As people age, the appearance and texture of their skin changes. This often includes the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, a loss of elasticity, discoloration, and a rougher texture. Implementing a skin care routine that supports healthy aging may help to slow this process.

Substances in the skin such as collagen and elastin begin to decrease as a person ages. This can cause wrinkles and looser skin. Some lifestyle and environmental factors can also affect skin aging, such as exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, smoking, and diet.

Although it is not possible to stop the skin from aging, using certain skin care products can slow down the process. Dermatologists may recommend products with ingredients such as retinoids and vitamin C to help prevent or reduce the visible signs of aging skin.

There are several different steps a person can add to their skin care routine to help reduce signs of aging skin. While dermatologists may recommend some skin care practices to everyone, some steps may change as a person gets older.

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Several active ingredients in anti-aging (or as we like to say “pro-aging”) skin care products may help to reduce the effects of aging on the skin.

Some of the most effective pro-aging ingredients include:

  • Retinoids: Retinoids promote the production of elastin and collagen. These are substances in the skin that reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Retinol is a common type of retinoid in skin care products.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This ingredient boosts hydration and makes the skin appear more plump.
  • Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid): Vitamin C can brighten the look of the skin and protect it from environmental factors. These include UV exposure and polluted air.
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs): These ingredients promote skin cell renewal and can brighten the appearance of skin, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. AHAs can also treat the effects of sun damage.
  • Copper peptide: Copper peptide can boost the production of collagen and elastin, which reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and loose skin.

The best skin care routine for supporting healthy aging will depend on what age a person is. While young adults may focus more on preventing skin aging, older adults may prioritize reducing the appearance of aging.

20s and 30s

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that people begin to take care of their skin in their 20s. Implementing a skin care routine earlier in life can have a big effect on how the skin will look later in life. People should continue many of the skin care practices that they begin in their 20s as they get older.

Some skin care steps for those in their 20s that can help to prevent skin aging include:

  • Gently cleansing face twice a day: Using a mild cleanser suited to the individual’s skin type, gentle cleansing helps remove dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells. This helps the skin to appear clear and reduces signs of wrinkles.
  • SPF 30+ Sunscreen: Using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 can help to protect the skin from the damage that UV rays cause. A person should apply sunscreen any time they are going outside.
  • Moisturizer: Applying moisturizer helps the skin to retain moisture and can improve the skin’s appearance, reducing signs of premature aging.
  • Vitamin C cream/serum: Vitamin C-based serums and creams can help reduce skin discoloration and other signs of aging. Dermatologists recommend applying it in the morning, after cleansing, and before sunscreen.
  • Retinoid: Retinoids (often retinol) should be applied before bed, around 20–30 minutes after cleansing and moisturizing.

40s and 50s

Most skin care practices can continue once a person reaches their 40s and 50s. However, there are other pro-aging skin care steps that may be particularly beneficial for this age group:

  • moisturizing after taking a bath or shower and throughout the day as needed to prevent dry skin
  • using moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin
  • avoiding alcohol-based products
  • using fragrance-free products
  • using products containing antioxidants, such as vitamin C.

Retinoids and AHAs can be effective ingredients for reducing the appearance of aging but are not gentle on the skin. To avoid adverse effects, those in their 40s and 50s may want to discuss the use of these ingredients with a dermatologist.

Menopause can cause changes to a person’s skin. While skin care can help to prevent or reduce these changes, individuals should consider speaking with a dermatologist if they experience skin changes during this time.

60s and 70s

During a person’s 60s and 70s, their skin may feel drier and more prone to irritation. In older adults, the skin is generally thinner and less able to retain moisture.

Dermatologists recommend many of the same skin care practices to those in their 60s and 70s as other age groups. However, some adjustments in skin care habits may help soothe irritated skin and keep the skin hydrated:

  • washing with gentle, moisturizing soap or cleanser
  • using warm water when washing (instead of hot)
  • reducing shower or bath time to 5–10 minutes
  • using a moisturizer that specializes in moisturizing dry skin

Anyone with a skin condition that impacts their quality of life, and causes discomfort, pain, or distress should speak with a dermatologist.

Dermatologists may be able to help with signs of premature aging. They may offer skin care recommendations or procedures that can reduce signs of skin aging.

Dermatologists can also recommend products that are most suitable to certain skin types or to treat different signs of aging on the skin.

Sometimes, spots or patches on the skin that look like age spots or other signs of aging skin can actually be skin cancer. If a person notices they have a spot or patch which looks different from others on their skin, changes, itches, or bleeds, they should see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

As a person gets older, their skin changes and begins to show signs of age. Although it is not possible to stop the aging process, certain skin care products and practices can help to prevent and reduce the signs of aging skin.

Active ingredients in skin care products, such as retinoids, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid can help to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and keep the skin hydrated and plump.

Throughout different stages of life, a person’s skin may need different skin care products and practices in order to best suit the skin’s needs. Dermatologists recommend that individuals implement a skin care routine that supports healthy aging in their 20s, and continue to care for their skin throughout their life.