April 01, 2020 at 03:33PM
It’s no secret (or surprise) that many of us share a common skin care goal: to slow down the signs of aging. In order to successfully slow down aging skin, we first have to understand the symptoms of aging skin and second know how to combat them. Sure, we all know the standard fine lines and wrinkles, which are indeed a telltale sign of aging, but there are various other signs you should know and not ignore. We tapped into top dermatologists to get the scoop on the most common and uncommon signs of aging and how to avoid and treat them:
1. Fine lines and wrinkles
Let’s start with the obvious. When you start to see those tiny little lines appear on your face, you know it’s time to grab the nearest anti-aging cream. And according to San Francisco–based dermatologist Caren Campbell, M.D., most fine lines begin appearing in our late 20s. “The first fine lines come from the constant movement of the muscles beneath the skin, and then the overlying skin becomes wrinkled without movement,” she says. We commonly refer to these as expression lines. They often appear first above the brow or on the corners of the eye, aka crow’s feet.
“Topical retinoids are a mainstay of any good anti-aging skin care routine,” Campbell shares. If you’re a newbie to retinoid products, try starting with the lowest active dose to minimize adverse effects until your tolerance is increased. Or go for bakuchiol, a natural alternative for sensitive-skin folks.
If you spent a significant amount of your adolescent years outdoors or you’ve neglected wearing SPF altogether, chances are you may start to notice tiny brown spots, similar to freckles, pop up on your complexion. You know those annoying brown spots that seemed to magically appear overnight? Yep, those are likely sunspots. Campbell says sunspots can start to appear as early as your teenage years and into your 20s. So does board-certified dermatologist Keira Barr, M.D.: “Those freckles may conjure up good memories of a fun vacation, but make no mistake of what they really are: evidence that your skin was unprotected in the sun and putting your skin and DNA in harm’s way.”
Board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D., says sunspots appear from not protecting your skin from sun exposure but can become more apparent as you age. “Once you enter your 40s, you’ll see signs of cumulative sun damage appear in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, sunspots, blotchiness and discoloration,” she says. But by taking care of your skin, you can slow down the appearance of these spots and reduce the amount that pop up in the future.
3. Loss of volume
We all know the unfortunate truth that our bodies’ natural production of collagen and elastin decreases as we age. And when it comes to our complexion, that means the plump skin from our youth slowly begins to drop. According to Campbell, by age 30, we lose about a tablespoon of fat off the face every year. We also lose muscle and bone as we age, which all contribute to changes in our face. You may notice sunken-in eyes or prominent dark circles or loss of definition in the nose. These are all effects of aging skin.
While you can’t truly stop the decline of muscle, bone, and fat—you can help your body’s natural production of collagen and elastin through collagen supplements.* Hydrolyzed collagen supplements have been shown, time and again in human studies and clinical trials, to support your skin’s fibroblasts, which in turn produce collagen and elastin.*
It may seem counterintuitive to mention puffiness in the same list as loss of volume, but you can experience both—and they are both signs of skin aging. While loss of volume happens because of declining levels of bone, muscle, fat, collagen, and elastin—puffiness is the result of stagnant lymph fluid. Marmur warns us of another symptom that commonly appears in your 40s. “As we age, lymphatic drainage slows,” she says. “Slower lymphatic drainage can cause puffiness around your eyes and cheeks.” This is one reason why it’s never too soon to start using eye cream. It’s also a good idea to use caution when consuming food and drinks that cause water retention like excess salt and alcohol. Besides changing your diet, your best bet in avoiding puffy eyes is to be as gentle with the eye area skin as possible.
5. Loss of moisture
Hydration, hydration, hydration. Having properly moisturized skin can make a huge difference in how our skin looks and feels. There’s nothing desirable about cracked, parched skin. Marmur warns that our bodies’ natural oil production decreases as we age, making the skin drier than what we may be used to. In your 20s, skipping moisturizer here and there may not have been an issue, but as we grow older (and wiser) applying a super-hydrating moisturizer is essential to balanced and supple skin.
Campbell agrees that adding a rich moisturizer to our skin care routine is a must as we get older. Try reaching for a formula that helps to lock moisture in with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. “Ingredients like hyaluronic acid draw moisture in, but if really dry, parched skin may also need occlusive ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, castor bean oil, squalene,” says Barr. Basically, you should find a hydrator you love and never let it get out of your sight.
6. Nail ridges
Typically, the issue of nail ridges only comes up when it’s time to get a manicure, but these pesky raised lines are a sign of aging. “One not so common sign of aging is ridged lines in the nail, but this is a lesser-known phenomenon,” says Campbell. Since moisture levels decrease as you get older (as stated above), this can cause a significant change in your nails including peeling and ridges. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do to combat this besides a balanced diet and proper hydration. Thankfully, a simple coat of clean nail polish can help disguise the fine lines if they become too troublesome.