now, the best we can do is to take preventative measures. Use that SPF religiously, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and opt for regular aerobic exercise.
A large plate of tabbouleh I made for myself….I swapped in the bulgur wheat for white beans for some extra protein and zinc. Parsley is extremely rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A—and the olive oil helps to absorb it into the body. Let’s just say it is an all-round skinfood!