I hate the phrase anti-aging. I am absolutely not anti-aging. I am pro-aging! I kind of feel like aging is a privilege, because not everyone gets to.
However, I will admit that it can be difficult to come to terms with how your physical appearance might change as you age. We’re a society that places a lot of value and emphasis on youth; something the cosmetic industry is traditionally guilty of. People can make a lot of money from consumers who are nervous about looking older. Although, there are always exceptions to this – hate to tar everyone with the same brush.
Inevitably, though, we feel a lot of pressure to stay looking younger for as long as we can. I could talk A LOT about why this is utter nonsense. But maybe another time. For now, I want to talk about the trend of twenty-somethings becoming concerned and are taking action to prevent visible signs of aging.
If you are worried about visibly aging, then your 20s might actually be a good time to start doing something about it. Prevention is always better than cure, though I don’t particularly like those words in this context.
What happens as we age?
According to Scientific American, the skin produces 1% less collagen (gives skin it’s firmness) each year after the age of 20. As a result of this, skin becomes thinner and more fragile, and our oil glands produce less oil and/or less frequently.
There is literally nothing on this earth that you can do about this ‘intrinsic aging’. It happens regardless of your lifestyle. However, it is a much more subtle process than the ‘extrinsic aging’ that also takes place. This is the bit people tend to stress about.
Extrinsic aging happens in addition to intrinsic aging, and it’s caused by our lifestyle and environment. Things like sun damage, pollution, smoking, poor nutrition, and dehydration. Extrinsic aging is the one that causes greater loss of collagen, sun spots, pigmentation, exaggerated wrinkling, and could also lead to more serious changes*.
It would be logical to suggest that the best way to prevent this kind of damage to skin and, therefore, visible signs of aging, is to address your lifestyle and environment to try and avoid the things we just mentioned.
Sun protection. Literally one of the most important things in your entire life is to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Firstly from a health point of view, but also because, if you’re concerned about looking older, lots of unprotected sun exposure can lead to a bit of a leathery look. Slap on the SPF and stay out of the intense sun 11am to 3pm. Not just when you’re abroad, either, the sun can get through clouds and glass and all sorts.
Diet. All the antioxidants. Think colour variety, and lots of pigment. Things like berries, dark green leafy stuff, green tea, dark chocolate, kidney beans. Lean protein for the amino acids. Also omega fatty acids found in things like oily fish, avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds, etc. Actually, my overnight oats recipe is pretty good for this. Check it out here.
Hydration. Drink allllll the water. No sugary stuff. Cut down on black tea if you drink a lot of it, it’s pretty dehydrating. Ditto alcohol, soz. Your entire body absolutely thrives on water, so drink like your life depends on it. Because it kinda does. 2 litres a day is about sufficient for most people.
Lifestyle. Stopping smoking is probably the best thing you can do for your skin, and overall health. Work out what a good amount of sleep is for you, and stick to it as much as possible.
Skincare. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which attracts water to the skin. Find a moisturiser that works for your specific skin concerns; a good one should prevent moisture leaving your skin. Lactic and glycolic acids are also a good shout. Probably don’t need to get into retinols at this stage. You could do worse than to chuck on a bit of vitamin C now and again, too.
Don’t go too hard in your 20s, most anti-aging products will be too heavy and your skin probably doesn’t need it at this stage. Some products might even cause your skin to break out or overreact. Don’t start a full anti-aging regime, just start incorporating products if you’re concerned about visible aging. Ideally, find products which address your main skin concerns (acne, pigmentation, dehydration etc.) first, and have the added bonus of including an ‘anti-aging’ ingredient.
I like using the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance pads, which contain lactic and glycolic acid. Vichy also have a good range, and are a brand I just like all-round. I do have a little sample size Advanced Night Repair, which I’ve used a couple of times but is way too much for my skin right now.
Aging is inevitable. I’m grateful for the chance to age (a little gracefully, a little disgracefully), but I do completely understand that there are a lot of people who are worried about how they’ll look when they’re older.
My approach is just that doing my best to live a healthy lifestyle will show in all areas of my life in years to come: my fitness, my body functionality, my mental health, and the way I physically look. To me, an ‘anti-aging’ diet is a healthy diet, I try to drink enough water to stay hydrated and alert, and I try and stay protected from the sun for health reasons anyway. All of this just has the added bonus that the rest will take care of itself.
That’s why I put skincare last in the list, because I think we rely on products a lot. I’m a huge advocate of eating our way to better health, and altering the physical effects of aging is no different!
So, what do you think? Are you thinking about aging already in your 20s? Do you have a regime or any advice for anyone doing the same? Share your advice and opinions in the comments below.